Wantable positions itself more as a personal styling service rather than subscription company. You still subscribe to a theme (one of five) and can make your style preferences known in your file to help create ideal matches. The biggest difference is that if you don't like anything, they'll happily take it back.
Of the five themes, three are "collections" (makeup, accessories and intimates) and two are "edits" (fitness and style). With a collection, you pay a monthly fee and receive three to five products hand-picked to match your preferences. With an edit, you pay a $20 styling fee and your stylist will pick out five items that you can try before buying. While collections are available in Canada, edits are not.
Our Wantable sample contained (for an accessories collection):
Amber and turquoise coloured beaded bracelet
Long beaded necklace with crystal pendant
Rose quartz drop earrings
Shandi gold "knot" stud earrings
(This pertains to the "collections" only, not to "edits".)
Price: US$40 for a single collection or US$36 for a monthly subscription, plus US$6 for shipping.
Goods: Makeup (including tools, nail polish and complexion products), accessories (including scarves, sunglasses and watches) or intimates (including loungewear, hoisery and shapewear).
Perks: A fun quiz takes you through various style questions to help Wantable hone in on your exact style and colour preferences. You indicate whether you "like", "love" or "dislike" certain qualities about your chosen collection, so they know exactly what not to send and where there might be some room to include little surprises. And if you ever don't like that surprise, they have a great return policy - never get stuck with anything you don't absolutely love. You can also easily suspend your subscription if you need to skip a month.
For all you animal lovers and those trying to keep your beauty regimen as natural as possible, Vegan Cuts will deliver a curated box of four to seven cruelty-free products. These beauty and skincare products are mostly organic and natural, featuring independent and niche brands.
Our Vegan Cuts sample contained (pictured above):
A card listing all items with product descriptions and prices for the full size.
Perks: You can catch sneak peeks of what's coming on their many social media accounts including YouTube. New subscribers will often receive a bonus gift. Our box contained a code for $5 off the next purchase.
If you're a fan of Julep beauty products, Maven's for you. Julep is best known for their amazing nail polishes, but they also have a full range of skincare and cosmetics. Maven subscribers have five different style profiles to choose from, including one option for total customization, to help give subscribers exactly what they want.
Price: "My Maven" is the standard box, at US$24.99/month or US$19.99/month for a three-month subscription. Prices include shipping. Add-ons, upgrades and holiday editions are also available at an additional cost.
Goods: Nail and beauty products. "My Maven" boxes contain three full-size items with a total value of over $40.
Perks: Subscribers can customize their choices by checking out the previews and picking specific products/colours. Our welcome box contained a code for 50% off our next purchase. You can also skip a month or have your box sent to a friend. Mavens receive 20% off Julep's site
Whether you're into lipsticks, lip glosses, lip balms or lip stains... if you love lip products, this is the subscription box for you! As its name suggests, Lip Monthly focuses heavily on lip products, although you will receive one non-lip product in each box. It also includes an adorable and practical cosmetic pouch for toting all your new products.
Frequency: Monthly, for one month, four months or 12 months.
Perks: You can earn points from referrals, which can add up to free boxes.
By far the most generous subscription box in this bunch, Lilee is a relative newcomer but has made quite an impression with its full-size offerings. It caters to women who are a little bit more discerning, with a taste for niche brands that provide quality lifestyle items. Each box contains seven to 10 full-sized lifestyle products (homewares, consumables, makeup bag staples, etc). And speaking of boxes, Lilee's box is truly stunning, with its pretty graphical design and big satin ribbon. Officially, they promise that each box has a value of around US$120 but since starting, the average is well over US$150. Not too shabby.
Our Lilee sample contained (pictured above):
A card listing all items with product descriptions and prices.
Perks: Each box, in addition to the full size products, will contain a small pouch with a few bonus sample sizes of beauty goodies.
Glossybox has a global team that follows international beauty trends to bring monthly delights to subscribers in 10 countries. It's definitely for those who are looking to invest in quality, prestige brands. All the details for this box were a step above most – the enclosed card with product descriptions is on nice, heavyweight cardstock, the box itself is sturdy and display-worthy with a graphic, Pop Art image on the front (love), and of course the items inside are all from well-established luxury brands. The whole package, dare we say?
