When you subscribe to Birchbox, you receive 5-6 samples of cosmetics, personal care items, or sometimes food (chocolate, tea) in a cute little box. I will admit that I am a little bummed when I get food. I feel a little scammed. But over all for me Birchbox takes an edge over Ipsy. I love that Birchbox comes with a card with all the samples listed and how to use each sample. That may sound silly, but when you are getting items in sample sizes sometimes you're not sure how to use them. Also they're bottles are so small that they typically don't have directions. "Is this a lotion or a face wash? or is this blush or lip balm?" Their website is super easy to use and you buy everything from Birchbox. I also LOVE Birchbox's reward system. Pretty much for every product you review they give you 10 points back. 10 points equals $1. So in every box you can earn $5-6 dollars back of the $10 subscription. That's a pretty good deal seeing as sometimes you get lucky and get full sized items. I would say half of all the products I test I love enough to buy, so when I'm reviewing I will go into my account and mark them as "favorite". That way I remember when I need to re-order exactly what I liked. Also this helps you to see what is shipping free. I always wait until I can get free shipping on my items.
Here's how I recently used my BB points:
I am BEYOND obsessed with this beauty protector detangler. It's exclusive to Birchbox which means I can't find it elsewhere. It is WELL WORTH the price tag. I found a free shipping code, used my 200 points and only spent $1.95!
In all fairness I have been a part of the Birchbox community for over a year (my 1 year anniversary was in September) and I've only been receiving Ipsy since August. For Ipsy- I LOVE the adorable cosmetic bags that they give. All the samples come in a bag which is SUPER handy for traveling. I have also started keeping a "freshen up" kit in my car. You can ALWAYS use another cosmetic bag! Also you can review items to receive points but I don't like that you can't type your own response in the review. For instance, I am REALLY against cosmetics made in China. So I typically give those products a poor review. But there is no place for me to explain why on the review. With Birchbox I can explain my review. I also feel like Ipsy's website is a tad too modern for me. I mean, I'm a mom- who isn't interested in doing a cat eye every morning. They give expert tips and such on their site, but I haven't found it very informative for ME. Again that's totally MY experience. Some people may love that!
Also with Ipsy (and correct me if I'm wrong), you don't purchase from them. They give you links to purchase the items at other places. You can only use your points on items they choose. I'm a one stop shop type person, and I want to use my points with products I want (and have tried). With Birchbox you purchase the item directly through them. I will say that my frugal self does price check items and I have found items on Amazon and at Costco that are cheaper than Birchbox. So you just have to learn your products and do you research.
Amica Dry Shampoo (this stuff smells AWESOME!).
$21@ Birchbox (free shipping)
2 weeks ago on Amazon $18 (with prime)
Today it's $21 plus shipping on Amazon- so you just have to watch your prices! Today it's a better price on Birchbox.
Whish Shave Cream (LOVE THIS STUFF).
$20 at Costco for 2 (same size) PLUS their after shave serum.
So for this it isn't worth using my bonus points to purchase since I can get it cheaper locally. Love the pomegranate scent BTW.
I've mentioned it already, but I am really anal about purchasing products that aren't made in China. I prefer items made in America, but I will buy something made it Italy or France if I love it. I threw all my makeup away a few months ago because I was tired of all the chemicals (especially parabens) lurking in my makeup (hello cover girl and maybelline). And companies are super sneaky with not disclosing where the products are made on the bottles. I had to go online to figure out where most items come from. And did you know that Made in PRC is code for China? (People's Republic of China). I'm noticing this more and more since people like me are moving away from these products. They are trying to trick us- but silly them- we're smarter than that. As far as "drugstore" brands I have found that Physician's Formula is really trying to be paraben free made in USA. Revlon also has a few products (Photo Ready concealer and Nearly Naked foundation) that fit in my mold.
In my opinion, Birchbox tends to have more "earth friendly" products that omit harsh chemicals. Not all products fit this description, but more so than not.
As for product size. Some people say Ipsy has better sizes. Here are my last 2 Ipsy bags and 2 Birchboxes.
full size samples: Absolute Lip Balm (made in China so I trashed it).
full size samples: Be a Bombshell (made in China) and Cailyn Lip Gloss (GREAT stuff) and the Hello fragrance was a pretty generous size.
Full size: ModelCo mascara, nail lacquer, and Noir eyeliner.
So out of 2 months, I got just about the same amount of full size products from both BB and Ipsy. Ipsy had 1 extra full size. And with BB I was able to keep all of them. With Ipsy I had to trash 2 of them.
I'm going to give Ipsy until Christmas to wow me. If I notice too much more made in China products I am going to end my subscription with them and stick exclusively to Birchbox. I love subscription services. The beauty of them is being able to try products that 1. I wouldn't normally try or 2. not have a long term commitment. I HATE it when I buy a full size item and I'm not overly impressed and I'm stuck with it until it's gone. In 2-3 uses you can typically tell whether you will love a product or not. Also I'm finding new brands that I otherwise wouldn't have known about!