Too Good to Be True? Glamlin - Personalized Online Beauty Consultant Tested (and Why I Dislike Subscription Boxes)

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a Finnish beauty box subscription company and asked if I would like to try their new service called "Glamlin". I've never subscribed or even tried any beauty "surprise" boxes, but Glamlin* seemed freshly different: it's an online service where you create a personal profile and have a live chat with a beauty consultant to find the perfect 4-5 full-size makeup or/and skincare products for you. After receiving the parcel you can decide which products to keep. Now, I'm not a big fan of unboxing blog posts, but after giving it some thought I decided to try the service: after all it was something I hadn't encountered before. Today I'm reviewing their service, but also sharing a little rant related to beauty box subscription services in general.

Glamlin beauty box

My Problem with subscription and surprise boxes

I'll explain my scepticism with Glamlin: I don't really care for surprise boxes. My biggest nightmare is to end up with a pile of products from brands I don't care for (1st world problems haha) – and I admit being quite prejudiced when it comes to 90% of beauty brands. My main dislikes are "ugly" graphics, stupid copywriting or unrealistic claims or I just getting "cheap" vibe from them. I feel like I judge brands from every category (luxury, indie, eco, drug store etc), which makes me skip some very well liked cult products as well. It's silly, I know, but I can't help it!

Secondly, I find unboxing related content quite boring if it doesn't include full-sized items and a proper review or a first impression. Watching plain shopping hauls is my choice of 'junk food' and at least I get to hear the motivation behind purchases, which I find interesting. I do admit having a soft spot for Japanese fukubukuro (福袋) or lucky bag content, where you are getting double, triple, quadruplethe.. amount for what you paid for. Usually it's clothes, but can be toys, merchandise, even for pets! I did try the Beautylish lucky bag (review here) a year ago and although I liked my bag I didn't run and purchase another this year. Why? It was a great quality box with great quality items.. but I sold 1/3. I don't need more makeup atm and I sure won't need anyone to blindly choose it for me.

I want to emphasis I'm not dissing anyone who enjoys a subscription box - if that's your monthly treat, "a present for yourself" then by all means – go for it. Maybe you know better subscription boxes than I do. But in my eyes it looks like many customers are buying in advance a pile of stuff you "didn't know you needed" aka. you DON'T really need! Some of the stuff may end up unused and you're constantly giving in to unnecessary consumption. No-one needs more testers, samples and mini size products laying around "for travelling", trying to lure you in to buy more.

Ranting aside, let's talk about Glamlin.

Glamlin beauty box service

About Glamlin service in a nutshell

The idea of Glamlin* sounds both innovative and interesting: their focus is choosing personalized products for you, which you can either purchase or return if you're not fully satisfied. First, you'll fill an online inquiry about your age, skin type, concerns, what type of products are you looking for etc. The form is fairly simple to fill, but nicely comprehensive as it asks your preferences from disliked brands to wanting only eco products. You'll also select a total budget for your box (the shipping and returns are free!).

Secondly, you'll have a chat with a beauty consultant (esthetician) on Messenger, Whatsapp, what have you. The consultant will ask you additional questions and you may further explain what you're looking for. After the chat you'll get a box within a week with 4-5 full size products. The "surprise unboxing" is just a cherry on the top when your items arrive.. and I gotta say it was quite fun. You'll only pay for the (unopened) products you want to keep, the rest you may return for free. Glamlin gives you a -10% discount if you choose to keep all items. If you want to return everything, you pay 27€ "consultation fee".

