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Are Natural Hair Subscription Boxes Worth The Money?

Avatar • Jul 26, 2013

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If you’re connected to any social media website, then you’ve heard of subscription boxes. There’s TONS of them out there — for makeup, snacks, babies, beauty, eco-friendly folks, accessory enthusiasts, and of course, natural hair. The natural hair subscription boxes are anywhere from $20 to $40, and are diverse in their content and delivery. But are they worth it? And what’s the difference between them? Let’s explore! I’ll be comparing the most current subscription boxes to each other.

Before we dive in, here are some of the pros and cons of natural hair subscription boxes:

Pros

1. Full sized products. Many times, the combined retail cost of the full-sized products exceeds the cost of the monthly subscription.

2. Accessibility and exposure to products that aren’t as widely distributed or publicized as others.

3. Coupons and discounts for future purchases.

4. Sometimes, you get that product you’ve heard others rave about but just didn’t feel like going out and looking for/purchasing.

Cons

1. What do you do with the products you hate/won’t use because of a particular ingredient? Shady re-gifting, maybe. Hey girl, I got you some SuperFly XYZ Cream! Oh wow! Why didn’t you want it? Well, uh.… Yeah.

2. Inherent product junkie-ism. As a recovering (and boy… is that recovery slow) product junkie, getting a bunch of different stuff sends me into a frenzy. As soon as I think I have my staple products, something else comes along to blow me out the water. Then something else. And another something else. It’s a vicious cycle.

3. Sometimes, the products don’t have ingredient lists. Although I believe most small businesses featured in subscription boxes operate with integrity, I’d at least like to know what I’m putting in my hair beforehand.

Now let’s get on to the good stuff: the boxes. Before we go any further, please note that I am not subscribed to ANY subscription box services. In all honesty, the only subscription box I was sent to review was BOOMBox by Nappturalite Radio. It is my goal to be completely honest and completely unbiased in this assessment and review. All information about box contents were obtained via subscriber unboxing information. At the end of the day, we all have our own opinions and we have to do what works best for us. If you like something, stick with it! If you’re on the fence, hopefully this will help you make up your mind.

curlBOX July 2013 Box

An exclusive, affordable & effortless way to experience products for curly hair.”

Cost: $20 + $5 Shipping

Availability: Subscriptions for curlBOX open up every so often, and there are generally only a handful of spots available. Needless to say, these boxes sell out quick. I’m sure the capacity issue is by design, but it does make for some disappointing and frustrating moments for naturals looking to become a part of the “crew”. I’ve read stories of interested ladies hovering over their keyboards, logging in, and waiting to subscribe the millisecond subscriptions open.…then it’s sold out. Just like that.

Box Contents:

Highlights: Full sized products is always a great thing. Even better, the retail value of the three full sized products (Palmer’s, Motions, Crème of Nature) is approximately $20 combined.  Also, the Phyto Specific products were a nice touch. Samples of high-end products that I’d never dream of paying for is always appreciated.

Lowlights: I know the curlBOX crew is going to come for me, but I’ve got to be honest. A Palmer’s stick, really? For me, that’s drugstore 101. It doesn’t seem like much thought went into selecting that particular product…sorry.

Bottom Line: When I think of curated subscription boxes, I think of high-quality products that could be difficult to acquire or expensive to try out, mixed with some good ol’ favorites and small business features. Judging by this particular curlBOX, I think they missed the mark. Hopefully, the other curlBOXes are better.

CurlKit July 2013 Box

At last, a complete natural hair solution…more than just products…”

Cost: $20

Availability: There doesn’t appear to be any caps on how many folks can sign up for CurlKit. In fact, if you Like their Facebook page, you will get 10% off your first CurlKit!

