In today’s hustle and bustle culture, it can feel like there are more demands on our time than ever before. Between pandemic-induced stressors American Psychological Association “Stress in America™ 2021: Pandemic impedes basic decision-making ability” View Source and the blurring of the lines between work and everything else, many folks find it difficult to find time to unwind. That could help explain why there’s now an entire industry McKinsey “Feeling good: The future of the $1.5 trillion wellness market” View Source devoted to wellness and feeling good.
Self-care subscription services take the guesswork out of how to adopt a wellness or self-care routine. When you sign up for a self-care subscription box, you regularly receive a package filled with products and tips to help you destress. There are self-care subscription boxes for every interest—from options for folks who like to relax with a hot bath to those who’d prefer to curl up with a good book. Self-care subscription services are made to help you carve out some time for yourself. But do they really work in reducing stress and promoting well-being?
To find out, our team put the top self-care subscription boxes to the test. Over the course of three weeks, we sampled the boxes and ranked them on the quality of products inside, as well as how easy or difficult the boxes made it to adopt a self-care routine. We also tracked how the boxes contributed to a sense of overall well-being (anecdotally, of course). Finally, we dug into the research and interviewed a licensed psychologist about how to take time for yourself without turning it into another item on your to-do list.
Here’s the TL;DR on how the best self-care subscription boxes stack up:
- Calmbox (Top Pick)
- Hygge Box (Best for Gifting)
- FabFitFun (Best for Beauty Products)
- TheraBox (Best for Feel-Good Products)
The Best Self-Care Subscription Box
- Ships monthly to U.S. locations
- Includes 5–7 full-size products with a focus on relaxation
- Products may include calming music, candles for meditation, organic snacks, and stress-relief lotions and masks
- Well-curated products make it easy to adopt to a routine
- Easy to order, pause, and cancel the service
- Ships quickly
- No customization
Calmbox easily took the “best overall” category. The subscription service is easy to order, pause, and cancel, and it ships in one to three days—a bonus if you want to dive into self-care right away. In my experience, the best self-care subscription boxes have a theme (like “relaxation” or “healing”), plus guidance on how to incorporate the products into your routine. Calmbox hits all those high notes. It was a cinch to begin using the products the moment my box arrived. Additionally, I could use several of the products at the same time, which deepened the self-care experience and made me feel like I was really taking time for myself.
I loved unwrapping my Calmbox, which came in a compact package, about the size of a shoe box. The theme was “quiet reflection,” and it included the following products:
- Restful Aromas lavender aromatherapy sleep balm
- Essential Botanicals Handmade Relaxation lavender bath salts
- Fog and Mitten soothing eye mask
- Peaceful Botanics lavender self-care hand cream
- Twinings of London Peppermint-vanilla tea
- Four Sigmatic hot cocoa with reishi
An index card offered tips for how to incorporate the products into my daily routine. But even without the card, it was easy to mix and match the products as part of a self-care routine at the end of a stressful day. On the first night of testing, for example, I brewed a cup of peppermint-vanilla tea and applied the hand cream and aromatherapy sleep balm before snuggling into bed with the eye mask. I slept like a baby (note: as the mom of a toddler, what I actually mean is that I slept better than a baby).
Some people love that subscription boxes expose them to new products (think of your classic wine- or coffee-lover’s subscription). The same is true here. I would never have tried hot cocoa with reishi, for example, but it’s now my favorite sweet beverage.
Still, what I loved most about Calmbox was that I could combine the products into a sort of self-care bonanza by using five of the six products all at once. During one night of testing, I brewed a cup of the tea and prepared a bath with the bath salts (which were a bit messy, but smelled amazing). I then crawled into bed with the hand cream, sleep balm, and eye mask. I felt like I was floating on lavender clouds as I drifted off to sleep.
