Thanks to lockdown and my pandemic-related salary cut, I haven’t made too many impulse purchases lately. That’s not to say I haven’t made any purchases at all, but I’m trying to be a bit more thoughtful about what I do buy. After months of being inundated with ads for Beauty Pie I finally checked out their website. Then, as I’m sure happens to all of us, I was even more slammed with their ads. I felt like I literally could not shake them, so I finally started doing some proper research. I spent probably a full week trying to actually understand how the heck their pricing and shopping model actually works. It’s painfully confusing at first, but then once you get it you’re like, wow that really shouldn’t have been this hard? Or maybe I’m just a bit thick—could go either way really. Anyway, how does Beauty Pie work?
You may think you’re familiar with direct-to-consumer brands’ models by now, but Beauty Pie is definitely a bit unique. After plenty of reading and math, I think I have some answers to your questions about how does Beauty Pie work and is it worth it? Without further ado, let’s get into understanding this direct-to-consumer beauty brand’s membership model. We’ll also take a closer look at all things product, packaging, and experience!
Keep in mind that while I’ve written this article about Beauty Pie’s UK site and have quoted prices in GBP, they also have a US site and are apparently planning to add more countries soon.
Understanding the Beauty Pie membership model
Beauty Pie will be somewhat familiar to users of other skincare and makeup subscriptions like Birchbox and Ipsy. Essentially you begin by picking a membership level to you pay per month. Each tier gives you a certain amount towards a shopping limit. For example, £5 = £50 spending limit, £10 = £100 spending limit, and so on.
Here is where the similarities end with how other similar subscription services work though. With Beauty Pie, your membership fee does not get added towards items you spend like with Savage Fenty or Fabletics. Nor do you automatically get a freebee or a goodie each month as with subscriptions such as Birchbox.
Instead, Beauty Pie is basically a buyers club that gains you access to wholesale products. Think online-only Costco, but for beauty items. The name is really indicative of the concept, which is essentially that the more people who buy into the ‘club,’ the bigger slice of the beauty pie (theoretically more products at lower prices) everyone would get. It seems unclear whether or not more members would actually drastically change pricing. Even so, though, as it stands the prices are already quite good.
Easy enough so far, right? The Beauty Pie monthly membership fee gets you one thing and one thing only—a monthly spending limit in order to purchase items from Beauty Pie at “member prices.”
This is where it gets… confusing.
Are we following so far? Good, because this is where I started struggling to keep up. As you add items to your basket, you’ll realize that money is deducted from your spending limit based on the ‘typical price’ they’ve listed, rather than the ‘member price’ you actually pay. Essentially, you have to think of this as two parallel roads that you’re driving cars down. One is fictional prices that you’ll never pay, and the other is the actual lower prices that you do pay. But when the fictional road runs out, you also have to pump the brakes on your actual road…. Are you still with me??? Also you pay for shipping. I’m really not selling it am I?
However! Beauty Pie sources its products directly from the factories and labs that make some of your most coveted brands. Think Le Labo fragrance, for example. They buy the product wholesale and package it in their own understated packaging. Then they sell it to you at the member prices, so you essentially get creams that would typically sell for £100 for under £15—like this cream here (plus membership and shipping). Just keep in mind that depending on which monthly spending limit you choose, you could potentially deplete your entire allotment for the month with that one cream. There will occasionally be opportunities to purchase a top up and you can always upgrade your membership, meaning you can pay to increase your spending limit. But again, these extra fees wouldn’t go towards any additional products.
Making the most of my membership
In practice here’s how the whole experience played out for me. I wanted to start small and try the cheapest, £5 per month membership ($10 in the US). Frankly, I wasn’t too keen on spending £10 for a membership that I wasn’t even sure I would like, especially because they lock you in for three months at the start.