Box Contents:

  • EcoCustard with Argan Oil (full size)
  • CB Smoothe Smooth Naturally Moisturizing Styling Cream (full size)
  • EcoStyler Olive Oil Gel (sample size)
  • Eden BodyWorks Jojoba Monoi Deep Conditioner (sample size)
  • Curls Cashmere Curls (sample size)
  • Hi.Pro.Pac Extremely Damaged Hair Intense Protein Treatment (sample size)
  • Luscious Locks Shea Butter Shampoo (full size)

Highlights: Three full sized products…nice! I’m actually going to include the EcoStyler Gel sample size as a plus here. EcoStyler traditionally comes in huge vats…even the smallest jar is gigantic by product size standards. Although the product is readily accessible, providing a small amount to a natural interested in trying but not enough to buy a lifetime supply was a smart move.

Lowlights: Providing only one sample size pack of particular products is kind of a let-down for me. I need at least two samples to get a good feel for a product…and in some cases even to just completely cover all my hair.

Bottom Line: I really like what CurlKit did with their July subscription box. There appeared to be a well thought out variety, including new products (EcoCustard) and small business(Luscious Locks). You can even purchase popular products from previous CurlKits for discounted prices on their website. I think that’s pretty cool.

Curl Collection June 2013 Box

The ultimate experience for women and kids with curly hair. Sample FULL size products, from the hottest brands, delivered to your door.”

Cost: $35, every other month

Availability: Like CurlKit, there doesn’t seem to be a culture of exclusivity here in terms of membership. You can sign up at any time for this bi-monthly box.

Box Contents:

  • Amazing Botanicals Honey Condish (full size)
  • Amazing Botanicals Black Soap Poo (full size)
  • Amazing Botanicals Hibiscus Gel (full size)
  • Amazing Botanicals Go Green Liquid Pomade (full size)

Highlights: I think the Curl Collection approach is smart, and really sets them apart. Instead of sampling a bunch of different products, they provide full sizes of a different line of products every other month. Double kudos for featuring a small business line.

Lowlights: I think for the tag of $35, there could have been a 5th product thrown in to make subscribers feel like they’re getting an amazing deal. Perhaps the AloeMint Spritz? The only downside to receiving full sized products regularly is what to do with those that you don’t like. At least with a sample, you don’t have to feel bad about chucking it out, or you’ve used it up on that one time. But a whole bottle of product that’s practically full because you only used it a handful of times? Somebody’s about to come up, lol.

Bottom Line: Another well thought-out subscription service concept and delivery. I’m really impressed by the notion of receiving an entire product line to test drive. It just makes so much sense!

BOOMBox by Nappturalite Radio July 2013 Platinum Box

Your Rhythm. Your Beauty. Your Beat. BOOMBox is a subscription service for natural hair, natural beauty, music, and the natural lifestyle. Popular as well as up and coming products curated just for you!”

Cost: BOOMBox $18.99, BOOMBox Platinum $29.99

Availability: In the same vein as CurlKit and Curl Collection, you can sign up at any time. BOOMBox is also offering a special just for Black Girl Long Hair readers — enter code BGLH at checkout and receive $5 off your first box!

Box Contents:

  • Bake Shop Butters Summer Peach Hair & Body Butter (sample size)
  • Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie (2 sample size)
  • Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque (2 sample size)
  • Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Shea Butter Lotion (2 sample size)
  • Sarabecca Day Natural Perfume (3 sample size)
  • Sarabecca Night Natural Perfume (3 sample size)
  • Beauty Without Cruelty Nail Polish (full size)
  • Beauty Without Cruelty Premium Botanical Lotion (sample size)
  • ORS Curls Unleashed No Boundaries Leave-In Conditioner (2 sample size)
  • Naturel Life Tahitian Vanilla Whipped Shea Butter (sample size)
  • True Lemon 100% Natural Drink Mix (2 sample size)
  • Flowers from Fatima Hair Accessory (full size)
  • Nzuri Elixir Liquid Hair Vitamin (full serving size)

Highlights: There is a lot in this box, and definitely some diversity. I like the approach of extending beyond hair into natural skincare and beauty. The more ingredient and company conscious we become, the more we tend to gravitate toward things that are made responsibly. I also thought the drinkable hair vitamin was a really nice touch, and really unique (especially considering how many vitamins I take every day). Of course, I’m loving the small business features in the box.

