In the land of beauty box subscriptions, it seems like Ipsy and Birchbox have a pretty big monopoly over the other hundreds of lesser-known options. But when it comes down to Birchbox vs. Ipsy, what do you do? Both cost $10 a month, both send samples of hair, skincare, and makeup products, and both have surveys to tailor your products to your personalized tastes and preferences. Here’s a look at the values of each box for the month of January 2016.
This is my first month of Birchbox, and I was excited to get some hair products because that’s something I’ve never seen with Ipsy (and what I tried to focus more on in my survey). I was happy to still see some makeup products too, though. I love the eyeshadow stick (mostly just because I really love eyeshadow sticks in general) — they’re so easy to throw into your makeup bag in your purse and keep for on-the-go makeup touch-ups.
I’ll never say no to lipstick, but I’m not sure if Peripera Peri’s lip tint can really be called “lipstick”… It literally feels like water on your lips when you’re putting it on, and the smell takes me right back to my middle school Lip Smacker days — but once it dried, it had a nice color and it didn’t feel like I was wearing lipstick at all, which was nice.
And while normally I would also be happy to get a hydrating serum, Derma E’s did not impress me (it smells like cotton candy and kind of weirded me out).
All in all, the products in this month’s Birchbox were a solid okay. I’ll probably use all of them (except maybe the cotton candy serum), but I’m not likely to order any full-size versions.
As I mentioned above, Ipsy seems to be more focused on the makeup side of beauty products than Birchbox, which I personally enjoy a little more. I don’t think I’ve ever received any hair care products from Ipsy (though I’m sure it’s not unheard of). The products for this month’s Glam Bag include:
I’ve been an Ipsy subscriber for about four months, and this is my absolute favorite Glam Bag yet. I fell completely in love with the Promise Organic moisturizer and actually have already ordered a full-size version online. I love the gold color of theBalm Cosmetics eyeliner and the MARSK eyeshadow. The Dirty Little Secret Cosmetics lipstick is a bright pink that I am so excited to wear once Spring (finally) rolls around. The only thing in this bag that I won’t use is the Tucker Ashley eye cream because I don’t really need a product like this. I gave it to my mom, though, and she loves it.
There were three full-size products in this month’s Glam Bag, which is worth noting since Birchbox had no full-size products this month. I personally enjoyed these products a lot more than the Birchbox products, probably because I’m a makeup junkie at heart.
The total value of my Ipsy January Glam Bag was almost $75 (!!!), while the Birchbox only totaled up to about $25. That means that Ipsy literally tripled the value of Birchbox this month, even though they cost the same monthly. I think there are two reasons for this: One, Ipsy tends to send products that generally cost more than Birchbox; Two, the sample sizes of the Ipsy products are usually larger than the Birchbox samples.
Birchbox vs. Ipsy: Final Verdict
Based on the value alone, Ipsy was the better choice for January’s box. However, this is not all that plays into deciding which box to subscribe to. The higher value of Ipsy could be either good or bad, depending on what you’re looking for. While trying higher-end products for cheap is always great, if you prefer drugstore makeup prices, then trying a $22 mascara in your Ipsy bag is useless — even if you fall in love with it, the full-size product is ultimately always going to be out of your price range.
I also enjoy the convenience of being able to order the full-size products right from the Birchbox store. With Ipsy, they usually provide a link to the website where you can find the full-size product (as well as discount codes for some products), but there have been times when I haven’t been able to find the product I was looking for.
One other thing worth noting is that while both Ipsy and Birchbox have points systems based on product reviews (and social media sharing with Ipsy), Ipsy is the only service that takes these reviews into account when curating your next month’s samples. The only way to make your Birchbox more personalized is to adjust your preferences by updating your Beauty Profile.
While I prefer Ipsy, in my opinion these two boxes are just very different. If you’re looking for more hair and skin care products, Birchbox is probably the best option for you. But if you enjoy trying new makeup options, Ipsy may be the better fit. If you want to build your collection with a wide variety of products each month, you may even want to subscribe to both — it’s unlikely that you would ever get the same product from both services.