Ever splurge on a cream only to discover that it makes you break out? For trial without error, sign up for a beauty subscription service, which sends a package of sample-size surprises each month, enabling you to sniff and swipe before investing in full-size favorites.

By Jenny Jin
Danny Kim

For the Label Lover

Glossybox (shown right)
With more than 400 luxury brands (Oscar de la Renta, Burberry, Fresh) and generous samples, this is an ideal way to test high-end products without visiting a department store.

Cost: $21 a month, glossybox.com for info.

For the Eco-Conscious

Figuring out which brands are “clean” or “natural” isn’t easy. This service does the legwork, then sends five or six trial sizes of green goods that are, among other things, cruelty- and paraben-free.

Cost: $18 a month, goodebox.com for info.

For the Deal Seeker

This is more of a mixed bag, with items like stationery tossed in among the beauty productsfrom both well-known and under-the-radar brands. Save money by referring friends and leaving feedback; both earn you purchase points toward full-size merchandise.

Cost: $10 a month, birchbox.com for info.

For the Super-Picky

Beauty Army
Fill out a profile, then peruse options online targeted to your tastes (whether you prefer the natural look or all-out glam) and make your own selections. And if nothing strikes your fancy one month, you can go ahead and skip it, at no charge.

Cost: $12 a month, beautyarmy.com for info.

For the Pro-Obsessed

Ipsy GlamBag
A dedicated group of beauty experts cut through the clutter to send you their new go-to cosmetics (and classics, too). You can also view online video tutorials to help you re-create specific looks using that month’s picks.

Cost: $10 a month, ipsy.com for info.

For the Value-Obsessed Shopper

Sample-size beauty products are awesome, but full-size ones are even better. Enter BoxyCharm, the new subscription box that brings $100 worth of full-size goods to your doorstep. Not sure how to use a product in the box? Just go to YouTube and checkout their tutorials and reviews. Bonus: Subscribers get points (called “charms”) for reviewing products and referring friends, which you can redeem for—you guessed it—more beauty products.

Cost: $21 a month, boxycharm.com for info.