The Best Beauty Subscription Boxes That Let You Try Before You Buy
There's no such thing as too much makeup (right?), but the truth is, products can be pricey. With so many cosmetic, skincare, and hair-product brands to choose from, it's hard to decipher which ones are worth your cash. Luckily, subscription services present a solution that's both economical and super fun, and they're an easy way to try out all of the top-trending products on your beauty wish list without shelling out the big bucks.
Discover emerging brands and tried-and-true products by signing up for the best monthly beauty subscription boxes. Ready to subscribe? Read on to find the best box for you!
Arguably the most recognizable &mdash and definitely among the most coveted beauty subscription boxes out there &mdash Birchbox was made for women (and men!) to test their preferred products before the bigger buy.
Each box features five trial-sized products tailored to your interests, including samples from cult classics and emerging brands. Birchbox consistently serves up a diverse range of personalized products in categories including makeup, hair, skincare, and fragrance.
What's great about this buy is that Birchbox has its own rewards points. Review all five samples for Birchbox Points, and once you hit the big 5-0, you'll receive an additional $5 to spend in the Birchbox store. You can shop Birchbox directly for your full-sized favorites after falling in love with the samples each month.
Birchbox also features a grooming box for men, so this is a great option for the guys in your life, too!
A beauty subscription box that's well worth your bucks, Glossybox prides itself on its monthly curation of products. Five expert-approved makeup and skincare essentials sourced from all over the world are delivered to your doorstep, wrapped in a darling keepsake box that's sure to get as much use as each individual product.
Each box is valued at over five times the cost, and you can expect to see at least three full-sized products every month.
$49.99 for seasonal subscription
This isn't your average monthly package with a few cosmetic samples to try out. Consider FabFitFun a large, seasonal present that features a mix of beauty, fitness, fashion, wellness, and home products to help you feel good from the inside out.
FabFitFun regularly features sales for members, from box add-ons to exclusive offers from brand partners, so you can maximize your subscription status!
Beauty subscription boxes can become costly depending on the quantity, brands, and size of samples. But with Dermstore's delivery service, you're getting your beauty fix for a budget-friendly price.
Focusing heavily on skincare and hair products, each box is valued at over $100, and it's overflowing with full- and travel-sized products from brands like NuFACE, Ouidad, Phytomer, and more.
Available for both men and women, ScentBird is a beauty subscription box that's all about fragrance. Perfect for the perfume hoarder, Scentbird gives you the opportunity to test-drive designer scents before splurging on a full bottle. Each monthly supply of perfume is paired with a chic, reusable case that you can toss in your tote.
Create an account on the brand's website and take a quiz to match with your best scent, and be sure to rate each sample directly on the site to determine which batch you'll try next.
It's ideal for beauty newcomers trying to identify their signature scent or for seasoned fragrance fans who want to avoid spending a fortune.
This monthly beauty subscription box is tailored to Black women, and its price tag is pretty incredible. Plus, each box is entirely unique to you: All you need to do is take this short beauty quiz, and the masters at BlakBox will create a box customized for your melanated skin.
Each box arrives within the third week of every month, and expect to be impressed, because each one is filled with up to $125 worth of full-sized and deluxe sample-sized products.
from $41.95 per bimonthly box
The name of this pick truly says it all. This bimonthly beauty subscription box features a themed, seasonal collection of only full-sized products from some of the best all-natural beauty brands on the market, all at a fraction of their retail price.
Each box is filled with approximately $150 worth of clean beauty favorites, so you can upgrade your entire routine without dipping heavily into your bank account.
If you're all about clean, cruelty-free beauty, then you definitely need this box. This ethical beauty subscription box curates your selection to include four animal-friendly, nontoxic, and plant-based products that you can feel good about wearing, all for $15.
Bonus: You get a $4 voucher with each box to restock on some of your favorites.
Don't let its under-$20 price tag fool you: This beauty subscription box is filled with goodies from luxury brands like Elemis, Molton Brown, Josh Wood Colour, and more. Each box comes with six full-sized products that will make you feel your most glam. Plus, you can shop previous boxes and limited-edition sets to really get a bang for your buck.
OK, so this beauty subscription box might be pricier than the others on this list, but trust us: It&rsquos worth every penny. The Detox Box is flooded with at least $90 worth of green and clean beauty favorites (think Indie Lee, Naturopathica, and more!) from one or more brands for you to test out.
It&rsquos heavily curated to only bring you the &ldquoholy grail&rdquo clean beauty products, so expect some of green beauty&rsquos biggest luxury offerings without breaking $100.
For the K-beauty connoisseur whose weekly skincare ritual features sheet masks by the bunch, this beauty subscription box was made for you.
Choose from two monthly options: the Lux plan, with seven sheet masks, or the Lux Plus, with 10 to 12 items that includes a mix of sheet masks and skincare products. On the fence? Start with the entry-level 4-Ever sheet mask plan that comes with four items for less than $10.
Each box is curated and shipped from sunny California and put together by a team of sheet-mask enthusiasts who break down the best masks on the market for an incredibly low price.
