We try it!

We Try It: Glam Bag vs Birchbox

At the risk of seeming stereotypically feminine, I love tiny little things in cute packages. Tiny little toys, tiny little erasers that look like food, cheap tchotchkes that come in the center of Kinder Eggs, and especially, I love makeup samples.

So imagine my glee when several months ago I heard about a new service that will send you make-up samples every month. Every month! In the mail! After I subscribed to Birchbox,  a little birdie I knew told me there was yet another service that did the same thing – Glam Bag. I signed up for both, because I love me some free makeup.

Now that I’ve been receiving their products for several months, I’ve learned that not all sample services are the same.



Glam Bag

Price? $10/month $10/month
Waiting List? Yes Yes
“Specialized” quiz to select “˜personalized’ products? Yes Yes
Special packaging? Monthly samples show up in a sturdy box, good for using for gifting at the holidays Monthly samples show up in reusable make-up bags. Styles change monthly.
On-line shop? Yes Yes
Tips and tutorials? Yes Yes
Customer Service? Unused Super fast response, polite and reasonable resolution

On paper, they look the same. Birchbox has a more advanced website and offers a (beta) service subscription for men. They’re shinier. My Glam’s site is”¦ fine. It does what it needs to and the bells and whistles are sparse. But both are easily navigated and the wait to join their service was about the same in each case – several weeks after I submitted my name to their waiting lists, I was in.

I’ve been a member of Birchbox for four months and My Glam for three, and I just canceled my subscription to Birchbox.  Below are pictures of the last two months of samples from both services. Each month from Glam I get at least one full size product – the last two months it was full size nail polishes, as well as a full size lip gloss. The month before I received two (two!) full size Nyx lipsticks.  When I emailed them to ask why my Philosophy sample was missing from the box, they apologized within an hour and sent me a replacement.

In contrast, Birchbox samples seem puny. The Stilla foundation from this month is a dot of product on a postcard. The perfume is always stingy. The nail polish was mini. I got a full size razor and sample shaving cream – but let’s be honest, opening up a box to a new razor is kind of a bummer. In short, Birchbox sends me more things I have no use for (self tanning towelettes) and seems to really delight in sending me products for “aging” skin. I’m in my 30s, gang. There’s nothing like receiving a box full of products for thinning hair and wrinkles to make you want to go full Miss Havisham.

After weighing my loot, my ten bucks a month seem to be better spent over at Glam Bag.


Interested in joining one of these services? Sign up for Birchbox here and Glam Bag here.

Birchbox was previously covered in this post by the fabulous Hillary!

By [E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

32 replies on “We Try It: Glam Bag vs Birchbox”

I signed up for the My Glam bag waitlist and I am so excited! I love trying new make-up and getting “presents” in the mail. I don’t know why I hadn’t done this sooner. I’m glad you did this little review because I’d only known about Birchbox and would have gone with them if it wasn’t for your review so thanks.

PopSugar announced what was in the August bag. I haven’t actually received it yet but mail in my area is slow so I should have the goods in my hands either tonight or tomorrow. Anyway, this is what I’ll be getting:

It’s more “home and life” stuff with just a few beauty things but I actually prefer that. With my sensitive skin, once I find a product that doesn’t make me flake and itch I stick with it. But I can tell you I am Fucking Excited to receive the items in this bag. First of all – The Bag! It also has four wine glasses, a coupon for wine, coasters, and crackers. I love the oil soaked sticks too. I have a few in my house already. The only product I’m kinda side-eyeing is the butt workout DVD. But, I’ll try it and if I don’t care for it – I know a friend who would love to have it so at least I know I can give products to friends and share the joy.

So, yeah, I’ll be getting next month’s bag too.

There are some subscription services like this that go the greener route, but that also means they’re a little pricier. Eco-Emi is one, and I believe Conscious Box is another. I haven’t tried either, but they’ve gotten good reviews. Once I’m out of grad school hell and have some more wiggle room in my budget, I’m signing up for one!

Gah, I don’t even wear makeup or perfume but my friends’ talking about these all the time makes me want to sign up for these so badly. I do love nail polish, and I really do need to start some sort of skin care regimen at some point; I ain’t getting any younger and I use absolutely nothing now. I may have to finally get on the list for GlamBag. I suppose it won’t hurt to get on the waiting list and then decide… Damnit Slay! :)

That’s alright. I went ahead and got on the list, and if I don’t like it after a couple months I’ll just cancel. I hardly ever spend money on myself, so fuck it. Anything I don’t use I can probably give to my mother-in-law or let Lexie play with. And I love tiny bags; they’re so useful! That’s one of my favorite parts of signing up for sample bags from Target. (Note to self: the coupons from the last one are expiring this week; go shopping! And keep an eye out for the next one!)

