Is it Worth It?: Birchbox v. Ipsy Edition

10:06 AM

Welcome back, welcome back!!!

I took last week off so that I could get acclimated to the hellacious summer I'm going through, known to most people as a bar exam prep course. I'm telling you guys, this thing is for REAL. We're only a week in and I am tired already!

But today I'm coming back to the blog to share the next in my subscription box series! In case you haven't tuned into one of these posts before, every other month I review subscription box services to let you know if they're worth your while and your hard-earned dollars! In previous editions of this series, I've reviewed Rocksbox and Le Tote (follow the links to see my thoughts).

A follower of mine on Instagram suggested this VERY smart face-off between beauty subscription box services Ipsy and Birchbox, so here I am to offer you the 4-1-1 on whether these two are worth it,  and if I like one better than the other! Here we go!!

So how do they work?

Both services have a customized quiz that allows you to go through and select the types of products you do and do not want, as well as asking you about your skin tone/skin type, hair color and eye color. Both quizzes are relatively brief and cover a lot of ground, so it's definitely the time to say what you want!

After you make your choices, you'll put in your card information to be charged (or if you sign up for yearly service, which both offer, you'll be charged for the yearly fee). Both services charge you on the first of the month, regardless of when you sign up, and each set ships around the middle of the month. Mine usually arrive within a day of each other. In other words, if you sign up for Ipsy on June 20th, your first month will be July and you'll be charged on July 1st.

NOTE: Generally speaking, both Birchbox and Ipsy have a waiting list to get their service. If you have a friend who is already getting the service, ask if they can invite you to join because this will GREATLY speed up your process. If they invite you and you follow the invitation link, you can usually skip the waiting period.

Do the items have to be returned?

No. Every item you get is yours to keep, including the packaging.

How much does it cost? 

Both services cost the same: $10/month gets you five beauty items.

So...what are the differences?

I feel like the reason most people don't know which service to go with when selecting between Ipsy and Birchbox is because they seem like pretty much the same thing, and it's hard to choose between two such similar items. So here's a full breakdown on what's different between the two:


Birchbox: Birchbox arrives every month in a pretty rectangular (you guessed it) box with your items inside. Birchbox sometimes collaborates with paper companies like Rifle Paper Co. to create the designs. It's a sturdy box and good for storage.

Ipsy: Ipsy comes every month in a small makeup bag with all of the products stuffed inside. I personally LOVE these little bags. Every month is a different theme and they're so nice for your purse or for travel!

Product size.

Birchbox: Every item that Birchbox sends is sample size, with one or two exceptions (lipstick is one of them, though it's usually one out of a set of multiples). This means that each one is just a few uses before you're done, which is kind of annoying to me if I really like a product.

Ipsy: For the most part, Ipsy's samples are full-size product! For example, I've gotten a blush compact, a lipstick, a box of Morrocanoil, and even a full-size bottle of a hair product from a brand I love. It's super awesome and one of my favorite parts about Ipsy.

Product quality. 

Birchbox: To be honest, I think the product quality may be slightly better in Birchbox (but not by much). For example, I'm much more likely to get a high-end conditioner or Smashbox oil primer in my Birchbox than in my Ipsy. (Probably accounts for why everything is a sample size.) I have only had one or two products I truly hated or didn't work well.

Ipsy: I find that more products in my Ipsy bag (again, not by much) tend to be cheaper quality. The "gel-like" polish I got last month chipped off my hands within two hours, even with top coat (so no, not so gel-like, folks); a highlighter I got was mostly glitter. Most products are comparable to Birchbox, but some are definitely not.

Types of products.

Birchbox: Birchbox tends to have more skin and hair products (or at least I get them) than cosmetic products in my monthly box (usually one cosmetic product, sometimes two, compared to three to four hair/skin products).

Ipsy: Since it was started by YouTube makeup sensation Michelle Phan, Ipsy is more makeup-focused. It's the inverse of Birchbox: one or two hair/skin products and three to four cosmetic products.


Birchbox: Every month Birchbox gives you the option to receive an additional free sample, swap your box for their monthly themed product box, or to purchase "lifestyle add-ons." This month I added a brow gel from Benefit to my box because we all know I love my brows. The themed boxes tend to go quickly, so I've never gotten one, and never felt the need for the lifestyle add-ons, which usually end up being things

Ipsy: Ipsy does not offer any customization options that I'm aware of at this time (if you know about this and I don't, tell me)!

So...what's the verdict?

I definitely see the value in getting both, and I definitely enjoy my subscriptions to both. That being said, I'm going to give you the classic lawyerly answer of "it depends," because it honestly does. If you're looking for more high end samples and less makeup, then you go Birchbox. If you're looking for more makeup and full-size products, you obviously go Ipsy.

If you want to try either of the services above and want a referral, leave your email in the comments below and I'll be happy to hook you up!! Have questions I didn't answer? Leave 'em for me!



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