Product Review: Singles Swag Box

Ever since I made the mistake of clicking on one of their Facebook ads, SinglesSwag has been all over my social media like the most persistent Tinder match you’ve ever had. But I was intrigued from the start.

For those of you who aren’t targeted by advertisements for single women, SinglesSwag is a subscription box service that believes “a woman’s happiness is determined by her outlook and attitude, not by her relationship status.” They seek to make single women “look and feel beautiful, while empowering and inspiring them” by sending a monthly box of treats to her doorstep. From images of past boxes on the website, the boxes seem to include a fun, self-help-y book, some makeup or skincare products, jewelry and accessories, and some kind of cookie-treat.

And while none of that is necessarily empowering, it is basically like getting a present when it’s not your birthday (that you paid for yourself, but still).

“Well,” I finally told Grace, “I could review it for the blog?”

That was excuse enough and here we are.

The full-sized boxes, which include 6-7 full sized products, cost $39.99, shipping included. However, thanks to the discount code they’ve been aggressively promoting on my Instagram feed, I got 20% off. For about $32, I got, allegedly, $195 worth of products:

  1. I Was Told There’d Be Cake Essays by Sloane Crosley ($16 according to SS but $14.40 on Amazon)
  2. Laritzy Dew Pot, which is apparently highlighter. ($20 according to SS, but $20 + $4.99 shipping on Laritzy’s website = $24.99)
  3. Oh K! Coconut Water Face Mask Set ($22 according to SS but $11.83 on Amazon, and I couldn’t find it priced at $22 anywhere)
  4. Gemelli Izzy Bracelet Set ($70 according to SS, $72 on Gemelli’s website – %15 new customer discount + $8.96 shipping = $70.16). Gemelli is also a kind of pasta.
  5. Headbands of Hope Heather Tube Turban ($17 according to SS, and on Headbands of Hope website, $16.85 – 15% new customer code + $3.75 shipping = $18.08)
  6. Purlisse Watermelon Energizing Aqua Balm ($45 according to SS, $45 – 10% new customer discount + shipping on Purlisse’s website = $46.45 – random 20% code offered at checkout instead = 41.95)
  7. Lesser Evil Himalayan Gold Coconut Oil Popcorn ($2.50 approximately according to SS (this and the chips were priced together at $5), but 18 bags for $17.09 on Amazon = $0.95 each)
  8. Popchips Ridges Tangy BBQ Potato Chips (~2.50 according to SS, so 24 for $20.89 on Amazon = $0.87 each)

So the overall cost to buy each of the components separately would be $183.23 – $187.73, likely a little more once you factor in tax. SinglesSwag actually underestimated the retail cost of some of the items, but was grossly off base with the sheet masks. This is still obviously a value if I liked over $32 worth of product enough to buy it for myself.

And I think I did. Most of my perception of the box was colored by my initial outrage. You see, previous SinglesSwag boxes included cookie batons or cookie chips or sprinkles or other delicious looking sweets. And when I finally got around to opening up the box, it was 10 at night and I was having a major sugar craving. Then I opened the box to find, prominently featured, Popchips and popcorn.

the offending snack items

“And you can’t even call these full-sized,” I whined to Grace. “They’re snack-sized.”

The Popchips weren’t that good (apparently there is such a thing as too much flavor because eating them felt vaguely like being barbecue-slapped), but I guess I didn’t hate the popcorn as much as I initially thought because I ended up eating the whole bag.

My disappointment continued with the Dew Pot, which is in packaging that makes the amount of product seem even smaller than it already is, and the turban/headwrap, which I knew from the start that I wouldn’t use. (For each headband purchase, they donate a headband to a child cancer patient, so I was also annoyed that I couldn’t be more annoyed at it without feeling like a dick.)