History of American Cosmetics
The history of cosmetics is a fascinating one, as standards of beauty have changed significantly over the last few centuries. In fact, it was not unusual for upper-class gentlemen to wear makeup or wigs.
Cosmetics, hairstyles, and clothing from America’s early years now seem old-fashioned and humorous—but perhaps that’s how our descendants will view 21st century cosmetics someday!
17th Century American Cosmetics
Some Native American males painted their bodies for decoration. One chieftain could spend eight hours painting himself, and the Native Americans used animal fats (which gave them a pungent scent) under the paints to protect their skin from the cold and from insects.
In 1651, many upper-class American colonists were angered because some indentured servants had started to use cosmetics just like the landowners. The General Court of Massachusets published an exclusive listing that banned servants from having all “marks” of the gentleman or woman such as hair powder, rouge, and perfume.
As early as 1636, Harvard College laid down a prohibition enforced by fines that forbade students “to wear Long Haire, Locks, Foretops, Curlings, Crispings and Partings, or Powdering of ye Haire.”
Many homemade cosmetics were used, such as the remedy of a covering of bacon on the face of a sleeper to soften her skin and ward off wrinkles.
Egg shells were ground with toilet water to make an acceptable face powder.
Lips were reddened by sucking lemons.
A wig for women was fashioned with at least a foot high wire frame, covered with material, and then hair was piled and curled over it. Scented powder was sprinkled on top.
Men wore large wigs with curly hair reaching their shoulders, which made them resemble shaggy lions.
Other American cosmetics of the 17th century were bosom bottles in which fresh flowers and water were placed, masks, patches, and skin lotions.
18th Century American Cosmetics
An 18th century American gentleman usually owned a dressing-box that held his razor cases, scissors, combs, curling irons, oil and scent bottles, powder puff, brush, and soap. In the morning after he shaved, rouge and powder were applied.
Men wore bits of gummed silk called patches on their faces to cover blemishes but also as decoration. Some patches were in various designs like stars, animals, or ships. At one period, a person indicated his political allegiance by which side he wore his patches on—he was a Tory if he wore them on the right, and a Whig if he wore them on the left.
Most gentlemen had a special room in their homes, called a powder closet. Here, wigs could be powdered. The powder might be light brown, blue, grayish pink, violet, or white.
Even the soldiers wore wigs throughout the 18th century. One pound of flour was issued to each soldier for the purpose of powdering his wig.
At this time, the ladies’ wigs and coiffures were so elaborate that they were done up no oftener than from three to nine weeks in the summer, and a longer period elapsed in the winter. The hair was never combed or touched in the intervals. Poison was applied to the head daily to control the vermin, but sometimes unsuccessfully.
Most 18th century American gentlewomen had dressing cases that contained cold creams, bleaches from citrus fruits, hair dyes, false hair, eye shadow made from lamp black or kohl, lotions, and oils. Bottles of water were also placed in the hair to keep flowers fresh.
To protect a lady’s skin from the sun, either a velvet or satin mask was worn or large fans made of lace, shell, ivory, or feathers were used.
Some ladies retired at night wearing leather gloves dressed with almonds and spermaceti to soften and whiten their hands.
Doctors of the time frequently carried canes which, when tapped on the floor, released some perfumed disinfectant through a perforated lid on the cane’s top. This was supposed to safeguard the doctor from disease.
19th Century American Cosmetics
In America during the 19th century, the use of cosmetics declined. The elderly used them to conceal the marks of age. More soap was used than creams. A combination of land, rose water and coconut milk made a popular hand lotion.
Men decided that cosmetics were effeminate and eliminated all cosmetics except hair-dressing. For this, rich men used perfumed macassar oil and the pioneer men used the available bear’s grease.
During the Civil War, northern profiteers started the expensive habit of powdering their hair with gold and silver dust.
In 1866, it was discovered that zinc oxide could provide an excellent base for face powder. It was safe, held its color, and was low-priced.
Between 1880 and 1900, only the least bit of cosmetics was fashionable. The mark of a true lady was her natural, untouched appearance.
American Cosmetics from the 20th Century to the Present
In 1906, Charles Nessler, a German living in London, announced his “permanent” wave. It took eight to twelve hours and cost $1,000. During the first year, only eighteen women dared to have one. Damaging hair with heat was already known as something to avoid for healthy hair.
More innovations came, like lipsticks in oval tubes, powder boxes of gold and silver called “compacts,” eyebrow pencils, facial packs made of perfumed mud, eye shadow, and nail and hair lacquer. Despite this innovation, many people look to natural remedies and old-fashioned recipes for their best beauty advice.
Cosmetics became a major industry during World War I.
In the late 1960s, a drive was commenced to lure men to buy more and more lotions and other cosmetics. Male beauty preparations included an aftershave cream that claimed to have antiwrinkle properties, shampoos, bath foam, colognes, deodorants, moisturizers, hair color restorer, hair spray, and weather lotions.
