• My thoughts on the SA beauty boxes

    On the Beauty Bulletin website I am often asked for my opinion on the various beauty boxes on the market because I am such a huge sucker for these boxes.  I subscribed to all 3 boxes for 6 months until deciding on 1 box in order to control all the samples flowing out of my beauty drawer.  So here are my thoughts and opinions on the boxes, yes I know many people are bound to disagree with me and you are welcome to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments form below.
    Rubybox is the box that started it all in South Africa and from what I have seen and read, it is probably the box with the most divided opinion.  People either love it or feel ripped off by it.  Initially I couldn’t understand why people were complaining, each box contained high end brands that many of us would not be able to afford and in my opinion, the box allowed us to touch those brands and spoil ourselves (It makes me think of when I received the first box with the Earl Jones soy candle and how spoilt I felt burning it).  Then I saw the response to Glambox, here again the opinions were varied.  People expecting high end brands were disappointed with the more affordable brands and other people loved the fact that more affordable brands were included, along with reasonably priced full sized products.  I even heard people complain that the full sized product is one that they would never use so it was a complete waste for them.  For me, when I started getting the boxes I did so because I wanted surprises each month and both boxes delighted me in different ways.  Rubybox provided me with once off spoils that I loved and Glambox had a mix of value for money products that supplemented my beauty costs for the month, not needing to buy mascaras and face creams. 

    After listening to people and seeing their reaction to the various boxes, I then I realised that the beauty box subscribers fell into different 3 categories –
    1. Those that wanted to test out high end brands before purchasing the full size product (it’s a way of saving money by not purchasing the full size and then hating it).
    2. Those that are on a tight budget and use the box to supplement their beauty cupboard – they want a value for money box with at least 1 full size product and a decent amount of samples regardless of what brands are included in the box.
    3. Lastly, those that get the boxes just for the fun of it and for this reason they prefer getting products that are a complete spoil but don’t mind if the box is supplemented with cheaper supermarket or pharmacy brands.

    The beginning of this year Glossybox emerged to offer a third choice to beauty box addicts, and yes I subscribed to them as well and each month I received my 3 boxes and I was always delighted.  Glossybox in the beginning had me a little confused to be honest – I felt they were trying to find the middle road between the Rubybox and Glossybox.  They had seriously high end brands in a box next to cheap brands and in my mind, if I was one of promoters of the high end brands I would not be happy with my product sitting next to a cheap supermarket brand...But as a subscriber I thought WOW!  We did have the best of both worlds for a little while.  And with that came a change in Rubybox as well – they also started including full sized products more regularly.  Glambox started upping the quality of samples (the most recent box was like a homage to Avon) and on some occasions there were multiple full sized products.  Since the launch of the Glossybox Stuttafords limited edition box, I have noticed that glossybox seems to be moving towards being seen as the more luxurious of all the boxes.  Having a R30 higher price tag than the other boxes I think they strategically have position themselves to emerge as such.  This is evident by the partnership with what many people deem the most luxurious department store in South Africa, Stuttafords.  To me this created a shift in the way that I perceived the box and the R130 price tag makes more sense to me now.  We aren't just paying extra for the pretty box, we are getting access to very high end brands.

    To me this means that we currently have 2 kinds of beauty boxes:
    1. Value-for-money box Glambox
    2. Luxury boxRubybox and Glossybox

    After subscribing to all 3 boxes for 6 months, I had to make a choice on which box I would stick with (which was not an easy choice to make).  I considered each box and went back and forth about the pros and cons of each box (Yes, I even made a list!).  And then I realised I had forgotten my initial observations and then it was quite simple….which category do I see myself in? I am the type of person that already has my favourite brands and I have a loyal personality so I tend to stick to my brands like glue to paper.  These boxes were complete fun and treats for me, so I went with Glossybox because it has partnered with brands I only dream of using, presented in a beautiful box (I am a Taurean so I like pretty things) and every now and then we get a special treat.

    My one friend feels differently, she prefers Glambox because it has products she can afford to purchase if she likes the sample and it saves her money by not having to buy face creams or makeup certain months.  Glambox packaging is also pretty, but they have opted to cut back on the frills in order to provide subscribers with more samples each month.

    Rubybox was the box I seriously struggled to let go of.  It was the first box that I received and I loved when they started to include full sized products more frequently – the Earl Jones soy candle and Incoco nail wraps made me incredibly happy.  To be completely honest, I have now gone without 2 boxes and I am already considering resubscribing to it because it’s my introduction to beauty boxes and I still feel a sense of loyalty to them that I struggle to shake.

    Another point many people have brought up is that when compared to their international counterparts our beauty boxes pale in comparison.  I myself have gasped when I saw what brands were in the international boxes and was even more confused when I saw those subscribers complain about the boxes!  I took a look at the brands and then it all dawned on me.  We tend to neglect to take into account that a lot of these brands are manufactured on their doorsteps and are local brands to them or near neighbours.  They have access to products that are easily and readily available.  I can only imagine the pains the poor ladies at our beauty boxes have to go through to negotiate with brands to get samples for our boxes.  Remember samples are not mass produced on an ongoing basis like the products.  Only so many are made and it has to go around to thousands of stores, all beauty boxes, websites, magazines,….need I go on.  We are always looking across "the pond" and comparing it to what we have.  Yes some might perceive our boxes to be not as great, but there are valid reasons why we can’t have NARS, Urban Decay and other brands.