Our Glossybox sample contained (pictured above):
A beautiful, fold-out card describing each product, its retail price and tips on how to use it.
Frequency: Monthly. Some months will feature an optional second, special edition box.
Perks: Subscribers can customize their preferences by filling in a beauty profile when they join. This will help Glossybox match products to subscribers' skin type, hair colour, etc. Our sample box also contained an adorable cosmetic bag that contained a gift card for a mystery discount to one of their e-tailer partners. Nice touch.
One of the first subscription box programs to receive widespread love, Birchbox is now available in Canada, US, UK, France, Spain and Belgium. It features high-end and niche brands and includes beauty, hair, body, perfume and lifestyle products. In addition to the subscription boxes, Birchbox is also an e-commerce store where you can purchase full size products of anything you try. If you love discovering new retail products, this is a great platform to engage with.
They also occasionally partner with big partners for limited edition collections. Currently, there's a Mad Men collection ($60), featuring items that will help you achieve the show's iconic, retro looks.
Birchbox also promotes a point-based system, allowing you to accumulate points when you purchase a subscription, products or by writing reviews. These points can then be redeemed for online purchases.
Our Birchbox sample contained:
A card listing all five items with details on what they were, how to use them and price for the full size
Perks: Customizable based on your profile settings; earn points for Birchbox purchases.
Beauty Box Five
Beauty Box Five
This is a great, well-rounded sampler box that lets subscribers sample everything from luxury to drugstore, niche to eco. You'll get a mix of makeup, beauty, hair, skincare, fragrance, body and nail products. This is perfect for the girl who wants to try absolutely everything... but is too busy to shop.
Price: Subscriptions are US$12 for one month, US$30 for quarterly or US$99 for 12 months. You can also gift these boxes, US$30 for three months, US$60 for six months or $99 for 12 months. Add US$3 per parcel for shipping to Canada.
Goods: You'll always receive five products, a combination of full and deluxe sample sizes. Products cover makeup, beauty, hair, skincare, fragrance, body and nails.
Frequency: Once a month or once a quarter, which you can purchase month-to-month or for set periods.
Perks: When you sign up, you can complete a beauty profile that allows you to customize your preferences, which will be taken into consideration whenever possible.
Bath Time Box
For bath lovers, Bath Time Box will deliver a lovely smelling box containing at least five artisan bath products. BTB focuses on natural, handcrafted items made in small batches that minimize the use of unnecessary chemicals or additives. Typically, each box will contain a handcrafted soap, a scrub, a soak, a fizzy treat and a moisturiser or facial masque.
Our Bath Time Box sample contained (pictured above):
A card listing all five items with details on what they were, how to use them and price for the full size. It also gave us a 10 per cent off code for purchases made on their site.
Price: US$29 for one month, US$85 for three months, US$335 for 12 months. Prices include shipping to Canada. Goods: A minimum of five bath products, ranging from full size to deluxe sample size. Featured brands: They largely feature their own in-house brand, with occasional products from supporting partners. Frequency: Monthly Perks: Monthly subscriptions may be halted and reactivated at any time. If you love a particular product, you can purchase full size items on their website.
For the beauty junkie who loves trying new products on a regular basis, subscription boxes are a dream come true
For a fee, beauty box subscribers receive a beautifully packaged assortment of products every month (or other specified period). Some specialize in specific products such as nail polish, eco-friendly items or bath goodies. But, more commonly, you'll receive a nice random variety to try out, which is a great way of discovering new brands and products.
But before you subscribe, make sure you understand the terms. Some only send sample sizes, while others include full-sized products. Some will allow you to suspend your subscription or forward your box to an alternate address. Some even allow you to specify the types of products or colours you want or don't want (as opposed to a fully random selection). Prices vary greatly, and generally you do get what you pay for in terms of sizes and quality.
Whether you're looking for a cheap thrill or an indulgent splurge, there's a pretty box out there perfect for you. Here are nine of our favourites. And, yes, they all deliver to Canada.
Catherine is a lifestyle writer, specializing in travel, style, food and beauty. You can read more of her work in WestWorld, Real Weddings, AsiaSpa, Darpan, Wine Enthusiast and others. Follow her on social (Instagram, Snapchat & Twitter) @TSEwords.