10/18/2012

Beauty Boxes or: That Time I Got Free Stuff

I've been hearing scuttlebutt about all these monthly subscription beauty sample things that have been popping up lately, and I've got a lot of emails from people asking what the deal is/are they worth it/is the stuff good/blah blah blah...

The thing is, I am cheap.  I don't really like spending money on stuff I don't 1000% want. I've heard that a lot of the box subscription things, like Birchbox or Glossybox or whatever, sometimes send crap like designer bandaids and hair ties and stuff that is not exciting, not makeup, and seems like filler.  Also, I've heard shipping is slow... basically, all I've heard is people complaining, and I just didn't want to spend my money on something I heard was sucky, when I could save my money, or spend it on something awesome that I want.

Then, I got an email offering me free stuff.


I know I've mentioned before my thing with makeup blogs and the circle of freebies--->blog post---->more freebies----->more blog posts, on and on and on for all eternity, may the circle of freebies for posts remain unbroken, Amen.

Usually, when I get offers from companies, they are obviously just sent to every email address the company has for anyone who might have a makeup blog.  They offer stuff I don't want in exchange for a post.  Then, I'd have to link to them in the post, and mention their company's name x-amount of times, and then they also want me to set up a giveaway with you guys where you have to comment on the post and say how much you love the company, and then, obviously, they get a second blog post as a bonus when I announce the winner of the World's Biggest Ass-kisser Contest.

ANYWAY, I got an email a month or so ago from someone who works for Wantable.  Maybe you've heard of them.  I had never heard of them.  So, they write me and offer me free stuff, but IT SOUNDED LIKE THEY HAD ACTUALLY READ MY BLOG.  That was a first, and enough to get my attention... YES?  TELL ME MORE ABOUT HOW HILARIOUS I AM.

Wantable is a new monthly makeup box program like the other makeup box programs.  The thing that I can see different with these guys, as opposed to the other guys, is that their seasonal boxes are curated, and they give you full-size products instead of samples.  So, where you might get some cards with blush samples and a mini bullet of lip balm and some bandaids and a packet of lotion sample from a different subscription service, these guys would send you, like, 6 or 7 full-sized products.  The products are all part of some kind of "look," and all the products go together, color-wise.  Aside from those differences, they don't actually sign you up for an ongoing subscription.  Rather, you sign up for a box and then are invited to get subsequent boxes every season.

Also, it seems like the stuff you get is determined by a profile you fill out with your hair color, eye color, and skin shade.  I didn't fill one of those out, but the little paper that came with my box had my description on it like a mugshot, so obviously the person who sent it poked around my blog enough to see what I look like so they'd send the right stuff.
Here is a pic where you can see the profile they filled out for me.  They had me pegged as considerably less gritty than I am, what with the Flowy, Sophisticated, etc etc.  I assume that pic is the guy who sent me all this stuff.  Sup, Daddy?
This is the makeup style they suggest with the box contents.

SO, what did I get??
Beauty for Real nude lipgloss with arbitrary light-up action

I think that's it.  6 full sized products.  There was also a couple little perfume sample vials, but I am picky about perfume, so I never use those.

The one thing I noticed about all the stuff in the box was that I actually used all of it, even after I ripped open the packages and did the hand-smear.  Given, I didn't recreate the look they suggested after the first time doing it for shits and giggles, but I have used all the stuff in the box since then.  

I like the eyeshadow pretty well for rubbing on real fast so I don't look like a monster.

The nude lipliner was nice, and exactly the same color as my lips, so it was pretty versatile.  

The lipgloss was minty, and the color of it was sheer enough to apply without looking.  The light made it handy for when I am chilling in a cave. 

The blush was nice quality, the color wasn't too bright or dark for me. 

The nail polish was nail polish.  I mean, I like doing my nails, so the more bottles the merrier.  My feelings on nail polish are usually HEEEEEY, NAIL POLISH!

The only thing I haven't revisited a ton was the liquid liner, and that's just because liquid liner is a little too fussy for me to mess with very often.  Also, I like heavier eye makeup usually, and doing that with liquid just makes you look like Kreayshawn.  It would be fine for someone with more self control.  The shininess of it was pretty, too.

None of the products were brands I'd used before, either, so if you're into trying new things, it's pretty legit in that respect.

