The Gloss Report: Subscription boxes

25 June 2016
Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

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The Gloss Report: Subscription Boxes

From the excitement of opening the box when it's delivered through to the timesaving ease that the contents can give; lifestyle subscription boxes can have many benefits but with so many on the market, which ones are actually worth spending your money on and which one is actually right for you?

With boxes to make your snacking healthier, your beauty regime more vegan friendly, your meal times easier and your 'time of the month' that bit less painful, we've tried and tested a selection and given our honest reviews on which are worth giving a go.

Click through the gallery to find out what we thought...

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Buy online , £18.95 a month

The promise: A snacking service designed to work wonders on your wellbeing.

We give it: 10/10

Review: "Snacking is my biggest vice and opting for something on the healthier side of the spectrum can be incredibly difficult when faced with the sheer amount of choice on the shelves in a supermarket. SourcedBox, the new healthy, natural snack box founded by Niomi Smart and Marcus Butler, have cut that step out of the equation and are now my go-to for a desk side treat to curb the mid-afternoon slump. I love trying new things, and SourcedBox has definitely encouraged that. It may not last me the whole month, but I've only got myself to blame for that as I can't quite restrain myself from eating it super quickly. My picks from this month's box are Sweet Virtues’ Lime and Chia Truffles alongside Chika’s Salted Plantain Crisps - they’re so delicious I don’t find myself heading for the biscuit tin..."

Reviewer: LP

3 / 15

Gousto Recipe Box

Buy online , from £27.49 a box

The promise: Everything you need to cook delicious recipes, delivered weekly

We give it: 7.5/10

Review: "I absolutely love to cook. I love spending time in the evening making a delicious and healthy meal to finish my day but the biggest difficulty that I always come across is deciding what to make! Once I finally decide, creating the right portion size also becomes an issue. I find I always make far too much and that alongside my current daily food shopping routine means I can waste a lot."

“Gousto is a recipe subscription box and it’s perfect for helping combat all my kitchen woes. It’s super easy - firstly, it asks you to select how many people you’re cooking for and how many meals you want. Then it asks you to select the meals. On delivery day, the box arrives in woolcool packaging to keep your food fresh. But the best bit? What’s inside! The recipe cards and quality pre-portioned ingredients look incredible and leave you with the difficult decision of which dish to try first. Not every dish will be for everyone, but that comes with the territory when cooking a new dish. My highlight? The Glamorgan patties! It’s not necessarily 100% healthy, but it really was a treat…”

Reviewer: LP

4 / 15


Buy online , £21.95 a month

The promise: Lifebox is part of the here to stay Wellness Revolution. Delivering current AND wannabe “healthies” with the latest super health foods, clean eats and refreshments, providing a convenient and affordable way of discovering new and delicious wholefoods.

We give it: 6/10

Review: "An avid fan of anything that promises to deliver super stuff to my doorstep I was delighted, on opening, to find that the Life Box, is absolutely choc full of goodness. From Smokin’ Coconut Pecks and Courgette and Cacao Granola to Green Chai and Super Blend Proteins this box has everything you need to get through your mid-afternoon munchies without falling completely off the health wagon. The only trouble is… I didn’t have mid-afternoon munchies before opening this box!"

"I’m not blaming it of course, it’s my distinct lack of willpower and the delicious mix of Coconut Fudge Cake and Tea Biscuits that have kept me grazing these past few weeks. The box itself is uncomplicated and comes tied with a handwritten note from the team reminding me to “glow like a superhero this summer…” which is a nice touch. I’d recommend this box if you’re looking for a healthy treat, though I’m not sure it’s something I’d order every month as it’s too good to not eat and therein lies the problem!"

Reviewer: GB

5 / 15

Barrecore Primal Snack Box

Buy online ,  £19.99 a month

The promise: barrecore founder Niki Rein's edit of paleo treats to ensure happy and healthy snacking throughout the month.

We give it: 9/10 (because of the dried meat!)