To capture more dollars from the male market, various companies now offer products for facial and skin treatments, hand care, and hair coloring.
The 20th century man grew to more and more resemble his 18th century counterpart. We may soon make the same comment as Zeno (a Greek who lived about 350 B.C. ) upon meeting a man fragrant with perfume, “Who is this, who smells like a woman?”
Amazingly, people used to think physical traits used to signify your personality! See an old-fashioned take on how appearance determines your personality.
Makeup, hairstyles, and conceptions of beauty are just a few of the many changing elements of American culture! See how much expectations for children have changed since the good ol’ days!
The Absolute Best Monthly Subscription Boxes of All Time
Why It’s One of the Best: Love brands like tarte, MAC, Make Up For Ever and more? If so, then you’ve got to subscribe to Ipsy.
This monthly beauty subscription launched in 2012 and has consistently delivered an incredible value (around $50) in beauty products since. Popular and affordable, our readers have crowned Ipsy one of their favorite beauty subscriptions several years in a row. Each month, you’ll get five full- and/or deluxe-size makeup, skincare, haircare and beauty products, all delivered in a makeup bag so cute, you might be tempted to use it as a clutch.
You’ll take a quiz upon signing up so your deliveries align with your tastes and preferences, but your box will be a surprise. Plus, you can rate all the items you receive, so your products become more customized over time.
2. Bespoke Post
Why It’s One of the Best: Bespoke Post describes itself as boxes for people “who give a damn” and we couldn’t agree more.
Launched in 2011, Bespoke Post is a high-quality men’s monthly subscription box service that gives you a “mini lifestyle upgrade” in each box. Each month they expertly curate several new boxes around a theme. Last month’s theme was “Off-Duty” and the box included a super soft long-sleeve t-shirt from Bread & Boxers Melange Long Sleeve Crew Neck (with a retail value of $34.95) and comfy, 100% organic sweatpants from Bread & Boxers valued at $59.95. Another Bespoke Post theme? The “Kempt” box, which focused on grooming. It included shampoo, conditioner and even a mud mask.
The subscription supports customization, as well. Subscribers can select which they want from new or past boxes — or skip that month. Think of Bespoke Post as a way to upgrade one aspect of your life every month. The value is consistently higher than the cost of the box, too.
Cost: $45 per month. Sign up here.
COUPON: Use code ADDICT25 to 25% off your first box.
Why It’s One of the Best: Even pets love a good mail day, which could be the reason why BarkBox is a reader-favorite monthly subscription box service for dogs.
While you’re enjoying your latest subscription box, your pooch could be reveling in some surprises of their own. In each high-quality box, your pup will receive two bags of all-natural dog treats made in the U.S. or Canada, two innovative toys, and a chew, all inspired by a quirky new monthly theme. Past collections have been based around themes like “Dogsgiving,” “Peanuts,” and “Lick or Treat.”
There’s even a “super chewer” option for dogs who seem to destroy every toy they come in contact with or can’t get enough of tug of war (sounds ruff). Prices start at $23 a box for a 12-month plan and include free shipping inside the 48 contiguous United States. Each box is valued at over $40.
COUPON: Get a free extra month when you sign up for a 6 or 12 month subscription. No coupon needed - just use this link.
4. Allure Beauty Box
Why It’s One of the Best: Allure magazine readers, rejoice! There’s a box that brings the pages of the beloved beauty publication to life.
If thumbing through the latest issue of Allure isn’t enough to get your makeup, haircare and skincare fix, it’s time to sign up for the Allure Beauty Box, a monthly subscription box created by the experts and editors at Allure. Each month, subscribers receive deluxe- and full-sized beauty and makeup items, making it an easy way to try beauty trends and discover new brands.
While the box will cost you $23 a month, the six items inside will have a total value of over $100. Our most recent delivery included a full-size bottle of U Beauty Resurfacing Compound (which boasts a retail value of $148.00), Christophe Robin Daily Hair Cream (valued at $43), Floss Lip Advocate in Your Honor (valued at $18), Madeca Derma Revitalizing Sheet Mask ($1.99), a sample of La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-in-Milk Sunscreen for Face & Body SPF 100, (estimated value $1.39) and Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask (estimated value $28.67). It’s easy to see how the value of this box far outweighs the monthly subscription cost.
Need more convincing? Read our latest reviews of the Allure Beauty Box and learn more about newly launched products, beauty award-winners, and the occasional indie-beauty-brand find, too.
Cost: $23 per month. Sign up here.
COUPON: Get a Free Mega Bundle when you sign up for a 12-month subscription! No coupon needed - just use this link.
5. Menlo Club
Why It’s One of the Best: Menlo Club is one of our favorite clothing subscriptions for men for a number of reasons. Launched in 2002 by two best friends who met at USC (they used to be known as Five Four Club), Menlo Club provides quality men’s clothing at a really fair price. Here’s how it works: For $60/month, you will receive a delivery of Five Four, Grand AC athletic wear, or New Republic products. A recent box, which was curated around the theme “Comeback Kid,” included a soft and comfortable 100% cotton button-down shirt in tones of grey and white and a classic-looking, cozy half-zip pullover sweater in black.
