Monday, July 30, 2012

Beauty subscription services: When they just don't work


Today I cancelled my third beauty subscription service.  Like old boyfriends, it's not always easy to look back and count how many times it didn't work out, but sometimes looking back can lead to insights for moving forward...

My beauty subscription journey, like many gals here in the States, began with the infamous Birchbox.  Birchbox started about a year and a half ago, and came out strong with YouTubers and bloggers scrambling to get in.  There were full-size products, how-to videos, discount codes... everything to give a beauty product junkie her fix, all for just $10 a month.

Almost immediately following, we became inundated with different beauty subscription services from other companies.  All-natural, magazine-endorsed, nail polishes, healthy lifestyle, pet-oriented, jewelry, one created by a popular YouTuber (I refuse to use the word "guru")... the list goes on and on.  For those of us who love to try new beauty products without breaking the bank, it was a glorious time.

So what went wrong for me?  Beauty deja vu.  If you are subscribed to more than one service, you likely have had this problem.  It seems like the same companies send the same samples to various different companies, thus limiting the variety of what subscribers receive.  I kept holding out for something new, something awesome... and that rarely came, if ever.  Just the same ol' stuff everyone else is sending out.  Yawn.  Sometimes there just aren't enough options for things that can be included, so you end up with all-natural wildlife lip balm and hair oils every month.

Another problem with beauty subscription services is meeting the individual needs of subscribers.  There aren't a lot of beauty products that work universally... even BB creams come in light/medium/dark.  So when companies try to send out samples, it's usually a crapshoot for whether or not you'll like it or even be able to use it.  Some of them have beauty "profiles," sure, but they rarely followed or offer sufficient information.  I've gotten a lot of anti-aging products because you either fit into the teenager-needs-acne-treatment or old-lady-has-wrinkles categories.  Neither of those fits me.  For most beauty subscription services, they have to be one size fits all, and that frequently leads to lackluster outcomes.

I see a lot of general complaining on Twitter, blogs, etc. about beauty sample boxes.  We rush to subscribe to whatever is newest, then after 3-4 months, we start complaining about how bad it is and move on to the next one.  For me, I noticed a pattern, and am realizing that perhaps beauty subscription services are not for me.  I know enough about different products to know the brands I like and where to look for what I need.  I also know the money spent on samples that disappoint me could be put towards full size products of things I like.  From what I'm reading and hearing from many of you, it sounds like you're the same way.  Let's face it... not every sample is going to be a perfect match, and not every sample subscription service is going to be a perfect match.

Now what do I do with all these hair oils and perfume samples?