Battle of the Subscription Boxes: Birchbox vs. Ipsy vs. Sephora Play!

I consider myself to be a make-up addict (or beauty junkie, make up hoarder, whatever you want to call it) so when I first heard of Birchbox years ago, I knew it was something that I had to be a part of. For $10 a month, to get a box of customized make up delivered right to my doorstep sounded like a great idea. After Birchbox, other subscription services started coming out and I ended up signing up for Ipsy as well and then way later on for Sephora Play! After having all of these services for years (at least 6 months in Sephora’s case), I decided to share my thoughts on each one and to cover the strengths and weaknesses of each service. Every single box is $10/month. Let’s begin…

1. Birchbox – I have been subscribed to Birchbox since June 2013. I read about it in a magazine and went straight to the website to sign up. After being on a waiting list, I finally got the email that I was all set and ready to receive my first box. At first, this was like getting a mystery birthday present every month – what was going to be in that box? I told all my friends about it and tried to get others to sign up with me. The first few months I was happy with everything I received but then I started noticing trends such as constantly getting perfume samples that ended up getting thrown out and getting pretty much only skincare products (and don’t get me wrong, I like skincare as much as the next girl but sometimes you would like a lip gloss or eyeshadow in the box instead of constantly getting make up remover and moisturizer). The one thing that always kept me around was their rewards program – for every item you reviewed, you got 10 points. 100 points -$10 and those points added up pretty fast so you could use them in the Birchbox shop to buy whatever products you liked from your previous boxes. Unfortunately, they got rid of this rewards program and now you only get points for products you buy in the store. You will almost never get anything in your box that can be found at a drugstore. Birchbox tends to be either department store brands or independent brands that you can only buy from them or from the brand’s website.

  • Advantages: Birchbox always has the newest brands and newest trends in make up in their shop. They post tutorials on YouTube and their website which are also very useful for their products. They also have a sample choice each month where one of your samples is selected by you (not any random sample, it’s usually something from their theme that month). They do come in cute little boxes each month that you can use to store different things around the house or give gifts to your friends in.  I gave my friends personalized Birchboxes for birthdays and Christmas where I would go out and buy my own favorite make up products and give it to them in a Birchbox. They also have “add on” products such as coffee mugs, planners, jewelry and other cute stuff you can snag for an affordable price and have it added to your monthly box. Once a year they do 2 limited edition boxes that have the “best of beauty” products for a pretty reasonable price that I always snag. Their customer service is always amazing and will resolve any problems you ever have (broken sample, box didn’t arrive in time, etc).
  • Disadvantages: They don’t send out as much “make up” as other companies. There are going to be months of just make up removers, moisturizers, scrubs, etc. that will just build up on your vanity or your bathroom counter. They also send a lot of perfume samples out that count as one of your items each month and personally, I am very picky with perfume so to me it’s usually a waste of a sample. Honestly, this is my least favorite of the 3 subscription services I am going to talk about in this post. I am considering stopping my subscription by the end of this year.

2. Ipsy – I’ve been an Ipsy subscriber for about 2.5 years now and Ipsy never fails to impress me. You always get at least 2 full size items and they’re always filled with make-up products. You will never get an Ipsy bag that is just filled with skincare products like you would with Birchbox. They also tend to send out beauty tools such as make up brushes, tweezers, eyelash curlers, etc. If I had to get rid of two of my boxes and just leave one, I would probably choose Ipsy. They have a mix of drugstore and high end products each month and will even have companies like ColourPop in their bags which is amazing (in case you aren’t familiar with Colourpop, go on their website and purchase at least $50 worth of stuff, you won’t regret it). Some companies I’ve seen featured in my boxes quite frequently have been NYX, the Balm, Smashbox, etc.

  • Advantages: only $10/month. Comes in a cute little make up bag that you can re-use for purposes other than make up such as a pencil bag ( I supplied all my friends with “pencil bags” all throughout school thanks to Ipsy). Lots of hair and make up products. Always get at least 2 – 3 full sized items in the bag. Have a point system for reviewing that you can use to redeem for other items on the website.
  • Disadvantages: If you want more expensive, higher end products, you may want to choose one of the other two boxes.


3. Sephora Play! – This is my most recent subscription service (as it only came out a few months ago) and it is quickly climbing to the top as my favorite. You always get 6 products in the box, a lot of them are full size, and the companies they feature are amazing. I mean, no other box sends you make up from Benefit, Make Up Forever, Kat Von D, Tarte, etc. every single month. They will always have at least one Sephora product in each box. You will also always get a fragrance sample, but you get 6 samples instead of 5 like the other boxes so I count it as a freebie. Plus, they send way better fragrances than the other two boxes.

  • Advantages: The products they send are by far the best of any other subscription services. They send a video every month of their make-up artists explaining how to use every single product in the box and the box (or the little bag now) has a pamphlet that also explains how to use the products.
  • Disadvantages: I do believe there is a wait list to get the Sephora Play! Box but I do think it’s worth the wait.


So I hope this was a good overview of these 3 subscription services and hope this answered some people’s questions/concerns about them. I do think my favorite currently is Ipsy but I think it’s going to be replaced by Sephora Play! as I continue to receive this box, if Sephora keeps up the great job with this product.

Let me know if you have any questions about any of these and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @styleprn

8 Comments Add yours

  1. shes_so_nc says:

    I signed up for Sephora play, super excited for that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing! You are going to love it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sephora Play – I need to try this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You will love it! They send the best stuff

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s