Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ipsy Glam Bag vs. Birchbox, March 2015, Battle of the $10 Beauty Boxes, Pt. 1

The on-going rivalry between Ipsy and Birchbox leads to constant speculation as to who is providing the better $10 monthly beauty box experience.  For the past two years, I have been solidly in the Ipsy camp but Birchbox has obviously been paying attention. Their boxes have been improving as Ipsy has slipped a bit, making the race a dead heat at the moment. For March, I thought I'd review them back to back so you can draw your own conclusions.  Ipsy will be reviewed in this post (Pt. 1) and Birchbox will be reviewed in the next post (Pt. 2).

Do you know what "Ipsy" means?  Unless you were a subscriber at the time My Glam changed its name to Ipsy, you probably don't.  Here's the definition provided on the site:  "Ipsy" comes from the Latin word Ipse, meaning "sense of self".  Google's translator couldn't help at all so I'll take their word for it.

Ipsy has adopted a no-fuss approach to their glam bags.  You don't get a box, information card, flyers or discount codes.  What you do get every month is a cute new cosmetic bag and around five samples or full sizes of what I would call "middle level" brand name cosmetics.  There is NO chance of overlooking that hot pink metallic bubble mailer in your mailbox each month!

Ipsy's theme for March is "Floral Fantasy".  There is a pretty new cosmetic bag and five products.   

The card is colorful and introduces the theme for the month on one side.  On the other side is just the standard social media call to action.  No information about the products is provided.

The bright aqua bag has a water color type floral print on one side and is solid aqua on the other.  The inside is waterproof and the bag has a cute Ipsy logo zipper pull. As an Ipsy subscriber for over three years now, I have so many of these bags (over 40!) that I constantly gift and re-purpose them.  They make great coin purses and interior bags that can be quickly shifted from purse to purse.

Since you take a beauty quiz to get started on Ipsy, the products received vary widely among subscribers. For March, I think everybody received one of the new NYX Butter Lipsticks.  Several shades were distributed; the one I got is called "Hunk" which NYX describes as a "blue violet".  I thought this shade would be much too dark for my complexion but it melts into the lips so smoothly that it ended up just intensifying my natural lip color. The cool blue undertones add a shade element I've never tried on myself before. This product is considered a lipstick but it applies and feels like a gloss.

Now don't's the obligatory Pur-lisse product.  There must be a law that says almost every beauty bag is required to include one of these.  Either that or the Pur-lisse sales people are working major overtime!  At least this one is a facial cleanser and not yet another moisturizer.  Pur-lisse products are good quality but the beauty boxes have been absolutely saturated with them.

This looked like a boring eyeshadow single to me.  When I took a closer look, I realized it is actually an "Illuminating Face Highlighter" from a brand I've never heard of called Vintage by Jessica Liebeskind.  The shade is called "Crystal Pink" which is a lovely muted pink with very subtle shimmer particles.  (The photo absolutely does not do it justice.)  I'm intrigued with this product and can't wait to give it a try.

There's no question about the purpose of this next item which is called "Boo-Boo Cover-Up"....that is even the brand name!  This is quite an innovative product; it comes in several different shades and contains natural ingredients that promote healing (aloe, chamomile, green tea, tea tree oil and Vitamin E).  It provides thorough coverage for any skin blemish and promotes healing at the same time.  I thought this was a sample but it's actually sold in this size and called "Baby Boo-Boo Cover-Up" on their site.  I don't see a shade name but this looks like light or medium.

The last and final item is a luxury sample of Dr. Brandt's Pores No More Anti-Aging Mattifying Lotion.  This contains retinol to stimulate cell turnover and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  Dr. Brandt is not a cheap brand; the full size of this sells for $60. I'm happy to have an opportunity to try this product...that is the REAL beauty in a beauty bag!

So those are Ipsy's five entrants to the March smackdown!  I have not tried all of these but my initial impression is that this bag was light on full size products.  But it did include samples of a couple of expensive products, a completely new item and a new lipstick line.  All five of these pretty well fit the profile from my initial Ipsy Beauty Quiz.  It's nice to know I can actually use everything here.  (We all know that is often NOT the case!)  In terms of value, the NYX lipstick alone retails for $6, so when you add in the other items, the retail value is far above the $10 paid. Click here if you're interested in checking out Ipsy's Glam Bag. 

For those who don't know, I want to mention the major difference between the Ipsy and Birchbox point systems.  If you keep up with them, points are important because they effectively reduce the price you pay for your monthly subscription. Both companies make it easy to accrue points by reviewing the items in their monthly bags, buying individual products, participating in surveys, etc.  Birchbox points can be redeemed like dollars for any product on their site. Ipsy points can only be redeemed for products that they specify.  At the moment, there are only four products available, none of which are terribly interesting. It's easy to accumulate Ipsy points but not so easy to redeem them. The Birchbox points system is by far the better incentive program.

That's Ipsy's Glam Bag for March; stay tuned for Pt. 2 which will be Birchbox's March review.  I'll tell you who I think won and you can weigh in with your verdict!

Thanks for reading,


Disclosure:  Views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own.  Product discussed in this post was purchased by Lone Star Shopper. Post may contain referral or affiliate links.

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