Walk into any makeup store around, and there is sure to be a section filled with miniature versions of popular products. Especially when shopping for more expensive makeup lines, it is difficult to constantly spend money on full-sized products without being sure they work as promised. Money can be easily wasted on pricey beauty products that are purchased and only used a few times before the buyer is dissatisfied and off to find something new. It is for reasons such as this that the beauty subscription box industry has grown so popular.

The Start of Birchbox

Birchbox was created in September 2010. For the first year and a half, Birchbox was geared solely toward women, with men's subscription services not becoming available until April 2012. Each Birchbox subscription box is a curated collection of five product samples ranging from makeup, haircare, skincare and nail care, which is delivered each month to the homes of subscribers. Since its creation, Birchbox has built a strong following of over 800,000 active subscribers worldwide.

Membership and Fees

One of the most attractive features of Birchbox is it costs only $10 per month for women. Each box contains five samples and ships monthly to the subscriber's home at no additional cost. A men's subscription costs $20 per month but comes with four sample-size products and one full-size product.

To maximize the value of paying for the subscription, Birchbox tailors its boxes to match the preferences, needs, and styles of its subscribers. The company provides a questionnaire at the very beginning of the process and allows for changes later on, so if a subscriber starts receiving boxes with products that are not quite what she wants, she can make modifications. Incorporating each subscriber's individual preferences greatly minimizes the chances of wasted products or a dissatisfied client base.

Is It Worth It?

While the price is seemingly affordable, potential subscribers have to ask themselves if becoming a subscriber is a good financial decision or if the idea of Birchbox is too good to be true. From a financial standpoint, Birchbox appears to be worth the money spent. The following is a breakdown of product samples from the January 2016 box, along with prices of the full-size version of each item and the value of each sample when divided using the respective amounts.

Samples 1 and 2: Beautiful Nutrition Grapefruit Detox Shine Repair Shampoo and Conditioner

  • Sample size: 2 ounces each.
  • Full size and cost: 13.3 fluid ounces each, $12 each.
  • Sample value: $1.80 each, $3.60 for the pair.

Sample 3: Cargo Swimmables Shadow Stick in Coral Reef

  • Sample size: This sample was actually provided in its full-size version.
  • Full size and cost: Sold in a trio for $22, approximately $7.33 each.
  • Sample value: $7.33.

Sample 4: Raw Spirit Fragrances in Bijou Vert

  • Sample size: 1 milliliter, or 0.03 fluid ounces.
  • Full size and cost: 30 milliliters, $90 each.
  • Sample value: $3.

Sample 5: Supergoop! Advanced SPF 37 Anti-Aging Eye Cream

  • Sample size: 2 milliliters, or 0.07 fluid ounces.
  • Full size and cost: 0.5 fluid ounces, $45 each.
  • Sample value: $6.30.

Total Value of Samples: $20.23

Taking both the full value of the samples plus the $10 fee into account, the subscriber is technically not losing any money, even if she only ends up liking 50% of the samples in the box.

Birchbox's Top Competitors

Birchbox has its fair share of competitors. While most of its primary competitors are subscription box companies, they span across multiple industries: Citrus Lane for baby goodsNatureBox for healthy foods, and JustFab for shoes and bags. Birchbox and other similar beauty box subscriptions such as the Ipsy Glam Bag and Play! by Sephora have been staking their claims in the industry, interrupting revenue for big-name companies such as Amazon and Macy's.