Monday, 2 March 2015

A Detailed Ipsy Review from a Canadian Perspective

As most of us know, ipsy is yet another subscription box beauty service wherein we sign up, pay a monthly fee, and receive a box or bag full of goodies each month. We've got subscriptions for beauty, subscriptions for food... Hell, we've even got subscription services for our dogs. This subscription service 'trend' certainly isn't new, but it has grown exponentially over the last couple of years. 

As a Canadian, I'm somewhat sad to report that many of these services are not open to me. Maybe it's for the better; it's certainly saving me a lot of money. However, ipsy is one of the beauty services that I am subscribed to, and I've waited months to review it from a Canadian perspective. 

"Why should being Canadian affect your review?" you might wonder. Well, although ipsy has gained my respect and happiness by starting to ship to Canada, much of their appeal in a cheap service is lost on me because instead of $10.00, as we know is all the company charges, a month, I end up paying a whopping $19.62 just to have my bag shipped to my front, frozen-shut-because-I-live-up-North, door. Don't tell my boyfriend, even I'm still trying to decide if $20.00 is worth it for what I'm receiving. 

Not only do I end up paying almost double what the bag is supposed to be worth, but it takes almost double the amount of time to make it to my door. Alright, so this one isn't a huge deal. As long as it gets here around the same time each month (which it does), I'm a happy customer. 

Lately I've found myself wondering if the bag itself is it worth it for what I'm paying monthly. So let's back it up to the very beginning... 

The start of Ipsy
Michelle Phan is the very first beauty vlogger that I followed. Back when she filmed videos in that bathroom with the greenish wallpaper. I've watched her grow, I've watched her channel follow her to success. When she grew and grew in success, she started a beauty subscription service called MyGlam. It was shared with her sister-in-law, Promise Tamang Phan, Andrea from AndreasChoice, if I remember correctly, and Heart from ThatsHeart. Don't quote me, it was a fairly long while ago. At that point, the company was quite small, and of course, only shipped within the United States. It sold out VERY quickly, and was extremely popular within the YouTube beauty community right off the bat. Even though I couldn't subscribe myself, I still made an account on the website and made a point to keep checking back to see if they would expand and start shipping internationally. I'm sure I could've looked around and found perhaps another beauty subscription service that DID ship worldwide, but it wasn't so important to me as was supporting a YouTuber that I quite enjoyed watching.

Fast-forwarding to a year or two later. After a while I had given up on checking back, and quite frankly hadn't heard much about the company at all. Something reminded me about it late last year (maybe September 2014) and I decided to check back at my account on MyGlam. Much to my surprise, it had changed completely. It was, and is, now called Ipsy, the website had had a major overhaul in design, and the YouTubers that I had originally followed in correlation to the company were no longer advertised as being affiliated with it (at least, are no longer the faces of the company as far as I know). 

Like, follow, & subscribe
I was excited to find out that they started shipping to Canada, so I signed up for a subscription right away. When I did, I was told that I would be put on the wait list until a spot opened up, UNLESS I liked, followed, and subscribed to four new YouTubers, liked followed and subscribed to Ipsy, and allowed the company to post to my Facebook. My first thought: What the hell? I just want to receive some goodies every month, not sign my entire Internet experience over to Ipsy. 

"Yay! I just got a sneak peek of EVERYTHING in my glam bag! Thanks, ipsy :)"
I went through with it, though. I liked, I followed, I subscribed. I also allowed Ipsy to post to my personal Facebook, but I changed the settings on all of the posts to be viewable to just me. Sorry, Ipsy, it was either that or creating a whole other Facebook that I would allow you to spam up. Unfortunately, I don't care enough to do that, so I edited the privacy settings. There's no way I'm forcing all of my high school "friends", extended family, and online life to sift through my beauty spam. At first I just thought, what's the point in allowing them to post to my social media? Why didn't I just cancel that the minute they took me off the wait list? Well, each time you allow them to post to your social networks, you get a certain amount of points which evidently add up to more goodies in your bag, should you choose to cash them once they've built up. 

Website review
If I were to give the company a review based solely on the website, how it operates, and its media perspective, I would give it a middle-to-low score. The website is great, it's never slow and whoever is behind making sure everything is up and running properly is certainly doing a good job. When I moved last year, and updated my address, it was never an issue. I am pleased with that. HOWEVER, I really disliked having to submit all of my social media to the website in order to just subscribe. I understand that in this day and age, particularly with a company that was started on one of the biggest social media outlets currently out there, networking is important. But networking is not for everyone.