Lowlights: I couldn’t vibe with the True Lemon samples. I know that what goes into our bodies is just as important as what we put on them, but I thought the drink samples was a bit of a reach.  Also, I was disappointed that there were no full sized hair or body products in the box. Don’t get me wrong, there’s TONS of stuff to try…and I do realize the BWC nail polish costs about $17 by itself. But if perhaps one of the Shea Moisture products were full sized, that would have been the icing on the cake in terms of value.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a natural hair and beauty hybrid box, BOOMBox definitely excels at filling that niche. Like CurlKit, there is an excellent blend of brands you’re aware of and up-and-coming small business products. As a bonus, Platinum BOOMBox subscribers have access to the Nappturalite Radio archive.

So, are they really worth it? The Bottom Bottom Line

The one thing all four boxes have in common is convenience. Instead of hunting around beauty supply stores or standing in line at Target, you can have products delivered to your doorstep. There’s also the added bonus of small business gems that you’d otherwise never come across, or fancy salon brands you’d never dream of shelling out dough for. Unboxing via Instagram, YouTube, and blogs has become somewhat of a phenomena, feeding into the excitement of receiving a subscription box every month.

At face value, receiving a natural hair subscription appears to be worth it. All the boxes provide products with value that either roughly amount to or exceed what is paid for it, and most of them include shipping in the cost of the box. If you’re the kind of consumer that would rather have someone pick things out for you to try, then a natural hair subscription box would be especially valuable to you. But if standing in Sally’s, Target, Ulta, and beauty supply stores to compare and analyze product ingredients excites you more than it gives you a headache, then the subscription box service may not fit your mold.

At the end of the day, the only person that can tell you if it’s worth it is you!

So what do you think, ladies? Do you find that subscription boxes are worth the money, or would you rather go out and pick up products on your own?

 

For more from Christina check out her blog, The Mane Objective. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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About Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and living in Los Angeles, Christina is BGLH's resident transitioning expert and product junkie. In addition to loving all things hair, she is a fitness novice and advocate of wearing sandals year-round. For more information on transitioning, natural hair, and her own hair journey, visit maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pictures follow Christina on Instagram @maneobjective.

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TWA4now
TWA4now
7 years ago

Subscribing to those curlboxes would only feed the product junkie in me. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t use it or throw it out wasting money. I think I would rather buy my own products.

Tamikah
Tamikah
7 years ago

I used to subscribe to curlbox, but as their July box shows they don’t do a good job of providing diversity. How many palmers samples can a girl have. I couldn’t and after 4 months I had to say bye. I’m thinking about joining the curl kit, hmmmmm

CJ
CJ
7 years ago

This was a really nice, fair review. I haven’t even heard of Curl Collection, but I really want to try them out now. Thanks for the review.

lauryn
lauryn
7 years ago

While I think the idea is great, I think this is just another attempt to make us feed into consumerism and pushes the sometimes unhealthy obsession with products. I prefer to take my time, do the research myself, and buy my own products without being overloaded with things that I wouldn’t have chosen on my own (simply for the sake of finding a few gems). Not to mention, I think a lot of people overly focus on products rather than good hair practices, which in the long run is a fail. But that’s just my opinion.

Djanira
Djanira
7 years ago
Reply to  lauryn

Well said

Renee'
Renee'
7 years ago

I will admit that I’m a true product junky and I was subscribed to Curlbox, Curlkit, and Swapsack at the same time. I cancelled Curlbox because I was receiving products that I could buy from the store. I cancelled Curlkit due to the constant shipping problems and disappointments. Finally, I’m no longer with Swapsack due to the owner having major issues and I’m catching hell trying to get a refund for the subscription i paid for. I just find it easier to just order my products online or go to the stores that sell them. These companies know how to… Read more »

Tina
Tina
7 years ago

I subscribed (past tense) to Curlbox and Curlkit my first year natural. But, now that I’m in my second year, I have learned more and more about my hair and the ingredients “she” likes. That means, I need to see the ingredient list prior to purchasing a product. Now my product purchases ensure better “good” hair days without so many products being tossed or wasted and I can shop for products on the ground or online as long as they have the ingredients listed for each product. Great review of the subscription services! Thanks

beena
beena
7 years ago

Waste of money all around. And Curlbox is the worst. But you got people out there that will buy anything. How can you get excited about stuff that’s at Wal-Mart

