Box of tricks?
Beauty boxes are a simple premise: you pay a subscription fee that includes postage and you get a pretty box filled with beauty products or accessories delivered to your front door.
There's a wealth of beauty box subscriptions in Australia catering to men, women and children, but just like a lucky dip you can’t be sure exactly what you will receive, and in the case of one company you may not receive anything at all.
To see exactly how beauty boxes work and what kind of products you might receive we took three popular subscriptions for a test run to see if what the set up process is like, what the goods are like and if the products are really worth the money.
Ready, steady, subscribe:
Our third test subscription, LustHaveIt, has a rewards program.
All three businesses sell full-sized versions of the samples they send you – so if you discover something you love, you can buy more of it through their website. Though you could probably Google the product to see where you could source it cheaper.
The Bellabox arrived beautifully packaged in a reusable blue polka-dot box, however the majority of the contents were a let down.
Two of the five products were small and unexciting samples of supermarket brands – a Nivea day cream and Neutrogena hydro-boost serum. There was also a brightly coloured lipstick (valued at $25.95) and a retractable lip brush from Kmart. The only 'luxe' sample was a Jurlique treatment mask (which you use once then throw away). While Bellabox may give you an opportunity to discover new or classic beauty items, you're also paying for samples that you'd be better off getting from your local retailer for free. Specialty or department stores such as Mecca Maxima or Mecca Cosmetica, Myer, David Jones and Sephora can sometimes give you samples.
Bellabox could be a real hit or miss because you don't know what you're paying for each month. However, if you want to treat yourself to a wrapped surprise every four weeks then Bellabox is the way to go.
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Cost: $17.95/month, $199.95/year
The LustHaveIt package arrived in a hot pink reusable cosmetic bag, containing a Hair & Me organic hair rejuvenation treatment, Flormar concealer and eyeshadow pallet, Sunset Strobe natural highlighter, a 15mL sample size of Bioderma Sensibio facial moisturiser, and an Atkins coconut chocolate bar. The products were better quality than those from Bellabox, but unfortunately the concealer and highlighter weren't the right shade for our tester. Her favourite product was the round eyeshadow compact which came in metallic shades of brown, terracotta, green, and gold. It still wasn't something she'd have bought herself, but she thought the shades were long-wearing and flattering to her skin tone.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Cost: $19.95/month, $199.95/year
Unfortunately we weren't able to test this box. Although payment was processed in October, the box never arrived. Payment was then taken again for the month of November, and by December we were still waiting for delivery. When we attempted to get a refund for the two payments taken it took a couple of days to get a response and a full refund. We were also told that we’d receive a complimentary box but almost 11 months later we’re still waiting…
And it seems that we’re not alone, we’ve heard from a number of unhappy customers who have also had similar problems from not receiving goods yet being charged the subscription fee, while others have complained that they are having trouble getting in contact with the company.
In early October this year NSW Fair Trading issued a public warning, telling consumers to avoid doing any business with Her Fashion Box.
NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said Fair Trading has received several complaints about the online store and had difficulty contacting the owner. The complaints mostly relate to accepting payment without supplying goods, not responding to requests to cancel subscriptions and not responding to contact from consumers about missing goods.
We don't recommend setting up a subscription service with Her Fashion Box, but contact Fair Trading NSW immediately if you have dealt with them and have had problems with the company.
Rating: No stars
Cost: $59.95 a quarter (previously $39.95 per month)
A beauty box subscription can make you feel like you're getting a present every month (admittedly from yourself), however, while it's simple to sign up and cancel any of the subscriptions we tried, our tester said she felt "buyer's remorse" every time she opened each box.
And with issues like those experienced by subscribers to Her Fashion Box be sure to check the T&Cs before signing up with any beauty box service and
So if you're thinking of subscribing for yourself or for someone else as a gift, you might want to reconsider, and save your money so you can buy something or at least look for a discount on your first box so you can cancel if you're as disappointed as we were.