Trend Alert: Glossybox, Glymm, Birch Box Deliver High-End Samples to Your Door

Back in July I wrote about my deep and abiding love of trial-size, sample-size gifts-with-purchase from beauty and cosmetic counters. In fact, it is just this obsession with all things tiny that prompted me to heavily invest in some Bobbi Brown products during the Neiman Marcus beauty event (going on now!), because the free sample gifts-with-purchase incentive was too good to pass up.

So imagine my delight when I opened an e-mail from my friend Sarah which included links to Glymm and Birchbox, two companies which -- along with Glossybox -- are offering consumers an easy way to try new, sample-size beauty and cosmetic products from designer brands.

The basic concept is this: Sign up, pay a monthly subscription fee and have the samples delivered to your doorstep on a monthly basis.

Sign me up -- literally. But first, let's compare the three services and what they offer consumers.


Glossybox had been on my radar for a while, but it was in Beta when I first stumbled across it so I bookmarked and moved on. Upon revisiting, things look like they are full steam ahead.

The basics: Subscribe for monthly, quarterly, half-year or yearly subscriptions and receive a monthly shipment of five (5) samples to your home. A monthly subscription is $21 per month, quarterly is a one-time charge of $60, half-year is a one-time charge of $115, and a yearly subscription is a one-time charge of $220. Taxes and fees apply to boxes shipped to New York or California.

The box: Glossybox keeps the contents of upcoming boxes a surprise, but reveals what is in each box for that particular month on its Web site. This month they feature Touch in Sol, Ole Henriksen, Illamasqua LTD, Ellis Faas and Biolage.

The brands: The A-to-Z starts with A Perfume Organic and ends with Zoya; in between you will find Burberry, Kinerase, Sebastian International and Figs & Rouge, among others.

The bummer: Glossybox only ships to the Lower 48 -- sorry, Alaska and Hawaii! If you lived in Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan or the United Kingdom you'd be in luck, because Glossybox ships to all of those countries.

The bottom line: A limited but nicely curated list of products, though I find their shipping policy undecipherable. Oh, and their disclaimer states they "only ship to the 48 continental United States," which means they also fail geography, because ALASKA IS A PART OF THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES. That said, I'm interested -- Ellis Faas alone has me intrigued.


The basics: For $12 per month, Glymm will ship you 4-5 "deluxe samples from the best brands the beauty world has to offer," including a reusable, eco-friendly cosmetic bag each month.

The box: The boxes are curated by the staff, with 4-5 samples per month; boxes are shipped on the tenth of each month, and an e-mail with a tracking number is sent to your inbox. Samples are chosen according to "your beauty profile," which you create when you sign up. Full sizes of products you like can be purchased through the Web site.

The brands: The A-to-Z starts with Ahava and ends with Zakia's Morocco; in between you will find butter London, Caudelie, La Peau, the Laundress and YSL. Not too shabby.

The bummer: I don't know about you, but I don't need a reusable, eco-friendly cosmetic bag delivered to my door each month. First, I have a dozen; second, they aren't eco-friendly if they go in the trash, so if they are recyclable, you have to hope everyone recycles them -- otherwise they aren't really eco-friendly. Also, Glymm is currently shipping in Canada only, though they promise a U.S. delivery soon.

The bottom line: This looks promising, and I'm anxious for the U.S. shipping to start. It's half the price of Glossybox, and the selection of brands is pretty stellar--particularly The Laundress and La Peau.


The basics: An unstated number of samples will be shipped to you monthly, at a cost of $10 per month. Birchbox has signups for women and men, though the men's section is still currently in Beta.

The box: The box is curated according to the online profile you fill out. Like Glymm, full-size products can be ordered directly through the Web site.

The brands: The A-to-Z begins with Ada Cosmetics and ends with wichcraft; in between you will find Annick Goutal Perfumes, Deborah Lippman, Dior, Essie, Fresh, Kate Spade, Laura Geller, Shiseido and Shu Uemura, and much, much more.

The bummer: It would be nice to know whether there are a minimum number of samples that will be included. Will it be one some months, ten another and six the next?

The bottom line: At $10 per month, this is the most affordable option, and they ship to all U.S. states and territories, including APO boxes. Birchbox also has a lot more brands to choose from, though many of them are new to me. The selection of brands is outstanding -- I'm signing up as soon as I hit "save" on this story.

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Christina Uticone