If signing up for a self-care subscription box is about taking the guesswork out of caring for yourself, Calmbox is the easy winner. It takes almost zero brainpower to figure out how to use the products in combination with each other (that’s a plus, from my perspective). And the focus on relaxation worked well for me, as a busy mom who typically doesn’t get enough sleep.
If you don’t like lavender, this box would probably have been a turn-off. And you can’t customize the products that come in your Calmbox—a perk some competitors offer. Even with those caveats, this is a great option if you’re looking to jump-start a self-care routine.
Are Self-Care Subscription Boxes Worth It?
Self-care subscription boxes are intended for anyone who wants to adopt a regular, consistent self-care routine. The practice of self-care means different things to different people International Journal of Nursing Sciences “Self-Care: A Concept Analysis” View Source , but most think of it as a form of love and attention that you give to yourself without consulting with a medical professional. A self-care routine won’t typically address the root causes of stress, but it may help you better manage and recover from the business of daily life. A word of caution: self-care isn’t a substitute for medical care. You should consult with a medical or mental health professional if you’re feeling anxious or depressed.
“Taking care of yourself is fundamental to feeling good,” says Seattle-based psychologist Lena Neufeld, who primarily works with teens and young adults. “For me, self-care means taking time to do things you enjoy—that can be as simple as making a cup of tea or going for a long walk, or setting up a more formal routine.” Even practicing five or ten minutes of self-care can help you function better in your daily life, says Neufeld. Early studies indicate that self-care may be a promising strategy BMJ Global Health “Are formal self-care interventions for healthy people effective? A systematic review of the evidence ” View Source in preventative health.
Another key factor: People like receiving mail Gallup “Four in 10 Americans Look Forward to Checking Mail” View Source ! It’s no wonder, then, that part of the allure of these boxes is discovering a package filled with items to facilitate a little R & R.
One key piece of advice from Neufeld: When you’re setting up a self-care routine, focus on creating an experience you crave. For example, if you’re sleep-deprived, think about a nighttime routine that helps you get to bed a little earlier. Or, if your morning routine leaves you frazzled, consider waking up a few minutes early to meditate.
“Most of the most important self-care is really checking in and making yourself the priority,” Neufeld says. “The products should be in service of the experience—not the other way around.”
The Nessie Rating: Helpful
You can’t treat depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions with a package, no matter how regularly it’s delivered. But these subscription boxes can provide a way for you to devote some time to yourself, which is a big component of self-care. As long as you’re able to cancel or pause the subscription when needed—surprise charges and packages are not good for the soul!—a self-care subscription box could make your days a little brighter.
How We Got Here
Meet Your Guinea Pig
My name is Jessica Bernhard, and I’m a writer and editor focusing on outdoor and lifestyle brands. I’ve edited and fact-checked dozens of wellness-related articles, and you can find my work in outlets like REI Co-op’s Uncommon Path, Avocado Magazine, and UltraSignup. I’m also a sleep-deprived toddler mom who could routinely use a little more “me” time.
Our Testing Process
I tested five of the top self-care subscriptions boxes for three nights each, and spent more than 25 hours donning eye pillows, slathering on face masks, and meditating on acupressure pillows. Then, I evaluated each of the boxes based on how easy they were to order, how quickly they shipped, and the quality and efficacy of the products. I also evaluated how easy (or not) it was to pause or cancel the services—surprise charges and deliveries can’t be good for the self-care process.
At the end of each testing window, I assessed my overall sense of well-being using a self-report inventory—the goal was to get a higher score than I had before. One of the boxes that I tested, Earthlove, recently suspended its subscription service, which is why it isn’t included in this guide. You can read my test notes about this box and the other boxes included in this guide here.
Who Should Invest in a Self-Care Subscription Box?
Self-care subscription boxes are for anyone who wants to focus on themselves more in their daily life. Although these boxes are often marketed to women, they’re suitable for everyone. Self-care subscription boxes are often filled with products you can buy elsewhere, so they’re also a good way to try out new products, especially in the beauty and relaxation spaces.