On average, you’ll receive two items per month and every month is different. It’s easy to exchange sizes, too. There’s free shipping, and you can pause or cancel your account at any time. It’s an easy way to update (or upgrade) your wardrobe, as noted by our Menlo Club reviews.
COUPON: Limited Time Only! Use code MENLOTB30 to get your first box for just $30! (50% off).
6. Book of the Month
Why It’s One of the Best: Sometimes, looking for your next good book is a struggle. There’s so many titles to choose from! Do you go with the bestseller? Try a new author? Finally order a copy of that title everyone’s been talking about or simply ask your well-read friends for advice? Book of the Month wants to take the guesswork out of the next book you dive into. A fun and super easy way to ensure there’s always a good book on your nightstand, this highly customizable subscription features a variety of genres so there’s always something to pique your interest (and maybe even push you out of your comfort zone).
Here’s how it works: Every month, you’ll choose a new hardcover title from five options (take a look at their latest options here). As you turn the pages, you’re actually reading alongside the Book of the Month community, which is just like joining a big, friendly book club. Your first book is $9.99 and after that, $14.99 a month. That’s much more affordable than buying a brand new hardcover book at full price.
Even better? Oftentimes, you’ll get access to newly released books before they are available for sale, too. So, subscribe and soon enough, you may become the friend others come to for book recommendations.
COUPON: Limited Time Only! Use code PACKABOOK to get your first book for just $9.99
Why It’s One of the Best: Paging everyone totally obsessed with their skincare routine.
Step away from your bathroom mirror and toward your new favorite subscription: BeautyFIX. Created by the minds behind Dermstore, a one-stop-shop for skincare and beauty products, this month subscription brings the best in beauty to your doorstep. Each month, subscribers receive a mix of six or more full- and deluxe-travel-size products.
Previous boxes have included big name brands like Avene (which calls itself the leading skincare line in European pharmacies), Paula’s Choice (cruelty-free, research-based skincare), Skinceuticals (a celebrity favorite), ByTerry, Jane Iredale and Juice Beauty.
8. Stitch Fix
Why It’s One of the Best: Simply put: Stitch Fix is the original online personal styling service, and it’s still one of the best.
Launched in 2011, Stitch Fix’s mission is to change the way people find clothes they love by combining technology with the personal touch of seasoned style experts. Their goal is to help you save time while evolving your personal style over time. Over the years, Stitch Fix has grown from catering to just women in a certain size range, to covering all sizes (plus size, maternity, petite). There are also options for men and kids.
Here’s how it works: You’ll fill out a profile, which gives your stylist all the info they need to send you five items they think you will love. That stylist is pulling from an extra deep closet full of classic pieces and trends you might want to try. They’ve got everything from comfortable down vests to of-the-moment tapered joggers to little black dresses (they’ve even got coatigans — a hybrid of a cardigan and a coat — that you can read all about in our most recent Stitch Fix review).
Tell your stylist what price range you want to make sure you stay within your budget. (If you keep all five items, you’ll receive a 25% total discount.) If your first Fix isn’t a perfect fit, don’t worry. It usually takes a few tries with your feedback to get into a groove. You can schedule deliveries as you need them or on a regular basis.
Cost: $20 non-refundable styling fee per delivery. Sign up here.
9. Kiwi Crate by KiwiCo
Why It’s One of the Best: Kiwi Crate has mastered making learning fun.
Every month, the minds at KiwiCo create hands-on science projects designed to spark curiosity and encourage discovery for children of all ages. Inside, kids receive all the supplies necessary for learning-based activities. Projects included in this subscription from KiwiCo cover a number of developmental areas including science, technology, engineering and art through problem-solving and imaginative play.
While Kiwi Crate box is suitable for ages 5 to 8, KiwiCo also offers a number of other subscription boxes for children of all ages.
Cost: $19.95 a month. Sign up here.
COUPON: Limited Time Only! Use code MSA50 to save 50% off your first box!
Why It’s One of the Best: Winc is the original wine subscription box. Formerly known as Club W, Winc has reimagined the traditional wine club with their regularly-changing selection of small production wines that are sourced directly from vineyards and winemakers.
Whether you’re new to wine or you’ve got a very particular palate, your Winc subscription will begin with a fun and easy survey where you can indicate your preferences. If you’re not sure what your preferences are, or aren’t super knowledgeable about wine, don’t worry: The questions are designed to be easy for novices and the knowledgeable. Based on your answers, Winc suggests unique, affordable wines designed to please your palate. Not so sure about one of their recommendations? Changes can be easily made to your shipment.
A recent delivery included NV Finke’s™ Brut Sparkling White Wine, a drink, bubbly beverage, 2019 L’Atelier du Sud® Viognier, which boasted floral and citrus notes and 2017 Matchlock Merlot, a jammy, berry-forward pour.
Curious about what else you can expect? Read our Winc reviews here.