Glamlin beauty box
Glamlin beauty box

My Glamlin experience

I honestly doubted an online inquiry would be much use as I'm very picky and particular when it comes to beauty products. I decided to be quite specific with my form: I ticked off all color makeup and asked for a light base product, moisturizer and serum instead. I listed some brands I didn't like and eco beauty is a plus, but not a must. To get a good foundation match I listed some of my shades from other brands (I'm about MAC NC15). Filling the form took me about ~5 minutes. Ida, the Glamlin esthetician/beauty consultant, contacted me the same night via Messenger, which I was very happy about! She asked quite specific questions related to my skin, ie. how I experience the dryness, any acne problems and so on. Finally I sent her a couple of photographs of my face. She sounded a bit distant but very professional online. The chat took about 15mins max. Then I had to just wait!

I received my parcel in less than a week (7 days was their estimate) and I couldn't contain my excitement. It was very much fun to open the box and find out what was inside. Even Kiko, my maine coon kitten, enjoyed the opening process.. by trying to eat the filling. The inside box was beautiful millenial pink color with a big black satin bow and the items were wrapped with black silk paper. Talk about attention to detail! It was like receiving a Christmas present, except my Christmas presents were fairly boring (a kettle, toothpaste, vitamins) compared to this box. I recognized the brands only by name, but the items were just what I had wished for: a light foundation, a serum, an eye cream and a moisturizer.

All items were sealed with small tape and had some instructions intact with rubber band. I really liked the instructions as they seemed like useful tips how to use the products and I could proceed testing them without trying to read the small print or sales jargon on the packaging. Personalized pamphlet with more instructions, product list and pricing is a big plus in my book. Here's what I got including the with prices (listed in the pamphlet):

Diego Dalla Palma Vitamin C Radiance Serum – 44,70€
Patyka Neroli Face Cream – 42€
Absolution Le Soin Regard (eye cream) 39,60€
Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish Mousse Makeup (foundation) in Sparkling Blush – 47€

Total price of the box: 173,30€ (-10% if you purchase all items)
My budget for the box: 180€

I've used the products for little over the week now and I'm quite liking them. I was very dubious of the foundation as I had seen a bad review on YouTube. If this wasn't a PR package I would probably had sent it back. I had told about my neutral undertones but this shade, 'Sparkling Blush', comes out very pink - but - there's a but: it blends into my skin, so I'll keep testing. The Absolution eye cream I've loved, it feels very nicely light but cooling and hydrating at the same time. Patyka's cream has been nice and packaged very well, but feels some basic to me.. you know, I'm picky. I will do a double-check on the ingredients and use it a little longer before I decide. Same goes with testing the Vitamin C serum, I'm giving it some more time. I dislike it's a dropper bottle, but Ida the consultant read my thoughts as I was in the need of a new Vitamin C serum! After ~a week she even emailed me asking if I had enjoyed the box and if there was anything else she could help me with.

All in all.. I liked this service.

Glamlin beauty box

Final verdict

Here's the burning question: would I recommend the Glamlin* service?

YES – if you are new to beauty, look for specific items and want someone to help you picking products. If you are busy, live far away from a beauty counter/department store or have a general dislike to visiting them in person, but want individualized service and instructions how to use your products. An excellent gift idea for someone.

NO - if you are a beauty addict with a lot of products, have strong sense of specific likes/dislikes and hate the element of surprise. Not for someone with very sensitive skin or hard-to-find undertones.

I think I'm the second category myself as I have a fair amount of beauty products AND I am quite picky. I rarely pick up anything if it hasn't be recommended to me first. With Glamlin I got to try 4 new brands I haven't heard too much about (except for Elizabeth Arden's 8 Hour Cream) and I'm pleased! In the end I probably wouldn't reorder this service as I'm too much of a control-freak with never-ending wish list, but I can see how many would enjoy Glamlin. There's zero samples or unused items laying around, no hidden fees. The whole experience was simple but very personalized with a touch of glam, which I love. I'm sure they will develop the service even further.

What do you think about this kind of a service? Are you a fan of beauty 'surprise' or subscription boxes?

EDIT: Later, I ended up feeling a big “mehh” about the products and didn’t repurchase any of them.

*Glamlin service was kindly gifted for tested and review, my thoughts are unbiased and my own.
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