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What's Up Magazine

Pretty Little Boxes: Subscription Products We’re Starting to Fall in Love With

Nov 18, 2015 02:00PM ● By Becca Newell
By Becca Newell

If you haven’t noticed, it’s the era of subscriptions. We’re not talking about magazines—although, we know you excitedly anticipate the arrival of What’s Up? magazine each month! Instead, think wine of the month or cigar club, but with much more diversity, appeal, and intrigue.

These mail order services offer a host of treats for the recipient. From makeup to arts & crafts to manscaping, there’s seemingly no end to these offerings. And while their arrival each month is a delightful indulgence, these subscriptions make an ideal gift, particularly for Mr. Hard-to-Buy-For and Mrs. Got-It-All—and we know everyone has at least one of those on their list!

In preparation for the season of giving, What’s Up? Media excitedly jumped on the subscription service bandwagon and, over the last few months, several packages appeared on our doorstep. The unique boxes ranged from fun to functional, and the excitement upon opening each one had us reaching for the pinot in celebration. Maybe we need a wine of the month subscription after all. Along with these favorites, obviously!



Starting at $5/month for eight blades -

Quality razor blades, shaving gels, and other lotions delivered as frequently as desired. Also, it’s touted as the only shaving brand in the world that makes blades sold directly to the consumer.

Favorite item:
Foaming Shave Gel ($6 value)

Editor's Review: You'd think after shaving every few days for the majority of my life, I'd have little trouble remembering to stock up on razors, but it's still an issue that rears its ugly head every so often. So, I could see this handy (and oh-so-inexpensive) kit being a welcome relief every time it appears at my doorstep. Each kit contains one Truman Razor Handle, three Five-Blade Cartridges, one Foaming Shave Gel, and one Travel Blade Cover. I'm hooked!

For the Makers

 $29/month -

 A themed collection of tools and materials to complete four DIY projects from notecards to necklaces. Step-by-step tutorials delivered to your inbox are thorough enough to please even the most novice crafter!

Favorite item:
Kasper Beaded Necklace

Editor's Review: A crafter's best friend, we found this subscription box to be a fun addition to our Pinterest addiction. The projects are colorful and cute; the instructions relatively easy to follow, and its obvious the box's curators are very attentive to every last detail. It's a delightful treat to skip the Pinterest browsing-time, along with the sometimes frustrating trips to the craft store, and instead pour a nice glass o' vino, open the cardboard box, and craft away.

Gentleman’s Box

$25/month - 

Get 15% off with discount code: WHATSUP

An assemblage of five to six stylish and sophisticated items fit for the modern man. Each month takes inspiration from a featured gentleman—a secret agent or English soccer superstar, for example.

Favorite item:
 Untied Bow Tie in Bond Black by OTAA ($11 value)

Editor's Review: The guys (and even ladies -- depending on your style, some of the items certainly appealed to both sexes!) in our office were floored by the selection of items included in this box. Perfect for the dapper gentleman, this set included a Colored Lapel Flower in Cream by The Tie Bar ($5), No Show Socks by Taft ($11), Waxed Cotton 30-inch Shoelaces in Brown by Statement Shoelace Co. ($6), Everywhere Lotion in Detroit by Das Boom Industries (about $10), the Untied Bow Tie in Bond Black by OOTA ($25), and a Pocket Square in Black White Grey Checkered by OOTA ($15). It certainly proved to be a stylish box to dig through. And with a step-by-step guide to tying a bow tie, which we eagerly tested, we were able to pride ourselves on -- what we deemed -- an a Insta-worthy accomplishment!


$24.99/month -

Each month brings a curated collection of four to five full-size or luxury beauty items that are vegan and cruelty-free.

