Subscription boxes for every lifestyle

Banu Ibrahim, CNN Underscored
Updated Wed January 3, 2018

Story highlights

  • We've rounded up the best subscription boxes in three main categories: food/drink, beauty/fashion and lifestyle.

More than 2,000 companies have gotten on board with subscription box deliveries, according to a recent study, whether as an added value to their company or designing their business model on it.

And who can blame them? People love receiving gifts, and ones that are monthly surprises just sweeten the deal.

But finding the subscription box that fits your lifestyle might be tricky. There are thousands of them on the market. This can be especially difficult when you consider that not all subscription boxes are made equal. They tend to vary in terms of genre, quality of products, total quantity and, of course, price.

You've got your meal prep weekly packages, beauty boxes, DIY subscriptions and even ones made for people who are self-proclaimed yogis.

With this in mind, we've broken down some of the Internet's coolest subscription boxes into three useful categories: food/drink, beauty/fashion and lifestyle.

For each category, we've provided our top picks based on customer satisfaction, functionality and overall packaging. Consider it your all-encompassing guide if you're looking for a new subscription box to fall in love with.

Now all that's left for you is to add your favorite picks to your shopping cart. It's as easy as that.

Note: The prices reflect the listed retailer's price on the date this article was published.


Blue Apron (starting at $59.94,

Over the past four years, the NYC-based startup has been delivering millions of fresh ingredients and recipes — 8 million a month to be exact — across the country. Like most meal kit delivery services, Blue Apron lets you choose from a selection of meals and then will send pre-portioned ingredients, as well as a how-to card, to help you create tasty dishes at home. With plenty of meal options to taste test, Blue Apron also gives members the chance to try new flavors and cuisines. The service eliminates time spent on grocery shopping and food waste. The idea is you'll never have a bag of kale leftover in the fridge that might spoil before your next use.

The cost of Blue Apron is also pretty competitive in comparison to take out. The company offers a two-person ($59.94/week) and a four-person ($139.84/week) subscription with three meals per week. That averages to about $9.99 per person on the first plan and about $8.74 on the other one. Blue Apron also has relationships with local farms to create its menus based on what is in season.

Most important, Blue Apron has received high marks for taste. When independently tested through Consumer Reports, it received a "Very Good" rating. It makes for a delicious dinner-time meal, and also lunchtime leftovers, if you have extra to spare.

Home Chef (starting at $39.80;

If you're looking for a service similar to Blue Apron, but want to make it hyper-focused on your dietary restrictions, Home Chef might be a good option. It operates in the same way other recipe delivery services do, but its signature recipes include low-calorie, low-carb and gluten-free meals. Members can also choose to eliminate certain ingredients from their meals for a more personalized option. Home Chef also has an eco-friendly bent by tapping into suppliers who have sustainable practices that benefit the ecosystems in which they operate.

Every week, Home Chef showcases 10 dinner options, breakfast options, a fruit basket and a fresh smoothie that members can choose from. Once you select your meals, you'll be sent a pre-portioned box of fresh ingredients and step-by-step instructions. Meals run at $9.95 per serving and can be delivered in two, four or six portions. This makes it a solid option for dinner entertaining. Additionally, breakfast plans are priced at the same, and the fruit basket and smoothie run at $4.95 a serving.

Blue Bottle (starting at $8;

Running out of fresh coffee beans for your morning jolt is pretty much synonymous with starting your morning on the wrong foot. It's a bad way to start the day. Thankfully, coffee roasters like Blue Bottle have launched subscription services so you never find yourself in that predicament. Its customizable subscription allows you to order blends, single origins or espresso beans when you want, and you also can control the amount of beans shipped to your door to match your coffee intake.

But what's great about using Blue Bottle is its timely delivery. Coffee has a limited shelf life, and because of that, beans taste the best closer to their roasting date. Blue Bottle delivers its coffee within 48 hours of being roasted, ensuring you're getting the most flavor and freshness from your beans.

The service starts at $8, depending on the quantity and type of bean. But if you're not sure which beans are best for your taste buds, it offers a free trial so you can taste-test before you commit.

Try the World (starting at $15;

If your focus isn't necessarily making a full-on meal, but rather getting a taste of a country you've never experienced, it's time to meet Try the World. This service does just that. It allows subscribers to feast on food from all over the globe.

Members can choose from three types of boxes: countries, snacks or pantry-focused ones. The country collection showcases different drinks, snacks and foods to cook with from a designated region every month. This starts at $39 per month, depending on how long you would like your subscription to last. The snacks box is more varied, and offers five snacks sourced from artisans of different countries every month for as low as $15. The pantry edition includes five full-sized essentials sourced from around the world.

This subscription is more nuanced. After filling out a taste profile, Taste the World will pair you with gourmet products its experts think you'll love for $29.95.

Hey, it's a lot cheaper than booking a flight.


Birchbox & Birchbox Men's (starting at $10;

Makeup and skincare boxes are typically broken down into two categories: full-sized product offerings or sample-size ones. Choosing between the two depends on what you look for in a box and how many products you want to test.

