Nearly five years ago a concept launched into the UK that would change the face
of beauty forever. The Glossybox subscription service was heralded as
the most innovative idea in years, delivering thousands of monthly
teasers and samples to women across the country – all with the aim of
encouraging discovery and injecting passion back into beauty. Women
signed up in their droves and the copycats soon followed, inevitably
leaving disappointment to set in as the boxes soon began to lose their
sparkle; all of a sudden the phrase ‘beauty box’ had negative connotations. Over the last twelve months the industry has definitely tried to push boundaries while bringing it all back to basics: their focus has been on creating
amazing collaborations, innovative content and providing a platform for
women to discover fabulous products and brands that they may never know
about otherwise. With the likes of Glossybox, Birchbox, My Little Box and Latest In Beauty (amongst others) to choose from, we’ve never been more spoiled for variety – but how can these services continue to offer value, excitement and anticipation on a monthly basis? Well I asked, and you told me.

Thanks to the genius of the new Twitter survey feature, I was able to ask my followers what they’d like to see from beauty boxes in 2016. Did they want cooler collaborations that really offered something new, or simply fresher brands and products to increase the sense of discovery once more? Did they want better value and offers that would enable them to purchase their favourites from the box, or fewer repeated brands that don’t really add much value after you’ve tried them five different times? Nearly 300 people answered and shared their views, with the results swinging many different ways before finally settling on an overall winner – the results of which are below.

It seems that the need for fresher products and fewer repeat brands is strong (this is the one consistent complaint I see whenever I post preview pictures or discuss beauty boxes,) but not quite as strong as the desire for cooler collaborations. In the last twelve months Glossybox has partnered with American designer Jamie Lee Reardin and uber brand Nars, while Birchbox has collaborated with Skinny Dip and French Sole to bring their subscribers something new. My Little Box continues to innovate and create themed boxes that outstrip others in terms of the cute factor (in 2015 alone we had the Fashion box, Road Trip box, Energy box, Magic box and my personal favourite – the Super box,) while Latest In Beauty keep knocking it out of the park with their Glamour magazine collaborations which always burst at the seams with desirable goodies. These collaborations and themes definitely help to generate excitement when the box is opened every month, as well as providing an overarching ‘hook’ on which to base the contents – but alone that’s not enough to keep you coming back for more.

Overwhelmingly you want to see better value and offers from your favourite subscription services over the next twelve months, including higher end products, bigger sizes and an increase in the number of treats inside – rather unsurprising, but can the likes of Glossybox and Birchbox deliver? Beauty box subscriptions were first established to provide a sample of
something great, aimed at aiding discovery of brands and products that
you wouldn’t normally know about. It was never meant to be a huge goodie
bag of premium greatness landing on your doorstep, but rather providing
a trialling opportunity in order to decide whether or not to invest in
the full size product. With so many beauty launches happening every
single month, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees – beauty boxes
provided a way of discovering new things without a hefty price tag.
However, over time a lot of
unrealistic expectations have arisen that cause beauty boxes and subscription
services to get a bad name. It seems that we now expect more and more on a monthly basis, and brands are struggling to keep up with our demands. It’s worth
remembering that everything included in a box costs money to make (even a sachet of product meant for only a singular application,) and that it can take months to negotiate a new addition.

Although I think it’s probably a little unrealistic to expect more product on a monthly basis, where I do think there’s a huge opportunity is providing unique offers, discounts and competitions to recipients. Many of the services do currently offer a small discount off a full sized version of the product that’s included in your box, but it’s easy to forget if it’s not constantly promoted. Similarly, it’s easy to overlook a 10% discount when there are tonnes of other online retailers slashing the price of their beauty products and emailing out special offers on a regular basis. I would personally love Glossybox, Birchbox, My Little Box and Latest In Beauty provide a cracking offer every month that their subscribers would really get behind; a half price lipstick, free gift with purchase, discount code or ‘send to a friend’ feature would just elevate their offering a little more. The focus needs to be on more than just a one-off sample that can be passed over or forgotten about, rather creating a real piece of added value that will evolve beauty boxes from a frustrating monthly annoyance, to a moment of pure exhilaration when it lands on your doorstep. 