Did you sign up for the last one? Someone I follow on facebook just got one today and I was upset thinking I’d missed the signup, but it was the one I got at the beginning of the summer. I’ll definitely let you know next time I hear about one. (Right now they have free samples of Bear Naked cereal;


You know, if you do love nail polish you might be interested in the Julep Maven program. At $20/month it’s admittedly more pricey but dear God do I love the formula of their nail polish, and it seems like nearly every month they send along a full sized something else – this month it’s mascara. It seems like they often have a promo where you can start the program for just 1 cent, and then you can always choose to skip a month. I’m a HUGE fan.

Question – Does Glam Bag push as hard as Birchbox does, as far as encouraging you to buy full-size products from their website?  I really like Birchbox, but they frequently send me these pleading emails encouraging me to buy products from them.  Honestly, I didn’t have much intention of buying any of the products I get from Birchbox right away (I have a small selection of skincare stuff and makeup that lasts a long time that I don’t typically deviate from)…I just like getting new perfume samples and such to play with.I thought the deal was to pay $10 a month for a sampling of prezzies (and then, I might sometime in the future buy one or two products, and would def give word of mouth for stuff I liked), but the desperate emails make me think they really need me to regularly buy products, too, if the business is to continue.  Which makes me feel kind of guilty for not buying them, which sort of takes some of the fun out of Birchbox.

So, same deal for Glam Bag?  Or different?

I’d vote ‘different’ – the emails I get from MyGlam are usually discount coupons for ordering full products from the vendor’s site. I get maybe one of these a week? The birchbox ones seem to be mostly for getting stuff from their Web site, and it seems like it’s more frequent; plus their emails are for the stuff in the box as well as stuff you haven’t gotten a sample of, which seems like it defeats the purpose to some extent. And birchbox has ‘points’ that I guess are supposed to be good for discounts on the site, but I’m not sure how that works.

I kind of wish there was a way to network with others (for either service) on product swaps. I know there are legal/hygiene factors to consider, but it’d be great to find something to do with the samples that I don’t need/use/want, especially if there was a way to get more of the ones I did like/use. At this point I will probably just donate them to a shelter or something, but I’ll probably have to toss anything that’s opened.

Birchbox pushes the emails hard. I get at least one every day, usually more, telling me to buy the stuff I got this month. MyGlam (Glam Bag) usually lets me know when my bag shipped and I get an occasional email letting me know there’s a new tutorial. The email situation was not really a factor in me giving up BirchBox, but it definitely made me annoyed at them.

I don’t find MyGlam pushy at all – in fact, last month they sent me about 4 emails, each one about a specific product that had been in my box. I seem to recall that almost all of them had some sort of promotion, such as 20% off a custom blended eye shadow from a brand (S.A.L.T.Y.) I had never heard of before receiving my bag.


I had birchbox for about a year, and canceled them right after the Gossip Girl tie-in box where I got a teeeny tiny sample of bb cream that literally covered one cheek. Totes agree with Slaybelle about the itty bitty perfume samples, too. Like, that Demeter roll-on perfume oil from MyGlam? Substantial! And I got mine in dragonfruit, which is actually really pleasant for layering.

I am in the EXACT same boat, er, box/bag here. I got ‘admitted’ to birchbox first, so I went with it, and then joined MyGlam as soon as it opened up. The birchbox has been mostly ‘meh’ products that are underwhelming for the money; band-aids, wet wipes, and that Stila sample you pictured above was SO disappointing, especially because I really like to try different BB creams and foundations (in contrast, the sample I got from Sephora from Urban Decay for their new foundation was fabulous; that’s the level I’d expect to get for a paid service – the Stila was what you might expect to get in a store to test the color or texture at best). And, one of the birchbox kits contained products that had expired months before; I got an email about two weeks after I got the box telling me that if I’d gotten the expired stuff to go through a bunch of hoops to get a 100 point credit on the site. I didn’t bother. There have been a few good samples here and there, but not enough to really justify the cost.

MyGlam, on the other hand, makes an effort to make the samples and selection really feel like they’re worth the cost. You get an actual bag every month, and the sizes and products are a good size to actually try out. And to me, the point of this is to be able to effectively try new products to determine if they’re worth buying. They also seem to have more high-end feeling products, which again makes it feel worth it. My only gripe, which isn’t much of one, is getting the same brand of nail polish two months in a row (mine were yellow then orange).

In looking at the pics above, it seems like my box/bags varied a bit, but not drastically. I keep trying to determine if I should hold out on birchbox just in case it gets better, but I’m having a hard time justifying it when the MyGlam bag suits the shiny/new monthly void so much better. Plus, I signed up for MyGlam annually to save a little, and am just m-2-m with birchbox. I just have a feeling I can find something better to spend $10 on…

I think that the owners of MyGlam are somehow affiliated with the Circus nailpolish people. Which honestly I don’t care about, because I have a major nailpolish problem and 2 new full size polishes made me ridiculously happy. And you’re right — the samples are just more generous. A full size nail polish and a full sized lip gloss? The buxom lipgloss from the month before was also big and the face wipes were perfect travel size.

When I looked at the pictures next too each other, it seemed apparent to me that I was wasting my money on Birchbox. (Though I did get a Diorshow sample in my first box and its awesome.) Also, could they send out any more emails?

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