If you’ve been on the fence about the new trend in beauty – monthly subscriptions for deluxe samples delivered right to your door – you’re not alone. Last year I profiled Luxe Box, one of the pioneering companies of this service in Canada – and my review was met with mixed feedback. While many of y’all loved the element of surprise, and the ability to try products you wouldn’t normally have access to (without paying full price, that is), just as many readers were concerned about the lack of relevance and fit, and the absence of consistency from month to month. Since I was only given the opportunity to review one box – which was admittedly a “deluxe” version that subscribers wouldn’t necessarily receive – I had no basis for comparison to comment on fit or consistency. I’ll admit it – it was a #reviewfail
So when the makers of Topbox approached me to review their service, I was quite insistent that I would need to receive a minimum of two regular boxes – at a 3-month interval – to adequately appraise the quality and consistency of their products. The company had absolutely no problem with that, which is not only a testimony to their confidence in the service, but the realization that regularly impressing customers is the cornerstone of their business.
My first Topbox for review was November 2011 – which included a Cake Velveteen Hand Creme (full size), Deborah Lippman “Some Enchanted Evening” Nail Lacquer (full size), Dr. Brandt Time Arrest Eye Serum and Stila Lip Glaze in Raspberry, all packaged in a reusable cardboard cylinder (LOVE the reduced packaging. I have no use for all the frills; it’s about the beauty, not the beautiful container!).
My first reaction to the contents was “Now THIS I can use!” I don’t have to tell you that I’ve been a long-time fan of Cake products, and any time I can get my hands on Deborah Lippman nail lacquer – which normally retails for $20 a pop – let’s just say I do a happy dance. Plus, I adore the mini Stila Lip Glaze; the mini tube is the perfect size for popping in a purse or pocket. And finally, Dr. Brandt… HELLO! The eye serum retails for $85.00, so what better way to put it to the test before doing major damage to my wallet?
The November 2011 had an average retail value of $69.00 – not bad for a $10 monthly service fee! Overall I was thoroughly impressed and can truly say that I’ve used EVERY product in the Topbox. I couldn’t wait to receive the next one!
Fast forward to February 2012 – after a slight mix-up with Canada Post (story of my life! That’s 4 opened investigations and counting…) I was able to get my hands on the February Topbox. Touted as one of their best boxes (er, cylinders) to date, I had pretty high expectations, especially since I was duly impressed with their November offering. In February’s Topbox:
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Illuminating Shampoo (though not full size, a very generous 75 ml), YSL Mascara Volume Effect Faux Cils, LillyPilly Kakadu Plum Hand and Body Care, Pari Beauty Eyeshadow in #54 and YSL Touche Eclat.
What I Loved
First, I’m quite the fan of Yves Saint Laurent and am always pleased to collect mascara samples. Plus, at $36 for a full-sized product, I’m even happier to use this one until the tube is dry. Second, the She Uemura shampoo happens to be for colour-treated hair, and if there’s one thing my hair is, it’s colour treated. So I’m quite looking forward to popping that into my shower caddy.
Why It’s a #Fail
I suppose that my expectations were deliriously high after the full size Deborah Lippman nail lacquer in November’s Topbox; beauty addicts across Canada declared a collective SQUEE! when they discovered that jewel. So while it may seem unfair to judge the quality of February’s Topbox based on that one product alone; the purpose of this review is to measure the consistency of the offerings between months. I shall continue…
First, the only full size sample in this Topbox was the Pari Beauty eyeshadow – personalized in a complementary shade. While the custom shade was a nice touch, Pari is hardly a “premium” brand – in fact, after catching a few reviews of the February Topbox on some of my favourite makeup blogs, the majority of women had not even heard of it. Although, from a marketing perspective, perhaps that’s exactly why it was in the Topbox – to help spread the word. Effective from a potential sales standpoint; not as effective from the customer’s viewpoint.
Second, what’s up with the mall-grab samples of LillyPilly? I can pick these up from a makeup counter; I don’t need them delivered to my door. Sadly, not a “deluxe” sample by any stretch of the imagination.
Finally, I’ve been dying to try YSL Touche Eclat – but this one-time use sample, in a shade entirely too light for my skin tone, just doesn’t do the trick. And, please tell me that the 10/11 is the date of manufacture and not the expiration date… yikes!
All in all, while I was really hoping for consistency and quality across the months, I feel that the February Topbox fell short of my expectations. That being said, at $10 per box and the impressive roster of brands they currently work with, there is definitely room for improvement – and the assured ability to come back from a not-so-stellar month. I will have my eyes peeled for March reviews, and will absolutely circle back to let y’all know what other beauty bloggers are saying.
In the meantime, tell me – Topbox, Luxe Box, Glymm or Glossy Box – which one comes out on top for you?