Birchbox vs IPSY: Which Beauty Box Is Right For You

Beauty subscription boxes are an excellent way to stay up-to-date with the latest beauty products and try them before spending a lot of money. Some of the most popular beauty subscription-based companies are Birchbox and IPSY.

In this review, I will analyze each brand in detail, the products they offer, and their subscription plans. If you want to find out which subscription box is perfect for you, keep on reading.

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Before we jump into deep analysis, let’s have a look at the brands at glance.

Birchbox vs IPSY: Beauty Subscription
Box Comparison
Subscription plans4 – length based3 – content based
Free returnsYes, within 90 daysYes, within 30 days
Free shippingYesYes
One-time purchasesYesNo
Delivery time frame5-10 business daysUp to 4 weeks
Full-sized productsYes, at extra chargeYes, in Glam Plus and Glam X

Birchbox About

Birchbox was founded in 2010 by Harvard Business School grads Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna. The main idea behind the brand is to help women to find the perfect beauty products in the ocean of various cosmetic options.

Birchbox puts a lot of effort into racial equity as well. They care about black, indigenous, and people of color. That’s why Birchbox intentionally partners with BIPOC-owned beauty brands. This way, the company makes it easier for its community to shop where all the people are warmly welcomed.

Also, since Birchbox is a woman-run business, they are doing their best to celebrate and lift-up women’s accomplishments. That’s why they intentionally partner with women-owned beauty brands.

Birchbox cares about the environment as well. They are doing their best to find eco-friendly, sustainably-minded choices while focusing on reducing waste, recyclability, and reusability.

Birchbox Review

Subscribing to Birchbox is as easy as 1, 2, 3. All you have to do is to take the quiz and answer a few questions that will help the team at Birchbox find the right products for your skin, hair, and style. Next, you pick the products from the selection offered by Birchbox experts. If you just can’t decide, let them build a box for you. You won’t regret it, trust me. You can pick 2-5 samples, travel-size, or full-size products. Finally, it’s time for yourself. Receive and try new products each month and just be you.

Speaking of plans, you can decide whether you want to subscribe to a 1-month, 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month plan. The important thing is that you’ll get everything the same no matter what plan you pick. So whether you choose the 1-month plan or the 12-month one, you’ll get 2-5 deluxe beauty products, free shipping, and an option to pick a new product each month.

The only difference is the price. If you subscribe to a 12-month plan, for example, and pay annually you’ll save about $40 compared to the 1-month plan.

Shipping and Returns

Birchbox offers free shipping for all subscribers. One-time purchases are available as well but free shipping applies only on orders over $50. For orders below $50, a standard $5 fee applies.

Speaking of delivery, you can expect your box within 5-10 days from the moment you picked the samples.

Birchbox ships internationally as well but you have to check the list of available countries on Birchbox UK and Birchbox Spain.

Birchbox offers a free 90-day trial on all products except Birchboxes and Gift Subscription Gift Cards. They are nonrefundable and are ineligible for returns.


  • 4 different subscription plans in terms of length
  • The content of the box is the same no matter what plan you pick
  • Efficient delivery
  • 90-day free trial
  • Free shipping
  • One-time purchase available


  • Multi-month plans can’t be canceled mid-term

About IPSY

IPSY was founded in 2011 by YouTube beauty vlogger Michelle Phan. After that, Marcelo Camberos and Jennifer Jaconetti Goldfarb joined the team.

If you have ever been on YouTube to check out some cool makeup tutorials there’s no way you didn’t hear about Michelle Phan. Today, she has over 8M subscribers all over the world. According to Michelle, beauty trends were dictated by a small elite in the past. But then, YouTube came along and everything changed. Out of that revolution, IPSY was born.

I can tell that IPSY and Birchbox share a similar vision – for IPSY, the community comes first, just like Birchbox. IPSY also does a lot when it comes to celebrating the individual and empowering others. They truly believe in young beauty entrepreneurs that will shape the future of the beauty industry.

IPSY Review

Everything starts with Beauty Quiz. You will be asked questions about your preferences, skin tone, favorite brands, etc. Based on your preferences the IPSY team will pack your beauty bag which you’ll receive each month (you can adjust the frequency).

IPSY has a few different subscription plans.

