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Beauty subscription boxes compared – Which?

Whether you’re in the market for some new make-up or you’ve run out of present ideas, a beauty subscription box can be a real treat for anyone with a keen interest in hair and beauty.

We’ve compared seven beauty subscription box services from Beauty Pie, Birchbox, Cohorted, FeelUnique, Glossybox, Latest in Beauty and Lookfantastic, to give you the information you need before you commit. We can tell you how to cancel, what introductory offers are available and the delivery costs for each box.

Some boxes allow you to choose what hair and beauty products you receive each week, while others send you items tailored to your interests or needs. Read on to find which box is best for you. 


After a present for the beer enthusiast or the wine lover in your life? Check out our beer subscription comparison and our wine club comparison.


Why sign up for a beauty box?

  • You’ll be able to try out new products you might not have seen in the shops. Some brands give you exclusive access to brand new products or products that aren’t typically sold in your local hair and beauty retailers. 
  • Seen a product you’ve wanted to try for ages but unsure whether to pay full price for it? Some beauty box brands include decent-sized samples of more expensive products in their beauty boxes, meaning if you don’t like the product you won’t have wasted your money or cluttered up your bathroom. 
  • If you’re a beauty product addict, it’s likely you’ll save a lot of money in the long run. Most boxes will list the RRP of the products in each box, and some of the savings per product are huge.
  • Some brands provide little extras. Along with your beauty products, you may also receive exclusive discounts, and some include magazines with beauty tips and tricks. 
  • If you pay monthly, the boxes can be cancelled easily, so there’s no long-term commitment. 

How popular beauty boxes compare

Below, you’ll find our comparison of seven of the UK’s top subscription services on monthly fees, introductory offers, how to cancel and other key info you should know if you’re thinking of subscribing.  

All these subscription services are listed alphabetically.

Beauty Pie logo

Beauty Pie

Sign up at: beautypie.com 

Unlike the other subscriptions below, the Beauty Pie subscription is more of a members’ club than a service. You pay a monthly subscription fee, starting from £10, and you get to spend 10 times that on the website. 

Paying to spend money might sound like an odd concept, but Beauty Pie claims to cut out the middle man, which allows it to drop the prices of high-end beauty products dramatically. 

Essentially, Beauty Pie buys quality products in bulk directly from labs used by big brands, which means it can sell them more cheaply. An example given on its website claims a night renewal moisturiser selling elsewhere for £75 can be bought for just £15. It’s these ‘insider prices’ that Beauty Pie prides itself on.

It’s important to note that all the products are own-brand, so don’t expect to find your favourite products on the website. 

What do Which? staff say about Beauty Pie?

‘Most months I buy some stuff and also stock up on birthday gifts for friends. They have a large range of products and you can usually find a Beauty Pie alternative for another brand. I think their serums are good value, as elsewhere they can be really expensive. They say their products are the equivalent of top brands, but who really knows. I think they pitch their candles against Diptyque which are around £50 to buy – on Beauty Pie they’re around £16.’ – Shefalee Loth, principal food researcher/writer

‘I went for the £10 monthly membership option, so it took me quite some time to build up a sizable spending limit. I wasn’t always impressed with the quality of the products either. I feel like I probably would have been better saving up my £10 monthly subscription fee and purchasing from brands I know and trust.’ – Lauren Temple, senior market analyst

Running cost of membership: £10 a month (£100 spending limit) 

Membership deals: £59 for a year (£1,000 monthly spending limit) 

Introductory offer: First month of £10 membership allows you £200 to spend 

Delivery: £3.36 for UK standard (three to five working days with Royal Mail), £6.29 for next working day (DPD)

How do I cancel? Submit a request through the member FAQ page or you can call +44 808 164 8264 (standard local call charges will apply)

Cruelty-free? Yes

Birchbox logo

Birchbox

Sign up at: birchbox.co.uk 

Birchbox prides itself on tailoring its boxes to you. After checkout, you’ll be asked to complete a beauty profile that decides what you get each month. Birchbox says it’ll never send the same product twice. 