The next twelve months will no doubt be a tricky period for the UK based beauty services. With constant frustration expressed by consumers, it’s somewhat of a challenge to turn things around and ensure conversation is overwhelmingly positive. I definitely feel like the latter part of 2015 provided a sign of things to come this year (creative collaborations, exciting product launches and added value amongst guest editors and beautiful boxes,) but it will be fascinating to watch how they evolve and turn the phrase ‘beauty box’ into something that’s associated with indulgence and desire – rather than a waste of money.

What would you like to see from beauty boxes and subscription services in 2016?

Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.  




  1. Emmys Beauty Cave
    January 14, 2016 / 2:41 pm

    I cancelled my subscription box with You Beauty, i would love to sign up to another but im very hesitant. I would love to see more boxes inc beauty accessories like brushes and sponges etc xEmma | Emmys Beauty Cave

    • Reindeery
      January 20, 2016 / 12:25 pm

      Try Birch box I've received in the past beauty accesories from their boxes as well as other beauty products 🙂 x

  2. ViviHek
    January 14, 2016 / 2:50 pm

    This is a very good article about beauty boxes. I have been researching cruelty free/vegan boxes lately and was surprised to find so many! Only problem for me is that the shipping to anywhere outside USA/Canada/UK costs $12-$15, which together with a subscription of $30-$40 makes it not very cost effective if the box is appraised at $45 anyway. So basically I am hoping for lower shipping costs!Vivi // sammysanscruelt.wordpress.com

  3. Sophie Howard
    January 14, 2016 / 2:56 pm

    I have been subscribed to Glossy and Birchbox for around three years, and in recent months I have been so disappointed with them and feel like I am splashing out nearly £30 a month on products which have been featured various times and collaborations with people/brands I don't know about or who's products in the box have nothing to do with their brand. Based on the last few boxes I am definitely cancelling my subscxription for both. I would rather swap to something like Degustabox or Graze which offers great value for money and a box packed with things you actually like.Sophie xwww.booksandbeauty.co.uk

  4. Gill eyelinerflicks
    January 14, 2016 / 3:31 pm

    I've been on the hunt recently for a new and exciting subscription box, I've just become bored of the same old, same old – it's gone stale!I'm giving My Little Box a go and hope to find a few others soon.Gillian  xx  EyelinerFlicks.com

  5. Mary Bloomy
    January 14, 2016 / 4:31 pm

    I totally agree with your point of view, everything costs money and even thou we sometimes overlook it the price we pay is most of the of the times half what the products inside cost altogether! My favourite box till now has been the My Little Box for its genius idea of giving a theme to each box and complimenting every aspect from beauty to lifestyle! It also gave me the opportunity to know brands I wouldn't know otherwise and that's amazing for me! The Pink Parcel one is also on my top as it provides essential goodies and treats for that time of the month, keeping up with the great value for money. But at the end, a lot of boxes came out in the past year and sometimes they can get a bit repetitive or disappointing in a long term subscription. The Cohorted box is in a way a bit inconsistent, in a month it provides amazing value for money but the next it can come with some things I wouldn't necessarily want for the 35£ mark… I'd rather spend it in a product I have on my wishlist for the longest time. If it was more consistent the value for money I would probably be on the first row to pick it. Just to name this particular example. I think consistency is a very big point in their favor as you already expect that kind of collaborations and don't mind splurging that extra at the end of the month! Sara | http://www.marybloomy.com

  6. Romy Craig
    January 14, 2016 / 6:03 pm

    I love that you used the twitter poll for this, such a good idea! I would say more control/personalisation options – what puts me off is the risk of getting a formula I react to, or a that's not the right colour/product for my skin/hair type/colour. So if you were able to do something like you can with veg boxes where you can say things you don't want to be sent I would be all in (like with Abel & Cole I can say never send me mushrooms or chard, I'd like to be able to say never send me anything with SLS or formaldehyde in). I know Birchbox do personalisation to an extent, and Latest in Beauty let you build your own, but it would be great to have the surprise along with more likelihood of it being something I want.

  7. Anonymous
    January 14, 2016 / 6:48 pm

    I was an early glossybox subscriber, but after six months of the same old, and a huge amount of sample sizes I cancelled. I now occasionally get boxes but only if I know what's in them. BBB and glamour boxes are always winners!

