On Monday, I had never heard of Beauty Pie. By Friday, it was all over my Facebook feed, on half the Instagram channels I follow, and featured in every newsletter. Because social media promotion often comes in a tidal wave.
Apparently, that was true for several readers as well. Because in the same week, I got a half-dozen e-mails and DMs asking me for an SIOS review. So I broke out my debit card, and decided to give Beauty Pie a go.
Beauty Pie is a membership-based, online beauty retailer that purports to sell high-end makeup and skincare products without the “middle-man markup.” Members choose a monthly membership level ($10, $20, or $30), and buy products each month up to their assigned spending limit. Any remaining monthly spending rolls over to the next month. Here’s how it worked for me:
I subscribed to the $30-per-month membership. This allowed me to choose products that added up to $300 retail price, plus a $100 bonus for my first purchase. I selected nine products, which had an MSRP of $391, but spent just $82. I used a coupon code from Facebook to avoid paying the first month’s membership fee of $30.
$300 seems like a lot to spend on products each month. But since you’re charged the MSRP, a moisturizer that you pay $13 for, eats up $130 of your budget. Similarly, an eyeshadow that you pay $6 for, eats up $30 of your budget.
Having never used a Beauty Pie product before, I didn’t know what to expect. But for the review, I wanted to try a wide selection of products in both the makeup and skincare categories. So I used nearly every penny of my $400 first month allotment.
For skincare, I chose the Vitamin C Ampoules, the Superactive Capsules, and the Retinol hand cream.
The ampoules were a total bust. They look cool, they seem like you’re going to love them, but over 6-weeks, they did nothing. And I mean nothing. I’ve used concentrated Vitamin-C products before and noticed brighter skin within a few weeks, so I was surprised to find no impact from these after almost six.
The hand cream is nice, especially for those of us with wrist wrinkles from typing all day. It’s moisturizing and has no smell, which I appreciated. However, it’s a little big and took up a lot of space in my handbag, so I keep it in my desk.
I’m undecided on the Superactive Capsules. I used them before my wedding, and initially saw a big difference. My skin was smoother and brighter, with more even tone. Then, the effect seemed to plateau. But of all the skincare items I purchased from Beauty Pie, the capsules are the one that I would buy again, even at MSRP.
For makeup, I purchased a wide selection of highlighters, eye shadows, lipsticks, blushes, you name it. Most of it was lackluster, some of it was deeply disappointing.
I found the blushes and shadows didn’t have the rich pigments or fine-milled texture that I’m used to from brands like Bobbi Brown or Charlotte Tilbury. The quality of the colors felt more like the Sephora store brand, and even with primer, faded quickly.
The lipsticks were better quality with richer colors and a smooth application, but I don’t wear a lot of lipstick, so I’m not their target market. I liked the Future Lipstick in LoveBerry. But I was a bit disturbed that the product wasn’t paraben-free and that the ingredients list read like a science experiment.
The one makeup product that I would buy again was the oft-rave-about Strobing Drops. These were, even with the mushroom cloud of hype coming from Influencer Instagrams, as good as advertised. The drops gave my skin an impenetrable iridescent quality. I layered them under my foundation for a soft glow, mixed them with body moisturizer for a bronzed look, and dabbed them on my cheekbones for a night out. Hands down, worth the money.
Despite a handful of good products, I canceled my membership after my second month. First off, I don’t replenish beauty products often enough to need a monthly subscription. Second, most of the products were just meh, despite a few standouts. And testing everything to find more diamonds in the rough would take quite some time and a hefty financial investment.
Third, and most importantly, I felt pressure to spend my limit each monthly. I think most subscribers do. And since half of the products I bought got a single test run (or no test run once I saw the colors or smelled the fragrances in person) before going back in the box, I knew the unused wares would just pile up over time.
I considered keeping the $10-per-month membership or just paying $99 for the annual membership in order to keep buying the Strobing Drops and the Superactive Capsules, but it just wasn’t worth it to me.
Bottom line, if you consume a lot of beauty products, Beauty Pie might be for you. But if you’re not buying new product all the time, or already have established favorites in most categories, I’d pass. Four of my friends tried it for a month with me, and only one kept it. She loved the hair care products and Plantastic face products, so it was worth it to her.