Review: "A box full of snacks is literally a box subscription dream for me. Plus I am a barrecore addict so I had to try the bespoke Primal Snack box that has been designed by barrecore founder Niki Rein. Niki has hand-picked her favourite paleo treats to build up a healthy snacking box each month. All of Primal Snack's contents are free from grains, gluten, soy, dairy and refined sugars. This month's box contained a yummy (healthy) chocolate bar, a Rude Health pumpkin bar and caramel superseeds. There was an odd bit of dried meat in there too, which just was NOT for me - but one out of nine ain't bad! There is a great selection of sweet and savoury treats in this box, and it’s definitely a great way of trying out new snacks without forking out for the expense of each product (‘health’ snacks don’t come cheap). The only downfall?! I ate the box within a week because I have no willpower..."

Reviewer: SM

6 / 15

Gym Secrets

Buy online,  £17

We give it: 7/10

The promise: "The subscription box for active women being a bit of a fitness fanatic myself these days, receiving a box full of fabulous fitness stuff to try every month sounds pretty exciting. Inside every Gym Secrets box are always the following: active beauty products, exercise accessories, a class or treatment offer and a mini wellness magazine."

"The offering in my box is pretty darn good - there’s an ActivBod shower gel in a decent 100 ml size (perfect for chucking in my gym bag), a sachet of some Ibiza Superfoods powder blends (that you mix into your smoothie), and some She protein powder sachets. So far so good and great for people who’ve never tried protein powders before. Then there’s a slight curve ball - some SASS Intimate Protection Barrier cream which as far as I can tell is to protect your lady parts during intense exercise (not for everyone but it may have helped me through my 180km bike ride round Ibiza recently)."

"There’s also a Buff headband in bright orange and black which (without sounding like a fashion fitness snob) I wouldn’t wear, ever. There is, however, a subscription to for six months which is an online workout portal and a brilliant mini magazine describing everything, offering workouts and there’s even an interview with Olympic athlete Laura Trott. All in all for £17 I think this is good value for money, but remember there will always be a few things in the box that might not be right for everyone."

Reviewer: ST

7 / 15

London Tea Club

Buy online , £10

The promise: We source and select teas to match your flavour profile. As your tastes change, so do the types of teas you receive.

We give it: 9/10

Review: "Coffee subscription services have been around for a while, bbut we tea drinkers have been somewhat neglected until now. My three loose-leaf teas from the London Tea Club fitted neatly through my letterbox and arrived in Instagram-ready corked plastic test tubes. There was Apricot Peach (a black tea with aromatic dried fruit pieces), Russian Caravan, a gorgeous smokey black tea (legend has it that the tea took on the smokey taste of the camp fires as the camel trains passed along the Russian silk road – I know this from the tasting note cards) and Kukicha, an organic Japanese green tea from a family farm. Each came with instructions on how to brew – including how to cold brew to make iced tea – and nine cute paper drawstring tea bags."

"Your three teas per month can be tailored to your preferences from the selection of green, white, black and occasional herbal infusions (if you are a die-hard herbalist, this is not for you). The company focuses on quality and when brewed according to instructions, all my picks were aromatic and not at all bitter. Their other selling point is introducing you to and new and interesting tastes. Taking the time to read the notes, fill my tea bag and enjoy the flavours was a small mindful moment in my day. Some of the teas can be bought in bigger bags if you find one you really like. There’s enough tea for about 15 cups in each delivery (they say 8-10 but mine went further) which means you use every last leaf. Membership is £10/month for three to six months (£12 for international) or you can gift/try a month’s box for £14. A lovely calorie-free treat."

Reviewer: VW

8 / 15

Biowine Box

Buy online , from £39 a month

The promise: We select excellent organic wines and deliver them to your door.

We give it: 8/10

Review: "I’m totally sold on the natural credentials of this brand new mother/daughter business –  fewer pesticides and additives are kinder on the drinker, the hangover and the environment as well as supporting small producers. The box contains two reds and one white or rose from are three categories of ‘Biowine’ – biodynamic, organic or natural (the latter does not necessarily have all the organic certifications due to cost or due to small amount of pesticides from neighbouring vineyards, but Biowine consider it to be clean enough to be ‘natural’)."

