Oh beauty boxes, how we love finding you among bills and takeaway menus. This list hands you the creme de la creme of beauty box offerings.

From the technical to the cosmetic, this week it’s one for the girls (and quite possibly the boys); yes we’re diving head first into a glorious array of beauty products, with the sites that package up the very best samples and deliver them straight to your door. They’re great for travelling, they’re even better for your gym bag, and believe us, there’s nothing that will cheer you up more than a delightful beauty box turning up amongst a myriad of bills.

As the newest kids on the block, Birchbox are certainly the pretenders to the Beauty Box crown. With three levels of subscription; monthly (£10), quarterly (£30), and yearly (£100), there need never be another beauty sample you miss out on. And what samples they are, bedecked in layer upon layer of high-end packaging like a glorious cosmetic pass the parcel. The Box we tried not only introduced us to the miraculous benefits of Weleda Skin Food (a real worker bee of a product), but also came with a serious glossy Mirenesse Perfect Kiss Lipstick Pencil and a natty little mirror to apply it with. What did we see in that mirror? A serene glowing smile, why? Because the list of brands is endless and the packaging is top notch.

Variety is the name of the game at Glossy Box and hence we thought it best to try two separate offerings; the first was good with its stand out L’Occitane Creme Precieuse Immortelle in a super generous 15ml blue pot (tightening, brightening with a scent as fresh as a field full of daisies), but it was the second box that really got our pulses going; a personally curated trove of treasures by none other than one of our favourite Guest Editors Pearl Lowe, would it be overstepping the mark to say all our Christmases had come at once? Okay, there was a tiny bit of bias as the nail varnish we had spent the last eight weeks trying to source (Essie Rose Bowl - the best red/pink known to man), just rolled right out of the box, but that was just for starters, because it was joined by a full size Sleek Makeup Blush to die for and not a tiny little sample size either – proper retail sizes that even after weeks of use are still going strong. Yes we’re seriously impressed with the Glossy Box offering, plus the boxes are beautiful (not to mention FAB for storing receipts). You can either choose a monthly rolling subscription or prepay at three price points: £27 for a three month plan, £50 for a six month plan or £100 for a full year.

If you’re a fan of natural and organic products then Amarya is your destination domain; a seriously luxe eco-alternative to the boxes from the big players. Highlighting the extensive demand for samples with an altruistic edge, the range comes at three subscription levels; monthly (£12.50 including postage and packaging), monthly local (no postage but you’ll have to pick it up from the shop) and then yearly at £150 (great for a gift or a serious slew of brownie points). The two boxes we tested were replete with samples we just wanted more of; fresh potent smelling Alison Claire Remarkable (bio-natural beauty) Mango Body Butter, Truly Natural Bodycare samples from Blend Collective (packed with pure essential oils), not to mention Essential Care’s Organic Avocado Replenishing Cream (a dream product if ever there was one), though these were joined by a myriad of other options that won’t leave you with any environmental angst (respect is also due for Amarya’s minimal packaging; exactly in keeping with their brand ethos). All round a very impressive contribution.

Are you an avid beauty junkie? Do you hound sales assistants for all the latest testers? Hate the blackjack-like approach of investing in a product before you’re 100% sure about it? Then you will love Latest in Beauty, the site that rounds up all the best samples, profiles you (with a little help) and then sends you a carefully curated selection. The selection we tested was the Anti Ageing Beauty Bible Box; £90 worth of products at the ridiculously altruistic price of £19.99, and that certainly isn’t some jumped up sales moniker, because these are HIGH TECH, HIGH PERFORMANCE samples - tested and retested by all manner of mature women (over the course of several weeks no less), all exactly the right age and skin type targeted by said product. If they haven’t vetoed it, it doesn’t make it into the box. Stand out items include the Temple Skin Truffle Total Face Rejuvenation; (oh my lord, what this does to your skin with one application is just beyond the realms of science) and the Elemis Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser (that goes to places other cleansers can only dream of going). It’s also worth saying that due to the potency of the ingredients, a little of these products goes a long way; even a 15ml size serving can be eked out over two to three weeks. Purchase luxury samples as and when you want them. Three words summarise our relationship to Latest in Beauty – like, love, want.
Alice Kahrmann, May 2013.