Man, this review is a bummer to write. For the first time, I am so disappointed in a subscription box that I can't really think of much of anything good to say about it. I thought about just not reviewing in this case, to keep things positive, but that seems dishonest. So here's the facts:
And then I waited. And finally, on April 18, a full month after I signed up (and paid), I got a shipping notice for my first box. OK, that's a long wait time, but no big deal. Shipping was oddly fast--the box arrived the next day!
It seemed...small, from the outside packaging. And then I opened it and saw this:
Hrm...some weird Easter-basket-esque filler and the products in a little organza bag. Not what I expected. Definitely not the gift feeling of the blue box and ribbon shown on the website. Still, better to look at the products before I get too judgmental, right?
This is what's in the bag:
Yeah. Take a close look. That's:
-a single Waterproof LA Fresh Makeup Remover Wipe (estimated value $9.99 for 20, or $.50)
-a .14 oz sample packet of Pur-Lisse Pur-Protect SPF 30 Daily Moisturizer (estimated value $55 for 1.7 oz, or $4.53)
-a 15 mL sample of Freeman Pink Grapefruit Exfoliating Scrub (estimated value $3.99 for 150 mL, or $.40)
-a single SuperGoop Sunscreen Swipe (estimated value $10 for 10, or $1)
-a mL sample of True Natural Advanced Lift & Firm Serum (estimated value $69 for .5 oz, or $18.67)
Total estimated value: $25.10
There was no enclosed literature introducing me to the products, just a little card directing me to the website.
It would be an understatement to say I was underwhelmed by this box. With the exception of the serum, the sample are all single use, so even though they are technically of a higher value than the $12 price tag, they won't be particularly useful as testers--most things need to be tested more than once. They're also ALL skin products, which is neither particularly interesting or diverse. Compared to all of the other sample boxes I've received, they seem absolutely chinzy. So much so that, after finding a few other reviews of Beauty Box 5 online that seemed like they had nicer things (including full-sized products), I wondered if a mistake had been made with my box. (These reviews include this one of the March box at Nail Art Couture, this one of the March box at Mes Joies de Vivre, and this one of the February box at Pink Sith.) Surely a company trying to establish itself as competition to the extremely successful Birchbox would not intentionally send out a box such as this? I decided to send an email to customer service expressing my disappointment and see what they had to say.
Customer service got back to me quickly--within about 12 hours. However, the reply I received was very unsatisfactory. The customer service representative presented me with list of product values (some of which were different than those I found on my own), and said:
There is a misconception about beauty boxes in that it's a way receive free products
- that is not our mission. Our mission is help you find the right products by sampling quality brands that will benefit your skin, your time, and your budget.
My other concerns, about the quality of the products themselves (Freeman? really?), the small sample sizes not being big enough for true testing, and the lack of variety, were ignored.
I replied to the customer service representative and told her about the alternative values of the products I'd found (the difference, to be fair, was only a few dollars). I also reiterated my concern about the small sample sizes and limited variety. For a comparison, I mentioned what I had received in my last Birchbox (Birchbox is a $10/month program, 20% cheaper than Beauty Box 5). I also linked to reviews of several past boxes that were clearly of a much higher value than the one I received, still thinking there might have been a mistake of some sort. S/he replied, in part:
But thank you for doing your own research and finding these differences for us. Your absolutely correct in that we've featured higher valued boxes in the past. Additionally, we have also featured lower-valued boxes in the past as well. It really just varies and this is how it will be in the future as well. Some months you may get a $50 box, other months you may get a $20 box. We have never claimed to be a value box (although we do provide it), we focus our mission on providing beauty samples for ladies that are in search of cosmetic products to add to their beauty regimen.
Once again, no response to my complains about getting all skin products, or about the samples being too small to do real testing.
At this point, I saw no point in continuing correspondence, as it was clear there had been no mistake and Beauty Box 5 was standing by the shoddy box I received. I went to cancel my subscription, where I found that I had already been charged for/was committed to the May box, though it won't ship until May 17. The company charges a full month in advance.
At this point, I'd be hard pressed to say whether I am more disappointed in Beauty Box 5's box or their customer service. I am honestly floored that they would go to no trouble to make things right for an unsatisfied customer. I wanted to give them every opportunity to change my mind about their service/product, but instead they only made me more certain that they are the worst curated subscription experience I've had.
So this is the opposite of a recommendation. I strongly encourage my readers to skip Beauty Box 5 when you are considering curated subscription programs. There are a lot of options at this point, and this one is worth neither your time nor your money.