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There’s no denying the feel-good factor that comes from discovering an awesome new beauty find. Something about swiping on a new lipstick, dabbing a dollop of new moisturizer, or applying that silky new hair serum the beauty universe is buzzing about delivers an instant mood boost through a moment of self-care and pampering.
Like the savvy, modern-day shoppers that we are, navigating a sea of beauty options from old classics to overnight newbies, can be overwhelming. Product sampling is hardly a new concept—heck, it’s precisely what made the in-store beauty counter visit so enticing, collecting a suitcase full of samples to test along with your purchase.
Yet as our world continues to evolve from physical to digital, beauty sampling has morphed to meet the on-demand, on-the-go consumer by bringing beauty experimentation right to your doorstep. Over the last decade, beauty subscription boxes have emerged in many forms, surprising and delighting customers with their own take on a curated mix of beauty finds.
After a careful survey of options and offerings, these seven makeup subscription boxes reign supreme, delivering on exceptional product quality, extensive variety, and a thrilling unboxing experience that makes each and every delivery a treat.
The 8 Best Makeup Subscription Boxes of 2020
Best Overall: Dermstore BeautyFix
If you’re a sucker for a good deal, here’s one that’s hard to pass up. This beauty box delivers over $100 worth of products to your doorstep for around $25 per month.
And unlike most 75% off deals that leave you probing a picked-over batch of leftovers, this box delivers a curated lineup of newness and cult-favorites without any of the scavenging.
While the boxes are definitely weighted in favor of skincare product picks, they also include a sampling of hair care and color cosmetics that play to a nice variety and have you covered head to toe with every delivery.
Each package includes both sample- and full-sized products (which are often worth the cost of the box all on their own). It’s packed with only professional and prestige items from reputable, splurge-worthy brands like SkinMedica, PCA Skin, Sunday Riley, R+Co, and Dermalogica.
You’re bound to be impressed with the selection every single time.
Best Value: Allure Beauty Box
For starters, this monthly box is curated by Allure beauty editors and includes a mix of classics and newfound treasures that caught their eyes each month.
And, as a group of beauty gurus that test just about every beauty product under the sun, coining any one as a must-try is one powerful accolade—and certainly reason enough to want to try for yourself. The box only includes full-sized products or premium-sized samples—meaning none of those cheap, throwaway packettes—so it makes for a real treat every time the chic white box arrives at your doorstep.
It’s also known to feature coveted beauty favorites from brands like Nars, Giorgio Armani, Kate Somerville, and Anastasia Beverly Hills (which are hard to come by in other competing boxes), and every month’s selection covers the complete beauty gamut with a balanced mix of makeup, skincare, haircare, and fragrance products to play with.
You’ll also receive a mini-magazine that features detailed reviews on each product, so you know exactly what to expect and why it was chosen as such a standout. Added bonus: If you splurge on the full year subscription upfront, you not only get roughly 12 boxes for the price of 11, but you also score (in the words of Allure) a "mega-bundle," which includes 17 products valued worth more than $250.
You'll pay around $15 per month/box. That’s a whole lot of beauty coming at you.
Most Customizable: Birchbox
As the OG of beauty subscription boxes, Birchbox was one of the first to recognize the demand for beauty sampling and subsequently launch a subscription service to deliver that beauty experimentation to your doorstep each month.
Since its launch in 2010, the brand has amassed over 1 million subscribers, so it’s safe to say people were on board with the idea. For starters, the brand's adorable box designs are something to look forward to all on their own—and come in handy as convenient and stylish stackable organizers around the home. Every month your box includes four to six deluxe-sized samples across makeup, skincare, body care, hair care, and fragrance, catered to your individual beauty needs based on the beauty profile you fill out at signup.
Birchbox is designed with the everyday beauty consumer in mind, helping you cut through the clutter of endless beauty options to deliver on reliable product picks that will seamlessly fit into your beauty routine—no matter how minimalist or simplified that might be.
The customization options allow you to make a personal product selection each month, or swap your monthly bundle for a special edition Curated Box (either a clean beauty box or a package filled with brand CEO Katia’s favorite picks). You also have the option to swap your box for a featured, full- or travel-size product that Birchbox spotlights each month. Either way, your monthly product delivery comes stocked with things you will actually crack open and enjoy.
Subscriptions range from $13-15 per month, depending on how many months you sign up for.
Best Cruelty-Free: Petit Vour
If non-toxic, plant-based beauty is your jam, this box of cruelty-free, vegan beauty finds will speak to you. Each monthly box features four super-clean products spanning makeup, skincare, and hair care, which are curated to best meet your beauty profile, so it feels a bit more personalized than most.
Whether you’re a seasoned, clean beauty aficionado or just looking to dabble in the category, this thoughtful lineup will deliver on cruelty-free, vegan favorites from well-known brands like RMS, Jane Iredale, and Pacifica, and indie gems from lesser-known brands like Rahua, Alima Pure, and Lily Lolo.
The reliable, good-for-you selection is one that will impress you monthly, both with its impeccably clean ingredient lists and delicious formulations, resulting in new beauty finds that will likely claim stakes in your starting lineup once you sample them.
The total value of each box is guaranteed to be over $50—so you can rest easy each month knowing you get your money’s worth—plus there is an intriguing incentive, offering roughly a $4 credit in exchange for your monthly review of the box, which can then be used to purchase your full-sized favorites.
