Since beauty boxes launched in the UK a few years ago, a whole host of different services have emerged, focused on everything from discovering new products to testing ones you’ve had your eye on for ages, and covering niches such as organic beauty, nail polish-only and perfume. The concept is simple - sign up and receive a gorgeous package of new and exciting beauty samples each month - but choosing which to go for is less so. Luckily, we’ve done the leg work for you.
1. Look Fantastic Beauty Box: £15 a month, Look Fantastic
With Look Fantastic, you buy each box individually, no subscription, so you can easily opt out if you find yourself in a ‘too much month at the end of the money’ situation, but the contents still remain a surprise. You’ll get a minimum of six products, including some decent-sized ones, from brands such as Eve Lom, Eylure and Molton Brown.
2. Glossybox: £10 a month, GlossyBox
If you’re worried about not getting your money’s worth, GlossyBox have a minimum box value of £33 (and five products) a month, so you are guaranteed a great deal. Brands include Clarins, Lancome and Essie, but our favourite bit is the luxe packaging – it really feels like you’re receiving a little gift each month.
3. Birchbox: £10 a month, Birchbox
Birchbox is one of the original UK beauty box services and remains one of the best. The formula is pretty simple: sign up and receive a monthly delivery of four to five mystery products. Expect brands including Benefit, Korres and Caudalie and collaborations with the likes of Tatler, Women’s Health and Harper’s Bazaar and box designs by brands such as Skinny Dip and Rifle Paper Co.
4. Cohorted: £35 a month, Cohorted
If you’re a high-end beauty addict who finds that beauty boxes tend to just contain small samples of brands you’ve never heard of, Cohorted is the answer. It’s the priciest we tested, but with good reason: each box has a minimum value of £70 and contains at least four products from brands such as Nars, Mac, Michael Kors and Laura Mercier. Best of all, every month a few lucky subscribers receive a ‘super-luxury’ full-size product.
5. You Beauty Discovery: £6.95 a month, You
This is the cheapest and smallest of the boxes we tested so is a great place to start if you’re a little unsure about the whole concept. Every month you get to select two products that you’d like to receive from a shortlist, which you’ll then receive with a few added extras for that element of surprise. There are also limited-edition, one-off boxes available, including the Highlights of 2015 and some brand collaborations.
6. Nail Box: from £15 a month, Nail Box
Nail Box is the first subscription service in the UK to deliver polishes from the brands we mani-pedi addicts know and love. Each month's box contains five mystery items (three or four polishes and one or two accessories) from brands including Essie, Nails Inc, China Glaze, O.P.I and Seche Vite.
7. Perfume Society Discovery Boxes: From £15 a month, Perfume Society
Ideal for those who prefer perfume to beauty or those just looking to find a new scent, the Perfume Society boxes bring you a range of sample fragrances and smelling notes for each. Brands include Chloe, Elie Saab and Moschino and you will sometimes receive sneak previews of scents that haven’t been launched yet. Buy each box separately as you fancy, or subscribe for a reduced rate.
8. Love Lula Beauty Box: £12.50 a month, Love Lula
For those with sensitive skin, or those who are just interested in natural, chemical-free beauty, Love Lula offers a box full of hard-to-find goodies with no parabens and no animal testing. Every subscriber receives the same box, so there’s no pot-luck involved and the packaging is fully recyclable. Once you’ve found the products you can’t live without, you can buy the full sizes at Love Lula’s online store.
9. Nourish Beauty Box: around £25 a month, Nourish Beauty Box
This one is actually a bit of a misnomer, as you get your products in a canvas tote bag rather than a box. Nourish is another ethical-minded, cruelty-free box with three full-size natural beauty products from brands such as Herbivore and Seraphine and a postcard telling you how much your box is worth (just so you can be sure you're getting a good deal). Nourish is a US-based brand, but worldwide delivery is free so it works for UK shoppers.
10. Latest in Beauty: from £8.99, Latest in Beauty
Latest in Beauty is a little bit different to the original beauty box services because it’s not subscription-based. Instead, you can build your own box from the samples on offer. While you don’t get the element of surprise, you do know that you’ll get a package full of products that you actually want to use. Latest in Beauty also do ‘collection’ boxes with themes; currently available are the dermatology-led Harley Street box (£60) and the GQ Grooming Power Pack (£34.99).
11. Dollibox: £10 a month, Dollibox
This is very similar to the original beauty box services, but with slightly more unusual brands (often ones more commonly used by professionals in salons, such as Skin Truth and Anubis) – great for discovering little-known gems – and mostly full-size products. Ours included a Model Co mascara worth £24 and each box is worth at least £37, so you can guarantee you're getting your money's worth. You can also fill in a beauty profile online so you get products better suited to your taste.
12. MeeBox: £20 a month, MeeBox
MeeBox is the UK’s second nail-dedicated box, with polishes from brands such as China Glaze and Models Own, based around a theme each month (for example, January’s was ‘Blackberry Margarita’, which really gives nothing away). A warning: the ‘Hello it’s mee’ sticker on the packaging will get Adele stuck in your head.
For value for money, you can’t go far wrong with the classic Glossybox or Look Fantastic, and for more specific interests, we love Nail Box and the Perfume Society’s Discovery Boxes. If you’ve got the budget (and the beauty counter addiction to match), Cohorted is your match.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing
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