Battle of the Beauty Boxes – Conclusions from the 2018 Unboxing and Reviews on Birchbox, Glossybox, Look Fantastic and Cohorted

What a year for beauty boxes has it been! This year I’ve subscribed and tried the most beauty boxes I’ve ever have before but also unsubscribed from a lot too.

I’ve tried Sophie’s Normal and Luxury beauty boxes which were nice but still at their infancy. I’ve tried the Pink Parcel and even though I didn’t write about it, I thought it was more worth the cash than Birchbox . I’ve also tried the MLB Box (aka My Little Beauty Box) which started really strong but deteriorated quickly.

This year I’ve unsubscribed from Birhcbox although it is value for money, it’s the most boring and least value for money out of other beauty boxes I’ve tried. For all the details and reasoning check out: Coffee Chat: Goodbye Birchbox – Why I unsubscribed from the Birchbox beauty box after a year and a half

I’ve also unsubscribed from the MLB Box because after a couple of months it deteriorated very quickly in product quality and box composition. Sadly, the month I unsubscribed was also coincidentally the month they announced they will be stopping the box due to personnel illness.

Finally, in case you are wondering, I’ve also unsubscribed from the Pink Parcel after only 4 months, because even though I thought that it was better value for money and more exciting than Birchbox (they cost the same) it was late every single month (even though you can choose a delivery date to match your cycle!).

I still remain subscribed to Glossybox, Look Fantastic and Cohorted. My favourite beauty box this year is still Glossybox, as it is an amazing value for money but also contains interesting products and rarely disappoints. Look Fantastic has shown a lot of improvement this year compared to last and they have said that they will be improving even more next year. Cohorted was more of a disappointment this year than last but I still think that it is a high-end brand beauty box worth subscribing to.

If all you wanted to take from this post is which beauty box to subscribe to then the answer is very easy – Glossybox. It is even the only one that gives you the option to earn money back from answering surveys on the products contained each month (they don’t take long, 2-3 minutes) and then being able to spend the money on LookFantastic.com. You can earn as little as £2.25 per monthly box or as much as £6.75 for their advent calendar. Nevertheless, every little helps and this means that essentially the box is £2.25 cheaper than the stated price.

You can find a diagram to help you decide which beauty box is best for you here.

 

Subscription Beauty Boxes 2018 2_20181229171950451

 

Let’s get into the actual details.

If you read any of my monthly beauty box reviews, you would have noticed that I give them two scores every time. The first one is “Initial box score, in terms of products and first feelings”. This is the score that represents what I feel like when I’ve opened the box, before I tested any of the products. It is usually based on a few things, like the box design and theme and if the products contained fit them.

I don’t ever remember a box not being beautiful or the theme not being interesting but the one thing that beauty boxes tend to fail a lot at, is that fact that the products contained don’t often match the theme and design of the box. It’s a very simple thing and yet it is has also been one of the biggest downfalls of beauty boxes this year too.

The other score I give the boxes is the “Overall box score after product testing (a sum of product scores)”. As the name suggests, this is a sum of the scores of all products contained. It’s actually very interesting to compare the initial reaction to actual product quality if nothing else, to check if my initial “judging” was founded or not and if the actual experience of the beauty box is good. Most of the time, my initial box score was close to the product testing score which is great. Overall though, my initial box score is slightly higher than the product testing score which is normal and acceptable.

It’s been rare for my initial score to be lower than the actual product testing score (except for Birchbox), which means that the beauty boxes are at least doing a good job at creating excitement and a nice unboxing experience (except for Birchbox), even if the box design, theme and products don’t always match. Imagine if they did!

There are a lot of other conclusions that can be drawn as well, but before we get to them here’s all the scores (out of 10) from January to December 2018 for Birchbox, Glossybox, Look Fantastic and Cohorted. Note that for Birchbox the scores only go up to October because I unsubscribed after.

 

Birchbox

Initial and product testing score

Glossybox

Initial and product testing score

Look Fantastic

Initial and product testing score

Cohorted

Initial and product testing score

January 2018 7 and 7 10 and 8 9 and 7.5 10 and 7.8
February 2018 7 and 7.6 9 and 7.6 7 and 8 7 and 7.6
March 2018 7 and 6.8 9 and 7.8 9 and 8.3 7 and 8.3
April 2018 8 and 8 8 and 8.4 9 and 8.8 7 and 7.8
May 2018 8 and 8.2 7 and 6.8 8 and 8.2 8 and 7.8
June 2018 8 and 7.4 7 and 7.6 10 and 8.5 12! and 8
July 2018 7 and 7.4 7 and 7.8 8 and 8 9 and 7.8
August 2018 8 and 7.4 10 and 8.2 9 and 7.7 7 and 7.8
September 2018 7 and 7.2 8 and 8.3 8 and 7.8 10 and 7.8
October 2018 8 and 7.8 10 and 7.6 7 and 6.8 8 and 8
November 2018 N/A 9 and 8 8 and 7.8 9 and 7.5
December 2018 N/A 9 and 7.8 8 and 7.6 6 and 7.6
Overall year scores 7.5 and 7.5 8.6 and 7.8 8.3 and 7.9 8.3 and 7.8

