Primarily, Birchbox is a cosmetic-filled, online monthly subscription box for women and men. It is based in New York City. However, it is also operational in United Kingdoms, France, Spain, and Belgium. Started in 2010, Birchbox is a brainchild of two Harvard Business students Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna. 

To help familiarize you with Birchbox, this article will cover the philosophy behind Birchbox and its monthly subscription surprises. Most importantly, the article will also outline five other competitors of Birchbox that are just as reputable.

Though different in origin, each beauty company is centered on helping you get the most out of your online shopping experience.


The philosophy behind Birchbox is a twist on the direct-selling model. It is not only the love of the internet or online shopping; it is Katie and Hayley’s vow ‘to make hunting for beauty products easy and fun for the customers.’ 

With this in mind, Birchbox owners thought out of the box and brought forth a new vision of online beauty shopping. To make online cosmetic errands easy for people, they introduced the concept of ‘monthly delivery of surprise cosmetic boxes to their customers.’ 

The private company, pioneered by catalog company Avon, smartly combines these beautiful boxes with custom-made samples of beauty products from the top brands with the original editorial and access to Birchbox’s e-commerce shop. 

As a follow-up, if their customers like the samples, they can visit the e-commerce shop and search for their preferred beauty products. On ordering, the company will send them full-size products. 

According to Katia and Hayley, with the mission to help customers find perfect products for themselves, shopping with Birchbox is easy, efficient, and fun. They have 800,000 active subscribers, happy with their monthly delivery of surprise and glee.

Birchbox’s monthly subscription box:  

Aside from warmth and delight, each Birchbox includes at least 5 hand-picked deluxe samples available at the cost of $10 a box. These samples can be a collection of shampoos, lipsticks, skincare from established brands such as NARS, Laura Mercier and Benefit, and the like. 

Aside from personalized beauty and grooming products, Birchbox offers its clientele, via, self-care tips and a piece of advice on how to apply the samples within the comfort of their homes. It offers customers 3 plans for subscription: monthly for $15, 3-months for $15/month, and a 12-months plan for $12/month.

Here Are the Top 5 Competitors to Birchbox

In due years, Birchbox was challenged by several companies. The competitors arrived in the market offering similar beauty boxes in the mail — with a similar selection of samples from the top brands. 

Although, Birchbox kept growing because of their ‘not just a box’ approach. The other companies also gained speed in the online beauty industry by experimenting with a ‘subscription box’ strategy. So, let’s have a look at the top 5 competitors and alternatives of Birchbox. 

1) IPSY:

IPSY is the biggest competitor of Birchbox because it is also very famous for its monthly subscription boxes in the market. On the other hand, Ipsy’s Basic Glam Bag is one of the most popular and affordable boxes around, and it has been the top choice for makeup lovers for the last five years! 

Michelle Phan, a YouTube beauty vlogger, Marcelo Camberos from Funny or Die, and Jennifer Jaconetti Goldfarb from Bare Essentials, co-founded Ipsy in 2011. 

Compared to Birchbox, Ipsy does not have to purchase items that go into the monthly sample bags. Due to Ipsy’s stronghold on social media marketing, the top companies provide their samples free in exchange for marketing and customer’s feedback.

Ipsy also does not invest in advertisements, nor does it pay vloggers to promote subscription services through social media. However, it provides them mentoring, association with Phan and Ipsy, and access to studio space. 

Ipsy’s Monthly Subscription Box:

Ipsy works on the same monthly subscription box philosophy as Birchbox. It is a monthly subscription service starting from $12 per month. It provides subscribers with a makeup bag of five luxurious cosmetics samples. The products include makeup, skincare items, fragrances, and nail and skin products based upon users’ preferences.

Other than basic glam bags, it offers a Glam bag plus for $25/month, and a Glam Bag X for the cost of $55/quarter, containing full-sized beauty products. The box has 5 samples that are personalized with the help of a customer’s profile. 


E.l.f Cosmetics, founded in 2004, is one of the best competitors of Birchbox. It is a retail seller of beauty products for eyes, lips, and face. Comparatively, with Birchbox, the company sells its own products through personal stores, retail stores, and an e-commerce portal.  

Joseph Shamah and Scott Vincent Borba founded e.l.f. Cosmetics. It is headquartered in Oakland, CA, United States. E.l.f Cosmetics is operational in many more countries than Birchbox. It is currently available in 18 countries, including Canada, Germany, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, France, and Spain.