So is Beauty Pie all hype? No, but it’s too much of an Easter Egg hunt for me to risk haphazardly dropping $60-$90 each month, plus membership, on products that I may just end up gifting to friends or donating to charity. But if you decide to give it a whirl, get.the.Strobing.Drops.
Like all Saw It On Social Posts, the reviewed products were purchased with my own money. I tested them over a nearly two month period because skincare cannot be evaluated by a single use. No gifts are solicited or accepted for SIOS, because the point of the feature is to give a fervor-free review of the products that suddenly takeover my social feeds.
If you have a product or brand you’d like me to review, leave it in the comments. Please know, however, that I have made a personal choice not to review any products that come from multi-level marketing companies (LulaRoe, Beauty Counter, Pampered Chef, etc.) given the criticism that this sales model faces and the impact it has on female relationships. I know some women have great success with these companies, but I know others who have not, so I’m simply opting out for this feature.
Just dropping a note to say THANK YOU for making the comment about MLMs.
There are SO many bloggers that have gone deep into the MLM world and I have completely stopped turning to them for any inspiration.
I know people have had both good and bad luck. I fell down the Stella & Dot hole when I was on the Hill, and I hated asking friends to buy things, so I bailed. Still love some of the products (aka the Rebel necklace), but I just feel better not promoting MLMs.
Echoing this comment. I’ve seen a handful of friends thrive (and flourish) while promoting MLMs, but the model more often than not results in exploiting individuals (mostly female) and their networks.
Hannah Simon says:
I have a love/hate relationship with Beauty Pie. I agree with you that I end up spending a lot more money on products than I would otherwise, but I somehow get convinced that it’s worth the deal on prices. They have gotten better, but their stocking used to be horrible and you’d have to keep paying for months until products were back in stock. And the shipping is higher than I care to pay.
I was disappointed with the strobing drops, actually, but may have applied them poorly. I also did not like the foundation. However, I LOVE the eye shadow sticks that are identical dupes to the Laura Mercier caviar sticks at $4 a pop. I wear them almost every day and love them. Their gel eyeliners are also excellent, as are the brushes I’ve tried.
In terms of skincare, I tend to buy these using their gift packages and you get more bang for your buck that way. I really like the plantastic moisturizer. Haven’t used the other products enough to comment.
The fragrance is nice (dupe for Byredo- although much more limited selection), and the candles smell incredible.
My usual strategy is to join for the 3 month minimum, using a promo code (Caroline Hirons has a longstanding on) that gets you an extra $50, plus the joining bonus, buy what I want, and then cancel.
I think because I got my first month free, I wasn’t locked into three months, but that’s good to know for future.
Talking about the Laura Mercier Eyeshadow Sticks……AN EVEN BETTER DUPE is the KIKO Eyeshadow Sticks 😄
I have kept my Beauty Pie membership now for more than two years. I am hooked on their Great Skin Foundation which is a convincing dupe for Armani’s Luminous Silk foundation. Other things are hit and miss. The self-tan is amazing, the eyeshadow is meh.
I’m enjoying Beauty Pie, primarily for their retinol line and cleansers. Their makeup doesn’t suit me AT ALL, except their creamy eyeshadow pencils. Sorry you didn’t have a good experience.
You win some, you lose some. Now that everyone is talking about these eyeshadow sticks, I might do the $10. But I think the key is to not let it push you to a place you spend money that you wouldn’t otherwise.
The business model here confuses me, it’s like a weird hybrid of The Ordinary and Fabletics. Though here’s hoping it’s easier to cancel than Fabletics.
It certainly was. Fabletics was like 4 emails and a bunch of “live chats,” this was one email and all done.
Current Beauty Pie subscriber at $10 per month for $100 of buying credit. The business model is more like having a Costco membership – ie access to discounted prices.
Foundation – similar to Bobbi Brown skin foundation (ie not full coverage) at drugstore prices
Cream eye shadow sticks
Cleansing balm- liked enough to repurchase
Glycolic acid toner
Future shine lipstick Abra mentioned
Foundation primer – coconut scent was off putting
The capsules – didn’t like the packaging waste
I cancelled Birchbox and Sephora subscriptions in favor of Beauty Pie – an inexpensive way to try new products and pick what I wanted. I bank my credits and buy about once a quarter and have given BP as gifts.
I did hear good things about the cleansing balm, but I’ve had bad luck with balms in general, so I passed.
