The beauty box business is a tough one with customers expecting value for money and new products to try. Roccabox recently increased their subscription prices to £15 a month plus £3.95 shipping, making a total of £18.95 a month from the previous £10, plus £3.95 shipping. A number of subscribers were shocked at the 50% increase, including myself, but it came with a promise of more upmarket brands and more full sizes.
I’d only ever purchased one monthly box and several limited editions, and the odd mystery box before, and I’ve been very happy with the selections, and the customer service too (I had a few missing boxes, but it was dealt with), and the feedback on social media was mixed, with many wanting to see a full reveal before they subscribed, and I don’t blame them.
Roccabox hosed a live on Instagram to address the price increase and to answer questions, and they were very honest and upfront about the reasons, and said they would honour the prepaid packages. I was impressed by their honesty, and the fact that it wasn’t contrived or pretentious with any excuses, and on that basis, I chose to support the company and buy a 3 month subscription. I got my box, that arrived quickly and read some of the feedback from other subscribers, and I’ve waited a few days to write this review because of this. People fall into two camps – they love surprises and trying out new products so they don’t really care what’s in the box, and those who want products to try that are useful. I fall into the latter category, because I have boxes full of items that are useless (and no one wants to buy them either) and lots of items I like that I am using up.
Roccabox said, prepare to be wowed, but is that the case? Sadly, I wasn’t wowed, but I’ve had far worse beauty boxes too. People keep mentioning the retail value of the box, but that to be frank is irrelevant if the box contains niche high value items that most people wouldn’t buy. It’s a false economy if the items aren’t much use. For example, a bottle of moisturiser that costs £70 in the store would cost the store £24 plus VAT at wholesale prices, so the company still makes profit from the £24 which would be about 50%. These are real figures from a company I used to work for, where we were allowed to buy at wholesale prices (discounted too), and so beauty box companies can bulk buy at discounts in exchange for PR.
The September Roccabox costs £15 plus £3.95 shipping, and is available as a monthly rolling subscription. Previously, you could cancel before the 1st of the next month, but now you must do so by the 20th of the month.
Here is what is inside the box:
- Paul Yacomine ~ 8Hour Detox Hair Oil Mask/ Full size, 50ml @£28
- Jecca Blac ~ Hydrate Primer/ Full size, 20ml @£16
- Emma Hardie ~ Moringa Cleansing Gel/ Travel size 15ml @£7.50
- Laritzy Lipgloss ~ Full size @£12
- BYBI Beauty ~ Super Greens Purifying Face Mask/Full Size, 60 ml @£20
- Lunar Glow ~ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Acid Serum/ Full size, 30ml @£12
Perceived value £95.50.
Beauty boxes will always be a hit with some and a miss with others, and most will be halfway. Out of the products, I will use 3 of them, and the other 3 will be gifted to others, as while I could use them, I’m not interested in them and it would be a waste.
First off, the best product was the Emma Hardie Moringa cleansing gel which was the smallest item. If this had been a full size, this would no doubt have changed the minds of those who were disappointed. I use the cleansing balm, so this is basically a liquid version of the product, but you must be generous when using it so as not to drag the skin. You can use it morning and night, and it cleanses well, but a 15 ml tube only lasts a few days (day and night), and a cleanser is an item that everyone uses, so it would have made more sense to have a full sized cleanser in the box. If you are stuck between the gel and cleansing balm, I would go for the balm for a deep cleanse. I also look for quality and effectiveness of a product, as well as value for money, and the Lacura (Aldi) cleansing balm, priced at £6.99 for a 90g jar works as well as this product.
Next is the Laritzy lipgloss, which I got in Old Rose. It’s an okay brand, and while the colours do suit all, it’s not one I would choose, but it makes a nice gift at least for someone this Christmas. The same came be said for Jecca Blac and the hydrating primer, as I don’t use primers as if you have good skin, all it does is add an extra layer on the skin. Some people like it, but I find less is best when congesting the skin these days. I have to say I was quite horrified to read that someone would suggest ditching their moisturiser for the primer – never do that, because a mosituriser and primer have different functions (one to feed the skin, and the other to create a smooth surface on the skin), and while it feels hydrating, it doesn’t mean it is hydrating.