While I was looking into Beauty Pie, one of the biggest things to catch my eye and make me want to finally commit to trying a membership was a specific perfume that is rumoured to be made by the same minds behind Le Labo. However, the ‘typical price’ for it was set at £125. This meant that even with my first month bonus (my spending limit was doubled to £100) I still couldn’t buy it. I would have to save my whole limit and wait a month to get another £50 added to the limit. At least all unspent allowance rolls over from month to month!
At that rate, I decided it would be more cost effective to just go for the £10 limit. I got a £200 spending limit in my first month, and figured I’d just continue to let it roll over.
Making decisions was not easy.
Being my always indecisive self, I started to worry that I wouldn’t even like the fragrance. Besides, I’ve barely even started using the Nuxe perfume that I just bought last autumn in Paris because I haven’t been going anywhere anyway, so I chickened out.
I put the £5 membership back in my basket and decided I would buy a retinol. I needed a new one anyway! Then I saw that the retinol was at a ‘typical price’ of £80, and realized that I wouldn’t ever be able to repurchase it with the £5 membership’s £50 per month allowance. In the end, I said sod it and went for the £10 membership which gave me £200 of Beauty Pie allowance to work with for that first month. There are so few joys in quarantine that I thought I deserved it.
This is a major thing to keep in mind about Beauty Pie and it’s model though. They decide when to offer top ups, so most months you will be restricted to only buying items ‘typcially priced’ at or beneath your monthly allowance.
In the end…
I decided against the fragrance. I paid £13.70 for the Super Retinol Ceramide-Boost Anti-Aging Face Serum. It was 50ml of product—pretty decent in my opinion—and that took £80 off my spending limit. I thenused the code BPDROPS to get a free Plantastic Micropeeling Super Drops (50ml). It’s ‘member price’ would normally have been £9.42 and would have taken £50 from my spending limit (an unbelievable deal if they’re good). Then I paid £3.36 for shipping, bringing my total to £27.06 including the two products, the membership fee, and shipping. Even if I had paid for the drops, the total would have only been £36.48. Upsettingly, that’s the amount I have normally spent on one serum. In fact, it’s actually a lot less than many things I’ve bought in the past so, that’s some food for thought…
Beauty Pie first impressions
Given everything going on in the world right now, I was actually pretty impressed with the shipping time. My box came less than a week after ordering. Aside from some tape on the outside of the box everything was paper or cardboard, which I loved. As you can see from the photos, the packaging was really cute and it was definitely fun to receive! Beauty Pie touts itself as being vegan and cruelty free which is great, and something I’m trying to consciously move towards in my beauty routine.
Overall—as long as these products work for my skin—I think the Beauty Pie membership will have been worth it. I don’t feel particularly tied to any one brand for probably 75% or more of my skincare routine. As long as these items work, I’ll be happy to basically use Beauty Pie as a one stop shop every month to replace the things I would normally be buying anyway. It will just be important to make sure that I’m using as much of my allowance as possible and building a basket that gets me the best bang for my buck each month. I am all about crunching the numbers to get my money’s worth!
It’s especially great that Beauty Pie has makeup, body, hair and fragrance products in addition to skincare. That definitely makes me want to try out those lines as well. I also think I’d love how streamlined everything would look on my counter and bathroom if it was all similarly branded.
My two cents:
If you’re only thinking of using Beauty Pie to play around with, or can’t see yourself using it regularly, then it may not be the best for you. Or perhaps maybe it would be worth it only for the short term. Overall I would encourage you to do your own math around what you want, which membership tier you’d need to get it, and how much you’d end up spending in total. Then compare this to what products you might have bought otherwise. For me the price was right, but if you’re finding success with The Ordinary, for example, it may not be for you.
If you do want to give it a shot, you can sign up here using the code IWANTPIE for your first month free, which might make the service just a bit more appealing for you!
I’m going to be slowly incorporating these first two products into my routine over the next month in order to really get a targeted idea of how they both impact my skin, positively or negatively, so watch out for a review of that as well. Let me know if you’ve tried Beauty Pie, and what you think about it! Next month’s purchases are coming up, so I’ll have a whole new crop of goodies to try out soon.