Inside your box, you can expect five products of varying travel and sample sizes, as well as the occasional full-size product. It’ll be a mixture of make-up, skincare, body and haircare. 

If you find products that you love in your box you can buy the full-size version in the Birchbox Shop, where subscribers will get 10% off and VIPs (subscribers for six months) get 15% off everything. 

What do Which? staff say about Birchbox?

‘The first time [I subscribed] was a couple of years back – I wanted to change up my beauty regime and try something different. The second time I subscribed as a treat because they had a six-month subscription at a reduced rate. I have to admit that Birchbox introduced me to some really cool and interesting brands. The real limitation was finding them again on the Birchbox website. I feel like a lot of the products and brands that Birchbox has are truly niche and only available as a set number for the boxes, so when you go back to the website, either the product is no longer available to buy again or it’s constantly sold out.’ – Sarah Sidoli, lead digital analyst

Running cost of membership: £13.95 a month

Membership deals: £38.85 for three months (£12.95 a month), £74.75 for six months (£12.46 a month), £122.95 a year (£12.12 a month) 

Introductory offer: Students get 50% off their first box 

Delivery: Free. The first box will arrive within 10 working days and following boxes will be shipped in the first 14 days of each month

How do I cancel? Log in to your account to manage your subscription

Cruelty-free?  Birchbox can’t guarantee the products in your box will be cruelty-free, but it does stock cruelty-free products and brands

Cohorted

Sign up at: cohorted.co.uk

Cohorted specialises in high-end products, so this is a beauty box subscription for those who enjoy the finer things in life. All of your boxes will be handpicked by experts and they’ll contain a mixture of make-up, skincare, fragrance and haircare. 

You can either subscribe monthly or buy one-off limited edition boxes from the website. You can also pay upfront for as many months as you wish. 

Expect to see well-known brands such as Laura Mercier, Huda Beauty and Elemis mixed in with more niche luxury brands. Cohorted claims the six products you’ll get in your box will be worth more than £100 and – most of the time – the products are full-sized. 

It also claims to have 100% recyclable packaging.

Running cost of membership: £39.99 a month

Membership deals: You’ll get access to exclusive offers and discounts and the monthly magazine

Introductory offer: None available

Delivery: Free, tracked 48-hour delivery

How do I cancel? Fill out a request form in your subscription dashboard or contact the customer service team before the last day of each month

Cruelty-free?  It occasionally sells vegan and cruelty-free limited-edition boxes but can’t guarantee you’ll receive these products in your box

FeelUnique 

Sign up at: feelunique.com 

FeelUnique is a popular beauty retailer that has diversified and brought out its own subscription box. You’ll get to pick your five ‘deluxe samples’, or, if you’re spoilt for choice, they’ll make up your box for you. 

You can choose from a variety of fragrance, hair, beauty and skincare products. If you like what you try, you can buy the full-size product on the website. 

Your order can be amended right up until 24 hours before it’s been dispatched, and you get a recycled cotton pouch to store your products in.

Running cost of membership: £13.95 a month

Membership deals: £13.50 for three months, £12.75 for six months, £11.95 for 12 months

Introductory offer: None available

Delivery: Free, delivers to the UK and the Channel Islands

How do I cancel? Contact the customer care team

Cruelty-free? You can choose from a range of cruelty-free and vegan products each month

Glossybox

Sign up at: glossybox.co.uk 

With Glossybox your monthly products are in the hands of the Glossybox team. You just tell them your preferences. But if you’d rather not chance it, you can choose from a range of limited edition boxes. 

Glossybox is one of the original beauty subscription services, offering five products in every box – a mixture of deluxe samples and full-size products. Glossybox claims that the items in each box will be worth more than £50 every month. 