Here's the sticking point for me-- it's $40 a box.  Was the makeup in the box worth more than $40?  I would say so.  It was more than I would have got on a trip to Sephora, and I never ever get out of there for less than $40.  The site suggested that the retail price for everything in the box I got was $105, which is pretty close to what I figured with my research.  Just the liner and eyeshadow retail for more than $40 together.  Also, looking around, it seems like a lot of the other beauty boxes that aren't as nice cost more than $20 a box. (Here is where I admit that I am ashamed for looking up the prices of everything in my box and the subscription price, because it makes me feel like I have bad manners.  I have too much Catholic guilt for the makeup blogging game.)

The Wantable site also says that you don't have to keep the box if you don't want it, and they include a return label, so if you open a box and aren't feeling it, you just return it and get your money back.  So, while $40 is a lot to spend on a mystery box, you don't have to keep it if you don't want it, it will probably all look good on you, and it's a good deal for what you get.  I think this would be a good thing to give someone as a gift, a couple seasons of this service would probably make someone who likes lady stuff pretty happy.

There you have it!  I reviewed a box thing for you, got free stuff, and did it without letting a cosmetic company use my head as a beer rest while I choked on their bone.  If you are interested in looking into Wantable, you can check out their site.  A special thanks goes out to those guys for sending the free stuff, appreciating my sparkling wit and humor, classifying me as a Scarlett Johansson-type in the profile, and not talking to me like I'm a dumb bitch.

HEY, if any of you have used any of the other beauty box services, comment and let us know how it worked out for you.  SHARE WITH THE GROUP!

41 comments:

  1. If this is how you're going to review free shit, I think you should get free shit ALL THE TIME.

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  2. I get Birchbox and the best thing about Birchbox is the box. The cardboard box. Because even though I was like I NEVER WEAR PERFUME I HATE IT I get a stinky sample in every box. I filled out that I have short hair and they send me ponytail holders. But, sometimes I get fun stuff I would never buy (exfoliate-y thing! Small amount of nailpolish in a color I wouldn't pick but then had to try and actually liked a lot!) -- and the boxes themselves are awesome. Perfect for small-gift giving, or storing my crap. I mean, $10/mo is kind of a lot for a perfect cardboard box, but it's sort of fun.

    I wouldn't make the commitment to the Wantable one though. Only because I never ever want to go to the post office ever, because the assholes outside are always there with their 'Impeach Obama' table and that makes me rage-y - and it's a big commitment for $40 when I know I'm not up for return-shipping. If I wore more makeup on the regular, maybe - but since I'm a fresh-faced gal most of the time with my basics already taken care of, I'll stick with my annoying perfume-y birchbox.

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    1. yeah, this is pretty much the exact thing i kept hearing about birchbox. from my perspective, if i was going to sign up for something like that, i would want makeup, period. i'm not interested in paying $10 to be the first to know that someone revolutionized the pony tail holder.

      i was pleasantly surprised when i got the wantable box, but i am not fresh faced. i'm basically the heavy metal snookie.

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    2. I feel the exact way about the Birchbox boxes! I am saving them to put my jewelry in and to do crafts with my niece.

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    3. The men's Birchbox is even better- it's a DRAWER. I've only been a member for 2 months, and my husband for a month. My first box was pretty cool, and the second one less so, but I'll give it a couple more months to really form an opinion... but my husband gets cool stuff! Whiskey stones and a jigger last month! I told him I'm making a little chest of drawers out of his when we have a couple.

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  3. The lightup lipgloss is so you can look like The Leprechan. Maybe you could tell ghost stories while applying.

    I've whored myself out to Charlie Tuna by becoming his Facebook friend to get a $1 off a pouch of tuna. You deserve free stuff. I respect that.

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  4. my first birchbox was all smashed up from the mail and i swear to you i was sadder about that than the fact that the stuff was totally underwhelming.

    i'm about to get my 3rd one, and i'll likely cancel after that.

    i just buy the cool shit you write about here. way happier with that than birchbox!

    also, if there had been anything in my mouth when i read your "i'm basically the heavy metal snookie" i would have spit it all over my monitor.

