So, before everyone starts shouting at me in the comments, yes, I know this is not a beauty or style blog. But, as a youngish lady experimenting with style and all that good stuff, I’ve found that I really enjoy trying out makeup and different makeup looks every once in a while. Now, I’m not super knowledgeable about all the different products and techniques, and, let’s face it, makeup can be expensive, and even if something looks cool in the store, you probably don’t want to spend money on it if it might not work for you.
So in October or November of last year, I purchased three month’s worth of Glam Bags from a service called ipsy. ipsy is supposed to help people discover new makeup products by sending you five curated makeup and skincare samples or products every month for you to try out. Like I said, I’m not always confident in committing to different products, for fear of spending hard-earned money on something that will look horrible on me (which has happened before), so this seemed like the perfect solution. The bags are only ten dollars a month, so trying them out for three months seemed like a safe plan.
Now, the three months are over, and I’ve received all my ipsy products. There have been some I like, and some I don’t, and overall I have enjoyed the service, and might consider using it again sometime. But all this time, there’s been a little question nagging away at the back of my mind.
Is ipsy worth it?
How many of the individual items in each bag are, in fact, only sample sizes? How much would you pay for a full size item? When you break down the numbers and add everything up, factoring in what products you like and use, and what products you didn’t, are the ipsy Glam Bags really worth that $10 fee? I’ve had my suspicion from the beginning that ipsy might be just sending everyone cheap sample-size products. But is that really the case?
To find out, I’ve decided to do a little bit of sleuthing through online makeup retailers, Amazon, and ipsy itself in order to find out, so that I can definitively tell you whether or not ipsy is worth it…
Let’s dive right in!
December Glam Bag
Promise Organic Nourishing Coconut Milk Daily Facial Scrub with Walnuts and Sugar: A cute little travel-sized exfoliating scrub. I already own a black sugar and activated charcoal scrub which I absolutely love, but this product is also very nice, if it does have a bit of a sticky consistency, and good for travel when you don’t want to lug a big bottle of scrub everywhere. I did find out that this is a sample size and contains 0.75 oz of product. The full size bottle contains 3 oz of product and retails for $9.99 at CVS.
- Smashbox Cosmetics Be Legendary Lipstick in Legendary: I know Smashbox is a more expensive brand, and so it was neat to be able to try out one of their lipsticks without having to pay an arm and a leg. The lipstick is actually a rather bright, orange-red shade, which isn’t really my thing, but it lasted very well and didn’t fade when I wore it, even when I ate a couple of cookies, so it definitely stays put! Sample size, and the packaging does feel a little flimsy, but this weighs in at 2.4 grams, whereas the full size is 3 grams and retails for $21.00(!) on the Smashbox website.
- Pixie by Petra Mesmerizing Mineral Duo in Orchid Ornament: Both these eyeshadows look gorgeous in the pan, but unfortunately the darker purply one doesn’t have very much pigment at all. I do love the champagne shade, however, and have been using it a lot. This is definitely my favorite product from this bag. Unfortunately, this little duo is an ipsy exclusive sample, so it was difficult to find the shadows on Pixi’s website in order to compare sizes and prices. I did find this Mesmerizing Mineral Palette in Plum Quartz, which appears to contain both these shades. The Mineral Duo is sample sized, and weighs in at 1.5 grams. The palette contains an additional four full-sized shadows, weighs in at 5.76 grams, and retails for $12.00 on the Pixi website.
- Luxie Beauty Precision Shader Onyx Brush 239: A simple, nice eyeshadow brush, meant for working shadow into the crease of the eyelid. Unfortunately, the ‘super soft’ synthetic bristles aren’t quite as soft as they seem, but the brush seems to work well with most of my shadows. The Onyx colored brush seems to be exclusive to ipsy, but the same 239 brush in Rose Gold retails for $14.00 on Luxie’s website.
- Lottie London Lottie Lacquer in Riot: A gorgeous, slightly metallic blue nail polish. I love the color, love the finish, and next time I do my nails I’m definitely using this color. Unfortunately, this lovely shade appears to be an ipsy exclusive, but most of Lottie’s polishes retail for £5.99 on their website (or $8.33)
Was This Bag Worth It?
