1. DO NOT GO INTO IT BLINDLY
The biggest mistake you can make is looking on a subscription box's website and getting excited that you're going to receive all of the brand name products that are splashed across their pages. Do some research. There is so much information available online through bloggers and vloggers that reveal what they've actually been receiving each month. My favorite is My Subscription Addiction, because Liz, the founder, gets pretty much everything. Other great sites I get information about subscriptions from are: Harlot Beauty, Subscription Box Mom, Hello Pretty Bird, Bits and Boxes and Ramblings of a Suburban Mom, just to name a few. There are HUNDREDS!
2. DO NOT GET EXCITED ABOUT FOIL PACKETS
I loved foil packets! LOVED THEM! Then I started getting them, and getting them, and getting them. Here's the problem: there's not enough product in those foil packets to judge how much you like it. Sometimes there's not even enough product in those foil packets to get ONE use. Plus, in a subscription box, they have zero value despite what the company may state. Because you can contact ANY of the companies that supply foil packets and 99% of the time, they will send you the sample for free. And before you know it, you have this ------>>>>>>
And despite your best intentions, you'll never EVER use all those foil packets. Because you're going to be getting much more substantial samples which you'll be more interested in using. THE EXCEPTION: hair masks. Hair masks are not usually used more than once a week and the manufacturers who provide them, in my experience, give you ample product, and you can then decide if it's awesome and you want to buy more.
3. DO NOT IMMEDIATELY SIGN UP FOR EXTENDED SUBSCRIPTIONS
Subscription box companies have these amazing deals on 3, 6 or 12-month subscriptions, which are fantastic and money-saving. The problem is, you don't know what you like yet. After having signed up for several dozen subscriptions myself (on a month-to-month basis), I was surprised at how many I had no use for. I know it's shocking, but I don't actually want five new lipsticks a month, or three different nail subscriptions. THAT'S TOO MUCH DAMNED FINGERNAIL POLISH!!! I never thought I'd say that, but it's true. So sign up for the first month, feel it out for at least three months, and then take advantage of those wonderful, money-saving opportunities.
4. DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO EVERY BOX
Ohmigosh! There are so many. The first that are going to pop up everywhere you look are Birchbox, ipsy, Beauty Box 5, and Beauty Army. These all fall into the $10 - $12 range. Try not to sign up for more than one of these at a time. They pretty much offer all of the same products, just at different times. Last summer I received three Purlisse lotions, three Nicka K eye crayons, countless argan oil hair masks, etc.
Then you move on to the $15 - $25 tier: allure Sample Society, Glossybox, BeautyFIX, BoxyCharm, and Kloverbox, which all offer higher quality, niche products and more variety, but you still don't need them ALL. You will end up with so much more stuff than you will ever be able to use. And the boxes get fancier after that with companies like Wantable, New Beauty Test Tube, and PopSugar Must Have.
And that's just scratching the surface of beauty boxes. There are also boxes for clothes, toys for "nerds," pets, food and candy, jewelry, socks, phone cases, home décor, wine, beer, shoes, candles, tea or coffee, fragrances, kids, nail polishes, stationary, crafts, "time of the month," "adult," blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...
Do your research and take your time.
5. DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH CUSTOMIZATION
Because you're not going to get it. Dark-skinned ladies will get light foundations. Fair-skinned ladies will get dark bronzers. You're going to get some butt-ugly eye shadows that might look great on your mother. You'll get volumizing treatments for your super thick, frizzy hair and smootheners for your extra fine hair. You 20-something's are going to get enough face creams to last you into your forties. And women with pale skin and tea-stained teeth are going to get nothing but bright pink lipsticks. Have you ever seen a pale-skinned woman with tea-stained teeth in a bright pink lipstick? I have. Every time I test a new bright pink lipstick and look in the mirror. Don't get me wrong... you're going to get A LOT OF GREAT STUFF. But even if you take the quizzes, not everything is going to be for you.
6. DO NOT THINK YOU NEED EVERYTHING
You're going to have your select boxes and be perfectly happy. Until you read someone's review on another site or see spoilers for a different box. Keep this in mind. You DO NOT need everything. Don't jump into a new subscription just because you see something you want. Take a breath. Sleep on it. Maybe, just maybe, look up the product that caught your eye and *gasp* buy it on its own.
7. DO NOT BID ON BOXES OFF EBAY
Nothing against eBay, but I learned this lesson the hard way. It was the May 2014 Bergdorf Goodman Glossybox. And I needed it. And then the heavens opened up and someone was selling it for $50. That was over twice the cost of the subscription price. Problem was, when it showed up, only about three of the original products were in there, and a few other craptastic things were thrown in. No returns. Whatever. Lesson learned. Shame on me.
I wasn't going to get that particular Glossybox no matter how I tried. But half the time you can get past boxes if you inquire directly to the subscription company, and sometimes, like with Sample Society, they even sell the old boxes right on their website or on Amazon. Look first. Don't trust strangers.
8. DO NOT MISS OUT BY NOT CAPITALIZING ON SPECIAL OFFERS
Once you know what you like, before purchasing, find those special deals. Groupon, Living Social, and RueLaLa offer some amazing deals on multi-month subscriptions. Type the name of the box and "discount" into Google. You'll find them all over the place. Bloggers often have partnerships with certain companies such as 10% off your subscription. You're also helping the blogger out because they sometimes get a small commission which helps them continue publishing their blog. At least, that's what I do with the tiny commissions I receive. Or they may earn a free box after so many new subscribers come through their blog. Coupon codes are often listed on sites like RetailMeNot. Point being, you can save, so do it.
9. DO NOT FORGET IMPORTANT DATES
If you subscribe to a box first month free, and you don't like it, make sure to cancel in a timely manner so you are not charged for the next month's box. That date should be available to you in your account information. If not, ask. If you're subscribed to something like JustFab or ShoeDazzle, and need to skip a month, do it within the parameters of the agreement. Otherwise, it's quite the ordeal to get your money back. Some subscriptions give you choices on samples. If you want first pick, get on it, or you may get stuck with what's left. Sometimes, like with Treatsie, you can order extras with no additional shipping charges. Watch your dates.
10. DO NOT BREAK THE BANK
Come on. This world can be intoxicating. Who doesn't love boxes showing up at their door everyday with pretty surprises inside? They call it an addiction for a reason. But I have heard so many stories of people spending all of their expendable income on these boxes. Forget eating out or going to that concert or buying your nephew that LEGO set for his upcoming birthday. I, myself, have maxed out a credit card or two when I started out. Hope my car doesn't break down. The husband's asking me why I pay $100 a month on my credit card bill but the balance never seems to go down.
Don't get yourself in trouble for this "hobby." It's not worth putting yourself in financial straits just to get a bunch of stuff that you *may not* even use. Set a budget for this sort of thing and if you want something else, drop another that you're already getting. THIS IS MY BEST ADVICE. Please, please take it.