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  5. I signed up for Glossybox Canada 3 months ago when it was $15. Not bad. Yeah, you get some non-makeup things like fancy band-aids and dove deodorant, but the rest was pretty decent and I thought the price was good. Then I get an email 2 weeks ago saying "hey guess what? We are now offering north america pricing". Bullshit. It's now $21 (or a 40% increase!!!) and I have cancelled my account. I will buy my own band-aids.

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    1. hahaha i like how they phrased it "north america pricing," like it was a new feature instead of getting gouged. most places would let new members stay with the original prices, and new members would get the increased price. that's bold.

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    2. when i said "let new members stay with the original price," i mean "old members."

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  6. My question would be this...if you were to walk into a cosmetics store like Sephora & upon checking out at the register, the saleslady was to ask if you would like to purchase a box with 6 or so mystery items for the low low price of $40 (but actually retail price was over $100)....would you buy it?
    Most folks would probably say no.
    But you mail that very same box full of mystery items to a few fashion/style/beauty bloggers & the internets light up with women clamouring to sign up for the mystery box. The very same box of stuff you probably wouldn't buy if a snake-oil salesman or carny barker was hawking becomes the must-have if a popular blogger makes mention. How does this make any sense?

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    1. I've done it at a clothes store, except for like $150.

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    2. Except it was a special event of mystery clothes and I went there especially for that purpose. If it was sprung on me, I don't think I would.

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    3. the beauty box companies weren't the first to invent the idea of a mystery box... like cloudsnapper said, clothing places have done it (hell, i've done it in my shirt store), novelty stores have done it, the place i would walk to buy candy as a kid did it. also, you said you bought it, since you went to a special event of mystery clothes. going to a site on your own and signing up for something like a beauty box is exactly like that, nobody springs this shit on you.

      also, jane, you are seemingly on edge about this. i accepted the freebies because people asked me about what was in these boxes, and i figured i could show you an example and not have to sign up for one and shell out for it. i showed you what was in it, gave my opinion of the products, and got out. i never told you to sign up, and said that i wouldn't sign up for something that was that much, and never said anything was amazing or life changing. just breathe through it.

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    4. I don't know about the other beauty boxes and how they work, but this one is not really a complete mystery. If you go to the website, they tell you what exactly is coming in your box and what shades everything will be in. The "mystery" is in trying a new brand.

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    5. Ah, that I didn't know.

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    6. If the products in the Mystery Box would be chosen based on my colouring and personal style and I could return them for a full refund if I didn't like them, then yeah I would totally buy it! Who wouldn't?

      Admittedly I wouldn't buy them from a snake-oil salesman or carny barker. I also wouldn't buy bread from a snake-oil salesman or carny barker, but if Natalie Dee told me I could buy some okay bread at the supermarket I would probably go there. That doesn't mean people buy crappy products just because blogger say to. It means people buy stuff they want when they can get it from a reputable source, which is easy now that the 1800s are over.

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  7. What's with the big (Noooo) on the Myface products? Is it because the brand sounds like a bad mashup of two social networking sites?

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    1. My best guess was because you don't put nail polish on your face... that's the only think I could come up with

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    2. i think myface is the worst possible name for a cosmetics company.

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  8. i've had birchbox for like a year now and i will admit, it could be better (but i definitely agree about those boxes being amazing - i use them to store nail polish and jewelry). every so often i debate cancelling but then i'll get a box almost full of stuff i *will* use. usually, i think of it in terms of "did i get $10 worth out of this?" and usually, it's close, even if i don't like everything in the box. this month i got a full-sized essie nail polish, a lip balm, and a luna bar, among other things - worth my money and then some. i am a-ok with food in my birchbox!

    also, i went on a weekend trip recently and ended up packing a bunch of the shampoo/face wash/makeup remover/etc samples they had sent over the past few months.

    birchbox works for me, but that's also because i like the allure of mystery boxes, i hate makeup shopping, and i love getting packages in the mail.

