In the age of subscription boxes, it feels as though Birchbox has been around forever.
Founded in 2010 (and based in New York) by a couple of Harvard Business School grads, Birchbox has grown into a behemoth in the subscription box grooming space.
While predominantly marketed towards women, today I will be reviewing their men’s grooming subscription box offering.
Now, before I jump into the full review, here are a few quick (and important) notes:
This Isn’t A Sponsored Post
You deserve to know what is going on behind the scenes when reading a detailed product review. Here’s where things stand:
- I purchased this box directly from Birchbox with my own money (receipt proof).
- This review is completely unfiltered and unbiased.
- Birchbox has no idea I am even writing this.
- There are affiliate links throughout this post (like this). This provides the site with a small source of revenue to help keep things running.
Filling Out The Grooming Profile on Birchbox
Getting setup for Birchbox was extremely easy and straightforward.
Like most subscription box services, you only need to answer a few key questions so they know what to send you:
As you can see above, this includes things like the following:
- Skin & Hair
- More About You (Ethnicity and other demographic data)
In order for Birchbox to work for you, it is important to not skip these steps. This way the products that they do send out to you will actually be relevant to your tastes (i.e. I am bald and received no hair care products – demonstrating that this was a curated box).
Filling out the profile was painless. And drawing from memory when I completed it about a month ago, it took only a few minutes to complete.
Now to the meat of the review – actually receiving the box and seeing what comes inside.
First, the exterior box is nothing to write home about – a simple logo on the side:
Coupled with a bright ‘Yes!’ on the bottom:
But once you open up the box, the design is super simple and has a nice presentation box on the inside:
…and a top-down look:
Once you go ahead and take the top off you are met with a simple message on the inside:
While this is only the first month of receiving Birchbox, I would suspect that this is customized every month.
Here’s a solo shot of the message itself if you want a clearer look at it:
As you can see, it is some solid grooming advice that will provide great results for men with skin in need of some proper nourishment.
Now I’ll be a bit harsh here – this message makes no sense given the contents of the box…
My box didn’t contain any body lotion…perhaps this is their way to get me to think about it?!?
Beneath the messaging insert, I received a total of 5 different products:
Which includes the following (from left to right pictured above):
- Billy Jealousy Devils Delight Beard Wash
- Maapilim Eye Cream
- Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser
- Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm
- Commodity Bergamot Eau De Parfum
As you can see from the above, these are rather small (about the size of standard samples) and are intended to be used only a few times at most.
Here’s another shot of the products included:
Overall, the product size is intended to give you a good taste of the brand without having to fully commit and buy a bottle.
The Problem That Birchbox Solves
Now I could go on to review each of the products mentioned above, however, I know that this would provide no real value to you as this box was custom to me for this specific month.
Therefore, what you get will almost certainly be different.
With that being said, it’s important to take just a step back from this review and understand the Birchbox business model and the problem that they are trying to solve.
Birchbox doesn’t make much money on these subscription boxes. As noted in this article on FastCompany.com – they suspect that Birchbox only makes a sliver of revenue on these boxes:
Instead, as Katia Beauchamp (co-founder of Birchbox) noted in this Medium article, said that Birchbox has adopted the “try-learn-buy” strategy – meaning that customers will try new products in their homes, learn about the products based on their content – and eventually buy them through Birchbox.
With this context, Katia went on to state that more than half of their subscribers shop for the full-sized products on their website:
…and there is the ‘a-ha’ moment of what is happening when you connect all the dots.
So, who do I think Birchbox is for?
Birchbox is not for the incredibly well-groomed man that knows his way around the skincare, beard, or body care aisles.
Instead, I think that Birchbox is much better suited for those men who are just starting to get a handle on their grooming regimen and want to try a few products out without having to spend upwards of $100 bucks on a slew of full size grooming products.
Is Birchbox Worth The Price?
As I shared at the start of this article, the actual price I paid for this monthly subscription of Birchbox was rather modest – $10.
In it, I received a total of 5 very different products from different companies (although I would have liked to see Jack Black not being represented twice here).
As a recap, I received products from the following categories:
- Lip balm
- Facial cleanser
- Beard wash
- Eye cream
- Eau de Parfum
Now the fun part – math.
How much would I have to spend if I paid for each one of these full sized products through the Birchbox website?