Just by looking at some of these prices, you can already see that I saved a bunch of money by paying the $10 for an ipsy bag instead of buy all of these products individually. In fact, paying for all these products individually would have cost me $65.32! (That’s factoring in the $12.00 for the whole Pixi palette.) Even cutting out the bright red lipstick and the scrub, which I probably wouldn’t buy of my own volition, I saved over $20.00 and got a couple of exclusive colors thrown in. With 3 out of 5 items that I enjoyed and would consider purchasing again, and several products from good quality, well known brands, it looks like ipsy is off to a good start…
January Glam Bag
- Ciate London Fierce Flicks Liquid Eyeliner: The sad thing is that this is a super nice liquid felt tip liner, but… I just cannot for the life of me apply eyeliner properly. I’m probably going to be gifting this to one of my friends who loves experimenting with makeup, as she’ll get way more use out of it than I would. I was quite surprised to find that this full-sized liner retails for $19.00 on the Ciate London website.
- Global Beauty Care Charcoal Wash Off Mask: I love this mask. It’s a really nice, gentle cleansing mask for days when I just need that little skin pick-me-up, but don’t want to use a harsh scrub. I would definitely consider purchasing a full-size when I run out. This sample size sachet and contains a pretty generous 1 oz of product, which I have yet to run out of. The full 5 oz size retails for $9.99 on the Global Beauty Care website.
- Dirty Little Secret Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Sangria: This was probably one of my favorite items from this month’s bag. Sangria is a super intense, shimmery pink shade, and while maybe not something I’d pick out for myself at the store, I’m glad I got to try it because I really like it! This full size eyeshadow single weighs in at 1.5 grams, and retails for $12.00 (!) on the DSL website.
- Vasanti Cosmetics Professional Contour Eyeshadow Brush: A very nice, slim eyeshadow brush for blending and fluffing out color. All the brushes I received in my ipsy bags seem to be very good quality, and haven’t broken up or shed any hairs. This itty-bitty brush retails for a whopping $22.00 on the Vasanti website.
- Hola Neon Velvet Liquid Lipstick in DF: This is the first liquid lipstick I’ve ever owned and… I don’t like it. I’m not a fan of the color (it has odd brownish-purple undertones that just don’t look good on my face) and the lipstick itself goes on unpleasantly oily and dries down sticky. The formula also smells a bit like rubber or plastic, which gives me a headache, and the packaging feels super cheap. This is just a no-go for me. This product retails for $17.00 on the Hola Neon website.
Was This Bag Worth It?
There were several products in this bag that I love, and several that I just don’t like. However, it is interesting to note just how much this $10 bag was worth: it would have cost me $79.99 to purchase all these products myself. Some of these individual products do seem over priced, however, and there are only two that I would consider buying again; namely the DSL Eyeshadow in Sangria and the Charcoal Wash Off Mask from Global Beauty Care, meaning that I only saved about $12 (and probably more like $9, as the Charcoal Mask is only a sample size). Even though I enjoyed three of these products, and would consider purchasing two of them again, this definitely wasn’t my favorite bag.
February Glam Bag
- Clinique Moisture Surge 72 Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator: I was pretty excited about this product, but when it came I saw that it was a teeny-tiny little sample size tube, and felt a little disappointed. This product’s claims also seem kind of gimmicky; there was no way I could tell if it was still moisturizing my skin after 72 hours. The product is okay; it feels nice on the skin and sinks in quickly, but there’s no way it can replace my Nature’s Aid Skin Gel, which I use all the time and would highly recommend if you’re looking for a nice, natural moisturizer. The Clinique Hydrator is a 7 ml sample size. There are 4 different full-sized products, ranging from a 15 ml jar for $12.00 to a 75 ml jar for $52.50.
- F. A. R. A. H. Brushes Large Angled Contour Brush 30F: A very cute, high quality brush with nice soft bristles. I don’t do a lot of contouring, and I’m not very good at it, but this brush honestly seems a little too round and fluffy to really lay down a precise line of contour. I think it might work a little better as a powder or blending brush. The bristles just aren’t packed tight enough to do a good job at contouring the face. This brush retails for $12.00 on the F. A. R. A. H. Brushes website.
