Thursday, June 7, 2012

battle of the beauty boxes - round 2

UPDATE (April 2013): Please read my most recent post on Glymm before ordering from this company.

my inner nerd is coming out. i don't make too much of an effort to hide her because, well, i actually like her. i'm even somewhat proud of her. but sometimes i feel a little silly revealing how over-the-top-geeky she can be.

right now is one of those times.

if you know anything about me (or have been following my blog or youtube channel for a while), you'll know what i'm (a) overly excited about my beauty boxes and (b) crazy obsessed with spreadsheets. this is the post where these two worlds collide.

{companion video}

in the below video, i provide a brief description of this comparison and i also answer some frequently asked questions about the beauty boxes, including:

- what is my favourite box?
- why i am not subscribed to luxe box or beauty box 5.
- why i did not include julep in my analysis.
- do i actually use the products?

{the process}

i have been asked a few times about my favourite beauty box. which one would i recommend? i always provide the same answer but my inner nerd wanted some supporting documentation to back up my response. to achieve this, i decided that i would track the contents of each beauty box on a spreadsheet. i love analyzing data so this seemed to be the logical course of action. the good news is that most of the data did support what i had already believed anecdotally; however, there were a few surprises, which i describe below.

{the analysis}

my analysis is broken down into several categories. first, i looked at an overall snapshot of the beauty boxes. each box promises a certain number of luxury and deluxe samples each month. for the purposes of this comparison, i assumed "luxury" meant higher-end brands and "deluxe" meant larger-size samples. since i've been subscribed to glymm a little longer than topbox and glossybox, i decided to work primarily in percentages. as you can see by the below comparison table, glymm wins out in terms of providing luxury samples (81%). glossybox provides the highest percentage of deluxe samples (88%) and full size products (42%). topbox falls in the middle, with most of the samples being luxury (75%) or deluxe (75%). topbox also provides a high percentage (40%) of full size products.

here is an example of how these figures were calculated: % of deluxe samples = # of deluxe samples received / # of total samples received.

in terms of shipping, on average, i receive my topbox on the 13th of the month, glymm on the 18th of the month, and glossybox on the 26th of the month.

the next comparison table relates to the dollars and cents of each of the boxes. in terms of the average number of samples received, glossybox wins out - this box promises 5 samples per month with a bonus sample every now and then. glymm promises 4-5 samples but sometimes we receive some extra little samples. topbox promises 4 samples per month. the numbers here might be a little misleading because i counted shampoo & conditioner samples separately (for example, the redken samples from my march topbox were counted as 2 samples).

the reason i counted the shampoo & conditioner samples separately is because it made the calculation for "average sample value" more straightforward. glossybox provides the highest average value at $9.93 per sample. i should have added an average value per box line (i will for the next comparison) but i am pretty sure glossybox would win out here as well.

return on investment (roi) was calculated based on the total value of all samples received divided by the the total cost including tax. in other words, the total value of all the topbox samples i received was $162.94 and i paid $45.20 for 4 boxes. this works out to an roi of $162.94 / $45.20 = $3.60. it was very surprising for me that topbox came out at the bottom here - i would have thought topbox would have been 1st or 2nd.

the next comparison table is the most subjective because it involves me rating the products i receive. i didn't do this in the past so i had to go back and rate each sample as i populated my spreadsheet. i used the following rating system:

3 - loved the product - would repurchase
2 - liked the product - might or might not repurchase
1 - disliked the product - would not repurchase

i tried to rate most products a 2, reserving ratings of 3 or 1 for only products that were either outstanding or not to my liking whatsoever. this is why the average rating is so close to 2. topbox received the highest percentage of samples with my highest rating (15%). glymm received the lowest percentage of samples with my lowest rating (13%) - this is probably why i am still partial towards glymm.

// product breakdown //

i found this next comparison table very interesting and hopefully you will too! basically, this suggests that if you are interested in makeup and nail polish, topbox would probably suit your tastes the most.

if you are not crazy about receiving fragrances or if you suffer from scent allergies, topbox never samples fragrances and glossybox has a fragrance free option. glymm does sample a relatively high percentage of fragrances.

both glossybox and glymm provide quite a few hair care and skin care products.

i do have further breakdowns showing what types of hair care, skin care, and makeup products were sampled but i'll probably provide these down the road when i have more data. plus i didn't want to seem too crazy in this blog post. you're thinking, too late!

{assumptions & caveats}

i tried to keep my analysis objective and consistent but of course there are always a few grey areas. just in case some of you are interested in the finer details:

- promo codes were not included in the analysis.
- shampoo & conditioner were treated as 2 separate samples - this made the calculation easier in terms of the sample size and value.
- definition of "luxury" was subjective - i'm not even sure if i agree with my own categorizations.
- definition of "deluxe" was set at 10% or more of the full size product.
- this is a snapshot as of june 1, 2012. since i anticipate that the boxes will continue to change over time, i'm going to try to provide an update every 3 to 6 months.

