Are Natural Hair Subscription Boxes Worth It?

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! For the basis of comparison, I'll be pitting the most current boxes out against each other.

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

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.
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:
  • Palmer's Cocoa Butter Stick
  • Phyto Specific Intense Nutrition Mask (2 sample size)
  • Phyto Specific Moisturizing Styling Cream (2 sample size)
  • Motions For Natural Hair Heat Styled Straight Finish Cleanser (full size)
  • Crème of Nature Argan Oil Perfect 7 Leave-In Treatment (full size) + $1-off coupon
  • Loreal Evercurl Sulfate-Free Curl Care System (1 sample each: shampoo, conditioner, leave-in)
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?


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