I have a confession to make. I’m a makeup geek. I love the art and history of makeup. I love with wild assortment. I love the trends. I love the science. I love the fan interpretations. I am addicted to eyeliner and, if left to my devices, I’d probably have a whole closet full of the stuff. (This Christmas, the husband got me a big trunk for what I’ve got, and it’s revolutionized my organization.)
When it comes to makeup, though, I have to limit myself. Because I’m the sort of person that gets really grabby when I see a new lipstick shade or nail polish glaze. Seeing as I’m the breadwinner these days, I really don’t have the budget for the kind of stuff I love. At least, not in quantity.
So a few months ago, when I was doing a #lipstickdiaries journey on Twitter (trying a bunch of shades of lipstick and doing little mini reviews) my high school friend Ashley mentioned ipsy, a beauty box subscription. The premise is simple—you pay an amount ahead of time, and you get a box full of things. In this case, makeup things. That part wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was the price: ten bucks.
Figuring I had nothing to lose, I signed up for ipsy, and filled out my profile. The profile process is pretty fun and easy, and helps them adjust your makeup to your own preferences and, as I particularly like, how you sit between adventurous and less so. The focus is definitely on the makeup community aspect, as they ask you if you identify with various stylists. I have to admit I knew who none of them were, but thankfully I could just skip that part. (The stylist part makes more sense when you realize ipsy was started by Michelle Phan, who got her career going on YouTube and now has her own makeup line. Anyway.) But you can also give ipsy your stats: eye color, skin tone, hair, etc. And it’s not just makeup you can get. There’s also a variety of fragrances, accessories, and hair items you can get as well if you so desire.
After a month or so (and sort of forgetting it), I got my first bag in the mail. The box was far more interesting that I thought it was going to be. After getting an email (with tracking… clearly these folks know their demographic, because boy do I like to stalk the mail), I followed my little bag on its journey to my house and received six really cool, full-size beauty products.
Since I’d taken that quiz ahead of time, the result was totally useful, really interesting items. Of the items, I’m still using the Be a Bombshell lip crayon which, in a deep sultry red stays on and is super comfortable (and doesn’t smudge). The Pixi bronzer is really nice, too, and I definitely used everything in the kit at least once.
Once my bag was delivered, I returned to ipsy and started rating the items I’d received. This part is fun. I get that the point of ipsy is to introduce you to products that you’ll buy again, so after every review you are prompted for more feedback. And then beyond that, the community aspect is really hammered home. You can enter contests with various “looks” you make with the items, and join in by making videos and other challenges. But to be honest, that’s not really my bag. All in all I can tell that the demographic skews a little young for me, and it’s a little annoying to see the pouty faced girls flouncing their newest looks whenever I log in.
But I’m not really complaining. While I realize it’s a large-scale marketing and data mining initiative—great for brands wanting visibility, and I can practically see the reports being generated as I enter in my reviews and ratings—it’s still ten bucks a month. Whether or not you participate in the community, whether or not you’re constantly signing people up for bags and getting points, the fact that it’s ten bucks a month makes it affordable for just about anyone.
Even if you’re a novice it’s a great way to try out products and, if you’re of a mind, get tips on how to use them. Personally, I’m sticking with Pinterest for the most part. But the quality of the items is great, the value is totally there, and while you do feel as if you’re in an extended marketing research project, it’s still a delight to get every month.