"From £39 per month (there’s no minimum sign up – you can simply test one box) it’s not a budget buy, but if you are concerned about the pesticides in your food and have the cash to extend that to your wine selection then it’s an excellent choice.  Just like the tea subscription I also tried for this feature, this is a real treat for the palate – all the wines were smooth, delicious and definitely a cut above (the 2012 Cote Du Rhone could make a red wine drinker of me yet) and most of all are something to take time over. Maybe it’s worth spending a bit more in order to savour more –  or simply to buy better and drink less."

Reviewer: VW

9 / 15

Baby Mori Subscription

Buy online , from £12.00 a month

The promise: A selection of everyday essentials that are made from the finest and gentlest bamboo cotton fabric. You'll receive a selection of everyday essentials each month.

We give it: 8/10

Review: "I’m not a fan of a subscription boxes generally, because they contain surprises and I loathe surprises. However I have decided to make an exception for Baby Mori, whose super-soft baby basics are totally worth opening the door to the postman in your pyjamas. What you get depends on your subscription level - we got the Midi box (£27), which contained a little grey vest, cream babygro and grey hat. I spent a while just stroking these. It’s helpful that they’re neutral, too; babies’ wardrobes end up being quite a mishmash and they’ll go with everything."

Reviewer: EB

10 / 15

Abel & Cole Light Recipe Box

Buy online , £36

The promise: Organic food, straight to your door- a healthy and happy way to eat.

We give it: 8/10

Review: "This was my first ever experience with a recipe box delivery service and I was instantly impressed with the quality of meals. From Mexican quesadillas, to pork chops there was something for everyone in my family to try. I opted for the 'simple’ box, purely because I need something quick and easy to whip up after work! I consider myself to be a reasonable cook, but the recipes, although easy to follow, took me a lot longer than the suggested time on each recipe card! I cannot fault the quality of the ingredients at all, everything was fresh and organic and the final meals (once I had got my head around the preparation) were full of flavour. I wouldn't make it a regular delivery service, but for something different on the odd occasion, then it's a good choice! My plus point: They gave me a whole block of cheddar for my quesadillas that only needed 100g, with a little note in case we were cheese fiends ... we are!"

Reviewer: SM

11 / 15

Field & Flower Meat Box Delivery

Buy online , from £55

The promise: High quality grass fed free-range meat sourced from in and around your local area with top-notch customer service

We give it: 10/10

Review: "The world of monthly subscription boxes is rapidly becoming congested (as this feature will testify) but if you decide that you do want to sign up to a regular (or non-regular) box subscription, then make sure it's a box from Field and Flower!"

"A word of warning though: this box is entirely made up of MEAT - lots of lovely, traditionally farmed, grass eating meat (...well, apart from the two servings of salmon I had) making this not at all suitable for the plant eaters among us."

"My experience with Field & Flower was A* from start to finish; from ordering the box using a simple credit system, to having it delivered and slowly devouring my way through it. My hamper was 'small', but when it arrived, it looked (and weighed) like it could feed an army of 5,000 (I'm sure Currys has made a roaring trade in new fridge-freezers since field & flower came onto the market). My box contained lamb steaks, a whole chicken, sausages, chorizo, chicken breasts, salmon, pulled pork and a chicken and bacon pie."

"On the face of it, the sum of £61 seemed like a lot to commit all at once on a box of meat but the quality and flavour of the meat was far beyond any quality I have received from a supermarket. My favourites were the lamb, which was thick and deliciously juicy, and the chicken and bacon pie, which was jam packed full of meat and encased in the fluffiest, freshest homemade pastry."

"The one thing to note is that the box does not come with any cooking instructions, so if you are not a seasoned cook, you might have to do a little research on how to cook each meat, but I honestly found that the calibre of the meat reduced the chances of spoiling or over-cooking, which you might find with standard supermarket meats. An absolute win from camp carnivore!"

