Subscription Sampler Boxes: Bella Box and Vanity Trove

Two sampler boxes arrived on my doorstep last December, both bearing makeup and skincare samples. These taster sets are two of the seemingly many sampler boxes that are receiving renewed interest in Singapore. This is not a new concept to the beauty aficionado but it seems to be gaining more prominence here, thanks in part to the spiffy presentation of the boxes.

The idea is simple: For a monthly subscription fee, the companies that send out these boxes make available to the subscriber beauty brands (obscure or mainstream) to try. These products can be as ordinary as sample sachets or as generous as a full-sized item. Often, they are deluxe-sized ones that yield more than a few uses. The subscription fee varies but as a whole, the boxes are value for money, if you calculate the products by weight/volume.

Bella Box December 2011 had a nice offering with a mixture of skincare and makeup, among other treats.

In the box were a Sothys discount voucher, Sothys skincare samples, a Faust’s Potion energy shot, a mini OPI nail lacquer, full-sized Eyelure false lashes and a full-sized Savoir Faire lipstick. The company also included a bag of jelly beans.

I do appreciate Bella Box’s thematic touch – this box, ‘Party in Style’, was put together specifically for the festive period (masks and skincare to take away post-party pallor + makeup for the holiday season).

The pièce de résistance was the full-sized Savoir Faire Lipstick in Risqué (AUD$48) with an engraved metal case. The sleek casing clicks into place securely with magnetic attraction and its heft underscores its luxe look.

The brand is new to me but I learnt that it is based in Australia. The lipstick is surprisingly made in China, though.

The company has revamped its beauty box for 2012 – more compact and environmentally-friendly (it has done away with the decorative crinkly paper shreds), this new packaging for the new year reminds me of the classy Jo Malone boxes.

Here’s a peek at the products that have gone into the January 2011 Bella Box, ‘A New Year, A New You’, with an emphasis on BB creams (Dr Jart and The Face Shop) and other skincare products. I’m particularly curious about the Pangea Organics Ecocentric lip balm (grapefruit + sweet orange = wow!).

The visual is deceptive, though: Not everything pictured is included in the box (each Bella Box usually only contains 5 products and the contents/shades in the boxes vary), plus not all the products inside are full-sized. That said, the lip balm itself is worth US$12, which is close to the cost of the subscription fee.

The Bella Box products, together with others from the featured brands, are available on the Bella Box SG website for purchase. The company also offers niche brand products such as the popular Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCC) Lip Tars.

Vanity Trove December 2011 was quite different from the Bella Box – it had several skincare products and no makeup at all.

In the box was a Skin Inc $50 gift voucher (applicable on purchases of S$150 and above), two SnailStreet sheet masks and five deluxe-sized samples from Lancôme, SK-II and Skin Inc. It also contained a bag of Dann’s Daily Café organic coffee beans whose lovely aroma permeated the box. The Vanity Trove SG website doesn’t seem to carry any of these brands for sale and is probably only a platform for introducing these brands/products to the Singapore market.

In the case of Lancôme and SK-II, subscribers are able to try high-end skincare at a lower cost, compared to purchasing such deluxe-sized products from neighbourhood beauty shops at a higher price. These items are available as gifts with purchase or even upon request at the counters (if you’re lucky!), so they might not appeal to some.

Here’s Vanity Trove’s January 2012 box which includes Yadah Angel Liptint, a makeup item. It also contains skincare items from the same brand, as well as Clinique, Olivella and Leaders Clinic.

Are subscription beauty boxes for me? I’m not entirely sure but I’m inclined to say no. They are beautifully packaged and can be a lovely treat (present pleasure!), plus I like receiving mail surprises. However, they are a form of beauty Russian roulette (or tikam tikam, in local parlance) – I’ll never know what I’m going to get! This means I could be receiving either delights or duds…the latter being unavoidable and not too welcome, given my desire to cull my burgeoning stash. I’m also not one for samples and have given away boxes of them to friends and family; I prefer full-sized items, unless it’s something I’ve been wanting to try.

Nevertheless, if you enjoy receiving beauty mail and trying clutches of samples, these affordable boxes are worth considering. They also make great gifts for friends. In Singapore, Bella Box has a monthly subscription fee of S$15, while Vanity  Trove’s is S$25.

Image sources: Bella Box SG and Vanity Trove SG


  • Sam says:

    These are starting to take off in Australia too. Like you, I’m not sure – I have far too much stuff from brands I know I love!

  • tabby says:

    Hi mag, I had no idea that Singapore had these things! I was always so envious when people on YouTube talked about their birchbox goodies :) I love makeup surprises but not Skincare as much =\ think I’ll try them for a while :) are there any other similar services like these? :)

  • Kas says:

    Awwww! You got the red Savoir Faire lipstick! mine is the pale pale pink which would require 5 times the work :( Agree with you on the concept of the tikam tikam and I worry for the duds (duds as in unsuitable for me) too but its exciting nonetheless! :)

  • Aud says:

    I just got my first Bellabox as well and am also undecided if this is my kind of tikam tikam :) $15 isn’t much but it’s still $.

  • makeupmag says:

    Hey Sam,

    Exactly. But it’s not a bad thing being exposed to more brands, I suppose! :)

  • makeupmag says:

    Hello Tabby,

    Thanks for reminding me of Birch Box! I now recall there being a TesTube beauty box or something like that in the States.

    There’s also Glamabox which seems to carry skincare brands that are sold at Sasa.

  • makeupmag says:

    Hey Kas,

    You can use the lipstick to tone down deeper shades.

    I love receiving beauty mail – these boxes can be nice perk-me-ups, plus they’re so well packaged. One positive thing -> the good brands they carry. At least subscribers are assured of the quality of the products inside.

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