Subscription Smackdown: Ipsy Glam Bag vs. Birchbox

April 23, 2014

ipsy glam bag vs. birchbox

With the advent of all these new subscription boxes, keeping up with them can make a gal’s head spin. Which one is better? Am I wasting my money or will I be missing out? How will I know if they’re worth it? Since makeup is such a personalized item, it can be hard to objectively judge this kind of thing. Many other blog posts written about these subscription boxes have reviewed them based purely on personal preference. To see for myself, I subscribed to both the Ipsy Glam Bag and Birchbox, both $10/month with free shipping. However, to keep things objective, I measured them in the most equitable way possible: a breakdown of price based on the percent net weight for the full-sized product. Keep reading to see what came in my Ipsy Glam Bag and Birchbox and to find out which subscription gives you more bang for your buck!

ipsy glam bag


The Ipsy Glam Bag by Michelle Phan is very cosmetic-heavy. It is personalized for you based on preferences that you set when subscribing. I think they do a great job of personalizing the bags to suit your skin tone, hair/eye color, etc. Here’s what mine came with:

  • Benefit Lollitint Deluxe Sample (2.5 ml): $8. I’ve been waiting to try this product! First use shows that it is difficult to blend, so it’s probably better suited for lips than cheeks.
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Velvet Glide-on Eye Pencil (.03 oz): $15. This pencil glides on soft and easy and is great for a smoky eye. The pencil that came in the bag was nearly full-sized!
  • City Color White Gold Shadow & Highlight Mousse (.092 oz): $3.99. Super creamy (almost whipped) consistency. The color is a mix between silver and gold and has a nice shimmer.
  • Kiss Looks So Natural False Lashes (1 Pair): $3.99. I’ve had mixed results with false lashes in the past, so I’m looking forward to finding out how they look!
  • Cailyn Tinted Lip Balm in Acid Pink (.14 oz): $19.00. Pigmented matte lip color that leaves a nice stain on the lips. Comes with a built-in lip brush.

Total Value = $49.98



Birchbox is much more lifestyle-based than the Glam Bag. They like to include one “non cosmetic,” such as a food item, each month. Here’s what came in my Birchbox:

  • Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy Body Wash (1.35 fl oz): $2.53. Has a nice, clean, ocean-y smell.
  • Davines OI Absolute Beautifying Shampoo (12 ml): $1.11 and Davines OI Absolute Beautifying Conditioner (12 ml): $1.54. These samples are even smaller than hotel samples! I also found it annoying that they come in packets.
  • Color Club Nail Laquer in Gold Struck (7 ml): $4. Seems like a nice color, although I’m not a huge fan of shimmery nail polish.
  • Sumita Contrast Eye Pencil in Jamun (.024 oz): $5.25. A very dark plum colored pencil. Plum color not noticeable (looks almost black), but it’s good for subtly highlighting brown/hazel/green eyes. Pencil normally sold as part of a 4-pack.
  • Kind Bar, Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt (1.2 oz): $0.79. Not much flavor… why is this even in here?

Total Value = $15.22

Calculations based on the percent of net weight for the full size.

The Ipsy Glam Bag blew Birchbox out of the water with value and had much more recognizable items and brands that I would have considered buying independently. Birchbox had nicer packaging, including cute tip cards, but I like how the Glam Bag came in a little cosmetic pouch with a pretty pattern. Also, I liked the pink sparkly package it came in – was fun to get in the mail! I was completely underwhelmed by Birchbox and I am considering unsubscribing from it.

The final result? In my opinion, Ipsy Glam Bag won hands-down. Based on the actual monetary value of the products included in each, Glam Bag beats out Birchbox 3:1.