Sample before splurging to find the right eco-friendly beauty products for you



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How many times has this happened to you: you hear about some amazing wonder potion for your hair or skin and run out to buy the pricey miracle concoction, only to use it for a week and think, meh — or worse, yikes! From formulas that may clog pores and leave skin dull to allergic reactions, a lot can happen when trying a new beauty item.

No product is perfect for everyone, and wasting money is never fun. Sure, beauty emporiums let you play with products in-store, but a single swipe of anti-aging cream isn’t going to give you a real sense of whether or not it’s the right product for you. It’s like the beauty equivalent of speed dating.

Also, there are so many emerging eco-beauty brands that aren’t always easy to find in even well-stocked stores. What’s a cruelty-free beauty lover to do? Welcome to the wonderful world of samples! Luxury and boutique eco-friendly beauty brands are branching out into the mainstream by giving consumers the chance of trying their goods before splurging, and you don’t even have to leave your house. Let playtime begin!


Think Inside The Box

Subscription box services offer a great way to try a variety of items every month without breaking the piggy bank. Birchbox is the best-known option, and boy, their products deliver (Ba dum psh!). Each month, you are greeted with a box full of deluxe-size samples. While Birchbox isn’t solely devoted to eco-friendly beauty products, it includes many samples from well-known eco-conscious brands such as Juice Beauty, Davines and Coola as well as lesser known international brands like Spain’s Naobay and Great Britain’s Liz Earle. Birchbox also collaborates with health and fitness brands such as Women’s Health Magazine and Tone It Up, merging fitness and beauty in a fun, accessible way. They also offer package customization with features such as sample choice and, even more recently, box choice, where you can actually choose which package you want to receive. You can also earn points to use toward future purchases by rating your samples, so even your splurge can be cost-effective. All this for $10 a month.

If you’re looking for strictly vegan beauty, look no further than subscription service Petit Vour. For $15 a month, you’ll receive four to five samples from respected natural beauty brands such as Pacifica, Yarok  and Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant. This is your chance to really explore emerging and hard-to-find brands without commitment. Petit Vour also has a points system that lets you earn discounts on purchases.


Sample Sale

Boxes aren’t your only option for getting your mail order sample fix. Boutique cruelty-free beauty brands recognize the importance of sampling before splurging and are offering petite versions of their vegan products for you to try at home.

I introduced you to S.W. Basics of Brooklyn in the winter beauty roundup, and if you’ve been tempted to try the luscious cream from that piece, why not go for their mini size first? In fact, most of S.W. Basics’ line is available in miniature for about $12 per item. Seekers of new facial care are in luck, as S.W. Basics has created a bestsellers mini collection featuring that multitasking cream along with a toner that harnesses the power of apple cider vinegar, the rosewater based cleanser and a makeup remover that gets its muscle from almond oil. Plus, for a few dollars extra, you can score your kit with an adorable limited-edition organic cotton makeup bag designed by Brooklyn artist Chris Uphues. The cuteness is almost too much to handle.

Speaking of cute, let’s talk about another Brooklyn-based brand, Meow Meow Tweet. Adorable name, adorable packaging, adorable minis! Meow Meow Tweet has a diverse range of products, including deodorant creams, body oils and facial cleansers, for your sampling pleasure, with prices starting at $4. While you’re there, just try to resist picking up one of their gorgeously wrapped soaps in scents such as Cinnamon Coffee and Grapefruit Mint. Hey, you’re saving money with the samples, so why not treat yourself? (Psst! Both S.W. Basics and Meow Meow Tweet are featured brands at Petit Vour, too!)

Upscale natural beauty brand Tata Harper is committed to beautifying the world naturally, but their luxe eco-friendly skincare comes at a steep price. All of those looking to sample Tata Harper’s products will be delighted by the Natural Skincare Try-Me Kit, available exclusively on the Tata Harper website. Eleven dollars will get you samples of some of the most coveted beauty potions, including Allure Magazine’s  Best of Beauty 2011 pick, the Resurfacing Mask, and the Rebuilding Moisturizer, which was Lucky Magazine’s choice for one of the best natural beauty products in 2013.

It’s easier than ever to start experimenting with eco-friendly skin and hair care, so go for it! Tell us: what brands have you discovered by using samples?