As soon as I saw the words hair oil and mask, I frowned and I will admit I may not be the best person to review this as I don’t like hair masks or hair oils. Retailing at £28 for a full sized bottle (50ml) that is good for one use (there is a pull opener so you can’t reseal it), just reading the instructions (from the Paul Yacomine website and back of the bottle) is enough to stress you out! You have to leave the bottle in warm water for 10 minutes, then apply to clean slightly damp hair, then leave overnight (cover your pillows and bedsheets) and then rinse out the next morning. Yes, it’s a treatment, but it takes up a fair amount of time, and if you have hair problems then it might be worth it for a treatment at home. I’m impatient, and when I have used hair masks I’m itching to rinse them out, and is more of a niche product that not everyone will use or buy, nor have the time to use.
I tried the BYBI Beauty super greens purifying mask, again a niche product that is suitable for oily and congested skins. It was nice and easy to use, and it did bring out a couple of spots, but this is a product that will take me ages to use up and would have been better as a deluxe sample size, because not everyone uses masks. While it won’t do any harm to other skin types, it’s not going to benefit those with dry or dehydrated skin as it is a detox and clarifying mask who are better off with a hydrating mask.
The last product is the Lunar Glow Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid serum which is a full sized 30ml bottle that retails at £12. I’ve used this a few times and it’s pleasant and leave a nice film, but in all honesty IMHO, this is a hydration booster and not a serum, where you expect a serum to have active ingredients to fortify the skin. I would say this is a nice basic booster for those who aren’t looking for anything active, but want some extra hydration in the skin. The price of the product already tells you that the percentage of active ingredients is low, and it’s not much different from the Hyaluronic Acid from The Ordinary that I use from time to time. This isn’t for those who are looking for anti-aging properties in a serum.
My overall verdict is that I wasn’t wowed, but I wasn’t disappointed either as I can use half the products. In all honesty, they aren’t additions to my routine, but products I feel I have to use up now that I have opened them bar the cleansing gel which has been used up. The products seem to have been selected from favourites of the team, and that isn’t always a good thing, because there is a belief that just because you like it others will. At least 3 items were niche items that not everyone would use.
Would I have bought this box for £18.95 after seeing the full reveal (I paid £13.95 as part of a 3 month subscription)? Probably not, because half the items were of no interest to me. Some have said that the box didn’t appear to that much different from the boxes priced at £10, and I agree as the quality of the boxes have been good recently. On their social media channels they do listen to feedback, but what they must also accept is that many who are dissatisfied won’t say anything and will cancel, or simply not buy again. Not everyone has time to post a comment, and those who do criticize tend to get attacked by other posters, and no one should be attacked for expressing a view and an opinion. That tends to be the culture these days, and that puts people off valuable feedback that companies do need.
While I understand the price of the box had to increase at some point (as other companies have, or put up the price of shipping), I think Roccabox would have been better introducing a £2 price increase, and I think (from my years of experience) most customers would have accepted it and not cancelled their subscriptions. It is about optics, and a box that costs £15.95 is closer to the £15 mark, versus £18.95 which is closer to £20. You may think it makes little difference, but after a decade of dealing and selling to customers face to face, the price point can make or break a sale, and tactics of saying how much you saved rarely matters. It’s how much change you get from a £20 note, and if you get closer to to a fiver, people are more likely to have bought and stayed as subscribers. Customer retention is as important if not more so than attracting new customers. Once you have lost a loyal customer, it’s very hard to get them back, while new customers will be fickle and their custom can’t be guaranteed.
You can order a roccabox from roccabox.co.uk. There are other prepayment plans available; 3, 6, and 12 month plans where you can save up to £3 per box. The rolling monthly subscription is £15 plus £3.95 per month, and if you wish to cancel do so by 20th or you will be charged for the next month. They also have Rocca Rewards where you get 25 points for each order and once you get to 600, you get a free mystery box which I have claimed (you get 300 points for your birthday)!
I will still support Roccabox, but will probably stick to a mystery box or a limited edition after my subscription ends. I have another box before my subscription ends, so perhaps that will wow me?