- Sand and Sky Brilliant Skin Pink Clay Mask: I’d actually been seeing this mask all over Instagram, and I was very excited to try it. Unfortunately, the little sample-size bottle arrived only half full of product. I’m not sure if this is intentional, or if it just wasn’t filled up quite enough by accident? Either way, I didn’t want to use the whole thing up by trying it out on my entire face, so I just used a bit on my nose, and actually saw immediate results. The mask dries quickly and washes off very easily, and left my nose smooth and brightened, and also got rid of a bunch of pesky little blackheads, which was very nice. I’m not sure if I’ll be purchasing a full size of this mask, as unfortunately it is quite expensive, but it was very nice to be able to try it out, even though I didn’t get a full tube. This sample size Pink Clay Mask contains 0.45 oz, while the full size jar contains 1.96 oz of product and retails for $49.00(!)
- Beaute Basics Eyeshadow in Sweet Taffy: I was really excited about this eyeshadow, as it looks absolutely gorgeous in the pan. But it was somehow very difficult to get any color on the eyelid. I had to use a damp brush to get any results at all, and even then it doesn’t show up very much. I’m wondering if it would be better to pat this shadow on with your fingertips in order to get more color out of it? The formula is very smooth and buttery to the touch, but it just doesn’t have enough pigment on the eye when used with a brush. This eyeshadow single retails for $14.99 on Beaute Basics’ website.
- Pink Pewter Lash But Not Least Dual Sided Mascara in Black: It’s honestly kind of hard for me to figure out what to say about this mascara, because there are things about it that I love, but also things that I really don’t like. Let’s start with the dual sided thing: I honestly think it’s a gimmick. Yes, the ‘curling mascara’ side does give my lashes a bit of a curl and a nice coat of color, but the ‘voluminous mascara’ side doesn’t really seem to do anything. The wands you use to apply the mascara are also really fat and kind of unwieldy, especially on the voluminous side, and I get little flakes of mascara on my eyelid near the lashline, which is kind of annoying. The mascara doesn’t transfer to my lower eyelids, though, which is a problem I have with my other mascara, but the formula on Pink Pewter’s product is just… inconsistent. Sometimes it’ll apply really nice on one eye, and terribly on the other. I think there are better products out there, and I wouldn’t repurchase this mascara, but it does okay, and the formula, when you can get it to work properly, is quite nice. This Lash But Not Least Mascara retails for $20.00 on the Pink Pewter website.
Was This Bag Worth It?
To get full-sizes of all the products in the bag, it would cost at least $107.99, and even more if you got a larger jar of the Clinique Hydrator. But, honestly, some of these products just seem very overpriced considering their quality, and the only thing I would even consider repurchasing would be the Pink Clay Mask, which is the most expensive thing on this list (and probably rightly so, because it does actually work). So while I do kind of like some of the things from this bag, I don’t like most of them enough to buy them again, which is… kind of disappointing. I did notice that ipsy listened to my feedback with this bag, and didn’t send me any lipstick or eyeliner, so it looks like they do listen to your reviews and ratings. However, the quality of some of the products, and the amount that ended up in the samples, leaves something to be desired.
Conclusion: Is ipsy Worth It?
From a purely monetary standpoint, ipsy’s $10 a month fee is absolutely worth it. I paid $30 for three months of Glam Bags, and received 15 product worth well over $200. In all honestly, I really expected ipsy to send cheap little samples from low-quality brands I’ve never heard of. I didn’t expect full-size products or anything from well-known brands like Smashbox or Sand and Sky. But ipsy really lives up to their promises. Nothing I received was worth less than $8, (except maybe for that tiny Clinique sample) and much of what I received I enjoyed and will continue using, even if I don’t end up repurchasing the item later on. While researching the costs of these items, I kept getting sticker-shock from just how much this makeup costs. You really have to wonder just where and how ipsy makes their money. Paying $10 for bags consistently worth over $50 just seems too good to be true, even if it isn’t.
But how much did I enjoy these bags? Was it worth it for me?
I don’t really know. The excitement and anticipation of receiving five new products every month is, of course, enjoyable, but there’s always that let down if what you get doesn’t work well for you. And I don’t think I would get ipsy all year round. If you want to treat yourself for a few months, or if you’re kind of new to makeup and want to try out a bunch of different things without having to spend tons of money on stuff you might not like, I would definitely recommend ipsy as an inexpensive way to do that. I may treat myself to one or two more bags sometime in a future, but I think it’s more of a ‘treat yourself’ thing than an ‘every month, all year round’ kind of thing.
Thanks for reading my little review of the ipsy monthly Glam Bags! Have you ever tried ipsy? Are you considering trying it in the future? Are you as shocked as I am at those crazy makeup prices??? Let’s chat in the comments!
See you all again soon!