Sign Me Up: The Beauty of Subscription Boxes


In lieu of drugstore hit and runs, product junkies can now get swag bags shipped straight to their crib. Niki McGloster dives into the sample swapping deep-end

CALL ME A CREATURE OF HABIT. I don’t go all Tyrone Biggums over powders and goops. Instead, I stick to a faithful line-up—see: my portable stash of Lubriderm lotion and Motives foundation—and only restock when the needle hits E. But with spring shifting in, my regimen needed a reboot. Via word of mouth, I stumbled over a solution: online subscriptions, aka door-to-door hair, body and cosmetic bundles for cheap. As a 24-8 work drone, pledging allegiance to a virtual delivery service that cut out the endless bottle browsing and steep receipts was a no-brainer. Some brief site surfing while dodging KimYe baby headlines led me to enlist with three top-tier monthly dealers: Birchbox (1), curlBox (2) and Beauty Army (3). Two days later, once the travel-sized samples arrived, my inner girly girl shrieked… and then went mute. This was it? Each box boasted a motley crew of content, from generic brands (Skinn Collagen Boost Lipstick) to indie lines (You Da Balm, Edia Serene Moisturizing Paste), some worth hoarding; others made for re-gifting (hey ma).

Truthfully, being a 20-something woman of color with oily skin curbed my initial enthusiasm—would these products even cater to me? But if you stick it out long-term, I learned, the ratio of dope to mediocre merch evens out, plus some sites let you customize your parcels. Since black women spend MMG ends on health and beauty purchases per year, this was a frugal alternative. By sifting through a mixed baggie of pre-picked goodies, I could dibble and dabble without the commitment, Stevie J style. — Niki McGloster

Give these full-service sample sites a test run.

(1) Birchbox, $10/month,
Stuff your clutch with vitals ranging from Band-Aids to luxe lathers | Sample item: Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream

Tags: Beauty