Fii
Fii
7 years ago

I subscribe to CurlKit, but I have been meaning to cancel my subscription. I feel I give away more products than I use. And I have only gotten one or two products from my CurlKit that I plan on buying again. I am not even really excited to get my kits anymore. I unbox them and put them aside. I couldn’t even tell you what’s in this month’s box. Even after reading this post. I also had a lot of billing issues in the beginning, including being billed for my first month and not receiving a kit until after I… Read more »

Tisha
Tisha
7 years ago

Sometimes I think I should try one of these natural hair monthly subscriptions but then I imagine my house clustered with half used products and I go: “NAAAH!!”
Plus, at this point I have comfortably settled into a routine and I have my go-to products,so no use!

Marlene
Marlene
7 years ago

I’m definitely not the girl who would want a subscription box. I like going to the store (gets me out of the house) walking through the aisles, reading the ingredients and choosing my own products to make my own little hair box. But, I live in an area where its hard to find good products so I would be more interested if a company came out and maybe with a smaller price tag ($15 at most pr month including shipping) and delivered ONLY hard to find or small business items. It could be sample sizes only of the full line… Read more »

Christina
Christina
4 years ago
Reply to  Marlene

Hey love your feedback! I am starting my own subscription box called Curls and Confidence. It will feature only sample size hair products with discounts to the brands featured!
Check me out if you are interested http://www.curlsandconfidence.ca

Melissa
Melissa
7 years ago

I subbed to CB, CK & CC because I thought that I would be receiving products that were difficult to find on the ground and I did like the idea of supporting young Black women who were starting up a business. I watched Youtube unboxings and definitely got caught up in the hype. Unfortunately I cancelled CB after 5 months due to disappointment with the products offered and what I felt was a dismissive attitude towards customer questions & complaints by the owner. My whole family is natural so I have been able to gift products I don’t want but… Read more »

Kim
Kim
7 years ago

I subscribe to Curlkit and have also been meaning to cancel my subscription. I like the boxes and have yet to be disappointed in the selection of products they send (although I will point out that one of the full-size products in this month’s box was a replacement for one that was missing from last month’s box), but between the products I buy and those I receive in the Curlkit, I simply have FAR too many products.

J. Nicole
7 years ago

I thought about signing up to a subscription service, but I just don’t see the benefit. I’m not much of a product junkie, and so far I think what I use works. If and when I need a bunch of samples I’ll just attend a natural hair meet up. As much as I love supporting our own, I’m not going to go broke in the process of buying unnecessary stuff.

D.K.
7 years ago

I think it’s a good idea but not one to go forward. Since our hair has very- and I mean VERY- specific needs, it would just be a waste to pay to get all these products that mainly wouldn’t be used because of one reason or another. I’d rather do the research and footwork, and save a dime.

vertmoot.blogspot.com

LaNeshe
7 years ago

I think they’re worth the money but I stopped with all my products because who really NEEDS 5+ new products every month?

Desiree
7 years ago

I love the idea of the box subscriptions but fortunately, I am a recovering product junkie that no longer has an entire closet dedicated to beauty products. I do follow the companies on social media, though, because when there is a product that ER’BODY is raving about, I will sometimes put it on my must-try list.

DC
DC
7 years ago

Great, thorough review. Thanks!

Le
Le
7 years ago

I thought about subbing. There is one Box company that allows you to pick your own products but I can’t remember the name. I think the subs would be good for those who group up to purchase. I’ve had several people say CB isn’t taylored for 4c hair and that’s what I have. I’ve been natural for some years and the best moisturizing products have been 100% organic from the grocery story (coconut oil, olive & grapeseed oils, honey, egg, and umrefind shea butter). As for styling products, I only use what has great reviews from others with my hair type… Read more »

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