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10 best beauty subscription boxes: Skincare and make-up treats you’ll look forward

From vegan elixirs to personalised skincare, these are the letterbox gifts worth signing up for

Sabine Wiesel
Friday 21 January 2022 17:00
<p>Try out different formulas without breaking the bank</p>

Try out different formulas without breaking the bank

Whether you’re stuck in a beauty rut and need some inspiration, or you’re a make-up obsessive who loves to try out new products, you’re bound to be able to find a beauty subscription box that’s perfect for you.

Receiving a hand-picked edit of products straight to your door is a sure-fire way of putting a smile on your face each month when the post arrives. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, whether you treat yourself or a loved one.

Beauty packages are also the easiest way to try something new, as you don’t need to trek down to your nearest department store. They’re also cost-effective, as they won’t break the bank as the process of trialling full-size products will.

Most subscriptions are monthly or bi-monthly, where you sign up to a three-month, six-month or annual subscription – the longer you subscribe, the cheaper they become. And you get the choice to pay monthly, or up front. You’ll also find flexible sign-ups with a rolling contract, where you can cancel or pause anytime, as well as the ability to buy one-off boxes.

No longer is there just a handful of beauty subscription boxes to choose from. You’ll find specialist boxes to suit your lifestyle – think whether you’re vegan or not, the stage you’re at in life, or whether you’re a beauty novice or pro. So, to make sure you find the best one for your wants and needs, we did some investigating.

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How we tested

To find the best beauty subscription boxes, we judged each on a number of criteria. We looked at what’s inside, considering the quality of brands, the variety and the sizes of products. Then we compared the price and flexibility of the subscription, and the overall value for money.

The best beauty subscription boxes for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Glossybox: From £11.75 each for 12 months or £13.25 for one,
  • Best for well-known beauty brands – Lookfantastic beauty box: £13 each for 12 months or £15 for one,
  • Best for over 40s – TOYL beauty box: £35 per month,
  • Best natural beauty subscription box – Wellbeing Sisters discovery box: £35 every two months,
  • Best for new mums – Oh Mumma beauty boxes: From £25 each for six or £30 for one,
  • Best for personalised skincare – Skin + Me: £24.99 per month,
  • Best for fragrance lovers – The Fragrance Shop scent addict: £12 per month,
  • Best low-price subscription – Birchbox: £110 per year or £13.95 per month,
  • Best luxe products for less – Beauty Pie membership: £59 per year or £10 day pass,
  • Best for creating your own – The Lib Box by Latest in beauty: £12.95 per month,

Glossybox: From £11.75 each for 12 months or £13.25 for one,

Best: Overall

  • Rating: 9.5/10
  • Regularity: Once a month
  • Product sizes: Full size and travel size

This pink box is one of the original beauty subscription-box services that started it all and is still much-loved today – it’s now available in 10 countries. The brand sources products from around the world, so you can trust them to bring you a mix of exciting newness as well as established classics.

Every month there are five products in the box, together worth over £50, with a theme to each. The offering we tried was “beauty desires”, promising soft, silk-like textures and radiance-boosting make-up with four full-size products. We found items from brands we already know and love, like the e.l.f’s bitesize eyeshadow palette, but also discovered fresh formulas, like the relaunched Commodity paper fragrance, with its beautiful woody amber notes.

Buy now

Lookfantastic beauty box: £13 each for 12 months or £15 for one,

Best: For well-known brands

  • Rating: 9/10
  • Regularity: Once a month
  • Product sizes: Full size and travel size

You can bet a website with such an incredible amount of beauty brands is going to have an impressive subscription box, too. Worth over £51 with six products in various sizes, you can get your hands on this one for as little as £13 a month if you sign up for 12 months.

Our testers’ favourites in one month’s box included a Balance Me BHA exfoliate concentrate: a leave-on salicylic acid formula. The Prai throat and décolletage cream, meanwhile, gave this often-neglected area some skincare love, and we also enjoyed the Le Mini Macaron foot mask (your soles should be looked after all year round). The retailer also does some fabulous limited-edition boxes with single brands, too.

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TOYL beauty box: £35 per month,

Best: For over 40s

  • Rating: 9/10
  • Regularity: Once a month
  • Product sizes: Full size

Put together with the beauty wants and needs of women aged 40 and over in mind, TOYL (Time of Your Life) offers a collection of skin, hair or make-up products each month that’s always worth a minimum of £100. Subscribe to three, six or 12 months to make a bigger saving, and it’s flexible as you can cancel or pause anytime – handy as you get to see in advance what’s inside.

The box we tried was an edit of party make-up, including the Code Beautiful VLM mascara for stay-in-place lash volume and length, the Bellapierre ultraglow highlighting and bronzing palette, the Lord and Berry vogue matte lipstick in fuchsia for a suit-all bold lip, and the brand’s skin control mattifying/blurring primer to make sure your make-up stays flawless until the end of every do. There was a bonus sample size of the new Vita Liberata heavenly elixir to give your skin a natural golden glow, too. There’s something to keep every part of you looking and smelling your best.

Buy now

Wellbeing Sisters discovery box: £35 every two months,

Best: Natural beauty subscription box

  • Rating: 8.5/10
  • Regularity: Every other month
  • Product sizes: Full size and travel size

Started by two sisters who benefitted from making more-conscious choices in their lives, this subscription service is a brilliant introduction to new natural brands. You can sign up to receive a box every other month and cancel anytime. The contents are often worth more than £50, and come with six products inside.

We tried the Wild Pharmacy good things happen face mask for perking up a tired complexion, and banished frizz with the John Masters Organics leave-in conditioning mist (a brand we love). We went natural with toothpaste and deodorant offerings from Ben & Anna, and spritzed our way to a better immune system with BetterYou’s Dlux 1000 vegan vitamin D oral spray. There were also some Booja-Booja almond salted caramel chocolate truffles thrown in, too.

