The worlds of beauty and wellness have changed so drastically in the past decade that it almost seems laughable to think that, once upon a time, the only way to discover new products was by testing them on your hand in a department store. Today, there are endless ways to get hooked, from YouTube to direct-to-consumer brands such as Glossier. The subscription-box trend is another so-called disruptor, something that’s been growing in popularity since the advent of Birchbox’s sampler in 2010.
The concept is simple: On a seasonal or monthly basis, subscribers receive a box filled with samples or full-size products, either curated for them or customized by them online. While those ascribing to the Marie Kondo method of decluttering might want to steer clear, most boxes provide some serious cost savings for those looking to experiment with new trends and products. Here, we’ve reviewed five of the best boxes featuring full-size products.
One of the leaders in this space, FabFitFun has gone from a lifestyle website to a box to a community of more than a million subscribers. The seasonal boxes go hand in hand with the company’s wildly popular fan forums and online fitness content, both of which require a subscription for access. Each box includes seven to 10 items across beauty, fashion, fitness and lifestyle (the most recent box featured everything from Glamglow sheet masks to ceramic bowls from Pier 1). Membership starts at US$49.99 plus shipping seasonally, but a yearly rate of US$179.99 plus shipping offers a slight discount and customization privileges. All the perks are available to Canadians; the brand, however, has been taken to task for its unreliable cross-border delivery times. If you’ve got patience, it’s worth the wait.
Those looking to make the switch to all-natural menstrual products will love Blume, a monthly box of organic cotton tampons and pads that are hypoallergenic, biodegradable and 100-per-cent chemical free. Boxes start at US$10.99 plus shipping for 16 tampons and/or pads depending on your preference, with the ability to add eight more for US$3 (plus shipping). The site also offers a range of self-care products such as natural deodorant, essential oils to combat PMS and blemish treatments, which can be added to each box or purchased individually. The youth-minded brand is big on education and transparency, aiming to bring up a new generation of women with easy access to healthy, chemical-free options.
The Detox Box (editor’s pick)
Popular green-beauty boutique The Detox Market distills its knack for discovering cult favourites into a box highlighting a different brand each month. It’s a rarefied deal in the oft-pricey wellness space, with buzzy brands such as Osea, Province Apothecary and Pai Skincare offering up their most popular items at a fraction of the price in recent boxes. January’s box offered a cleanse-friendly probiotic beauty powder and collagen elixir by Australian brand The Beauty Chef. Subscriptions range from $57.99 a month for six months to $64.99 a month for three months, with the products inside valued at $110 or more.
One of the more creative ways to fund female artisans is through Causebox, a seasonal box of fashion and beauty products that are ethically made and have either a charitable or sustainable tie-in. Boxes are US$54.95 quarterly plus shipping, or US$199.80 yearly plus shipping, which gets you eight to 10 items each time. Recent highlights include LSTN, a Bluetooth earbud brand that provides hearing devices worldwide, and SiiZU, a sustainable fashion brand produced by fair-trade artisans.
Sheet masks are surely the most enjoyable way to try out exotic Korean skin-care ingredients such as snail extract and silkworm cocoon, so what better way to up your mask ante than with a fresh batch each month? California-based FaceTory offers both entry level (US$8.90 plus shipping for four fabric masks) and premium (US$19.90 plus shipping for seven made of hydrogel, bio-cellulose, foil and so on) subscriptions, curated by its K Beauty-addicted founders. There’s currently no customization available but considering the revolving door of trending extracts and masks, it’s not a deal-breaker.