I tried these Instagram beauty subscription trends so you don’t have to
If it can give me glisteningly clear skin I want in
If you’re a skincare lover and on Instagram, then you’ve definitely seen a beauty subscription ad somewhere – they’re inescapable. Every three stories, a painfully happy influencer pops up promoting some new product or subscription at an astonishingly low price.
The premise of these subscriptions is to send out a box of new skincare products or a customized product for you to test out each month for a flat rate, making it a more affordable luxury.
The promise of quality products at bargain prices piqued my interest and (to my bathroom shelf’s dismay), I decided to dig a little deeper into this new concept.
Finally, I ended up forking out on three different subscriptions, and because I clearly love procrastinating uni work, I have decided to rank them on all-important Influencer Points, AKA how likely purchasing this product will help your Instagram following skyrocket as you become the ultimate beauty guru with glowing skin and Glossier in your DMs asking to sponsor you. The dream.
The first box I decided to go with is called “Birchbox”, which comes to a cheap and cheerful £9 a month. Before checkout I was asked to complete a “beauty profile”, in which they asked me about my skin type, hair and skin colour, and some of my beauty preferences. It felt a little like picking out of Cher’s virtual closet.
I gleefully placed my order (very happy about the discount code) and a few days later I was greeted by my Birchbox. My first thought was that shipping was prompt, and the packaging was cute! Inside I found a purple makeup pouch in the shade “rotting aubergine”, and inside were three tubes, a little sack, and a sheet mask.
I had been sent a body cleanser, a cheek and lip tint, a face wash, a mask, and a gua sha tool, which is a glorified crystal that you rub on your face for no scientific reason.
The lip tint had discoloured packaging and didn’t suit my darker skin tone at all, despite the fact that the box was supposed to be customized to my skin. I was also irked by the gua sha tool — I’ve seen identical £2 equivalents in Primark. That really killed the *luxury* vibe.
The bergamot body cleanser did have a beautiful, refreshing scent, and the face wash was infused with witch hazel leaving my skin soft and irritation-free. The standout was the self-heating eye mask. It smelled like lavender, and as I closed my eyes, I manifested my summer in France.
If you’re looking to experiment with new beauty products then this box may be for you, but if you’re set in your skincare routine, I don’t think it’s worth the cost. Despite the customization survey I don’t think the products were particularly tailored for me, and Birchbox’s ads are pretty misleading overall considering you only get four or five products each month.
A word of warning: Birchbox’s website has a ridiculous mark-up in prices. My 5ml sample lip and cheek tint is sold for £12 on the website when the real price is £4, and the 50ml body wash is sold for £2, but that’s almost enough for a full-size 250ml if you buy directly from the brand. It’s well and truly a scam.
Influencer rating: 3/10
In general, I don’t think I’d purchase the box again, but if you’re looking for a new skincare or makeup routine this might be a good place to start. Definitely not Instagrammable though.
Skin + Me
The premise of Skin + Me is to send you a daily facial night cream which has been customized to your skin goals. The insta ads make it sound incredible: Dark spots? They have a fix. Dull skin? They have something for it.
Apparently, a dermatologist chooses the formula especially for you to make it extra special. It comes in this cute, twisty bottle that makes a very satisfying click when it’s dispensed enough cream.
Okay, I admit it, this is my third month on the product. The gimmick is that they write your name on the bottle, which had me sold. A little vanity never hurt anyone! There’s something magical about using a product that is made specifically FOR YOU. I know, I know, it’s a marketing tool, but it totally works.
In general the cream is easy to use, which is great for the up-and-coming club nights when you stagger home and simply do not have the willpower to apply 94384 products to your face. It’s not strong enough to cause skin irritation so it’s also dummy-safe.
It’s great if you’re clueless about the actual chemicals in your skincare because let’s face it, we’re not all the Youtuber Hyram and/or a chemistry student (to this day I couldn’t tell you what niacinamide is, but it sounds like a great cinnamon substitute). The first month is also a free trial if you pay the pharmacy fee of £3.50, which is a banger of a deal.
Influencer rating: 6/10
It’s a very functional product, but the only true pizzazz it has is your name written on it. In essence, a silver tube isn’t going to get you famous on Instagram unless you appear on Love Island for two episodes and find a way to make a career out of it.
FabFitFun was perhaps the most pricey purchase on my list so far. This box promises luxury goods from renowned brands at a flat rate of £35 a box, delivered every three months. Somehow, the elusiveness of the box made me trust it. I mean, if it’s that expensive surely it’s worth it, right?
First of all, my box took ages to arrive. I received a shipping email a week and a half before it was actually delivered, so had to endure many disappointing mornings running to the post box in my bathrobe and manifesting its arrival. It was worth the wait though – the box was HUGE and flower-patterned, making it oh-so-very Instagrammeable. Influencer point check.
Inside, I found an Alice + Olivia weekend bag (this ALONE was worth the price), one of those Pinterest-girl netted grocery bags, two skincare products, lip masks (Kylie Jenner energy here I come), powder pads and vegan makeup brushes. I was surprised to see the brushes since they always seem to be 10 times the price of paintbrushes. Ah, the joys of pink tax.
This box is DEFINITELY the most aesthetic and contains products that are actually larger than the size of your palm, so Birchbox is definitely out of the running compared to this one. It also has more diverse options, such as cosmetic appliances and small household goods like wicker trays (which are also 10/10 for the Instagram feed).
It’s the perfect balance of skin, makeup, and lifestyle, and would definitely make Gwyneth Paltrow proud. I can almost see the tear in her eye as I type.
Influencer rating: 10/10
Getting this box requires a sit-down unboxing haul, preferably filmed and uploaded to Reels, and nothing less, because it is really that good. It has major “I online shop and lounge around in swimwear all day to then post pictures of it on social media” vibes, which is a big mood and life goal for many people, I’m sure.
You could totally pass it off as a PR gift too if you don’t tell anyone you bought it and want to boost those insta followers – I won’t tell if you won’t.