I liked the title of the book and the cover was pretty. It’s readable on a plane but not something I would have picked for myself: a collection of essays published a decade ago by an author who isn’t instinctively likable and writes about mundane things like a move gone wrong or volunteering at a butterfly exhibit. Also, Sloane wrote a whole paragraph denigrating English majors in the publishing industry and I was offended on Grace’s behalf. (“Sloane can go fuck herself.” – Grace’s input.)

Cute, but is it $20 cute?

The sheet masks are by far the cutest and most exciting-looking thing in the box, but they burned in a cool, mint-y sort of way when I tried one on. So much so that I, forever worried about adding a bad egg to my skincare routine, didn’t stick it out for the recommended 15-20 minutes.

The big-ticket items actually ended up being the ones I liked best. The $70 bracelet set was cute even if it’s not really my style – before I realized its price, Grace and I agreed that it was something fancy ladies might wear to do fancy yoga in. I was hesitant about the watermelon moisturizer at first, but it smells like Starbursts and has grown on me with further use.

So, was it worth it?

Yes, in a sense. The more I think about it, the more usable all the items seem. I’ll even be keeping the head wrap to push my hair out of my face when I’m doing skincare/makeup, which means the only items I’m likely giving away are the remaining two face masks and the highlighter (which would look cuter on Grace probably, I’m adding it to the present pile for when you visit me, babe).  I also got a unique thrill out of receiving and opening a package full of surprises, even if I was complaining for a great deal of it; I have to admit that buying something I really loved for $32 wouldn’t give have brought me joy in the same way.

But on the other hand, there was also nothing in the box that I would have bought on my own, nor is there anything that I suddenly can’t live without.

The story of the box itself seemed incoherent at best and mildly offensive at worst. The book is largely about the mistakes of a self-professed, irresponsible, and disaster-prone young professional: relatable in certain respects, but far from aspirational. And if I’m supposed to find that relatable, then the box’s perception of its audience seems to be based on a Gen-Xer’s millennial woman stereotype. Not very empowering. I’m still offended that I got low-calorie snacks instead of cookies – combined with the beauty products it seemed to say lose weight, fit societal beauty standards, wear highlighter, and then you’ll get a man. But that might be my own insecurity talking.

Truth be told, I don’t think they did put very much thought into the message their box was sending. What I received was likely an assortment of negotiated brand-deals with companies that wanted to target women generally like me: a publisher looking to push their quippy, Zoey-Deschanel-character-but-was-also-a-cool-girl-in-high-school author into a new decade, products that fall into the new Asian beauty trend, and overpriced snacks that probably have clever Twitter accounts. This lack of coherent theme almost feels worse but in a vaguely pathetic way, like coming to terms with the fact that Santa really isn’t real at age eleven or following a friendly acquaintance on Instagram and realizing months later they don’t follow you back. 

So, where does that leave us?

Well, it was fun while it lasted, but I wouldn’t buy it again. I also can’t in good faith recommend it to anyone else (but if you know me irl and want a mystery box of thoughtful surprises, I’d be happy to put one together for you!). Cancelling was an annoyance in itself – there’s no button on their website, so you have to write an email and then reply to their email asking for a reason before they’ll cancel. It isn’t a huge inconvenience, but it’s enough steps to seem designed to trick people into renewing for an unwanted month, and that left a bad taste in my mouth.

I’m not sure how to end this review exactly other than simmering ambivalence, so I’ll leave you with a list of what I’d put in a mystery box instead:

  1. A mini candle with an earthy, relaxing scent.
  2. A real beauty blender, because I can never make myself spend $20 on a tool but wish someone would do it for me.
  3. A brownie or rice krispy treat or something else that can come with rainbow sprinkles on top.
  4. A pretty or quippy mug and a bag of chocolatey tea.
  5. A link to a Spotify playlist of up-and-coming musicians that give off really soothing vibes.
  6. A really good fiction novel or a biography/autobiography of an especially badass woman.
  7. A cute pin that you could keep for yourself or give to a friend.

xoxo, Kim

p.s.: this isn’t sponsored, obviously, but hey if any subscription box service wants to send me a free package to denigrate, let me know!!!

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