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Best beauty boxes 2021: Our pick of the best letterbox beauty treats

Kate Hilpern
10 Sep 2021
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Enjoy a little pick-me-up every month with the best beauty subscription boxes

Looking for the lowdown on the best beauty boxes around? You've come to the right place. These fab little packages are filled with gorgeous beauty and skincare products. They arrive in the post, usually (but not always) as part of a subscription service, and normally contain sample-sized items. Make-up and skincare are the most popular contents, but there are also specialist cartons for shaving and even sanitary products.

For those beauty junkies who can’t wait to get their hands on the latest new lipstick, bath bomb or razor – and who want to be surprised with new products every month – it’s time to splash out. Beauty boxes make great gifts too, if you fancy treating your nearest and dearest.

We’ve tested a selection of beauty boxes for variety, quality and value for money, and below you’ll find the ones that came out on top. If you're not sure where to start with beauty boxes, our buying guide will help you to make an informed decision based on your needs and budget. For those already in the know, scroll on to find our top picks.

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Best beauty box: At a glance


How to choose the best beauty box for you

How many items should come in my beauty box and are they all sample size?

Most boxes contain around five to six items. While these are often mini-versions of a product, giving you the opportunity to trial a product, others come in full-size. Either way, they usually offer far better value for money than buying the products in a store at RRP.

Are all the products new?

The whole idea behind the beauty box is to enable folk to keep up with the latest trends. Often, you get to try out the products before other consumers. In some cases, you might also receive products that have been on the market for a while, but that are customer favourites.

What kind of items are included?

It depends on the type of box. Make-up, skincare, nail care and haircare are the most popular, but there are also some great packages for fragrances, shaving and sanitary products.

Do I get to choose my products?

Again, this will depend on the type of beauty box you buy. With some, items are picked out for you; with others, you’ll fill out an online beauty profile in the first instance so products are tailored to you. There are also beauty boxes that involve you picking the products from a list.

Is it only about big brands?

Certainly not – both high-end and up-and-coming brands are included. There’s usually a panel of beauty experts making the decisions behind the scenes and what they don’t know about the very best brands would probably fit on the back of a postage stamp.

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Are all beauty boxes part of a subscription service?

Most are, but there are exceptions. While Beauty Pie, for example, requires you to be a member, Powder offers one-off seasonal purchases. Most subscription boxes are flexible in terms of how long you sign up for and enable you to cancel anytime.

How can I make sure I get value for money?

Some beauty boxes give you a breakdown of the RRP of the products included. Others make a promise of ensuring the box has a minimum total RRP value.

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The best beauty boxes to buy

1. Glossy Box: The best value beauty box

Price: £13 per month | Sign up to GlossyBox

While this is one of the cheapest beauty box subscription services available, you’ll feel a million dollars whenever it arrives. Inside the elegant, ribbon-tied pink box are five must-have, full-sized products from a mix of well-known and emerging brands such as Clarins, Caudalie, HUDA and Benefit to a minimum value of £50.

Best of all, Glossy Box only sends out products that are suitable for your skin and hair type, so it’s unlikely that any will be destined for the bin, and they come with genuinely useful beauty advice.

Key specs Subscription service: Yes; Available plans: 1, 3, 6 or 12 months; Option to cancel anytime: Yes, on the one-month rolling plan

Sign up to GlosssyBox


2. FFS Beauty: The best shaving beauty box

Price: From £10 per month | Sign up to FFS Beauty

The first shaving subscription service exclusively for women, FFS was launched so women had a choice outside of the shoddy, substandard plastic razors that fill supermarket shelves – and to stop you hanging onto them so long that they become overused and even rusty. (Hygiene alert: did you know you should be changing your razor every week? We thought not.)

With a satisfyingly heavy and ergonomic razor, the box also comes with two to four refills, plus a shower holder and blade cover. Also included are three products: pre-shave scrub, shave cream and post-shave balm. Arriving every month, future boxes will include replacement blades. It's a great way to make for cheaper, more hygienic and easier shaving.

Key specs Subscription service: Yes; Available plans: Monthly; Option to cancel anytime: Yes

Sign up to FFS Beauty


3. Scent Addict: The best perfume beauty box

Price: £12 per month | Sign up to Scent Addict

The concept behind this beauty box from the Fragrance Shop is to allow you to try out different perfumes each month until you find “the one” you’ve been searching for. Or perhaps you’re one of the 55% who likes to change the fragrance they wear every single day. Make your choice from more than 200 fragrances and 50 brands – including Chanel, Viktor&Rolf and D&G – and you’ll have an 8ml, travel-friendly atomiser (100 sprays) in your chosen fragrance dropping on your doorstep within two weeks of the order.

If you do find your perfect scent, you can redeem the £12 subscription cost against the price of a full-size bottle, either online or in-store. We tried three boxes – Gucci Bloom, Tom Ford Black Orchid and Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue – and all easily lasted the month.