In terms of sample-size boxes, Birchbox has it down. Since 2010, the company has been providing sample-size boxes at a $10 a month so you can try out a number of luxe-items and then, if you fall in love with one (or let's be real, all of them), you can easily shop the full-price picks in their store.

They offer boxes for both men and women, with the men's picks also including a full-sized item for $20 a month.

FabFitFun ($49.99;

If you're on the other end of the skincare subscription spectrum and prefer full-sized products, FabFitFun offers full-sized premium products every three months for $49.99. Their boxes include beauty and skincare picks, along with fashion, fitness, wellness and home products. Although this box won't be as frequent as Birchbox, it features lucrative values.

The overall retail values of the boxes can sometimes surpass $300, so for only one-sixth of the price, it's a stellar deal. It's so good, you probably won't mind waiting an extra two months for it to arrive.

Play! by Sephora ($10,

If you thought Sephora was going to sit out the beauty box trend, think again. The mega skincare and beauty retailer launched a subscription service, one that mixes the online ease and excitement of ordering a beauty box with the perks of a brick-and-mortar location. Play! features the standard five deluxe samples based on your profile.

But as an added bonus for those who also shop at physical locations of Sephora, Play! comes with a pass to redeem 50 bonus Beauty Insider points. It also offers monthly subscriber meetup events for customers to learn how to apply the products in the box.

Dollar Shave Club (starting at $3,

If you shave with a dull, old razor blade, put it down ... now. Old razors not only make it difficult to get a close shave, but can also collect bacteria that can seep into cuts and cause razor burn. The easiest way to prevent this is with a sharp, new blade. That's where Dollar Shave Club comes in.

You can pick from any one of their featured blades, and from there, you'll receive a free reusable handle and replacement cartridges for as low as $3 a month. Plus you can add other grooming essentials, such as shave butter or hair and scalp shampoo to your bundle.

And because not all beards are created equal, you can choose the frequency of how often you receive your boxes. See you never, five o'clock shadow.

Five Four Club ($60;

If you're a guy who can easily admit shopping isn't your forte, you can rest assured there are subscription boxes for you. Enter the Five Four Club, a styling service that helps you look trendy and put together for $60 a month.

After completing a style quiz, which will include your preferences and fit, Five Four Club's styling experts customize a package of three pieces from their seasonal collection, which are yours to keep. And if you're not sold on the size, members can receive free exchanges until they find the perfect fit.

Granted, some months you may not need new clothes or accessories, so putting a pause (or even canceling) your box is a breeze.


Kiwi Crate ($19.95;

Subscription boxes aren't just for adults. Take Kiwi Crate, for example. The monthly service is made with kids in mind, delivering activities that promote STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) activities to a variety of ages.

Boxes are broken up by age group, either 3-4, 5-8 or 9-16, and start at $19.95 per month. You'll find a unique DIY project, step-by-step guide and online video tutorials with tips and tricks to help you master it. It's educational and helps foster creativity, but most important, it's just plain fun.

Yogi Surprise (starting at $24.99,

Yogis, rejoice! Yes, there's even an option for you. For those following a more holistic lifestyle, the Yogi Surprise subscription offers 6-8 full-size yoga lifestyle items, which include soy candles, medicinal tea and vegetarian snacks, all of which retail over $70. Members, however, enjoy a nice price cut with a $44.95 monthly fee.

All of the items are aimed to nourish your well being, vitality and growth. That's why every box comes with a guarantee that all products are GMO, chemical and cruelty free. If you're looking for a more niche selection of spiritual jewelry products, Yogi Surprise also offers its signature jewelry box, which features two handcrafted pieces valued at over $65 for just $24.99. Get ready to say "Om."

Bulu Box, (starting at $10,

If health is your main priority, but you don't consider yourself a yogi, Bulu Box offers a subscription service that fulfills that in two capacities. One is for overall wellness through its Original Box, which offers a well-rounded sampling of all things nutrition.

Each box comes with 4-5 samples of products that deal with sports nutrition, sleep or healthy snacks. As an added bonus, some boxes come with extra perks, like gym gift cards or workout DVDs.

But if your main focus is shedding excess fat, their weight-loss box is a more niche offering. It offers the same number of products as the original, with the main difference being that all of the items are weight-loss samples such as fat burners, energy aids or healthy snacks. The aim is to help you get the best results during your weight loss journey. Both boxes start at $10 a month.

Honest Essentials Bundle ($35.95;

So this isn't exactly a subscription box service in the same way as Birchbox or Yogi Surprise is, but this highly customizable plan from Honest Essentials comes in handy.

If you're not familiar with The Honest Company, the main takeaway is that it specializes in premium and natural personal care and home cleaning supplies. Its Family Essentials Bundle lets you choose five products — from dish soaps to organic tampons — that will be shipped to you on a monthly basis.

The total bundle costs $35.95, which is a 35% saving when you consider of the costs per item individually. And you can control how often and which products you receive. This proves to be a real-lifesaver when your go-to household goods are running low.