This one is currently out of stock, but if you sign up for the waitlist you’ll receive an email when it returns.

Buy now

Oh Mumma beauty boxes: From £25 each for six or £30 for one,

Best: For new mums

  • Rating: 8.5/10
  • Regularity: Every other month
  • Product sizes: Full size and travel size

Look no further if you’re struggling to find a gift for someone expecting, as a box of beauty treats hand-picked by mums, for mums, couldn’t be more of a winner. Choose a one-off treat or sign up for a box delivered bi-monthly, which the brand claims is worth double what you pay. You also get to pick whether you want a “mum and baby” box or a “just for mum” box.

Every box contains between five and seven products. A stand out for us was the full-size Bloom & Blossom hands up hand cream that has been keeping our paws comfortably hydrated for months now. The Wick & Wonder coast candle was also perfect for encouraging a little me-time, and the Pai middlemist seven cleanser and cloth made quick and easy work of lifting away the day’s make-up and dirt.

Buy now

Skin + Me: £24.99 per month,

Best: For personalised skincare

  • Rating: 9/10
  • Regularity: Once a month
  • Product sizes: One full size

From smoothing fine lines and wrinkles to banishing acne, Skin + Me offers a “dermatologist to your doorstep” service to treat an array of skin concerns with its prescription-strength topical treatments. Simply fill in the online questionnaire and upload three photos of your face to be prescribed a bespoke cream that’s personalised to you.

It can be a minefield trying to work out which actives should be in your regime, so this is the perfect choice for those that aren’t clued up on the benefits of different skincare ingredients.

The concentrations start low and get stronger with time, offering you a powerful and effective treatment that we can’t believe is so reasonably priced.

Buy now

The Fragrance Shop scent addict: £12 per month,

Best: For fragrance lovers

  • Rating: 8/10
  • Regularity: Once a month
  • Product sizes: One travel size

This subscription is not strictly a beauty box, but rather a fragrance subscription service, perfect for those who still haven’t found their signature scent or are looking to add to their perfume wardrobe. From brand-new designer fragrances to classics and everything in-between, simply pick the ones you’d like to try out of the 500, and sign up to a three-, six- or 12-month fixed membership to receive one 8ml atomizer monthly (around 100 sprays).

There’s a helpful perfume quiz too, for making recommendations if you don’t know where to start. And, best of all, you get a £12 voucher to redeem on a full-size bottle, should you fall in love with your selection.

Testing a new scent can be impossible, so we found this service invaluable. A quick spritz in a department store can’t ensure you won’t loathe its scent later in the day. This service, however, ensures you get to properly try out the perfume.

Buy now

Birchbox: £110 per year or £13.95 per month,

Best: Low-price subscription

  • Rating: 8/10
  • Regularity: Once a month
  • Product sizes: Full size and travel size

Birchbox is another OG beauty subscription service that is still hard to beat – as shown by the four million worldwide subscribers and customers. Expect five products each month with a mix of haircare, skincare, make-up and bodycare in various sizes. We love that the brand takes a more personalised approach, asking you to fill out a beauty profile, so it can tailor the box to you when needed.

There’s no commitment with just one, but you save money the more you sign up for – making it the cheapest of all our winners. And if you try something in the box and love it, subscribers can purchase it on the brand’s site with 10 per cent off – leading to 15 per cent off everything after six months in a row of subscribing.

Our tester’s favourite products in the box they tried was the full-size KNDR eyeshadow trio – a beautifully packaged palette from a new US brand (choose from two shades). We also liked the travel size Percy and Reed hold it right there hairspray, perfect for popping in your handbag for touch-ups, and the Nuxe organic antioxidant serum – because everyone should be layering their skin with one.

Buy now

Beauty Pie membership: £59 per year or £10 day pass,

Best: For luxe products for less

  • Rating: 9/10
  • Product sizes: Full size

It’s not technically a beauty box, but it is a beauty membership well worth knowing about. Become a member for a day for £10, or for a year for £59, and you’ve got access to cutting-edge skincare and make-up from the same factories that supply the luxury brands.

There’s no commitment necessary and if you opt for the yearly price you can indulge in 75 per cent off everything, all year long. Or, if you’re really looking to treat yourself, you can pay £99 for an annual membership that comes with a starter skincare set worth £225.

It’s an affordable option for those looking to refresh their beauty routine. You’ll find the most powerful and effective actives in skincare, and make-up that rivals some of the very best.

Buy now

The Lib Box by Latest in beauty: £12.95 per month,

Best: For creating your own

  • Rating: 8/10
  • Regularity: Once a month
  • Product sizes: Travel size

Turn to this beauty box if you’re not into surprises and prefer a personalised approach, as you get to pick your own six products each month from hundreds of options. After 30 days you get to pick another edit, and there’s no minimum subscription so you can cancel anytime.

Each time there’s a new product introduced to the line-up, as well as a “hall of fame” product for the month that’s worth £15 or more. In the box we tried, it was the Bybi bright eyed illuminating eye cream, and past picks are from some of our favourite brands including 111Skin, Nars and Philip Kingsley. A brilliant option for making sure nothing goes unwanted.

Buy now

The verdict: Beauty subscription boxes

For a mix of familiar finds and new brands to get to know, along with its purse-friendly prices, GlossyBox is our best buy. If you’re over 40, you can’t beat TOYL’s offering, with its generous sizes and products with mature skin in mind.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on skincare and beauty offers, try the links below:

House your new beauty buys in the best make-up bags for everyday organisation and travelling

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