Favorite item:
 Nail Lacquer in Boys Tears by Trust Fund Beauty ($15 value)

Editor's Review: Hands down the cutest box we've received... with a substantial amount of products to boot! LaRitzy shines in its ability to pack a punch (in a such a small package!) with items that are eco- and animal-friendly and oh-so-worthy of praise. As someone who is rather concerned with the ingredients and testing policies of cosmetics (and who knows the somewhat expensive price tag these products typically hold!), the value of this box is incredible -- we received more than $75-worth of products for $25. We're in love! This box included the Konjac Facial Puff Sponge by 
The Konjac Sponge Co. (about $11.50), Cuticle Oil by Studio Aroma ($12), Mascara in Brown by GlamNatural ($28), Blending Bestie Eye Makeup Brush by M.O.T.D. Cosmetics ($12), Nail Lacquer in Boys Tear by Trust Fund Beauty ($15), and TWO bonus samples: Night Cream by BodiSafe Beauty and Cream Blush. by GlamNatural!


$34/month -
Get $10 off with discount code: BECCA10

A box of activities, guidance, and boutique-inspired gifts, to help foster positive habits, encourage reflection, and live a better life. Each month offers a different life-affirming theme.

Favorite item: The Soaking Tub Bath Salts ($12 value, full size)

Editor's Review: This was such a pleasant experience and one very different from the often self-indulgent nature of other subscription box services. I absolutely loved everything about BetterBox... and I do feel better after using it! Having a pretty demanding job, and plenty of involvements and hobbies outside of the office, "me-time" -- particularly of the meditation/reflection variety -- often gets pushed from the day's agenda. But with BetterBox' encouragement of daily reflection, I was consistently reminded to take the time to sit and reflect on that month's theme: gratitude. Each morning for seven days (the VIP Sampler I received included a seven-day service; regular boxes include one month of reflection, goodies, and activities), I was tasked with completing an activity, which complemented one of the items in the box, via the "deeds" email. What a wonderful way to start the day! This box included Gratitude Cards & Envelopes, #BetterBox Heart Post-It Notes, Tea Forte Teabag, Gratitude Stone, Bath Salts from The Soaking Tub, and a Smiley Face Cookie.


 $16.99/month (for a one-year subscription) -

Three exclusive, non-toxic, and eco-friendly Nail Glam lacquers in the trendiest hues. These US-produced polishes aren’t tested on animals either. And the company is based in Washington, D.C., so it’s a great way to shop local, too!

Favorite item:
Purple Pumpkins Nail Lacquer ($8 value)

Editor's note: Look for our review of this lacquer on the "Products We Love" page in the March 2016 issue.


$49.99/quarter –

Get $10 off with discount code: WHATSUP

Welcome each season with a variety of full-size, premium lifestyle products dedicated to beauty, fashion, and fitness.

Favorite item:
Hisy Portable Smartphone Charger ($24.99 value)

Editor's Review - Considering the slew of goodies in this box, the $50 price tag ($40 if you use the special discount code above!) is a steal, especially since it's only a quarterly indulgence. This was one of the most fun boxes to unpack. From the bright purple packaging to the incredible range of items inside, it was one of the best treats we've had since our local watering hole started offering two-for-one drinks during its weekly Happy Hour. Items included Tappan Collective Umbrella ($32), Cut Crystal Beaded Bracelet by Tribe Alive ($49), "Reactive" Portable Power Bank Battery by HISY ($24.99), Gold Radiance Luxury Facial Mask by Passport to Beauty ($35/two), Strength Ankle Tubing and Total Body Tone DVD by Merrithew ($15.99 and $16.95), Flawless Skin Fluid by Doctor D. Schwab ($39), Lip Locked Stain in Lucky by Manna Kadar ($24), and Purple Purse Charm to benefit Purple Purse Challenge nonprofits and the domestic violence survivors they serve ($10). We're already looking forward to what the new season will bring!

Escape Monthly

$49.95/month -

Each month highlights a different location across the globe. From Greece to California, the boxes contain an assortment of items, .