Boxes cost as low as around $15 per month.
Most Luxurious: Curateur
While it's the most expensive subscription box on this list, rest assured, you’ll be diving into a box of pure luxury every season and will regret absolutely nothing.
With over $450 worth of products tucked into each box, this subscription feels more like being part of an exclusive club that delivers wish list-worthy surprises to spoil you rotten every season. Your membership also unlocks access to a Members Marketplace where you can score out-of-this-world deals on must-try products—so in many ways, that "exclusive club" feeling is not so far from the truth.
Each box is thoughtfully curated by one of the most stylish women on earth, Rachel Zoe, which is no surprise why each and every one of the five luxury product picks inside feels special and intentional. The coveted quintet spans a selection of beauty, fashion, and lifestyle products, and pays extra attention to sustainability, inclusivity, and craftsmanship, featuring admirable do-good brands like Kosas, Grown Alchemist, and Skin Gym.
This box is the perfect way to surprise yourself with a collection of seasonal newness that will instantly put you in summer (fall, winter, or spring) mode, and get you psyched for the season ahead—even if that means making life at home a bit more glamorous.
Annual members pay around $350 per year, while seasonal subscribers pay about $100 quarterly.
Best Hidden Gems: Popsugar's Must Have Box
This quarterly box of goodness is curated by Popsugar editor-in-chief and president Lisa Sugar. If you’ve ever read her book "Power Your Happy," you know this empowering founder is one driven, inspiring, kind, and passionate individual whose opinion is worth valuing. If you haven’t read her memoir, the thoughtfully selected products inside her handpicked box of favorites will solidify that notion.
As a brand rooted in discovery, many of its featured picks are brand-spanking-new products serving as a fun introduction to rising indie brands like Glow Recipe, Wander Beauty, and One Love Organics, which will seriously impress. Popsugar also sprinkles in a fair amount of covetable classics from familiar names like Charlotte Tilbury, Kevin Aucoin, and Tarte, which are always a welcome addition.
With six to eight full-sized products that span the beauty, fashion, home, fitness, and (the occasional) food categories, there’s always something to tickle your fancy. It’s one of the most consistently thoughtful product collections that delivers season after season.
Boxes cost $75 per quarter.
Best Unboxing Experience: GlossyBox
There’s something unbelievably special about unboxing a GlossyBox: From shimmying the lid off the signature pink, soft-touch box to untying the chic black ribbon, the whole experience feels extra special and makes for a real treat that you will look forward to each month. And that’s before you even dive into the products tucked inside.
Each monthly box includes five deluxe-sized beauty products valued at over $60—and more often than not, one or two of those items will surprise and delight as full-sized products. The product curation is centered around a clever theme that ties each beauty pick together; for instance, April’s "Blossoms" box featured floral-scented picks and petal pink polish and “March’s "All Eyes On Me" bundle included eye-related products like eyeliner, mascara, and tweezers.
There’s a reason the products you’ll find in this box don’t show up in every other beauty subscription: It’s thanks to the work of its discerning beauty trend scouts who source the best, most interesting products from all over the world.
Recently featured brands include Eyeko, Nails Inc., and Bella Pierre Cosmetics. An added bonus: As a member, you get special access to regular, limited-edition boxes, which are super-stocked with luxury beauty picks that impress.
Subscriptions start at around $21 for a one-month membership and $18 per month for a 12-month membership.
Best BIPOC-Owned: Tribe Beauty Box
Leave it to the all-star empowering Black founder, Bili Balogun, to create a feel-good box that celebrates fellow all-star, empowering female-owned beauty brands in every bimonthly shipment.
The selection of products from indie- and female-owned brands feels thoughtfully-curated with purpose and intent, focusing on quality over brand name and curation over hype. The box only includes cruelty-free products and at least four products every box are from female-run beauty brands #bossbabes.
Tribe's goal is to help you discover "the next best thing," and it’s nearly impossible not to with the high-quality mix of beauty gold inside each box. You’re practically guaranteed to find a new favorite—or many—with brands like Grace & Stella, Rodial, and Suva Beauty.
Each box includes a balanced mix of at least five products including a face product, skin prep product, eye product, lip product, and a tool, plus, one bonus "surprise" product that never disappoints. Each box is roughly $35 and is worth more than around $125, so you can rest easy knowing you’re getting your money’s worth and supporting some amazing women.
How We Chose the Best Makeup Subscription Boxes
First, we made a shortlist of makeup subscription boxes that we had already tried (and loved) ourselves—like Birchbox and Glossy Box. Then, we dug deep into the depths of the internet to find which makeup subscription boxes the beauty universe was buzzing about. That’s where we discovered options like Petit Vour and Rachel Zoe’s Box of Style, which did not disappoint.
We then had a long list of 20 beauty subscription boxes where we went further into the signup experience, comparing the packaging, product selection, and overall unboxing of each subscription. Many blurred together, with a similar (disappointing) mix of tiny samples, while others stood out from the crowd delivering coveted beauty surprises from brands like Charlotte Tilbury (found in the Popsugar Must Have Box) and Nars (found in the Allure Beauty Box).
It was only then that we were hit with that wow factor and the makeup subscription boxes made our top picks.