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Beauty Boxes On a Budget

Beauty Boxes On a Budget
Christina Hammarberg

Happiness is a package in the mail, no matter what time of year it is. Now, imagine if that package has of some of the hottest health and beauty products inside, and each has been picked especially for you. And those products are a complete surprise – you won't know what's in there until you open it. You can have a little bit of holiday cheer delivered right to your doorstep all year long!

What is a Beauty Box?

All beauty subscription boxes have pretty much the same concept: you sign up and each month a box of five or more sample-size products will arrive at your doorstep. There are many kinds of beauty subscriptions to choose from. Some cater only to cosmetics, some only serve up nail colors and some are all about hair. Our favorites have a little bit of everything, kind of like a personal beauty buffet. The samples inside the box vary from month to month, and you typically don't know in advance what will be inside.

Under the Lid

Once subscribed, you'll get to try all sorts of popular and soon-to-be-released beauty goodies, including cosmetics, hair and skincare products. Some boxes may also treat you to health and wellness samples, too, such as band-aids, hair ties and energy bars. Most beauty box services will have you answer a few questions about yourself (e.g., age, hair color, skin color, skin sensitivities, makeup preferences) when you sign up, so the products you'll receive each month are truly just for you.

On average, your monthly subscription will give you up to five product samples from name-brand companies like Stila, Olay, Saint Laurent, L'oreal, Bobbi Brown and Origins (and that's really just naming a few). Some months, you may even find a full-size product as well. Most boxes also include special extras, like tips on how to use the products and coupons if you're interested in buying the full-size versions.

Five Boxes Under $20

Sadly, all of this goodness comes with a price. Beauty box subscription prices vary significantly – some of them cost as much as $50 per month – so you'll want to shop around and find one that best fits your budget. Below are five that cost $20 or less.

Walmart Beauty BoxBeauty_Box_Walmart_1130

The Walmart Beauty Box is as close to free as any beauty sample box out there will get. For a flat $5 shipping and handling fee, you'll receive up to eight health and beauty product samples. These boxes are shipped seasonally and quantities are limited, but you can sign up at any time.


The Birchbox Women's Box (yes, there's one for guys, too!) delivers four or five deluxe samples to you each month in a cute, recyclable brown box. A subscription costs $10 per month or $110 per year, and all subscriptions include free shipping.

Beauty Army

If you're not really into surprises, Beauty Army lets you pick out your own samples each month. You can choose up to six products from a menu of nine. Subscribe to Beauty Army on a month-to-month basis for $12 plus $2.99 shipping. Or, sign up for an entire year and pay only $132 and get free shipping (which saves you about $4 per month!).


Ipsy is a fun monthly subscription that offers up to five deluxe samples plus a collectible makeup bag. Each month the bag and products inside are selected based on a different theme, such as “Girl Meets Glitter” or “Beauty Schooled.” A monthly subscription costs $10 per month or $110 per year, both with free shipping.


If you're interested in natural beauty and wellness products, the Goodebox includes up to six samples of organic, non-toxic and cruelty-free beauty and wellness products. There are a few subscription options available: $19 for a month-to-month subscription, $54 for 3 months ($18 per box) or $102 for 6 months ($17 per box). All subscriptions include free standard shipping.


Most beauty boxes offer special gift subscription options and pricing, without the long-term commitment, which is perfect for the holidays. So, why not sign up your favorite beauty devotee for one – even if that devotee is you.


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