NOVEMBER 30, 2013 UPDATE:
THIS POST IS NO LONGER CURRENT. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ MY UPDATED POST ON CURRENT CANADIAN BEAUTY BOXES.
So we have established that I have ridiculous impulses to buy and try lots of products. I have now found monthly boxes of goodies that serve only to augment my shopping obsession.
Recently, I learned of the existence of Birchbox, a company that sends you 4-5 deluxe beauty samples every month for $10 USD, free shipping included. This was exciting, as I love deluxe samples (they’re in such cute little packaging!) because it lets you try enough of a product without committing to a full-sized (and full-priced) product. But like most good things in North America, they only ship within the US. So off I went, seeing if there are any Canadian versions of Birchbox.
After digging around, I found 4 “Canadian Birchboxes”:
…and then I proceeded to dissect each one. Be forewarned: this is going to be lengthy.
Loose Button offers the Luxe Box, which contains 4-5 (parts of the site inconsistently say 3-5, but I think with the competing Boxes, 4-5 is probably an update) deluxe-size beauty samples ranging from skincare, makeup, fragrances, body products, and hair products. Upon signing up, you fill in a beauty profile which I suppose details your skin type and other needs. You can’t choose the samples, but they are tailored to you as your beauty profile dictates.
Currently only available in Canada, the Luxe Box costs $12 CAD per month before taxes, which in Ontario would amount to $13.56 CAD, shipping included. There are three subscription plans that are automatically renewed every billing cycle. The monthly subscription plan costs $12/mo and you can cancel at any time. A quarterly subscription costs $36 for 3 months of Luxe Boxes. If you cancel, the paid amount is non-refundable and you will continue to receive Luxe Boxes until the end of the 3 months. If you prefer, the remaining amount is transferable to someone else. An annual subscription costs $120 for 12 months of Luxe Boxes, which equates to 2 free Boxes, or $10/Box, however you wish to see it as. Cancellation procedure is similar to that for 3 months. There are no cancellation fees.
You can give gift subscriptions, where you pay for a number of Luxe Boxes and have Loose Button send them to the recipient. In this case, neither the gifter nor recipient will be automatically charged for a subscription renewal.
Loose Button does not sell the full-sized products of the samples it sends. They can refer you via your account as to where you can purchase them (no details on how this works since I don’t have an account). But this probably isn’t ideal – continue to my evaluation of Topbox about this.
You can refer friends to sign up, and if 3 do, you receive a free Luxe Box.
A unique offer they have is allowing you to request a product to ensure that it will be in your upcoming Luxe Box. The number of offers and the brands offered are limited each month, so not everyone will be able to get a choice.
Brands*: Ahava, Balmshell, Benefit, Bobbi Brown, Calvin Klein, Cellnique, Cheeky Monkey, Chloe, Citylips, Clinique, Consonant, DDF, Dermalogica, Elizabeth Grant, Keratase, Lancome, Laneige, Laura Mercier, Lise Watier, Mereadesso, Morrocan Oil, Myfaceworks, Nars, Paco Rabanne, Principessa, Purminerals, RMK, Seche Vite, Shiseido, Shu Uemura, SK-II, Stila, Suisse
*What I don’t like about their brand list is that they’re “a collection of current, upcoming and most commonly requested brands”. If you currently offer it, then by all means, list it. List upcoming brands separately and let us know when they will show up in Luxe Boxes. But don’t toss in most commonly requested brands into the mix – that’s so misleading, especially since there is no distinction between whether the brands listed are actually going to be in Luxe Boxes or not.
I do like the Luxe Box presentation – a sleek black box that slides out with the cute logo printed in white:
Topbox’s Topboxes (haha see what I did there?) contain 4 beauty samples. Similarly, you cannot choose your samples there is a beauty profile to be filled out so that your Topbox can be customized to your needs.
Currently only available in Canada, the Topbox costs $10 CAD before taxes, amounting to $11.30 after tax for Ontarians, shipping included. Subscription is monthly and automatically renewed. You can cancel at any time with no cancellation fees.
Topbox does not directly sell the full-sized products of their samples. However, you will be directed to the best place to buy the products via Topbox’s brands list, with occasional discounts or promotions. My problem with this is that their directory may not actually be optimal for Canadians. For example, the Benefit link goes directly to Benefit’s US website, which offers free international shipping only with a purchase of over $125 USD. It would probably be more economical just to pick it up at a local Sephora. On the other hand, a Canadian brand like Lise Watier is available at Shoppers Drug Mart, but still requires a $75 CAD purchase for free shipping. If there are brands that Canadians cannot access locally without ordering online, and/or the website does not offer free shipping at all, then this renders the whole benefit-of-trying-new-brands-and-having-easy-access-to-the-full-sized-product absolutely moot.
