Discovering new beauty products is a challenge right now. We're in an unprecedented time where IRL retail experiences have come to an abrupt halt and finding beauty products is happening exclusively online. Here at Who What Wear Beauty, we're committed to introducing you to the best hair, makeup, and skincare products in the game, but we understand that there's nothing like sampling and swatching things for yourself to see if you really like them.
Although shopping for our favorite items online is nothing new (we do it all the time), samples are an integral part of the beauty discovery experience. That's where skincare subscription boxes come in. These membership programs offer intermittent shipments of curated samples to introduce you to beauty items you haven't heard of yet or maybe just to keep you stocked up on minis to use for travel. Either way, they're a fun way to get new beauty products into your regimen without spending hundreds.
Now, more than ever, these handy boxes are the perfect solve for sampling beauty products before taking the plunge and purchasing the larger versions. To find out exactly which options are worth the coins, we tapped our Facebook community of readers from the Who What Wear Insiders group to get their thoughts on the best beauty boxes out there. Ahead, check out the nine they raved about most.
The perks: Each month you'll receive a curated selection of full- and travel-size products worth at least $100. You can also purchase individual boxes without subscribing for $35.
Insider intel: WWW Insider Jen told me that she's a longtime subscriber of this box: "I have reactive skin so I set aside the things I want to hold off on trying and space all new products out about a week so I know what I'm having a reaction to, if I have one. I love it though!"
The perks: This hefty box contains over $200 worth of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle products. You'll receive a shipment every season containing tons of full-size products to add to your routine. Membership also gains you access to fitness content, box add-ons, exclusive sales, and more.
Insider intel: Many members of our community commented on vast number of products that are included in the box, some even pointing out that it can get overwhelming. But as WWW Insider Whitney points out, you can hack this box and use it for gifting. "Once I got how to do the customization and add ons I was golden," she told me. "Literally got all my teacher gifts, grandma gifts, and MIL and sis gifts from their add on’s in the winter box!"
The perks: If you like to keep a consistent stock of minis on hand for travel or to learn about new products, this might be the subscription for you. For just $10 per month, you'll receive six samples valued at just over $20. Sephora also keeps a selection of the boxes available for one-off purchases in case there's a specific one you want to see without committing.
Insider intel: While some did complain about how small the samples are here, Insider Jessica is a fan. "Sephora play is my favorite. Lots of good samples for cheap," she says.
The perks: Instead of a monthly collection of random samples, FaceGenius builds you a custom skincare routine based on specific data about your skin. It sends you its SkinScanner, a high-tech camera that attaches to your phone to analyze your skin and prescribe a skincare regimen based on the results. For a monthly fee, it'll monitor your skin's progress, tailoring the routine as you go, and refill your products as you run out.
Insider intel: None of the Who What Wear Insiders mentioned this relatively new service, but it's such a cool, customizable option that we just had to share it.
This water-based moisturizer is perfect for those who prefer the hydration imparted by hyaluronic acid over the outer moisturizing effects of oils. It attracts moisture to lock in hydration and plump up the skin.
This serum visibly lifts and firms the skin using polyamine growth factor and eggshell membrane, which moisturize and plump form the inside out. It also uses encapsulated retinol to exfoliate and refine fine lines and wrinkles.
The perks: Birchbox is perfect for the subscriber who wants to discover new products and brands to add to their beauty repertoire. Each month, you'll receive a mixture of deluxe samples of the best hair, makeup, and skincare selects, along with helpful tips on how to use them.
Insider intel: "I subscribed to Birchbox for a few months years ago," Insider Hannah says. "I really liked trying new brands and ended up discovering some of my favorite products from it."
If you've never tried this lactic acid skin serum, now is the time to give it a go. It targets a number of imperfections like fine lines and wrinkles, pores, and dark spots all at the same time. Aside from the AHA element, it also contains brightening licorice, lemongrass, and calming prickly pear extract for an all-in-one skin treatment.
The perks: Aside from its regular monthly deliveries of sample-size products, Birchbox also curates deluxe boxes of full-size products centering around themes like clean beauty, women-owned brands, you-time, and more. The value is unreal since you get a collection of products that specifically serve your interests—in full sizes.
Insider intel: Our community members didn't specifically call out this box, but Birchbox lovers will be able to appreciate the value and utility of this elevated offering from the subscription service.
This gentle cleansing gel provides great slip without stripping detergents. It has seaweed, vegan lactic acid, and a plant-based probiotic to cleanse, resurface, and balance the skin. Plus, it's totally clean.
If you're a lover of clean beauty, then you probably already know about UK-based skincare company, Pai. Among its most beloved products is this luxurious, concentrated, organic rose-hip oil that smooths and detoxifies the skin.
The perks: Each month, natural beauty retailer Beauty Heroes shines the spotlight on an emerging clean beauty that adheres to its strict list of ingredient standards. This means that, among other things, the brand of the moment doesn't use any GMOs or ingredients banned in the U.S., Europe, Japan, or Canada, nor does it perform any animal testing. On top of this, the monthly delivery contains full-size products valued around $100 as well as an information card to get acquainted with the presented brand.
Insider intel: Our community members didn't mention this box either, but knowing that many of you are natural-beauty lovers, we knew you'd want to know about this awesome means of discovering clean beauty.
Josh Rosebrook is another brand Beauty Heroes has featured that's beloved for its signature botanical formulas. This day cream features organic sea buckthorn, burdock, ginkgo, neem, rose hip and chamomile, and zinc oxide sunscreen.
This gentle, detoxifying cleanser hails from Ravanat, an Ayurvedic-inspired line that was featured in a previous Beauty Heroes discovery box. The balm cleanser uses superfood manjistha and a mix of botanical ingredients to remove impurities from the skin while hydrating and balancing at the same time.
The perks: This monthly box features eight editor-approved hair, makeup, and skincare products curated by Allure's team of beauty connoisseurs. Each delivery will also include at least two full-size products.
Insider intel: "I subscribe to the Allure box and have been with it for three years plus," Insider Juju told me. "I decided to keep Allure for the value and size of products. In comparison [to other subscription boxes], Allure is more generous."
K-beauty lovers, here's a product you need to know about. It's a bouncy, lightweight cream with nourishing coconut oil, artemisia extract, and berry extracts to nourish the skin and protect its delicate moisture barrier.
This hydrating mist is a French pharmacy favorite for a reason. It imparts moisture and alleviates redness and irritation with a soothing antioxidant water that's present in all Avène skincare products.