Key specs Subscription service: Yes; Available plans: 6 or 12 months; Option to cancel anytime: Yes

Sign up to Scent Addict


4. Beauty Pie: The best beauty box for non-branded products

Price: £10 per month for membership | Sign up to Beauty Pie

This isn’t a subscription service as such: you pay £10 a month to be a member, with a minimum three-month sign-up (they also do some flash one-day memberships). Then you get to tailor your own box of goodies from a luxury range of make-up and skincare products at prices that are bargaintastic. But don’t get too carried away – there’s a £100 cap a month (retail value). On the plus side, if you don’t spend the full amount, you can roll it over to the following month.

By cutting out the middleman and sourcing direct from the factory, Beauty Pie is able to offer fantastic products at super-competitive prices. And you can be sure all items are of high quality as they have to pass muster by an expert panel, made up of product developers, make-up artists and the like. We received Pure Transforming Cleanser, Uber Volume-Boost Mascara and Sundust Powder, among other things – all top-drawer items.

Key specs Subscription service: No; Available plans: N/A; Option to cancel anytime: Yes, after 3 months

Sign up to Beauty Pie


5. The Pip Box: The best cruelty-free beauty box

Price: £26 per month | Sign up to The Pip Box

If you’d like your beauty products to be cruelty-free and vegan-friendly, this is the beauty box for you. Named after the founder’s dog Pippa, the service donates 50p from the sale of every box to an animal-friendly charity. You get five products a month, worth up to £68 (the average value per box is £45), including both sample and full-sized products from brands such as Weleda, PHB and Bloomtown Botanicals, covering everything from make-up to skincare.

Our box comprised a natural concealer, room mist, ethical deodorant, massage oil, facial cleanser and herbal tea bag – alongside discount vouchers for the brands included.

Key specs Subscription service: Yes; Available plans: 1, 3, 6 or 12 months; Option to cancel anytime: Yes

Sign up to The Pip Box


6. Lookfantastic: The best beauty box for skincare products

Price: From £13 per month | Sign up to Lookfantastic

With Lookfantastic you get to try products and discover new brands, without paying through the nose. The box comprises six products guaranteed to be worth at least £50 – these are mostly skincare items, but there are also make-up, nail and haircare goodies. Plus, you get a free copy of the latest Elle magazine, too.

Covering 350 brands, ranging from Molton Brown and REN to lesser-known up-and-coming brands, there’ll be no flies on you when it comes to staying at the forefront of beauty trends. In our box, we had products from Eve Lom, Philip Kingsley, Omorovicza and Aromatherapy Associates.

Subscribers receive a £5 discount on Lookfantastic, as well as being first on the list for the box’s celebration issues, such as the Best of British box. If there was a prize for the most innovative beauty box, we reckon this would come out top.

Key specs Subscription service: Yes; Available plans: 3, 6 or 12 months; Option to cancel anytime: Yes

Sign up to Lookfantastic


7. Birchbox: The original beauty subscription box that still stands out

Price: £14 per month | Sign up to Birchbox

Launched in 2010, Birchbox was the first-ever beauty subscription box; it now boasts a million subscribers globally. And as the UK’s most popular beauty box service, it remains a fantastic way to test out luxury products from some of the best-known brands in the business. Boxes contain mostly sample size items (handy for travel), but you always get at least one full-sized product, as well as useful info on the products included.

Products are tailored to you, plus you get a sneak preview to the next month’s box and discounts if you want to buy a full-size product of something you’ve tried and like. Items are packaged beautifully and Birchbox partners with brands once a quarter for a themed box, with past examples including Cath Kidston, Ohh Deer and Etsy. Our box contained products from Benefit, Klorane, Nuxe, Sand & Sky and Marcelle.

Key specs Subscription service: Yes; Available plans: 3, 6 or 12 months; Option to cancel anytime: Yes

Sign up to Birchbox


8. Cohorted: The best luxury beauty box

Price: £40 per month | Sign up to Cohorted

At £40 a month, you’ll need to be pretty serious about beauty to sign up to this subscription. But wow – if luxury is your thing, these boxes are to die for, with brand names such as Marc Jacobs, Lancome and TooFaced appearing regularly. You get excellent value for money too, with boxes usually worth over £100.

Once we got our chic ribbon-tied black boxes open (we sampled three, with five products in each), we were thrilled to discover mostly full-sized products, including a Gucci eyeliner, Sachajuan haircare set and Nails Inc nail polish duo. One of the boxes was an exclusive Doucce box including lipstick, lip pencil, graphic pen, mascara, brow filler and limited edition Freematic Eyeshadow Pro Palette. Plus, you get a glossy booklet with all the tips you need on getting the best from your box, as well as inside information on brands to discover.

Key specs Subscription service: Yes; Available plans: Ongoing; Option to cancel anytime: Yes

Sign up to Cohorted


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