Brands: Bella Pella, Benefit, Cake, Cargo, Cover FX, Deborah Lippmann, Dr. Brandt, LillyPilly, Lise Watier, Pari Beauty, Principessa Beauty, Shu Uemura, SkinCeuticals, Stila, Yves Saint Laurent
I like Topbox’s unique box – a sturdy cylindrical cardboard box that can be reused for storage:
The Glymm Box contains 4-5 (again, parts of the site inconsistently say 3-5, but I’ll assume 4-5 is an update) beauty samples, again tailored according to your beauty profile.
Glymm Boxes are currently only available in Canada, but they are making boxes for the US soon. The Glymm Box also costs $10 CAD before taxes, coming up to $11.30 CAD if you live in Ontario. The amount of tax charged depends on your province of residence. The monthly subscription plan costs $10/mo and you can cancel at any time. The annual subscription is $110 for 12 months – so a free Box, if you will. Cancellation can allow you to transfer the remaining amount to someone else if you wish.
Glymm also offers gift subscriptions of 3, 6, 9, or 12 months which are also transferable.
You can buy the full-sized products directly from Glymm. The full-sized products of the samples featured in the month’s Glymm Box ship for free during that month. If there are additional items in the same cart as a featured product, the shipping fee is waived for the entire shipment. If your purchase does not include a featured product, then orders over $50 CAD ship for free, with a $5.95 CAD charge for ground shipping if your order is less than $50.
Another perk to Glymm is that you can collect Glymm Points, which you can earn for extra benefits. You can earn:
- monthly subscription = 10 points
- annual subscription = 100 points
- fill out product survey each month = 10 points/survey
- each full-sized product purchased on Glymm = 1 point/$1 spent
- refer a friend = 50 points/friend
Every 100 points allows you to redeem $10 off a purchase on Glymm.
Brands: Ahava, Ainhoa, Alpure, Anastasia, B. Kamins, Babor, Balmshell, Beautyblender, Blinc, Borghese, Butter London, Cargo, Caudalie, Cilea, Functionalab, Glamglow, Jemma Kidd, John Masters Organics, Kaia, La Peau, La Roche-Posay, Lise Watier, Mai Couture, Murad, Myfaceworks, Olivella, OPI, Orlane, Oscar de la Renta, Pangea Organics, Principessa Beauty, Rahua, RGB, RMS Beauty, Sampar Paris, Sara Happ, Sula, T3, Vasanti, Yves Saint Laurent, Zakia’s
A pretty pink box for your pretties – also looks reusable:
The newest product box is the Glossybox, which is currently available in the UK and in Australia* and has just newly launched in Canada this month. Impending release in the US. There are 5-6 products in each box, which are chosen for you based on your beauty profile.
*Update: Apparently Glossybox is available in more countries than I had initially thought! See if you can guess these countries based on the website endings (because I don’t know them all myself otherwise I’d be telling you :P): .co.uk; .ca; .com; .com.au; .fr; . br; .co.kr; .se; .jp – and that’s all I can find on the first 3 pages of Google so we’ll leave it at that.
Glossybox is available in Canada for $15 CAD flat – tax and shipping included. Subscription is monthly and automatically renewed, with cancellation at any time for no additional fees. It is ideal to cancel within the first week of the month, as they charge for subsequent months around mid-month.
Glossybox does not directly sell the full-sized products on their website, but will direct you to websites where you can buy the products. See my complaint about this in the Topbox section – I don’t want to repeat my rant.
You can also collect Glossydots, a loyalty program perk. You get 200 Glossydots for each referred friend who subscribes. For each of the 5 products you receive each month, you can earn 20 Glossydots per review, for a maximum of 100 Glossydots per Box. 1000 Glossydots can be redeemed for a free Glossybox.
Brands: currently unavailable. But the UK Box has 73 brands and the Australian Box has 45. But e.l.f. is one of them and since they only cost $1 USD, I don’t think it’s fair to even include that in your Boxes, so let’s say Australia has 44. I am going to give the Canadian Box the benefit of the doubt and say our brand list should be pretty hefty, too**.