Cost: Bottles start at $14.99. Sign up here.
COUPON: Get 4 bottles for just $29.95! No coupon needed - just use this link.
11. Dollar Shave Club
Why It’s One of the Best: Ready for a close, clean shave? Enter Dollar Shave Club, a subscription that totally transformed the way we think about razors.
While it was one of the original razor cartridge subscription services, Dollar Shave Club‘s product line has expanded and it now offers a range of unisex grooming products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, moisturizer, shave butter, shave gel, and shaving cream.
Upon signing up, new customers will fill out a grooming plan questionnaire to create a starter kit fully customized to their needs, or opt to purchase items a la carte. This super flexible approach to subscriptions and shopping means it’s easy to keep your medicine cabinet stocked. There are no long-term commitments and it’s easy to cancel.
Need more reasons to subscribe? Read our Dollar Shave Club reviews.
COUPON: Get your first Starter Set for $5 plus free shipping! No coupon needed - just use this link.
12. Home Chef
Why It’s One of the Best: There are so many meal kit subscriptions to choose from, it can be hard to tell which one is best suited to your needs.
However, Home Chef is the meal kit subscription that every reviewer at MSA seems to agree on. There’s a number of reasons why it’s made this list: fresh ingredients, easy-to-follow recipes, an ever-changing menu of recipes … the list goes on and on.
Here’s how it works: Each week subscribers can browse Home Chef’s rotating collection of recipes (which include vegetarian options) and make their selections for meals that will serve two, four or six people. After you’ve made your decisions, you’ll receive chilled boxes of ingredients (meats, produce, spices, and more) as often as once per week in your meal delivery kit.
Cost: Meals start at $9.95 per serving. Sign up here.
COUPON: Save $80 off your first four boxes! No coupon needed - just use this link.
13. Trunk Club
Why It’s One of the Best: Since 1901, Nordstrom has delivered fashion to the masses. Now, they’ll deliver it to your doorstep with Trunk Club, the beloved department store’s online personal styling service that aims to take the guesswork out of clothing subscriptions.
Here’s how it works: After filling out a profile designed to inform your personal stylist of your sizing, preferences, and budget (pieces tend to retail anywhere from $40 to $300), your dedicated stylist will curate six to 12 high-quality clothing and accessory pieces. The best part? You get to review their choices before it ships. That means there will be no surprises and you’ll only receive items you’ve approved.
After you receive your box, you’ll only be charged for the items you keep. And while Trunk Club can be a subscription, it doesn’t have to be. You can control the frequency of your deliveries and choose to order shipments on a one-off basis or make it a recurring thing.
Need to know more? Take a look at our Trunk Club reviews.
Cost: $25 non-refundable styling fee per box. Sign up here.
Collecting Vintage Cosmetics Tells Women’s History
Collector Joan Renner carefully pulls out a bright, floral-print powder box from her display-case coffee table, holding it like a cherished gem. The box is close to 100 years old, a treasure she found during her constant search to grow her vintage cosmetics collection.
&ldquoTo me, these boxes tell the story of women,&rdquo she says, adding that she considers herself a caretaker of these pieces that represent a period in time. &ldquoIt&rsquos social history, it&rsquos art history, they tell so much.&rdquo
Joan&rsquos collection of cosmetics packaging ranges from the late 1800&rsquos to the 1950&rsquos. You can almost see the timeline in the box artwork. &ldquoVery early, it was thought only &lsquoloose women&rsquo wore makeup, so the packaging was very plain and they called the product things like &ldquoa complexion beautifier,&rdquo Joan says, pointing to a plain manila colored box. &ldquoIn the 1920&rsquos it was acceptable for women to be seen putting on makeup in public so the package designs got bolder. Then in the World War II era, it was all very patriotic as the home front relied on women to make themselves beautiful because it was considered a morale booster for the men who had to go fight. &rdquo
Her fascination with these little boxes and compacts began over 20 years ago when she and her husband were at a flea market and she spotted a compact from the 1939 New York World&rsquos Fair. &ldquoI was just intrigued by the design of it.&rdquo
Joan has keen research skills for discovering where and when all her collected cosmetics items are from. &ldquoI have some collector&rsquos price guide books from the 1990s and sometimes I&rsquoll find things in there. I pick up old magazines and look for the advertisements. I also have a subscription to ancestry.com and you can search newspapers in there. You have to be really dedicated and dig for it, but I like that part!&rdquo
Joan is also a well-known historian around Los Angeles. She&rsquos given lectures on women in crime, been a guide for Esotouric Tours, a company that specializes in showcasing LA&rsquos forgotten lore and crime scenes, and she organizes the archives of Police Daily Bulletins at the Los Angeles Police Historical Society. She was part of the research team for the recently released book, &ldquoLAPD 53&rdquo written by James Ellroy, featuring crime scene photos from the year 1953. She also runs her own blog, Vintage Powder Room, where she writes about the items in her collection.
