Everyone loves getting mail (except for bills and paperwork, of course…) and most girls love trying out new beauty products. And in a world where so much is geared to go increasingly faster, finding time to just sit and enjoy opening mail can add quite a ray of sunshine to one’s day.
For these reasons and more, I have been attracted to the idea of subscription boxes for awhile now, especially the ones sent out by Bookish Box (seemingly catered for the geek girl and book lover known as Sahar). But I have a lot of questions as well related to the entire concept, which have mainly to do with their effects on the environment as well as on their effect on the users’ consumeristic side.
I mentioned this to a friend who kindly let me open up her latest Ipsy Glam Bag as part of my reflection on subscription boxes.
What is Ipsy?
Ipsy is a monthly beauty sampling service; for $10 a month, Ipsy sends users a “Glam Gab” filled with five sample-sized, full-sized, or even sometimes deluxe-sized beauty products in a small, fashionable makeup bag. Apparently, a few hundred thousand beauty products are submitted to Ipsy for consideration each to be added to the bag, which says a lot about the bag’s perceived marketing value for a brand.
The process of becoming an Ipsy user can apparently be a little bit painful, to say the least, some of it usefully so, some of it not quite. You begin by filling out a survey about your beauty and makeup needs, share details your style and preferences as well as the type of products you are looking for. When you have received and tried your products, you can leave reviews for each of them on the website, which helps the company better tailor its product selection to you.
Some people have told me that, once they signed up, they were put on a waiting list; that during this time, which seems to last between a week to three months, potential users were strongly encouraged to share information about Ipsy on their social media accounts in a seeming bid to be bumped up the waiting list.
There might seem to be a lot of negative aspects to the Ipsy Glam Box, but there is also quite a bit of positives as well, especially when the bag reaches its destination.
What does the Glam Bag typically contain?
According to its website, Ipsy does not send all users the same five products; at least over the last six months (if not more; I stopped at six!), it sends subscribers a selection of five products from a collection of some 20-40 products. The last six makeup bags are all quite different one from the other; I can see how at least one of them, if not two, would suit the personality and style of a user.
I’m told that Ipsy went through a phase of sending users products that neither reflected their user profiles nor of brands that were deemed worthwhile. But apparently in recent months the company has upped its ante and subscribers are being treated to brands and items that they seem to be quite satisfied with, for the most parts.
Effects of the Ipsy Glam Bag on the Environment and on the Individual
According to an article posted on Entrepreneur.com almost exactly a year ago, March 2015 marked the 1,000,000 Ipsy subscriber milestone. I assume that these ladies are spread throughout the United States and Canada and that each month, they each received a bright pink, bubble lined envelope with one make-up bag, one post-card sized note from the company, and five beauty products.
A million envelopes and a million post-cards. That’s making my environmental side cringe a little. There is of course the possibility of reusing the bag, but I’m not sure if they are recyclable. There is of course also the whole transportation issue—how much oil is burned lugging these million bright pink envelopes around?
But then again, if this means that a million subscribers will not have to go from store to store to find and buy beauty products, maybe the offset is well worth it.
Unfortunately, how sustainable is it to receive full-sized beauty products every month? According to a survey by Stowaway Cosmetics, “the average consumer owns almost 40 makeup products but only uses and carries 5 of them daily. That means that the average person owns 8 times more makeup than they use!” Even if the Ipsy Glam Bag only contains two full sized products a month, this means that by the end of one year, a user will own 24 full-sized makeup products than she started the year with—almost 5 times more than she would use. This would mean 24,000,000 products lying in bags around the two countries, of which 19,000,000 are not being used.
And what about the products that users end up not liking? This is of concern especially in light of reviews stating users are not receiving products reflecting the results of the survey they filled when signing up for the service. Even if one product a month doesn’t suit the needs of the user, that’s 12,000,000 products that are deemed useless. I’d like to think that most of them are passed forward, but I can’t help but wonder what the reality of the situation looks like.
Another challenge is that being detached and buying what one needs and will use is really difficult. I personally have to exercise great self-control when it comes to shopping and I know that is the case with many of those around me. There is something about getting a new item that is unique and amazing; we are pushed in that direction with all the marketing that surrounds us; could receiving a shiny bag with brand new products every month be healthy for even a casual addict? Isn’t it like sending chocolate to someone who developed type 2 diabetes because of an overconsumption of the stuff?
While it’s a lot of fun to receive a bag of goodies every month and I could see myself easily getting addicted to it, I don’t see how this subscription is sustainable for one person, but maybe a group of 7-8 friends would make good use of it.
I have also been thinking a lot about what else can be done with one’s beauty and make-up regimen with $10 a month. What if a user spends that amount on a product she researched? It would increase your beauty budget to $120 a year, for which you can not only get enough beauty and makeup products to replace what you have finished using (if even, in some cases), but can consistently buy high-quality and personalised products with the help of highly trained cosmeticians.
So although I would love to receive a monthly little gift as I am sure many of you would, as well, I can’t recommend the Ipsy Glam Bags.
Important: I am not an expert when it comes to the environmental effects of products on the environment; I am just a concerned consumer trying to have the least negative impact on the global community.