Physically, people can find e.l.f Cosmetics at several stores, including Target, Kmart, Dollar General, and Walmart. Like Birchbox, however, e.l.f Cosmetics is also hugely dependent on its e-commerce store. Its online shopping store is now the brand’s primary sales means and accounted for half of all sales.  

E.L.F Cosmetics Subscription box:

E.l.f Cosmetics also offers ‘Play Beautifully Subscription Box,’ which is full of e.l.f Cosmetics products. The company ships subscription boxes every two months and promises a minimum of $40 of product in each box. 

The bi-monthly e.l.f boxes contain any of the following e.l.f products mineral-based makeup, bath and skincare products, eyeliners, glosses, lipstick, blushes, brushes, bronzers, mascara, and professional tools. 


Argos is a retail company that functions quite differently than Birchbox. It does not offer subscription boxes or gifts. However, it is still considered a top competitor of Birchbox because of its rapidly growing online subscribers. In fact, Argos is the United Kingdom’s 3rd most visiting digital store. It is on the verge of beating Amazon and eBay in the UK. 

Currently, Argos is operational as an online retail store in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It offers a range of consumer products in technology, health, beauty, clothing, jewelry and watches, home and garden, baby and nursery, sports and leisure, and gifts.

Argos started as a catalog retailer in 1972 in the United Kingdom. Its founder Richard Tompkins names it after the Greek city of Argos. Presently, it is based in Milton Keynes, GB. In 2016, Sainsbury’s supermarket chain acquired Argos; since then, Argos works as a subsidiary of Sainsbury’s. 

Argos changed its working philosophy in July 2020; it ceased production of its catalog after 47 years. And the company shifted its business more to the digital platform.

Now, the company trades both through physical shops and through online platforms. It has 1000+ physical stores across the United Kingdom, but it generates actual revenue through online marketing. With its 29 million yearly shop customers, and nearly a billion online visitors per annum, Argos is giving hard-hitting competition to other e-commerce stores like Birchbox.


The company sells exclusive unisex items in skincare, makeup, haircare, luxury products, fragrances, bath, and body products as a cosmetic brand. It allows customers to choose from various deals and discounts on all beauty, fashion, and wellness products across the brands.

Nykaa is an Indian brand that begun its journey as a retailer of beauty, wellness, and makeup products in 2012. The company owner Falguni Nayar expanded the company from e-commerce-only to an Omni-channel strategy and took the initiative to sell other products besides beauty. 

Nykaa has been stepping up its e-commerce game. It recently introduced Nykaa Man, a line of men’s grooming goods, and stretched-out Nykaa Fashion, its fashion e-commerce portal. 

Nykaa operates 76 retail stores as well as several e-commerce channels via websites and mobile apps. In 2020, it sold over 2K brands and 200K products across its platforms. It is a unicorn startup with a valuation of $85 billion (US$1.2 billion) as of last year.

The nine-year-old e-commerce network has grown fast over the years. With over 5 million monthly active users, 70 storefronts across India, and more than 1.5 million orders fulfilled each month.

Nykaa Subscription boxes:

Nykaa gives competition to Birchbox through its online presence as well as its personalized beauty boxes. These beauty boxes are filled with mix and match branded cosmetics and self-care products such as shampoos, soaps, face packs, mascaras, lipsticks, etc. A curated beauty box of Nykaa costs $20 and reclaims to be worth $50.


Space NK is a private company that operates a chain of beauty boutique stores. Primarily, it runs from London, United Kingdom. However, the brand also serves across the US and Ireland. 

Like Nykaa, the company offers skincare, makeup, haircare, bath and body, wellness products, and fragrances. 

Nicky Kinnaird is the founder of Space NK. Space NK started its venture in 1993 when it opened its doors in Convent Garden. In 2002, Space NK rolled into a Manzanita company. By 2007, the brand has been running 60 stores across the United Kingdom and Ireland. In addition, the company has over 29 stores, including freestanding stores and boutiques, exclusively in the United States. 

Space NK sells a variety of products, including skincare, cosmetics, and electronics. This collection includes over 70 top high-notch brands.

Space NK’s monthly beauty boxes: The skincare expert from Space NK, Caroline Hirons, hand-picks eight full-size products to create an exclusive beauty box for customer’s ultimate at-home skincare routine. Worth over £400, the box features hero products from some of the top-notch brands, challenging to get hands-on, such as Laura Mercier, Eve Lom, and Nars.