Beauty subscription boxes have become extremely popular over the last decade, and two giants lead the pack – Ipsy and Birchbox. These services deliver personalized packages of makeup, skincare, haircare and other beauty products right to your door.
It can be tough deciding between the seemingly endless options. To help you choose the best beauty box for your needs and budget, here is an in-depth comparison of Ipsy and Birchbox.
Ipsy is arguably the most well-known beauty subscription service, boasting over 3 million followers on Instagram. Founded in 2011 by influencer Michelle Phan, Ipsy curates personalized glam bags tailored to each customer through an initial beauty quiz.
Here‘s what you need to know about Ipsy:
- Offers cruelty-free and vegan brands like Huda Beauty and Tarte
- Four subscription options ranging from $13-$55 per month
- Cancel anytime with no penalty fees
- Receive 5-8 full and deluxe-size samples per month
- Online beauty quiz used to customize products
- Access to add-ons and limited edition boxes
- No option to skip months or make specific sample choices
Established in 2010, Birchbox aims to educate customers on new beauty launches. Subscribers fill out a profile indicating skin type, hair traits, product preferences and more. Birchbox then selects 5-6 samples tailored to your beauty habits.
Here is what Birchbox offers:
- Specializes in natural, organic options
- Four membership lengths ranging from monthly to yearly
- Earn points to redeem products or discounts
- Choose 1 sample for your monthly boxes
- Skip deliveries or swap items through the online account
- Access full-size shop and men‘s line
- Cancellation results in forfeiting remaining subscription
Pricing and Value Comparison
When weighing the varying subscription lengths and product quantities Ipsy and Birchbox provide, the value proposition differs quite a bit.
- The Glam Bag: $13/month for 5 deluxe samples (up to $50 retail value)
- Glam Bag Plus: $28/month for 5 full-size products (up to $120 value)
- Glam Bag Ultimate: $55/quarter for 8 full & deluxe samples (up to $350 value)
Meanwhile, Birchbox offers set pricing regardless of box contents:
- Monthly Plan: $15/month for 4-6 deluxe samples
- 3-Month Plan: $45 total ($15/month)
- 6-Month Plan: $84 total ($14/month)
- Yearly Plan: $156 total ($13/month)
When it comes to product range, Ipsy samples everything from budget drugstore to high-end luxury brands like Sunday Riley, while Birchbox heavily favors natural beauty.
If maximizing samples and value is top priority, Ipsy reigns supreme with its jumbo Glam Bags. For those wanting green beauty on a budget, Birchbox strikes a balance with its eco-conscious approach.
Both Ipsy and Birchbox rely on beauty preference quizzes to tailor monthly samples. However, Birchbox extends more customization power to its subscribers.
Ipsy’s quiz collects details about skin tone, hair type, brands you love and more. From there, their stylists handpick 5-8 products suited to your beauty profile. With the exception of choosing 1 item in the Glam Bag Plus, the remaining contents are a surprise each month.
Birchbox also has new members fill out an extensive profile covering skin/hair types, allergies, product ingredients to avoid and desired samples. Subscribers can select 1 sample for their monthly boxes, or swap the entire contents for different items.
Additionally, Birchbox grants the freedom to skip months entirely based on your schedule and interest that particular month. Ipsy ships monthly without the option to opt-out of receiving a Glam Bag.
So if complete personalization is essential, Birchbox is the clear frontrunner. But Ipsy wins when it comes to surprise factor and discovery of new brands.
Aside from samples and essentials, here are some other member benefits from Ipsy and Birchbox:
- Points-based rewards program
- Access to member-exclusive sales
- First-access to limited edition kits
- Treasure chest of previous samples available
- $5 add-on samples from that month’s box
- Earn 1 point for every $1 spent in shop
- Redeem points for full-size products
- Free shipping on shop orders $50+
The perks are pretty aligned here, with each brand offering loyalty programs, discounted samples/sets and early access to special drops. One difference is that only Birchbox grants free shipping – a nice incentive for those who love to shop beauty.
What Real Customers Are Saying
Now that we’ve compared product range, pricing and membership perks, do real-life reviewers consider Ipsy or Birchbox the superior service? Let’s explore honest feedback from YouTube, Influenster and beyond.
With over 60,000 Influenster reviews, Ipsy earns an impressive average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars. 79% give a full 5 stars. Fans highlight the wide assortment of name brands and being introduced to indie labels:
“Ipsy helps me step out of my comfort zone and try new products I probably wouldn‘t on my own.”
“For $13 it‘s so worth it because even if you don‘t end up liking the products, it’s still over $50 worth.”
The main complaints stem from rarely receiving complexion products suited to skin tone, and the inability to opt-out of months. But overall, reviewers feel they get excellent value from Ipsy.
On Influenster, Birchbox averages 3.9 out of 5 stars across 2,000+ reviews. The primary praise focuses on the high-quality natural beauty samples and extensive customization options:
“Being able to choose a sample each month is really nice and helpful for trying out products I‘m interested in without committing to a full size.”
“I love the subscription flexibility to skip months and the points reward system. Shipping is fast too!”
However, some subscribers express disappointment in the tiny sample sizes. Additionally, reviews on other sites like Trustpilot highlight frustration with difficulty canceling subscriptions.
Overall though, Birchbox earns positive marks for catering to green beauty lovers looking to test unique brands.
Final Verdict: Ipsy vs Birchbox
So when all‘s said and done in this battle between category heavyweights, which beauty subscription box comes out on top?
For those wanting full control over samples month-to-month, Birchbox is likely the best fit. Subscribers can handpick products, skip deliveries with ease and build rewards towards full-size holy grail items.
On the flip side, Ipsy grants first dibs on the most buzzed-about makeup and skincare launches. Enthusiasts wanting to experiment across all beauty categories will love discovering new favorites through Ipsy’s surprise personalized glam bags.
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with sampling top-notch products from either subscription service. But understanding these key distinctions allows you to determine whether Birchbox or Ipsy aligns closest with your beauty habits and budget.