Thanks for this review! I was a BP member for a year and a half (back when the only option was to pay $10 a month for $100 of allowance and there was no option for ‘top ups’ (pay extra money for extra allowance; you’d have to save up for 2-3 months just to buy 1 skincare product bc every MSRP was ridiculously inflated! But because you waited so long to have an allowance, it felt like you accomplished something, and you HAD to buy SOMETHING because you finally made it(very similar to the outlet mall shopping mentality, where you have to make a trip out of going to an outlet bc they are never in cities, so you feel like you NEED to buy something to make it worth your while. Anyway, I’ve always disliked the company because it feels so disingenuous and literally traps you into months of membership, and I agree, every single one of the makeup products I tried (and I tried a ton) were not worthwhile- they bill them as “the best” from all the Italian and French makeup factories but I found the quality to be comparable to Ulta or NYX quality. (The mascaras are positivity the worst I’ve ever used). Most of the skincare is lackluster too and lots are super scented and hurt my sensitive skin. One moisturizer literally gave me a second degree chemical burn that cost me $375 in emergency dermatology bills!BUT, I found 3 HOLY GRAIL products that ALMOST made me keep my membership- Super Peeling drops (did nothing for my skin until 9/10 ofnthe bottle was gone, but then gave me bright, clear beautiful skin (I later found Pixie Glow Tonic to be a decent replacement for it though), JeJu moisture seurum (only better lotion I found was Tammy Fender for a million times more money) (don’t bother with the JeJu overnight cream though, it’s crap, and the plantastic solid cleansing balm (which is always out of stock). Finally, for anyone looking at their website or social for product reviews, please know that they don’t post any submissions under 5 stars (I know bc I wrote 37 product reviews and not a single one was posted. I emailed their customer support 4 times about them and sent screen shots of every review. Each time they replied that they are a new company and are having issues with their website software and only have a 1 person IT department so maybe that was the reason why. Other people had that same problem, so they started posting their reviews on BPs social media pages, but there’s about 5 rapid BP “super
Fans” (who I assume get free BP products for doing this) comment on any less than 100% best product ever review and make mean comments to the posters about how they aren’t using the product correctly and that they shouldn’t be so judgy of BP and that they are ungrateful to BP for bringing the world such cost effective gifts from the gods. The BP founder, Marcia, even makes a point to tag these super fans under such comments and replies with winky faces every time one of her fans tears apart some critical on their social channels. It’s very mean-girly and I am so over that crap.
That Tammy Fender is sooo good, but it is SOOOO expensive.
Would love a review of Pact Apparel. I keep seeing ads for their clothes
I’ll add them to my list.
I’ve bought Pact items from Whole Foods and really like their leggings and tanks. Also really like their kids range of tees for my 2 year old. They’ve held up well in the wash.
Pacts tanks are good. I was disappointed in the Henley’s. Too boxy. As far as basics go it’s good sustainable fashion, but limited in styles.
anna c says:
Cariuma sneakers or Pact. I keep seeing ads for both! I’m definitely intrigued by the Cariuma (enough that I’d buy them and be willing to do a guest post :)), but I don’t know much about Pact.
I’m always leery of products that say “compare at”,”valued at”, or in this case, “typical price”. I understand that some of the goal here is to say there’s significant markup with other beauty brands, but I just sort of cringe when its presented like you’re *saving* any money just because they advertise an arbitrary “well it COULD be this but its not” price.
Interesting concept, and thank you for the review. I just don’t go through makeup fast enough to warrant any subscriptions — I was getting Sephora Play boxes for a while, but I ended up with so much extra stuff, I had to cancel. I’m paranoid about makeup going bad too, so I like to use up what I have before buying more.
I’m also paring down the beauty budget (no fun) so I’m looking for drugstore dupes…to say it’s hit or miss is putting it lightly! 🙂
I would be interested in a review of the Margaux shoes, specifically “The Heel.” They have filled my Instagram feed, and the only reviews I can find are from influencers that are partnered with the brand. There are reviews on the Margaux NY website, however the only negative reviews seem to be on sizing, which makes me skeptical.
Could you do a review of Nuuly? It’s Anthropologie’s/Urban Outfitters new monthly subscription service? I’m starting to see it pop up everywhere.
I’ll look into it.