Service Review
Aside from all of that, the products: the service, the bags, and the overall content. I signed up in September of 2014, and I believe my first bag was October. When you first sign up, and get off the waiting list, you are required to take a little beauty quiz. This quiz is supposed to help improve your bags and match them up to your skin tone, your preferences, etc. I, personally, have not found that the bags were tailored to my personal preferences or appearance, but that being said out of the products I've received, and the products they offer, I don't see how any of them could be necessarily bad for any skin type or eye colour, or whatever. I suppose it's a good thing they keep the products fairly neutral. Sure, I could complain that I said I preferred dark berry lipsticks and only got nudes the past few times I've received lip products. But if I'm looking at this from a global perspective, they've probably pleased many more people with neutrals than they would have with a dark vampy lip colour. I'll take one for the team. 

My Ipsy bag from February 2015. Photo from my Instagram @misscassiemac
I wish I could offer a review comparing the bags as they are now to the bags as they were when the company first launched. I know for a fact the quality has differed (declined somewhat) but as I'm doing this from a Canadian perspective, I've only been able to order the bags somewhat recently. And in my defense, we're only going forward. You can't order the old bags anyway, so you get what you're given.

In each bag, there are four or five "premium-sized" samples, and a card, typically with an image of the four faces of the brand, or just one of them. On one side you get the cute little photo, on the other side you get the Ipsy logo and some hashtags to use when you blog about your bag. They encourage you to post an image to Instagram tagging the company and hashtagging a certain little slogan for the chance to win a year of free glam bags. I've never seen anyone win. Typically there will be 5 products in the bags, most samples and one larger sized item. A nail polish, a brush, or a hand creme are the more common ones that I've received in "full" size. Now for 10 dollars, these bags are definitely worth it. When you do a little bit of the math, you typically get 5 items, one full sized, and a cute little bag to go with it. Great for travelling. And you get to test out new products that you likely have either never heard of, or never tried before. Nearly all of the products I've received from the minute I signed up until now are from brands I'd never tried. If you're someone who's into trying new things, you'll be excited! Usually what you get will add up to more than 10 dollars of worth. 

Now, almost 20 dollars for the bag each month. Is THAT worth it? I'm honestly still trying to figure that out. If I'm being perfectly honest, I'm thinking no. I love getting mail, and looking forward to getting new products every month makes me happy. Who doesn't love getting something in the mail every month? Having it come to your door in its pretty bubbly pink packaging, and then getting to sit down and open it, swatch everything that can be swatched, and then give all the items little mini reviews in your head. But wait, the excitement is not over. You then arrange all of your little goodies in such a nice little photographic manner, and you take a picture. You let them sit there, while you sift through all the filters that make your photo look the best, and you post it to Instagram with as many hashtags as you can, and you praise every product in the description, even if you never pick some of them up again. 

I used to work in beauty. For a long time I stood in a beauty store for hours each shift, and sometimes I would be so bored I'd sift through all the sample cupboards and put together a little bag for myself of sample products to try. Some of them were great. Sometimes when a rep would come in to stock the shelves for their brand, they would almost always leave a little bag of gratis for the saleswomen (including myself), and a bag of samples to give away to paying customers. Those are usually a lot of fun, but are they worth paying $20 for five of? No. They aren't. I find myself mostly getting excited for the one full-sized product in each bag, and not really using any of the other things. I admit, it's a guilty pleasure to keep getting these bags. I'm a makeup hoarder, even if I don't use all of the stuff I have I enjoy having it. I enjoy looking at it. No, I don't need help. 

October 2014 Ipsy glam bag. Photo from my instagram @misscassiemac
All of this begs the ultimate question. Is the service worth it for what you pay? For Americans, who pay $10 with absolutely no shipping fee (or so says the website), yes. Absolutely, go for it! But for Canadians, who pay $10, plus an extra ten when it all comes down to it... in my personal opinion, no. It isn't. Now don't let this post dissuade you from trying it out if you've been curious. You can cancel anytime, everyone is different and even though I don't consider the products I receive totally worth it, doesn't mean you won't. 

What I suggest is to make an account, and keep an eye on the bags each month. Decide for yourself if you think you'd like the products and think they would be worth a little extra money out of your pocket. The bags are pretty cute. If you're interested in individual bag reviews each month, I post reviews on my Instagram for each bag I receive. 

So keep calm and splurge on, makeup geeks. 

Thanks for reading,


Disclaimer: Header photo taken from, all other photos @misscassiemac on Instagram. 

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