When asked about the connection between her passion for crime and cosmetics, she laughs. &ldquoMy interests may seem totally diverse, but as soon as you starting talking about women behaving badly and your femme fatales, cosmetics play heavily into that, so they do intersect!&rdquo
As for actually finding the products, Joan says she finds most of her collectibles online these days because flea markets and estate sales no longer seem to have them. &ldquoThose sales just don&rsquot have items that go back that far anymore.&rdquo
She said she&rsquos often surprised to find the powder boxes in excellent condition, &ldquoWomen will take care of something they think is pretty or special. Some of the most beautiful powder boxes came from the depression era because women would be willing to skip a meal to spend a quarter on something that made them feel good because it was pretty. Then they would tuck them away in a special place like a lingerie drawer &ndash which is the perfect place for them because it&rsquos dark and dry. That is probably why most of them still have bright colors and are in pristine condition, sometimes they were never even opened to use the product.&rdquo
As for preserving them, Joan takes special care to keep them in good condition. &ldquoI don&rsquot let the sun shine on them because that will fade them. When they&rsquore not on display, I wrap them in archival paper and put them in archival boxes. I keep them at room temperature. Most of them are just made of cardboard paper so light and dampness will destroy them.
As for the packaging of today&rsquos cosmetics, Joan finds it all very uninspiring. &ldquoMakeup packaging now is really bland and it all looks the same. There used to be pride in the packaging, but now it&rsquos more about instant gratification, and people just throw away the packaging. I think they are really missing out. I know when I go shopping, I find myself and others drawn to the items that have some eye appeal. I really like the brands doing more retro designs like Besame or Benefit. Back then, cosmetics companies were competing for women&rsquos attention. The graphics were meant to capture the eye and are absolutely gorgeous.&rdquo
The History of Skin-Care Layering
We've established that in South Korea, there is a deep cultural affinity for skin-care layering. But during the 1980s and into the 1990s, the products being sold there were, according to Allure contributor Euny Hong, who grew up in South Korea, "packaged unattractively in dusty tubs and smelled like carpet deodorizer." In other words, these were not products that women in other parts of the world were dying to get their hands on (or slather on repeatedly).
But a major shift took place in the mid-1990s. The South Korean government decided that if it wanted to be economically viable in a global economy, the country needed to have a seat at the cool kids' table. It needed to become cool, and then it needed to export that cool. This gave way to the multitude of K-beauty products we all know and love today — and marked the birth of super-sized regimens that could include up to 17 steps.
Meanwhile, Americans were primed and ready for the multistep skin-care revolution, thanks to brands like Clinique. In 1968, the company introduced its now-iconic 3-Step Skin Care System — consisting of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing — and taught the world the importance of a consistent routine. So in 2014, when Allure published a six-page feature on the layering trend that was making its way to the United States from Asia, it was all systems go, and many women began to adopt routines that swelled to 10 (or even more) steps.
But then, in 2019, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction, and "skip care" was born. Products became multitaskers, and followers combined numerous hydration steps to achieve similar results in one go — thus paring down their regimen.
Today, the typical routine has settled somewhere in between, to about four or five steps. So while figuring out the best way to layer your products may no longer require a degree in chemistry, it’s still a pain point for many of us.
The Most Popular Beauty and the Beast tale
Apart from the Disney version (of course), readers are most familiar with the shortened tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711 – 1780). Beaumont pared down the list of characters of Beauty and Beast and simplified the tale to transform it into a quintessential fairy tale. This tale was first published in 1756, under the title La Belle et La Bête as ‘a tale for the entertainment of juvenile readers. The changes Beaumont made to Villeneuve’s tale tell another story too, reflecting the social concerns and political changes happening in France at the time.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ – The Fairy Book, Warwick Goble, 1923.
Cosmetic Box of Kemeni - History
Posted on: 11 . 30 . 12 by R.S. Fleming
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Like any fashion, make-up went through highs and lows of popularity through the centuries, indeed, from decade to decade. This article will concentrate on Britain in the 1800s, up to and including the early Victorian era. It by no means applies to other parts of the globe, and does not cover all the different tastes and divisions of style that existed. Remember, there are always exceptions in every circumstance. A point of clarification make-up was not a term used commonly until after 1870.* Cosmetics referred to anything applied to the skin of a medicinal nature, and embellishments were pastes, powders and paints, used to alter appearance. People with acne or smallpox scars, or similar disfigurements, often wore pastes to smooth their complexions. All of these products were purchased at local apothecary (pharmacist) shops and through doctors or, for the very wealthy, ordered from specialist dealers abroad. There were also home-made versions, and even the poor where known to indulge. So, yes, people did wear make-up throughout the 19th century, subtly and garishly.
Here we have a macaroni (circa 1780) and dandy (1818) at their “toilet tables” getting ready for their day. Note the posture and waistline of the dandy indicates a corset. On the right is a drawing of George “Beau” Brummell.