  8. Ashley Elizabeth
    January 14, 2016 / 7:16 pm

    I think you brought up a lot of great points in this post. Many people want to feel like they are getting a great value for their money when they subscribe to beauty boxes, I know I do.Ashleyhttp://www.ashleyelizabethbeauty.com

  9. Alysha Paulsen
    January 15, 2016 / 9:26 am

    You brought up a lot of very interesting points. I would love to subscribe a beauty box but it is the fear of the unknown of the products you are going to get. I am one for researching a product to the inch before purchasing!https://oneofthosecrazygirlsblog.wordpress.com/

  10. Pam Scalfi
    January 15, 2016 / 11:10 am

    im very close to cancelling Glossybox. I dont feel like they are delivering at all in the past few months, too many repeated brands, too much skincare and besides, who really needs so much product every month? Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

  11. Jennie Rayn
    January 15, 2016 / 4:48 pm

    I love the lookfantastic beauty box! It's one i joined in November after being fed up of the tiny tiny (and largely useless) samples i got in my birchbox. I like the idea of a beauty box and when i found this one I was sold!!The only thing is, it's an auto-renewing process, so once your subscription ends it automatically continues for the same length you originally bought…. However, i didn't find this an issue as I know when my 6 months end I will want to continue, and it was clear how to cancel in my account.Another thing i love about this box is the magazine that is included that doesn't only have information about the products, but lots of stuff like a proper magazine, always a good read! And the new designs each month are brill! Really looking forward to my next box, would definitely recommend if you are looking for a new box!! Jennie x

  12. Kirsty Merrett
    January 16, 2016 / 5:30 pm

    I love the idea of a box being picked from what you have told them you do or don't like. Please only bright lipsticks, no nudes!! but i love the value for money these boxes can bring. I love mini nail polishes for instance, but i dont want them in bright blue! http://fashionforlunch.nethttp://fashionforlunch.net

  13. Ramblingmads
    January 17, 2016 / 4:14 pm

    Glossybox do a few outstanding boxes and the best are a nightmare. Same with the others, it's so uneven.

  14. Secret Style File
    January 18, 2016 / 11:56 am

    I am so over beauty boxes! I had Glossybox then changed to Birchbox which I cancelled because I just got so bored of the same thing. I loved the lookfantastic boxes at first but then again how many different hair serums and random body lotions does one need?? With Birchbox I was asked to fill out so many details about skin type, hair colour etc but none of the boxes were ever tailored to be. I understand with millions of subscriptions it is hard for companies to make beauty boxes bespoke but this would difinitely be a step in the right direction for me!

  15. Stephiemcd
    January 19, 2016 / 11:21 am

    I'd like to see them going back to being more tailored to you. I cancelled mine because despite telling them I was super oily and 23 they gave me products for dry ageing skin.

  16. Laura
    January 20, 2016 / 4:45 pm

    Echoing what a lot of people said about the boxes not being tailored. I understand it's more difficult to personalise lipstick or nail varnish colours but I do think beauty boxes should pay more attention to skin/hair type. I have a Birchbox subscription and, despite specifying I've got oily skin and thick hair with a tendency to frizz, I still constantly get sent products for dry skin and fine hair. It just feels like they're not actually listening to what you've told them and is really quite frustrating. I'm quite tempted to cancel and try My Little Box instead as it seems to be a little more lifestyle-oriented.

  17. Peach
    January 23, 2016 / 6:02 pm

    When the trend kicked off here in the UK I joined Glossybox and adored the little pink packages and the first few collaborations. However, by about month four the quality and balance of products seemed to dwindle. I ended up with a hoard of different (and not that great, for my skin at least) facial moisturiser and little else, and the actual boxes started feeling less cute and more basic. Then I tried Birchbox, as a fan of the entrepreneurial story behind it. There seemed to be a significant jump in quality and there seemed to be a lot more effort put into every box. The presentation was lovely, the products mixed and I used the majority of them. However, again after about six months this time the quality went down a bit as if the 'new subscriber' effort wasn't as needed anymore… So long story short, for me consistency is key. I enjoyed Birchbox in particular, but felt the drop in quality after a few months was too big to continue paying…

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