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  9. I subscribe to Ipsy's Glam Bag. (It use to be called My Glam, but for some unknown reason they decided to change the name to something weird and meaningless that Bank of America keeps thinking is something insidious and then calls me about it each month). Anyways, it's $10/month and I've been fairly happy with it so far. They don't send food or other useless things like glittery bandaids. (However, each month the samples come in a little makeup bag. HOW MANY OF THOSE THINGS DO I NEED?!) It's all makeup and hair products. I signed on when it was brand new and it was mediocre at best, but I stayed in, mostly because I kept forgetting to cancel. It seems like they have gotten their act together. This month's bag was by far the best. It was mostly makeup with one hair product, including two full size products (lip gloss and a liquid eyeliner), and they actually customized the colors based on your profile. And the makeup bag was actually decent quality so I stopped raging about getting another baggie. So, to summarize, I think going forward Ipsy, Glam Bag or whatever they are calling themselves, will be worth the money if they stay with their current formula. Oh, and they send coupons. I got a $100 hair straightener for $25 thanks to Ipsy.

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  10. I'm a Julep Maven and even though that's not exactly a "mystery box" subscription, they do offer mystery boxes to the members from time to time. I like Maven because getting a couple of nail polishes in the mail every month is like Christmastime to me, seriously, and they let you preview the products a few days beforehand so if you hate the colors you can switch to a box that is less stinky for you, or send it to a friend, or cancel that month, whatever floats your boat. They don't just send you that shit and expect you to go to the post office if you decide you don't like it. I really appreciate that and hence it's probably the only box subscription I'll ever take part in.

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    1. I'm on that, but I always end up skipping because they always try to send random stuff, like this month all the boxes except one had this grapefruit scrub with it, and one month they had mascara. I'm sure it's a good scrub and a good mascara, but I signed up for nail polish. The box that's had only nail polish has always not appealed to me for whatever reason. I think I might cancel, which is a shame because I like what I've gotten so far.

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  11. I was excited it was free, but then you said it's a subscription service. I'm a broke college kid, so now I feel left out on the goodies!

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  12. Yves Rocher likes to send surprise 'gifts' in addition to your order. It usually ends up being bad perfume and purple-brown lipstick. Basically it seems to be junk they couldn't sell. I'm glad to hear there's something better out there.

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  13. "...letting a cosmetic company use my head as a beer rest while I choked on their bone."

    You seem to have an endless variety of colorful metaphors involving certain...acts. Dying here.

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  14. Is there a set amount of time you have to sign up for this subscription service? If I wanted to get it for 1-2 months to see how I liked it before committing to it, or if I decided I didn't like it anymore and wanted to cancel it, is that a thing I can do? Or do you have to sign up for 6 months or 1 year subscriptions like with magazines, etc?

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    1. Oh look, if I'd read your entire blog post I would have answered that question for myself.

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  15. Hi everyone! I work at Wantable and I just wanted to let you know that we're actually not a subscription service. We put out new packs each season, but we don't auto-charge you or send you anything unless you personally order it. I also wanted to tell you that we have a risk-free return policy. Our boxes are resealable and contain a prepaid return label so if you don't love your makeup pack you just have to put it in the box, reseal it, stick the label on, and send it back to us for a full refund! You guys can feel free to email me personally with any questions at kayla@wantable.co. :)

    Thanks for the great review, Natalie! You had us all cracking up at the office this morning as we read it! :D

    Have a great weekend everyone!

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  16. I think I would have signed up for this back in the days when I wasn't really sure what makeup was but knew I should probably have some. Having someone pick out some basic stuff for me would have given me a good start. But now I'm at the point where I have a few nice non-drug store makeups and a bunch of cheap stuff that works well too. So I don't feel the need to get MORE makeup, but maybe when I run out this might be a nice treat.

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  17. I did the assessment thing to see what could potentially work for me. I'm of Indian descent, and I even picked that I had DEEP BROWN skin tone, even though I really don't. And yet, they suggest rose tones. AKA shades that wouldn't show up on my skin tone in a million years. Besides, what brown skinned girl wants rose eye shadow, rose blush, and rose lips? I guess makeup boxes are not for the brown skinned girl.

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  18. I've heard a lot of bloggers talk about some of the weird pitches and offers they get from people who don't read their blog to market other people's crap in exchange for a free sample. What I've always wondered is, can't you take the free sample and review it totally honestly? Or does the initial pitch even include the stipulation that it must be a favorable review? Seems like a good way to get material, and since they've already demonstrated they can't be arsed to read your blog, they may never even know if you gave them a crap review.