During the Regency (1811-20) and Napoleonic Wars (1803-15), aristocratic and affluent men in Britain started to move away from the dainty silk outfits, wigs, and heavy face pastes and paints that had been popular at court, peaking with the macaronis in the late 1700s, and continuing with the fashionable dandies. Probably the largest influencing trend to adopt more masculine appearances was the wars, as Admirals and Generals became national heroes, so the wealthy gentlemen emulated the “rugged” look. The suits and primping were still far from a soldier on campaign, but at least they proved more practical. Having the Prince Regent abandon his wigs and adopt minimal make-up, trousers (known as pantaloons), waistcoat and topcoat, as so famously influenced by Beau Brummell (1788-1840), meant the dress at court changed to reflect these tastes. Note: Men continued using pastes as moisturisers, to help heal and hide blemishes and scars. (For further information on men wearing make-up click here.)
Ladies from late 1790s to 1830, revealing the popularity of very pale complexions with rosy cheeks, somewhat red lips, and perhaps a bit of eye-liner. The most ostentatious adornment in these portraits is a pearl necklace.
Ladies had already gone to limited use of make-up during or soon after the French Revolution (1789 to 1799), rouge being the exception. Clergymen preached against “painted ladies” pointing to Jezabel and godless heathens around the world as examples of ill repute. The Church of England, along with Britain’s empire building, was determined to bring purity and modesty to women of all lands. Queen Victoria denounced painted faces as vulgar, but it was later in the era with her prolonged mourning period, and not until the 1870s with an economic depression that minimalism became the strictest, only to swing back again in the 1880s with the “professional beauties” and completely abandoned in the “Naughty Ninties.” (For more on these societal changes and the Victorian feminine ideal, click here.) In the 1840s, only prostitutes and actresses, who many considered of the same ilk, embellished their appearance with excessive paint and gaudy jewellery however, limited use was the rule for most ladies. By about 1850, as only the most effeminate of dandies were still applying make-up, women were adopting subtle applications, and wearing more precious adornments. It was during this decade Crème Céleste became popular, which was a mixture of white wax, spermaceti (from an organ inside sperm whale’s head), sweet almond oil, and rosewater. This facial paste had moisturising properties, but it also hid blemishes and provided a light smooth complexion. It developed into a common emollient and cosmetic remover, soon known as cold cream.
Portraits from the 1840s to 1860s.
As part of their “toilet” in the morning, ladies of leisure would ensure well plucked eyebrows, perhaps trim their eyelashes, and daub castor oil onto their eyelids and lashes. To hide freckles, blotches, or redness, they could dust on rice powder, zinc oxide or, the most expensive option, pearl powder, which was a mixture of chloride of bismuth and French chalk (talc) and provided a silky white and lustrous cosmetic powder. On their lips they might apply a clear pomade (like beeswax) for a shine and to provide protection from the elements, and some contained dye to discreetly accentuate the lip colour, crushed flowers and carmine (made from the female cochineal insect) being favoured. Many recipes for lip salve included evergreen bugloss, also known as alkanet, a common weed with blue flowers that provides red dye, the root in particular (but does nothing for chapped lips). To review some 19th century cosmetic recipes click here. For a healthy complexion, and to contrast the very pale skin of the privileged class, red beet juice or a carmine dye could be massaged into the cheeks. For bright eyes, a drop of lemon or orange juice in each eye would be used, and was considered a cleansing method. Poisonous belladonna was also dropped into the eyes causing the pupils to dilate, creating a luminous glow, but clouding vision. People with cataracts were prescribed belladonna Queen Victoria used it in her declining years rather than have surgery. Eye paint (eyeshadow) was popular, red and black, used excessively by “fallen women” but very subtly by respectable ladies (more like eyeliner), who would deny wearing it and be insulted if anyone ever dared to ask. Eye paint was made of mixed lead tetroxide, mercuric sulphide, antimony, cinnabar, vermilion, and secret ingredients. Another choice was to put beeswax on their lashes, then apply any number of black powders, from soot to crushed precious stones. (Kate Tattersall favoured lightly coloured lip balm, subtle eye paint, and on occasion a dusting of pearl powder.)
Two lovely “toilet table” chests from the 1850s, of rare wood and bound with brass, lined with lush velvet, both would likely have mirrors in the lids and amongst the various containers include scissors, tweezers, medicine spoons, corkscrews, bodkins, boot hooks, knives, &c.
How did ladies of the nobility and gentry hide their use of pastes, paints, and powders? By including the products in their toilet chests, designed for use on their dressing tables and for travel. Within these expensive little boxes were medicinal cosmetics, and all the application tools, but then the vilified embellishments as well. Some chests were crafted with secret compartments. An imported box of make-up could easily be emptied and discarded, the products re-bottled and placed amongst acceptable skin creams and treatments, many provided by doctors and therefore totally respectable. In particular, prescriptions were an ideal excuse for older ladies to coat their faces with a paste, achieving a light-coloured even coverage, and the charming bloom of youth. Middle-class women often couldn’t afford their own toilet chest, but they could purchase a medicine chest for a reasonable price, and hide appearance enhancers in with the tonics and balms. The products were all readily available at any apothecary shop, and a discreet lady could send a servant to the next town for purchases that might prove embarrassing.