**Update: The brand list for Glossyboxes in other countries are much shorter – could be because they’re more recently launched (Japan started December 2011) but I’m not sure, since I can’t read most of the languages of those sites.
The Glossybox is also pink and looks sturdy enough for reuse:
Okay, so they all basically do the same thing – sending you goodies every month until you get sick of it. Let’s break it down to the nitty gritty – aka the most important thing we are usually concerned about: price. We’ll do averages here. If you live in Ontario (I really wish I could put this in a chart):
- Luxe Box: $13.56/4.5 samples = $3.01 CAD per sample
- annual Luxe Box: $135.60/12 months = $11.30/4.5 samples = $2.51 CAD per sample
- Topbox: $11.30/4 samples = $2.83 CAD per sample
- Glymm Box: $11.30/4.5 samples = $2.51 CAD per sample
- annual Glymm Box: $124.30/12 months = $10.36/4.5 samples = $2.30 CAD per sample
- Glossybox: $15/5.5 samples = $2.73 CAD per sample (see below for more)
Remember also about the perks:
- Glymm Points give you discounts on full-sized products
- Glossydots let you redeem free Boxes – so for the sake of argument, let’s say you religiously fill out surveys for each Box: 10 months = 1000 Glossydots; so in one year, it would be $165/12 months = $13.75/5.5 samples = $2.50 CAD per sample
So all in all, the Glymm Box will give you the most bang for your buck. Regardless of whether you choose a monthly subscription or the annual subscription, you are still getting the best deal for the amount you pay. This is assuming that all the products in all the boxes are pretty much the same size and quality. You also have the assurance of being able to order the products you like directly off their website, with free shipping available as well. Plus you can get discounts on your purchases.
Personally, I would have liked Loose Button’s brand list the most – if they were all actually offered. Glymm’s brand list would be the next most appealing, as Topbox has the fewest brands to its name. Glossybox is still an unknown – after only one box and no brand list, it’s hard to make a judgement call.
So Loose Button is out of the equation for me. They are the most expensive, their brand list is deceiving, and you have to be waitlisted if you want to subscribe. Forget it. There are other options, after all.
I know some people are subscribed to all 4 Boxes for comparison’s sake – I don’t want to even consider doing that (maybe when I win the lottery). So I had walked into this post thinking I would subscribe to Glossybox and Glymm, because they both offered perks on top of their Boxes. I had liked Glossybox’s perk more – I figured I’d rather have a free box of samples than to have credit toward purchases. I didn’t think I’ll be making full-sized purchases anyway.
After reading through my own analysis, I think I will be subscribing to Glymm and Topbox instead. Glymm because again, it is the most economical, and Topbox because I am a sucker for nice packaging. It’s fun and funky and different, and it’s drawing me in like donuts draw in Homer. Or the other way around, whichever you prefer. (I like to spell it doughnuts, is that weird?)
Even though Topbox has a short brand list, I know and like most of them. Glymm’s brand list is certainly impressive (and long). I’m not crazy about Glossybox’s first boxed samples, so I think I’ll hold off until I see more that catches my eye. And I’ll definitely reconsider once they actually put a brand list up.
(Edit: I just tried signing up for Topbox but they are out and said they would email me a notification when more are available. I don’t like that they did not let me know upfront before I joined. So I am going to satisfy my cravings with Glossybox. When Topbox becomes available, I may already be avidly loyal to Glossybox and forgo Topbox’s cylindrical packaging. So there.)
I hope this helps you make a decision about whether or not to get a Box, and which one.
IMPORTANT: If you are thinking of getting a Box of your own, please check the details yourself. I have collected only what I can currently find on their websites, and their content can change at any time. This research was mainly done for myself, and to share with you. I try to be as thorough as possible, but please double-check for your own reassurances – I don’t want to unintentionally mislead anyone! Please read my Disclaimer as well for more.
Caution: thebeautyoffiction recommends checking your credit card statement regularly – apparently she has been billed twice a month for some of the Boxes. They were probably unintentional, and the issues were fixed with Customer Service. Still an important thing to watch out for, as it was a problem she found irksome.
Anyone else have or want Boxes?
(Image Sources: iknowallthewords.blogspot.com; http://www.swatchandlearn.com; http://www.beautycrazed.ca; awalkinthecloset.blogspot.com; cinnamonkitten.blogspot.com; twentyonedays.ca; thebeautyoffiction.blogspot.com; maddyloves.wordpress.com; http://www.simpsonswallpapers.net)