    The fact that no one seems to be doing this, however, indicates to me that there is a reason for that.

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  19. I like beauty army. You pick 6 samples out of 9 instead of getting random samples sent to you. Your samples are suggested to you based on how you answer your beauty profile but if you don't like any of your samples you can retake your beauty quiz and get 9 different sample suggestions until you find a combination you like. Another thing I like is you can skip a month if you don't like the sample selection that month or you don’t have the money that month for your box. They have bigger samples than some of the other beauty boxes and sometimes have full size products. All in all I think beauty army is the best of all the sample boxes out there. I've been doing a ton of research about this sort of thing lately. It really is worth the 12 bucks a month. At least in my opinion.

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  20. I do QVC's Beauty TestTube. They offer a new one about every three months, and you can either do a one-time shipment, or get on auto-delivery. It's 30 bucks a kit, but it comes with 5-10 products (all makeup, skincare or haircare and some are full size), and the most recent issue of NewBeauty magazine. Like some of the other programs, you can see what's in the kit before you buy it, and if you're on auto-delivery, they send you an email when they're about to ship it (in case you want to cancel it last minute). This month the shipment contained the following: 6-fl oz WEN Cleansing Conditioner, Living Proof Thickening Mousse, Perricone MD High Potency Eye Lift, bareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipgloss (full size), Mally Evercolor Waterproof Eyeliner (full size), Smileactives Tooth Whitening Pen (full size), philosophy full of promise moisturizer, Perfect Formula Daily Moisturizer for nails (full size). I personally think the cost is totally worth it, especially if I give the items I have no interest in as gifts (or sell on ebay).

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  21. I'm subscribed to MyGlam (now Ipsy) and I love it! Granted, I'm a little sick of getting a goddamn pen black eyeliner every month, but at least I know that I will never, ever, EVER have to buy eyeliner again! I look forward to that little pink package in the mail. I think next year I'll subscribe to two or three more of these and see what I get. I think I just love getting mail in general.

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  22. The comments are closed on your BB cream post, but: if anybody is interested in trying BB cream, Maybelline is offering a free sample (though I don't know how "legit" theirs is). They're offering the Light/Medium shade and say delivery should take about 4 weeks.
    http://instoresnow.walmart.com/enhancedrendercontentincludes.aspx?id=120328

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  23. Wow, Natalie, you are living in my head. I was wondering about what BB creams were and, lo, you published a post about BB creams. I had a friend suggest birchbox and like magic (the fake magic that is really just coincidence) two day later you posted about mystery boxes. The interesting thing is that I went to the birchbox site when she talked to me and tried to sign up, only to be told I could only "reserve a box" and that the wait time is close to a month before I could actually subscribe. I guess the idea is to make me think I was applying for membership into a cool club for exclusive lucky beautiful people, but the wait time has actually allowed me to learn that it isn't that great a deal, and, from the comments I've seen here, you are generally just buying some nice packaging materials.

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  24. This post seems an appropriate time to mention this, because you keep talking about how funny you are and shit, and you succeeded in being so funny and shit.

    I'm a guy and while I don't use makeup myself, I do find your blog really interesting to read purely as a guy who finds the process behind women putting this stuff on their face really awe inspiring. I've seen some crazy work bein' done in the cubicle next to me before the clubs were hit and such.

    Largely though I read it for the humor and you do most definitely deliver.

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  25. Birchbox works for me because I like surprises but hate taking risks. I need a good week of wearing a product before I can tell if I like it, (or if it's going to give me hives) so buying new things from Sephora is risky. With Birchbox, I get to try out things I would never buy full-sized, and am often surprised by what I return to buy when the sample runs out. That, and it's like Christmas morning when the box comes in the mail!

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  26. I signed up for one of the seemingly ubiquitous secret miniature band-aids & makeup & hair tonic & protein bar box subscriptions. I like it. Why? Because I like getting pretty little packages in the mail. It could have 3 rocks and a rusty nail in it and I'd still be psyched. Go ahead, send me your Cynthia Rowley band-aids. They make me happy. Everything I just wrote sounds MUCH sadder than it actually is. psssst...by the way, Kayla from Wantable is listening to everything we say. But she's adorable and appreciative of your blog so I think we should all order a Wantable package.

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