Two ends of the spectrum. A plain apothecary’s chest from London, Taylor Bros of Cavendish Square, 1860, but with a secret compartment, and an elegant travel case including a hidden document wallet, gold plated cutlery, mother-of-pearl handles, sewing kit, pens and inkwell, numerous spare cut-glass containers, &c. Both would have served well to hide a lady’s make-up.
If you would like to peruse hundreds of portraits of wealthy ladies from 1480 up to 1914 please visit the Grand Ladies website.
“Lizzie, since the reader first knew her, had begun to use a little colouring in the arrangement of her face… there was the faintest possible tinge of pink colour shinning through the translucent pearl powder. Anyone who knew Lizzie would be sure that when she did paint she would paint well.” The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope, first published in 1871 as a serial in the Fortnightly Review.
“Half the girls do it, either paint or powder, darken their lashes with burnt hair-pins, and take cologne on lumps of sugar or belladona to make their eyes bright. Clara tried arsenic for her complexion, but her mother stopped it,” said Fanny. An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa M. Alcott, first serialised in the Merry’s Museum magazine in 1869.
Trivia: By the late 1800s women were using blue pencils to trace their veins. Powders were available with blue and lavender tints. This allowed women to appear very pale even in the yellow aura of gas and candle light.
*The earliest quote I could find where the term “make-up” is used to denote an application to the face, appears in “The Pearl of the Antilles, or, An Artist in Cuba” by Walter Goodman, 1873. In it he uses make-up to describe the various ways he alters his appearance for the stage. Other quotes I’ve found from that decade are likewise always in reference to the theatre.
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With governments getting involved in the sometimes misleading world of beauty advertising, cosmetics companies are going to have to ease up on the airbrushing, as L’Oréal just learned the hard way. The UK government recently released guidelines limiting the use of misleading ad alterations, and the American Medical Association recommended similar measures here in the US. The UK is definitely putting its money where its mouth is, and just banned a series of ads featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington.
How ColourPop Became the Most Popular (and Most Mysterious) Beauty Brand on the Internet
Established beauty brands like Urban Decay and Anastasia Beverly Hills have found popularity on social media among beauty vloggers and Instagrammers, and subsequently the millions of people who follow their every move. But now, so-called Insta-famous beauty brands are really starting to take over the space. One in particular, the almost two-year-old, Los Angeles-based brand ColourPop, burst onto Instagram in all of its colorful glory and captured the hearts — and lips — of seemingly everyone. While beauty influencers raved almost unanimously about the inexpensive products, an undercurrent of suspicion and conspiracy theories popped up surrounding ColourPop. So what is the deal with this brand anyway?
The founders, siblings Laura and John Nelson, made a conscious decision to market ColourPop specifically via social media to a primarily millennial audience. Vloggers like Coffee Break With Dani and Kathleen Lights were early adopters who talked about the brand on their channels. It worked. ColourPop now boasts 1.6 million followers on its Instagram account and gets daily mentions by vloggers and makeup enthusiasts.
But when you use social media as your main form of communication, you also have to deal with the downsides that come with that — plus, a brand launching solely via social media is still a very new phenomenon. The medium notoriously makes users think they&aposre really getting to know the person or entity they&aposre following, but it&aposs really just a tightly controlled image and fa. Intellectually everyone knows this, but it&aposs hard to remember when you&aposre admiring a colorfully (and carefully) curated account. ColourPop suddenly appeared in everyone&aposs feeds as a disembodied social media account full of perky millennial-isms and pretty makeup pictures. The problem (at least this is my working theory) is that there was no origin story associated with it, which was disconcerting to some. On Reddit&aposs popular makeup subreddits, users started questioning the brand, calling it "shady."
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People love a compelling origin story. Think about Linda Rodin mixing up oil in her kitchen with supermodels in the &apos90s before she launched her cult-favorite, now Estພ Lauder-owned, product line. That kind of narrative personalizes a brand. With ColourPop, it’s almost like the Wizard of Oz – there’s a man behind the curtain who no one can quite figure out. The Nelsons first launched Seed Beauty, the parent company of ColourPop, with the stated mission on their website of "chang[ing] the business of beauty forever. Unlike any other cosmetics company, we combine under one roof: venture capital, brand design, brand incubation and complete vertical integration — from brand design through R&D and manufacturing. The goal is to bring a rapidly accelerated brand to market as quickly as possible to get &aposreal&apos customer feedback. The feedback is then used to accelerate, pivot or adjust the brand as needed." Three more brands, ColourStyle, Jupe and Fluid Beauty are named as brands that are coming soon, as well as two "confidential" acquisitions. While this is a perfectly legitimate business model, beauty junkies are pretty passionate about well, everything, and seem to want their companies to have a soul. What Seed Beauty is doing is capitalism at its finest. As Laura Nelson said via email to me, "It&aposs all about applying the fast fashion model to beauty." And you can&apost get much more soulless than that.