Other benefits to subscribing are earning Glossy credit through filling out surveys and leaving reviews, which can be spent on Glossybox or on the Lookfantastic website. You’ll also get exclusive discounts and early access to sales. 

Running cost of membership: £13.25 a month, £11.75 a month for a year

Membership deals: £38.25 for three months (£12.75 a month), £69 for six months (£11.50 a month), £132 for a year (£11 a month)

Introductory offer: None available

Delivery: £3.25, takes three to five working days to deliver the UK and Ireland, also ships internationally

How do I cancel? Sign in to your account to manage your subscription or contact the customer care team. Make sure to cancel before the 14th to avoid being charged for your next box

Cruelty-free? It stocks cruelty-free and vegan products but can’t guarantee you’ll receive these in your box

Latest in Beauty

Sign up at: latestinbeauty.com

The box for the lover of cult brands, Latest in Beauty includes products from big names such as Clarins and Kiko, as well as up-and-coming brands like Pixi. The company prides itself on keeping products current, with new items being added to the website every month. 

You can choose six products for your box, or you can let Latest in Beauty pick for you. The website asks you a number of questions before you choose your products to tailor your shopping experience. 

There’s no minimum subscription commitment, just a rolling monthly payment. Once you’ve been a subscriber for three consecutive months you become an ‘LiB Pro’. This gives you access to free products, discounts and other offers.  

Running cost of membership: £12.95 a month 

Membership deals: You’ll gain access to exclusive discounts as an LiB Pro 

Introductory offer: None available

Delivery: £3.95, your first box will take around five days to arrive

How do I cancel? Sign in to your account to manage your subscription

Cruelty-free? Not clear

Lookfantasic

Sign up at: lookfantastic.com

The Lookfantastic beauty subscription box comes from one of the biggest online beauty retailers. It’s a themed monthly box that’s claimed to be filled with the latest and greatest in Lookfantastic’s huge arsenal of products.

You’ll get six beauty products worth more than £50. If you head to the website each month you can see a breakdown of what you’ll be receiving, but you won’t always get products that will be tailored to you.

As a subscriber, you’ll become part of the Beauty Box Club, which gets you access to exclusive offers and discounts, competitions, a free copy of Elle magazine with every box and more. 

What do Which? staff say about Lookfantastic?

‘I love beauty products, and thought it would be good to branch out from my usual brands and a subscription box would allow me to do this. However, I found that the majority of the products didn’t suit my skin type, so I ended up not using up the whole product, despite them usually being sample sizes. The best product I received during the three months was a hairbrush that I am still using. Ultimately, although they appear good value, I found that my minimal use of the products meant that the cost outweighed the benefit and I ended the subscription.’ – Denise Lovett, economist

Running cost of membership: £15 a month 

Membership deals: £43.50 for three months (£14.50 a month), £82.50 for six months (£13.75 a month), £156 for a year (£13 a month)

Introductory offer: £10 for your first box when you get a three, six or 12-month subscription

Delivery: Free delivery, can be delivered worldwide, dispatched on the first day of every month 

How do I cancel? Sign in to your account to manage your subscription or contact the customer service team

Cruelty-free? It stocks cruelty-free and vegan products, but can’t guarantee you’ll receive these in your box

Advice before you commit to your beauty box

Woman using mac laptop
  • Consider which courier your chosen beauty box brand is using. A Which? staff member told us that when she was subscribed to Birchbox she never received a box because her letterbox was too small and she was working full time. Hermes doesn’t provide contact details or a collection point pick-up and, though she was refunded every time, she never got the products she signed up for.
  • Do you want full control or do you like the art of surprise? The boxes we’ve listed above have a range of approaches. Some allow you to pick the products every month, while others are picked for you based on your preferences. Other brands send the same box out to every subscriber. 
  • Plan your cancellation carefully. Always double-check the latest date in the month at which you can cancel without having to pay for next month’s box. If this isn’t clear on the website, contact customer care to avoid any hidden charges.

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