Glam Bag

Glam Bag is the original IPSY subscription box. If you subscribe to Glam Bag, you’ll get 5 beauty samples packed in a lovely makeup bag. The products are worth over $50 according to IPSY. Also, you get to choose one product each month.

Glam Bag Plus

Glam Bag delivers you five samples, while Glam Bag Plus delivers you 5 beauty products, full size! Also, the products come in a drawstring bag with the IPSY logo. The five full-sized products are worth $120. Also, you get to pick three to five products each month!

Glam Bag X

Glam X is an upgrade for members only. It includes 8 premium beauty products specially curated by beauty’s biggest celebrities. Also, you get to choose three full-sized items each month. You can upgrade to Glam Bag X only 4 times a year, making it even more exclusive.

If you can’t decide which plan to pick, you can get both plans at the same time. Just saying.

Shipping and Returns

IPSY offers free shipping for the U.S. and Mexico. IPSY ships to Canada as well but a $2.95 fee applies. I would mention a slight drawback in terms of delivery. When you pick the samples, your Glam Box arrives the next month. Also, speaking of monthly deliveries, you can expect your box anytime (in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th week). You’ll get a tracking code so you can track your Glam Box.

Speaking of returns, you have 30 days to return the products in the original state. Also, a $5 restocking fee will be deducted from the final refund amount.


  • 3 different subscription plans based on the content
  • Full-sized products in Glam Bag Plus and Glam Bag X
  • Free shipping in the US and Mexico
  • Free returns within 30 days


  • There’s no way to contact support via email or a phone call
  • Delayed deliveries
  • Poor customer service

Head to Head Comparison

Birchbox and IPSY do an excellent job when it comes to delivering high-quality beauty boxes. With Birchbox you get the same number of products no matter what plan you pick. The only difference is that you can save around $40 if you pick a 12-month plan and pay annually.

With IPSY it’s a bit different – you get more products if you subscribe to premium plans. Also, with a basic IPSY subscription you get samplers while with premium you get full-sized products.

In terms of shipping and returns, Birchbox offers free shipping for all subscribers and one-time purchases over $50. IPSY offers free shipping for members while it seems that you can’t purchase any products without signing up and subscribing. Speaking of returns Birchbox offers a 90-day free trial while you have 30 days to request a refund from IPSY. Also, Birchbox delivers your first box within 5-10 days from the day you picked your beauty products. On the other hand IPSY delivers your box the next month…

Also, IPSY has delivery issues even when you subscribe. You can get your box at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the month, and you can’t do anything about it.

Here comes the part I wanted to leave for the end. If you want to contact Birchbox or email them, all you have to do is to visit the Help Center, and click “Email Us.”

I wish everything was so simple with IPSY. I did my best, I really did, but I couldn’t find a way to contact IPSY. The best way was an irritating chat bot. I can’t imagine a customer who wants to find to contact support in order to get answers about his order and instead of that they get a chat bot that sends IPSY stickers after each message. No wonder why IPSY has terrible reviews online regarding customer service.

The Verdict

Subscription boxes are quite handy and I personally love them. And if we’re talking about subscription-based beauty products, no woman will say “no”.

Birchbox and IPSY did a great job delivering high-quality beauty brands at affordable prices. The subscription plans are excellent even though they are quite different.

Speaking of Birchbox the main drawback would be the fact that you’re unable to cancel your subscription mid-term. But Birchbox did a great job curating the same content for each plan no matter how much you’re ready to pay.

On the other hand, IPSY has a lot of issues with product delivery. Also, customers are unable to contact support via email or phone. Instead of that, they have to deal with an annoying chat bot. Let’s switch to pros. IPSY offers quite valuable packages at affordable prices. With Glam Bag Plus, you can get full-sized beauty products that are worth over $100.

When shopping with Birchbox, you can purchase the products without signing up or subscribing, but you’ll have to pay a flat $5 fee unless your order is above $50.

IPSY doesn’t offer a one-time purchase option, and they ship only to Canada, the USA, and Mexico while Birchbox ships internationally.

Considering all above, I’d say that Birchbox has a slight edge in this comparison, but whichever box you subscribe to you’ll get high-quality beauty products, no doubt.

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