From the overall year scores we can see that the excitement and expectation from Birchbox was the same even though most of the time the products scored better than expected. That’s simply because of the lack of Birchbox unboxing excitment (the boxes look cheap outside and plain inside) and the fact that it contains mostly drustore type products, meaning that you mostly expect to get bad to mediocre items. Birchbox was the lowest in scoring by far this year and in 2017 and is the reason why I do not think it is as worth the subscription as much as the other beauty boxes. This post explains this in more detail: Coffee Chat: Goodbye Birchbox – Why I unsubscribed from the Birchbox beauty box after a year and a half

The most successful beauty box in creating excitement was Glossybox but interestingly is tied in actual product quality with both Look Fantastic (well it was 0.1 higher but the difference is tiny) and Cohorted. This shows that Glossybox is just better at creating excitement and a nice unboxing experience than the other two boxes. The same product scores after testing shows that all three beauty boxes are worth the cash if you are interested in beauty product discovery, as they will all offer quality or the same quality of products.

That is very bad news though for Cohorted which is the most, by far, expensive beauty box at £35 a month vs Glossybox at £13.25 and Look Fantastic at £15. You’d expect that all the branded and expensive products that Cohorted includes should have given it the upper hand in both excitement and quality of product scores, and although it does for some months, overall it doesn’t! This box is very up and down.

It is also interesting to note that Look Fantastic, even with it’s different looking boxes every month, doesn’t score higher in first impressions/unboxing experience. This means that although Glossybox and Cohorted who have mostly the same box design every month, might look more boring or less exciting they overall are not! The products inside count so much more than the box design and these numbers show this exactly.

Overall, Glossybox is the cheapest and has the best impact and it is why I always recommend it first.

 

Subscription Beauty Boxes 2018 4_20181229172112852

 

Let’s see how these beauty boxes changed this year.

Birchbox

Initial and product testing score

Glossybox

Initial and product testing score

Look Fantastic

Initial and product testing score

Cohorted

Initial and product testing score

Overall year scores 2017 7.4 and 7.3 8 and 7.8 7.4 and 7.3 8.8 and 8.2
Overall year scores 2018 7.5 and 7.5 8.6 and 7.8 8.3 and 7.9 8.3 and 7.8
Difference +0.1 and +0.2 +0.6 and 0 + 0.9 and +0.6 +0.5 and -0.4

When it comes to first impressions, Birchbox seemed to have gotten slightly better this year, although the difference is very small and perhaps not statistically important. However, the improvement has definitely not been enough to say that this box is now worth subscribing to. Look Fantastic has improved the most which is also how I felt overall as well. However, Glossybox and Cohorted improved considerably as well.

When it comes to actual product quality Glossybox remained stable, which is great as it always has been good, while Look Fantastic improved considerably and Cohorted deteriorated for the worst.

I cannot describe how fulfilled I feel by doing these calculations and drawing these conclusions from actual numbers because they actually match EXACTLY how I feel about these boxes (like if I was going to base my answer on a gut feeling). This way though I can show you with numbers and “facts” than just telling you how I feel about them.

If you compared the prices, you’d almost expect Glossybox to be 1/3 less as good as Cohorted (yes, I know it doesn’t really work that way but you know what I mean), but it is not! The Glossybox average scores are much nearer the Cohorted scores than they should, for its price, and it truly shows how great Glossybox is.

The least exciting beauty box of 2018 was Cohorted December and the most exciting Cohorted June. That’s the problem with Cohorted it’s very up and down (and the downs can be very low because the £35 price will add to the disappointment from high expectations) whereas Glossybox is just consistent.

The lowest ever product testing score was 6.8 for Birchbox March, Glossybox May and Look Fantastic October. The highest ever was an 8.8 for Look Fantastic April.

 

Subscription Beauty Boxes 2018_20181229172152628

 

Verdict

Overall the best beauty boxes this year are, in order of best to worst:

Glossybox > Look Fantastic > Cohorted > Birchbox

which is interesting as Cohorted was number 2 in 2017 and Look Fantastic number 3. Glossybox and Birchbox remained fairly constant, which is good for Glossybox but bad for Birchbox, and Look Fantastic has improved the most which has been very obvious every month.

Glossybox is still the best value for money and for that it still holds its place from last year and it is the Bonds of Beauty beauty box of the year 2018.

It’s been an amazing year of beauty boxes and cosmetics in general, and it’s been lovely to share all these unboxing experiences and reviews with you. I am really looking forward to next year’s boxes and I’m very curious to see how these boxes change  next year.

 

Subscription Beauty Boxes 2018 3_20181229172033792

 

For general Subscription Box reviews see my: BirchboxGlossyboxLook Fantastic and Cohorted general review posts. For help on how to choose the right subscription box for you check out “Which Subscription Beauty Box is right for you?”. You can also see pictures from all beauty boxes on my Pinterest beauty box board.

I am not affiliated with any company or brand. These are my views and experiences.
Beauty is a very personal thing, we all have different skin, requirements and biological build which can influence things. What worked for me might not work for you and vice versa. Have you ever tried these products? Did they work for you? Let me know your experiences below!

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