Reviewer: GP

12 / 15

Buddy Box

Buy online , £21.50 a month

The promise:  “All the items included in the box are intended to make you feel good: helping you de-stress, find calm, feel pampered, relax, get creative, or simply have fun.”

We give it: 7/10

Review: “I loved the inspiration behind this particular pick. Designed to act as a, ‘a hug in a box’, its primary aim is to provide a pick-me-up for days when you (or a friend) could do with a boost. There are 2 types that you can get - the full BuddyBox (the one I tested) and the BuddyBox Lite. The former contains 5 full-size products and this month, contained a varied selection ranging from a lovely ‘Letters to my Future Self’ time capsule booklet to Cooling Eye Pads, a Six Colour Pen (that takes me back) to a box of Clipper Mint Green Tea - it definitely did bring a smile to my face."

“Prices range from £21.50 for one-off and monthly subscriptions, £61.50 (quarterly), six-monthly (£117) and yearly (£222) - a tad pricier than I expected in all honesty. However, looking at  previous months’ offerings , there really is something distinctly unique about this particular box and while I’d probably stick to a one-off or monthly subscription personally, it’ll definitely act as a mood-lifting treat on days when your mood’s hit rock bottom.”

Reviewer: AM

13 / 15

Ms Flow Period Subscription Box

Buy online , from £12.99 a month

The promise: All the essentials you need to get you through your period including your choice of tampons or towels, luxury artisan treats to satisfy those cravings, as well as luxury beauty products to lift your mood.

We give it: 8/10

Review: "When that time of the month comes around, you just know what you need. For me? Chocolate, hot drinks and a whole lot of pampering. Ms. Flow has that covered and I’m seriously impressed. Not only do they include however many packaged tampons and sanitary towels you have said you’ll need, but they’ve included some treats to help you get through the month too. From healthy but delicious treats like Bounce Energy Balls to something a little more naughty like the Fudge Kitchen Drinking Fudge; pampering products like the Anatomicals Chocolate Anti-Stress Face Mask to the Lord & Berry Fluid Delicate Makeup Remover, this box really does make your time of the month that little bit better. The packaging might be a little lacking but the products inside definitely make up for that."

Reviewer: LP

14 / 15

Healthy Nibbles Gluten Free Box

Buy online from £8.96 a month

The promise: Delicious, healthy artisan snacks delivered direct to you at home or work

We give it: 9/10

Review: “Snacking healthily can be so difficult when constantly faced with other, less healthier options. Whether it’s on your way to buy lunch and the temptation hits to get that chocolate bar by the till, or in the office when the birthday cake is going around; having a naughty treat can be a little more than appealing. Having snacks close to hand that will stave off the temptation is the best way to get around this and that’s where Healthy Nibbles comes in. From healthy hot chocolate to peanut butter protein balls, this box has it all. The only thing worth noting is that the box doesn’t have anything that details what’s inside and the packaging leaves a little to be desired, but once you’re munching on something delicious it honestly doesn’t matter. Healthy snacking has just become a little more exciting…”

Reviewer: LP

15 / 15

The Vegan Ultimate Tuck Box

Buy online , £16.50

The promise: A monthly subscription box containing a surprise selection of 10-13 sweet and savoury vegan snacks. Our bestseller is guaranteed to satisfy.

We give it: 9/10

Review: “The Vegan Ultimate Tuck Box really is filled with tasty but healthy treats. It gives you the chance to discover new brands while snacking in a far more healthier way. When you open up a subscription box, you want to be wowed by the size of the products and this box really does do that. This month's offering included a tasty Moo Free Caramelised Hazelnut Nibs bar, big enough to share (or store away in your drawer for chocolate emergencies), a packet of Nuto Maple & Smoked Paprika Flavoured Lotus Seeds, Jealous Sweets Sour Beans and more. Each treat staves off a different craving and keeps you going throughout the month.”

Reviewer: LP