{other considerations}

while the spreadsheet method is great, there are aspects that i did not capture, such as customer service and general brand perception. in terms of customer service, i would rank the boxes as follows: (1) topbox, (2) glymm, (3) glossybox. i know some of you might disagree with me ranking glymm over glossybox but that is just my experience. i have received very good service from glymm in terms of response time to e-mails, overall friendliness of responses, and delivery times from beauty boutique orders.

general brand perception is a little trickier but i would rank the boxes as follows: (1) topbox, (2) glossybox, (3) glymm. unfortunately, glymm lost a lot of points here when the ability to post on the glymm facebook page was disabled. overall, i see a lot more negativity about glymm, which sometimes makes me hesitant to recommend the service, even though i still really like it. glymm seems to have turned a corner though - starting in may, the subscription now provides a cosmetic bag (instead of a cardboard box), which appears to be well received - but with that comes a slightly higher price for new subscribers.

{the verdict}

the spreadsheet analysis resulted in a few surprises (including how well glossybox scored below) but, overall, my favourite box remains unchanged. topbox is the winner here! glossybox and glymm are tied for second place. i love that glymm provides samples of products i would never think to purchase myself and niche brands that i have never seen. on the other hand, glossybox provides such amazing value and, even though the brands are not as luxe, the products are usually very good. i don't like to sit on the fence though so, if i absolutely had to choose, i would probably lean towards glymm because i find the featured brands and products a little more exciting.

that being said, i strongly feel that all three boxes are great subscription services - it basically boils down to your personal preferences. here is a summary - hopefully, this will help with your decision if you are trying to choose a beauty box.

this was a long post so thank you for taking the time to read it... i hope this was somewhat helpful. if you have any other questions, please let me know and i will do my best to answer!

if you wish to subscribe to any of the boxes through my invitation links, i will receive points (detailed below) and send heaps of good karma your way. :)

glymm - i will receive 50 glymm points if you subscribe using this link.
glossybox i will receive 200 glossydots if you subscribe using this link.
topbox - not a referral link - i can only provide the invitation via e-mail.
julep - use the promo code PENNY to get your first box for $0.01 including shipping! i will receive 1 credit if you subscribe using this link.

click here to read my first comparison (or how i decided to subscribe to topbox).


  1. Great post!! Very interesting to see the ROI summarized in such an easy to understand manner :) I was subscribed to all three, but unsubscribed from Glymm two months ago because their customer service left much to be desired. I once received a lip gloss with the security seal completely tore open, and the entire process to get a replacement was a complete headache. I also bought a subscription for a friend and they didn't send her a box at all! That was another hassle. It took several (over ten) emails and many attempted (and unanswered) phone calls for me to address their mistake. If my friend hadn't told me, they would have just went on charging me every month! Unbelievable. I had my first month with Glossy for May and so far like it. I agree the samples are not as luxe but I will definitely be using them. Topbox has been okay for me (better than the Glymm's though IMO) except for May which was amazing! Can't wait to see June soon.
    PS - For Glymm, did you calculate the box as being $10/mo (as it used to be) or $12/mos as it currently is?

    1. thanks natalia!! topbox is definitely my favourite too. :) i calculated the glymm box as being $10 per month since that is the price i paid (also because the price change just occurred). that is a good point though - for future comparisons, i might show both calculations. :)

  2. Thank you sooo much for doing this!

    1. You're welcome! Thanks for taking the time to comment :)

    2. i've just placed myself on the waiting list for topbox thanks to you. there are so many beauty boxes now, and it's just so hard to choose the right one! (and in Canada, we already have way less)

    3. please do let me know what you think once you receive your first topbox!

  3. I love the monitization of the beauty boxes. I've recently cancelled Glymm, Luxe and Julep (I really just don't need that many nail polishes, plus I keep getting shimmer/perly ones, which I hate). I've still on the wait list for Top Box, September hopefully! Can't wait for your next comparison.

    1. You're so good at getting rid of stuff you don't need. I keep telling myself i should cancel one of the boxes but then i talk myself out of it!

    2. I'm impulsive, I cancelled a bunch in one fell swoop. Then I get the mystery box email from Julep and I'm like, well...

      it's HARD! But there are other things I need to be spending that money on (ie new floors, car repairs). I need to do goals like you do to keep me on track!

    3. those mystery boxes are so tempting. my nail polish collection is getting a little out of control so i've been able to hold back... i hear ya on having other things to spend $ on!

  4. What an amazing post! Very very informative, I'm sure many will find it very useful!

  5. You read my mind=)lol Thanks! It's very helpful~

  6. This was the perfect post and exactly what I was looking for! It's nice to read a person's fully subjective review but adding at least some objectivity makes things a lot easier for me (wanting to subscribe to one or two boxes but not all of them).

    You actually helped me figure it out! I added myself to the Topbox waiting list and I'm going to go with Glossybox after seeing the stats on fragrances (which don't interest me at all) and skincare (which does interest me). What your tables also did though was make me more interested in Glymm than I had been... I was actually not considering it at all until now... So I may actually subscribe to it as well but I will force myself to wait for my first Glossybox.

    1. thank you for letting me know - i'm so pleased that this post was helpful!!! :)

    2. Well, I went for Glymm too this month (used your link, I hope it worked). So July will be a box-filled month with both Glossybox and Glymm coming in (and Julep at the beginning of the month). Yay :) And btw, thanks for being the first person to comment on my new blog!

    3. thanks for using my link - i appreciate it! :)

      no problem - i really enjoy reading your blog. i followed it through bloglovin'. would you believe i spent close to an hour checking out quarterly co.? i didn't end up subscribing though - i felt it was a little too pricey for what you get.


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