Rosemary Mac Cabe

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The beauty of subscription: Powder Pocket and the Chic Treat Club

Beauty subscription boxes give you a monthly chance to discover new classics – but are they up to the hype?

Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 07:30


My Chic Treat Club box, with an extra Kevin Murphy bonus for being among the first subscribers

There was a time . . . a very strange and funny time when beauty subscription boxes were not de rigueur and discovering new makeup was a rare occurrence, usually spurred on by seriously OTT positive reviews in Elle magazine.

Now, subscription models are 10 a penny: think Glossybox, ShoeMint, JewelMint . . . and now we have two new Irish beauty subscription boxes to add to the arsenal – Powder Pocket and the Chic Treat Club.

So, first things first: what’s in which box?

Powder Pocket was the first I received, so let’s start with this: launched in December 2013, it contained four sample-sized cosmetics (Shiseido Extra Gentle Cleansing Foam, Vichy Idealia Life Serum, Boss Jour Pour Femme and Academie Bronz’Express) and a makeup brush from Blank Canvas Cosmetics.

What I loved: My usual complaint about subscription boxes is that they contain a load of random cosmetics from companies you’ve never heard of, so on this front Powder Pocket came up trumps. Vichy! Shiseido! Hugo Boss! The packaging is gorgeous, and the Blank Canvas Cosmetics brush is incredible – with a RRP of €13.99 this is as good as the €30-odd foundation brush I was suckered into buying from Bobbi Brown. It’s vegan and it washes really well.

What I hated: Well, everything is tiny. I know, I know, this is the nature of subscriptions – but I felt a bit cheated, thinking I probably could have got these samples free with a glossy magazine (and then I’d also have had a glossy magazine). In fact, the only one I’ve even used is the cleansing foam (which I love, but is a bit stingy on the eyes).

Powder Pocket starts at €12 a month; subscribe for six months for €60 (one box free) or get a year for €120 (two free boxes).

Chic Treat Club launched this January – and according to the website, the first box sold out practically in seconds. It was helped along by seriously glowing reviews from media insiders who received it; there was nothing but praise (as far as I could see) for the products within, which included: a sample size Kevin Murphy shampoo; Wet ‘n’ Wild (new to Ireland!) XXL Lash mascara; Pure Argan Hand & Nail Cream; episilk lip balm; and KISS nail wraps.

What I loved: The packaging is super-cute. Definitely not quite as chic as Powder Pocket, but prettier, in a box I’d definitely keep to store jewellery and miscellaneous things I can never find places for (just me?). I love Kevin Murphy products so the inclusion of the shampoo was a big bonus, and both the hand cream and lip balm are really generously sized. Plus, all of these products are useful. I’d much rather a lip balm than a serum, or a shampoo than a perfume sample.

What I hated: So Chic Treat Club’s first offering wins out in terms of size: loads of these bits feel like full-sized goodies, rather than sample-sized treats, but these brands are lower value than Powder Pocket’s (no Shiseido here), so if I had to nit-pick I’d say that I wonder slightly about the cost. Are you paying above the odds for pharmacy-grade products? The nail wraps were a bit of a waste, because I really think everyone’s over them.

Chic Treat Club starts at €44.95 for a three-month subscription (including next-day courier delivery), six months will set you back €89.95 (but you get a seventh month free) and a year’s subscription is €179.95.

So what do you think? Would you consider signing up?