Favorite item:
 Gold Rush Old Fashioned San Francisco Style Sour Dough Bread Starter ($6 value)

Editor's Review - Although the price is a little steep, this is one of the most impressive boxes on the market. We were blown away with the quantity AND quality of the products included. We received the California box - a nice array of items all hailing from the Golden State, including EasyGuide to San Francisco by Frommer's ($10), Natural Hand & Body Lotion by California Mango, Cleansing Gel by California Mango, a Loofah Pad, a Sisal Soap Pouch, California Plum Oil by Napa Organics ($32), Organic Lavender Hydrosol Calming Face Mist by Napa Organics ($28), Old Fashioned San Francisco Style Sour Dough Bread Starter by Gold Rush ($6), Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar by Torn Ranch ($3), and a bonus gift Leather Travel Wallet. We only wish Escape Monthly covered airfare, too!


$21/month -

An assortment of five luxury beauty products, ranging from hair care to cosmetics—all wrapped up in beautiful pink box with a sweet black bow.

Favorite item:
 Too Faced Cosmetics Mascara ($14.50 value)

Editor's Review: An absolutely beautiful box filled with absolutely beautiful products. Most surprising was the size of each item -- either full-sized or a luxury (read: larger) sample -- ideal for testing out what might be your next makeup bag staple! And with such a flawless presentation, what's not to love! This box included Lush Lip Gloss by 
Doucce ($22), Aloe Vera Ultra Moisturizing Gel by Etre Belle, Nail Lacquer by Orly, Better Than Sex Mascara by Too Faced Cosmetics, and Color Assure Restoring Conditioner by Nexxus.


 $25/month, plus shipping -

A curated selection of one to three full-size handmade products from artists across the globe. Each partnership guarantees a livable wage for artists, meaning each purchase offers a lasting impact.

Favorite item:
AVIOR Pottery Bud Vase ($10 value)

Editor's Review: What a sweet and simple box! We weren't entirely sure what to expect from Umba -- unlike other subscription services tooting a certain theme, like beauty products or shaving accoutrements, Umba's mission is to introduce subscribers to "handmade products," so it's difficult to imagine what that might entail. However, we were pleasantly surprised! Although small, the two products included -- a beautiful little vase (that now sits proudly on my desk!) and the cutest silver cuff -- absolutely wowed us! Not only is it a treat to receive such charming pieces, but knowing they were handmade by artisans across the globe means we get to bask in the love of someone's craft!


$24.95/month -

A monthly mixture of organic, all-natural, non-GMO, vegan, fair-trade, or gluten-free snacks to help you munch a little healthier... all tied up in a cute burlap sack!

Favorite item:
Live Pop in Lime Fresco ($4.25 value)

Editor's Review: For anyone who's trying to rid their pantry of artificial junk, this is the subscription service for you. A month's-worth (well, depending on your appetite!) of snacks delivered right to your doorstep introducing you to (or perhaps reminding you of) your favorite -- and, more importantly, healthy! -- treat. This box was so exciting to unwrap simply due to the abundance of snacks included: Sweet Potato Chips by Jackson's Honest, Midnight Brownie Gluten-Free Cookies by Goodie Girl Cookies, Spooky Spiders Gummy Candy by Surf Sweets ($4.99), Raw Pumpkin Seeds by Skout Organic ($3.99), Toasted Coconut Bar by Taos Mountain Energy Bar, All-Natural Popcorn in Lime Fresco by Live Pop ($4.25), Creamy Peanut Butter and Sea Salt Protein Bar by Raw Revolution, Indulge-Double Chocolate Fudge Cookies by YumBitz ($3), Healthy Grains Bar by KIND, an assortment of hard candies by Torie & Howard, a few lollipops from Glee Gum, and a sample pack of multi-vitamin gummies by Smarty Pants. As someone who favors healthier snacks over sugar- and other additive-filled goodies, it was a great way to skip the should-I-or-shouldn't-I dilemma I often find myself in while cruising down the snack aisles at Whole Foods in pursuit of something small, yet tasty to add to my lunchbox!