How the latest in monthly subscription boxes stacks up

It seems like every other brand out there has its own beauty subscription box these days, and Macy’s is the latest to jump on the bandwagon. They sent us a complimentary August box, so I thought I’d compare it to some of the top boxes out there. As always, views and opinions are my own.

The Macy’s Beauty Box is a $15 monthly subscription that includes five deluxe samples, one bonus item, a “collectible cosmetics bag” and a $5 coupon that you can use to buy a full-size of your fave item (or anything, really) at Macy’s stores or macys.com.

This month’s box came with deluxe samples from some top names in beauty: Carolina Herrera Good Girl perfume, Benefit Gimme Brow in No. 3, Tarte Maracuja Oil, Mac False Lashes Extreme Black mascara and a Smashbox eyeshadow duo in Turned On and Psyched. The bonus item was a really nice-size bottle of Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser.

The brands and items themselves are pretty fab, but when I hear “deluxe sample,” I tend to think of sizing more along the lines of the Philosophy bottle; the mascara, eyeshadow and brow gel all came in the tiniest possible packages—I thought the mascara was actually falsie glue at first—and the perfume and maracuja oil were average-sized at best. The bag itself was really cute, and a good size for packing your beauty essentials in your purse.

Now, a look at some other top beauty boxes:

Boxycharm

I’ve been a Charmer for nearly a year now, and with good reason: For $21 a month, Boxycharm sends me four to five full-size beauty items whose total value is often several times the cost of the box itself. In past boxes, I’ve gotten Ofra liquid lipsticks, a Z palette with six Ofra shadows, Colourpop liquid lipsticks, Makeup Geek eyeshadow singles, eyeliners, Temptu liquid highlighter and bronzer, RealHer lip pencils and eyeshadow palettes, Hairgurt hair masks, Luxie Beauty brushes … I could go on.

This month, I received a Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Vol. II eyeshadow palette, a Bellapierre gel eyeliner pencil, Pur false eyelashes, a #GRLPWR liquid lipstick by The Beauty Crop and a Moda Pro three-piece brush set by Royal & Langnickel.

Personally, I think this is the best value out there, but I do often find that I’m not wild about every item in my box. Because they’re full-size, throwing them out is practically criminal, so I usually give the items to friends who could use them or try to sell them in a Facebook group for makeup buy/sell/trade.

Ipsy

Ipsy is well-known in the beauty box world for its cute makeup bags and low price point: Just $10 a month gets you an assortment of deluxe-samples and full-size products. It was created by beauty vlogger Michelle Phan to help folks find the best products for them based on an initial beauty quiz with questions on skin tone, eye and hair color, brands you already love and more.

Birchbox

Like Ipsy, Birchbox sends a personalized mix of deluxe beauty samples (five in this case) for $10 a month. You can buy full-size versions of your favorite items from the Birchbox shop with free shipping and a loyalty program that gives you $1 back for every $10 spent. Starting with your second box, you get to choose one of your samples each month.

Sephora Play!

Sephora’s Play! box is the most similar to the Macy’s Beauty Box, in my opinion. It’s $10 a month and comes with five deluxe samples, a collectible bag, exclusive video tutorials and a Play! Book with tips on using on the items in the box, a Play! Pass redeemable for 50 Beauty Insider points when you make a full-size purchase, and access to a subscriber-only Play! Date that lets you and a friend come into the store and meet with Sephora’s beauty experts.

Allure Beauty Box

Known for its annual Best in Beauty awards, Allure now has a monthly Beauty Box that’s sure to have a reliable mix of quality products. For $15 a month, you get full- and travel-size products (valued at $50-$90) and a mini-magazine with tips for using your products.

Julep Beauty Box

I always thought Julep was just a nail polish brand, so I was really surprised to learn they offer a full line of makeup and skincare products. Beauty Box subscribers—aka Mavens—get first access to new products personalized just for them, and they get to choose what comes in their box each month. (If you don’t like what’s available to choose from, you can just skip that month.) There are two tiers: The My Maven box is $25 a month and includes $40 worth of product; the Maven Luxe box is $40 and includes $60 worth of product.

So there you have it. Do you subscribe to any monthly beauty boxes? Comment below and tell us which ones you love!