When looking at each full sized product individually I found the following amounts:
- Jack Black Lip Balm = $8
- Jack Black Facial Cleanser = $23
- Billy Jealousy Beard Wash = $20
- Maapilim Eye Cream = $39
- Commodity Eau De Parfum = $120
The Total: $210
Even if you drop out the pricey cologne, that still rings up to a hefty bill of $90!
So instead of flying blind at your local skincare store trying to figure out what products work for your skin type, then Birchbox offers a great introduction of premium grooming products at a modest price.
Okay…Where’s the Gotcha Of Birchbox?
The biggest gripe about Birchbox is two-fold:
1. They likely pick out products that provide them the biggest profit margin if you decide to buy the full size. Many of these brands are considered to be in the Prestige Beauty category and are considered a luxury to many men.
This means that you aren’t being exposed to products that are substantially cheaper and perform nearly as well. But perhaps this is the price many are willing to pay when it comes to trying and testing products.
2. Most experts state that you should never introduce several products into your grooming regimen at once. The reason is that if your skin begins to flare up (especially important for men with severely sensitive skin), you may not know which product was the culprit.
Of course in my case, I had lip balm, eye cream, facial cleanser, and beard wash. While I might be able to infer which product was likely the cause of irritation based on the location of the flare up – the introduction of several products is important to keep in mind.
How To Cancel Birchbox?
Canceling Brichbox is easy. You will need to do the following:
- Login to your account
- Click on Account Settings
- Click on Subscription Details and click Cancel Subscription
It should look like this once canceled:
Birchbox Promo Codes & Coupons
For the bargain hunters out there – or if you simply like saving a few bucks every now and then, once you sign up for Birchbox you will receive a plethora of promo emails:
As you can see, they come in pretty regularly shortly after you place your first order.
So when you go to restock or upgrade to a full-size bottle, expect you find a coupon in your inbox to take a few extra bucks off your bill.
Birchbox Loyalty Points
For men looking for extra savings every month, you will be happy to know that Birchbox does offer up a generous loyalty points program that is broken into two categories: everyone and aces.
Here’s how they compare to one another:
As you can see – both loyalty programs are pretty good however Ace does cost an extra $10 for their beauty subscription program and is probably better for those men looking to fully commit to the revamp of their grooming regimen.
Would I Renew Through Birchbox?
Honestly, probably not.
But not because I think they send bad products or provided poor service. Instead, quite the contrary.
Their service/website was extremely easy to use. Not only was their Grooming Profile easy to complete, but the actual cancellation of the service was equally painless.
I didn’t need to sit in a virtual queue to wait and talk to customer service to make any changes to my account.
Everything was done in only a few clicks.
However, the primary reason that I decided that I wouldn’t renew my subscription is that I am pretty happy with my grooming regimen and not currently in the hunt for new products.
Should You Get Gift Subscriptions to Birchbox?
While you could set up a curated box for that special someone in your life, Birchbox does have a variety of pre-packaged gift sets available on their website that we think works better.
Not only will you know what you are buying, but you will also receive full size products rather than small samples that are common in the standard monthly grooming box.
Secondly, the gift set also has a nice presentation box that is well-suited for gift giving.
Should You Subscribe to Birchbox?
Truth be told, only you will know this answer.
However, here are a few guiding questions that I think will help you get to that answer:
Are you comfortable with actually trying new grooming products?
Are you overwhelmed with all the men’s grooming products in the skincare aisle and not sure where to start?
Are you looking to switch up your grooming regimen?
If you answered yes to all of the above – then Birchbox probably makes sense for you.
Let’s remember that Birchbox is only $10 per month.
For most, this is the cost of going out to lunch with your work buddies one day.
If you haven’t invested much time or money into your grooming regimen to date and are overwhelmed with all the products available – then it may be worth giving them a try.
However, if you are in full control of your grooming regimen and don’t need any help, then Birchbox probably isn’t for you – unless of course, you like to get your hands on samples to see what’s new in grooming space.
Final Thoughts On This Birchbox Review
Birchbox was a pioneer of the subscription box model. The no-frills packaging coupled with a set of premium grooming products make them a great service for those men looking to try out grooming products but have no idea where to start.
If you are curious about trying out Birchbox and don’t mind paying the $10 per month subscription price (cancel anytime) then I think they are worth a shot.
Besides, even if you don’t use every product – the small size products make great travel companions for your next flight.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.