    What is very clear is that the boxes are in competition with each other to capture a market share that is very dependent on people's disposable income.  I think we are going to see some amazing things from these boxes in the near future, this is already evident with the introduction of boxes aimed at men and mothers.

    So after this VERY lengthy post…I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.  Feel free to pop me a message in the comment box below or use the contact me page to send me an email.

    Follow the beauty boxes
    Glambox: Website, Twitter, Facebook
    Glossybox: Website, Twitter, Facebook


    1. Great post! I completely agree with your views on the different boxes. However I definitely fall into the GlamBox category. I need to feel like I'm getting value for my money as I do buy beauty products on a budget. :)

    2. Agree 100% with this post, I too subscribed to all 3 initially and after two boxes felt Glambox didn't appeal to me. I already have my set basics that I am loyal to (also a Taurean). Therefore the other two appeal to me, Glossybox is my fav and I have loved every box but I still adore Rubybox so still get it every month.

    3. I buy boxes depending on my mood. One month it's Glossybox and another month it's Glambox. So I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything and I'm not going over my budget. But I do get more excited when I open my Glambox though:-) @DivaDesle

    4. Thank you so much for all the comments and taking the time to read the LONG post. At least I know I wasn't completely off base and mistaken. At the end of the day we all get the boxes for the same reason - we love beauty products and that is what matters most xxx

    5. Awesome post Charlene! I cancelled Rubybox after the first 3. I was not impressed :( I subscribed after the 'Incoco box'! Ai :( I just received my third Glossybox. My first was GREAT! It was the one with the scarf. That was just an awesome extra. I liked that box because it contained make-up and nail products. The last 2 weren't that great. I also see 'salon' products as more of a luxury than the high-end department store brands, eg Payot, Dermalogica, etc. I'm not ordering the Aug Glossybox. It looks great, but I am very happy with the facial products I am using now. I may try a Glambox next month - holding thumbs for make-up! If only my budget allowed for all 3 every month! xx

      1. Hi Charlene,

        The first Rubybox I got was the one with the Earl Jones candle so my initial experience was great, then there were a few boxes where we only got the 4 little samples and I did feel a little underwhelmed at times. But then the full sized products entered the picture - Incoco wraps, L'oreal face cream (the face cream brand I tend to stick to) and the Piz Buin sun lotion. So those boxes were amazing and made giving up Rubybox incredibly tough.

        I think supplying makeup in the beauty boxes must be VERY difficult because people are very picky about colours and getting colours to match skin tones must be tough - but I too enjoy the makeup treats. I love perfumes and skin care products so that is what I enjoy getting in the boxes.

        Getting all 3 boxes - although fun at first, is quite overwhelming because you can't get through everything in time before the next box arrives. I've given a lot of samples to my mom and friends (who were all very happy).

        Because I chose Glossybox I stick with them and will get every box for as long as I can afford to do so :) ....but as I said in my post, I have a sneaky feeling that I'll be adding Rubybox back because I miss is so very much!

    6. Hi There

      I really enjoyed this post. I think you are being very honest and doing soul searching about the boxes.

      I kind of went through the same thing. I am not a beauty shopping nut. And then I saw an advertisement for Rubybox in a magazine, decided I could part with R100, subscribed, enjoyed it so much (my first box was February). And then I saw people complaining (bitterly) and saying how much better Glambox was. So I subscribed to that as well. I received both boxes for about 2 months and decided I needed to choose. I could not choose. In the end I took out a 12 month subscription on both and justified it as being much, much cheaper than continuing my monthly subscriptions. But after the 12 months is over I would need to choose or let both go (my current thinking).

      I have not received a Glossybox and I need not add another complication to my decision as to which box to choose. At the moment it is the extra R30 that is keeping me from going with Glossybox. And honestly I cannot spend R330 per month on beauty boxes.

      I think my heart likes Rubybox and my head likes Glambox and I think that is why it is so hard to choose. I love the perfume samples, and I am not sure that I have received more than one perfume sample in a Glambox, whereas the Rubybox had one in every box. I would definitely miss the perfume if I chose Glambox. I think Glambox is much better value for money than Rubybox, but I have felt more spoilt and just enjoyed the stuff in the Rubybox more. The Piz Buin sunblock was amazing, the Incoco nails and the marvellous liquid eye liner have all been wonderful, versus an Avon moisturiser in the Glambox.

      I guess you are right. As soon as I decide whether this is my monthly treat or whether this is my value for money shopping I would know which box to choose. And I honestly do not know.

      The Rubybox is often disappointing at first glance, a few tiny things, but once you start using them you go 'Wow'. Whereas the Glambox is packed to the brim and looks like a good deal and then when you start using it, you go 'Whatever'.



      1. Hi Anne,

        I loved reading your comment because your thoughts were near identical to mine! I was for 5 months spending R330 a month on all the boxes before deciding to choose - basically because I was running out of space to keep all the samples and boxes.

        With Glambox I was always amazed by the amount of products in the box but when it came time to using them I wasn't that excited at all - because the goodies are mostly ones I can easily go out and buy for myself. I am after feeling treated to something special from boxes and that is why I personally prefer Glossybox and Rubybox.

        Added your blog to my Bloglovin' reading list :)

        Thanks for leaving such a great comment :)

    7. "there are valid reasons why we can’t have NARS, Urban Decay and other brands." What do you think the reasons are?


    Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment ♡

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