After having received 14 Ipsy glam bags and 25 Birchboxes over the past two years, I’d say I know a decent amount about both of the product subscription programs. They’re both similar and many people get both, but they vary on the details.Both are subscription services to help to discover new beauty products that work for you, but Ipsy is more about community and learning how to use your products while Birchbox wants to give you a variety of items. Both are $10 a month, but different on their discounts offered. Both have point rewards systems, but different ways to use them.
Here is a comparison of the two subscription services from my two years of experience.
Both have a style quiz to introduce you to their program. Ipsy lets you take their’s any time you want to re-take it in hopes of refining your product selection process. Birchbox does the same thing. This is just personal opinion, but I don’t feel like either of their style quizzes are specific enough to curate consistently amazing bags/boxes. I’ve taken the Ipsy one several times, trying to get more products I’d use, but it hasn’t really made a difference.
Ipsy and Birchbox are both considered beauty subscription services, but Birchbox offers beauty and lifestyle samples to their subscribers while Ipsy just offers beauty product samples.
Here’s an example of what I’m referring to with lifestyle products; I’ve gotten a KIND bar in my Birchbox before, in addition to: teas, vitamins, hair clips, mints, pretzels. While I don’t necessarily like to see these items in my subscription box, I like that Birchbox has a section for lifestyle. I’ve gotten some neat items at deep discounts, like a Gorjana necklace, external battery charger for my phone, and barre socks, just to name a few. Some I’ve purchased and others, like the necklace, were offered as part of the Birchbox Plus program where you can purchase items to add to your box before it ships. You can also buy full size products from Birchbox from the brands that you have sampled or just high-end beauty brands.
Ipsy is only going to send you beauty products. Nail polish, brushes, foundation, primer, eye shadow, skin creams– the list goes on. Ipsy doesn’t offer lifestyle items, but it does have an offers section on the Ipsy site where subscribers are offered discounts on products and tools, like hair styling tools and make up brushes. These offers go live Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 9:00 am PST. The offers are available until they sell out. I’m not diligent at checking the offers section, so I haven’t gotten any of the ones that have interested me. The offers are a great way to get additional products sampled at a discount.
Let’s face it, the sample size is important. You want to feel like you’re getting your monies worth. Birchbox will send you five (six or seven a few times a year– which is a great deal) beauty and lifestyle sample products to try. Some of these are single use samples, which is frustrating because I can’t use a product once of twice and feel like I can make an informed decision to purchase a product. Every few months I’ll get a full size or a generous travel/mini size of a product. Those always make the boxes seem worth it. I’ve been using one travel size of a product I received on a weekly basis for the past two months. That’s a plus in my book.
Ipsy takes the upper-hand here because you will always receive one full sized product in your bag. Sometimes it’s a nail polish or a makeup brush, and I kinda feel like I’ve been cheated. Like this month, my full size item is tweezers. I don’t need an additional pair of tweezers. Ok? Thanks. Other times it’s blush, eyeshadows, or lip gloss/stick and I feel like I’ve won the Ipsy lottery. These products always interest me more for full-sizes but unfortunately are few and far between.
product reviews process
Both programs offer you points for reviewing your items. Ipsy offers the prospect of improving your future bags by rating the items you receive. I’m almost positive these reviews do impact your future glam bags because I keep getting beauty tools. The way their questions guide you through the review process, it asks you if you have no interest in the item, like the item, or love the item. I love beauty tools, so I always mark it. However, one can only use so many eyelash curlers. I applaud Ipsy for offering to refine by glam bags, but when you’re only offering a limited products it’s hard to get a variety.
Birchbox makes no such claim to refine your boxes based on reviews, but you do still get your points. Birchbox wants to know more so how much you like the size, brand, smell, etc. of the sample and less your general opinion of the sample, though there is plenty of room to write your experiences.
Besides the sample sizes and how many you get, this is the make-or-break for which service will be for you. I’m going to try and get as detailed as possible for each too.
Birchbox offers you 10 points per review, 10 points for sharing your box info on social networks once per month, 1 point per dollar spent on products ($25 spent=25 points), and 50 points per referred friend. While their points offerings for activities are lower than Ipsy, they accumulate fast. Birchbox’s points are as good as money, literally. For every 100 points you earn, that’s a $10 credit to use in the Birchbox shop. I was able to get brand new, full-size, newly released products from a high-end cosmetics line retailing $48 for $8 with my Birchbox points. And I earned 8 points for the $8 I spent on those products. Birchbox also offers an “Aces” program for those that earn 500 points on an annual basis that entitles Aces to free shipping always on any order, subscription anniversary gifts, exclusive discounts, and more.
Ipsy offers you 15 points for a review, 5/10 points for sharing your sneak peeks and glam bag on social networks every opportunity the extend to you, and 250 points for referred friends. Ipsy throws points at you for just about everything, but there’s not a ton to spend your points on. Right now, there are four products available to redeem my rewards toward with point prices at 100, 250, 500, 1000. Three of which are sold out. It’s great that you can get a reward for as little as 100 points, but I’m not interested in a single product right now– sold out or not. That happens pretty often too. Also, the good rewards are gone in the blink of an eye. I think I may have redeemed points for a reward once, and I’m sitting at a fairly high balance.
Those are the core features of each company’s offerings to help you pick the subscription beauty product service right for you. Both services let you cancel after a month too, so if all else fails, you can try them each for a few months (I recommend at least two of each) and decide which is right for you!
Ipsy and Birchbox are NOT sponsors of Hayes Days and all opinions are my own. Both companies links are affiliate links and I earn points if you subscribe. I appreciate your use of my links!