Self-care subscription boxes eliminate a lot of the hassle of establishing a routine by selecting all or most of the products for you, and regularly delivering them to your door. For people who are busy or stressed, the boxes take a lot of the legwork out of getting started. It can be difficult to maintain a self-care routine over time. These boxes help with consistency by regularly introducing you to new products you’ll want to try. Plus, the delivery can serve as a nice invitation to pick up your self-care routine if you’ve been prioritizing other parts of life.
What Matters Most When Buying a Self-Care Subscription Box?
There are a few factors to consider when signing up for a subscription service. The most important features to pay attention to include:
- Cost: It’s a good idea to consider your budget before investing in a self-care subscription service. Most self-care subscription boxes cost between $30 and $70 per box, with some boxes shipping monthly (as with Calmbox, Hygge Box, and TheraBox) and others quarterly (like FabFitFun). This can add up quickly! A $30 box that ships monthly, for example, ends up costing nearly $400 a year with shipping and tax. Some boxes have 3-, 6- and 12-month options that let you save money. Think about the kind of investment you want to make, and plan from there.
- Shipping: Another factor to consider, related to cost, is shipping. Some boxes ship free to most U.S. locations (as with Calmbox and FabFitFun). Other boxes charge a flat rate, which can range from $4.99 (like Therabox) to $10 or more (as with Hygge Box). Be sure to factor in the cost of shipping when choosing your box.
- Customization: Do you like shopping for yourself, or do you prefer to be surprised? Some boxes (like FabFitFun) allow a high degree of customization. Other services (like Calmbox, Hygge Box, and TheraBox) choose for you. Select the box that meets your current needs.
- What Self-Care Means to You: Most people can identify when they’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, but it isn’t always as easy to solve the problem, or even temporarily relieve the stress. The first step to practicing self-care could be reflecting on what you need a little more of in your life right now. “One day, self-care might be going on a walk with a friend, but the next day it’s cooking a meal for your family,” Neufeld says.
- Misplaced Packages: Will you be available to intercept packages that land on your doorstep? Some self-care subscription boxes, including TheraBox, do not accept responsibility for misplaced packages. Take this into account if you frequently won’t be available to accept the box.
- Unused Products: Even with the boxes I loved, I ended up with unused products. If you’re like me and looking for a way to donate unused products, check out Project Beauty Share, which serves women who are overcoming abuse, addiction, homelessness and poverty. Your local shelter or food bank may also accept unused beauty products.
Other Self-Care Subscription Boxes To Consider
Best for Gifting
- Ships monthly to U.S. locations
- Standard and deluxe options available
- 3-, 6- and 12-month subscription options available
- Includes 4–5 full-size products with a focus on comfort
- Products may include candles or fairy lights, hot drinks like tea, coffee or cocoa, and biscuits or chocolate
- Well-curated products make it easy to adopt a self-care routine
- Small shipping window each month can mean waiting for your box to ship
- No customization
We could all use a little comfort in our lives, so it’s easy to see why the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”) has taken off in recent years. Hygge Box is about promoting the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you pull on your favorite sweater or bite into a melty piece of chocolate. The brand says it aims to preserve “happiness [every day],” but what really stood out to me about this box was how luxe it was. Every product in my box—from the English breakfast tea to the cleansing oil—felt a little extra. In a good way.
Hygge Box ships between the 15th and 18th of every month for orders placed by the last day of the previous month. That could mean waiting more than a month for your box. But the box is worth the wait. The products in my “nature and nurture” themed Hygge Box included:
- Good & Proper English breakfast tea
- Apricot cleansing oil
- Bamboo face towel
- Belyse Scandi-design candle (a simple yet beautiful candle)
- chuao honeycomb chocolate
If you love discovering luxury products, or if you’re looking for the perfect gift to make a friend, family member, or close colleague feel spoiled, Hygge Box could be for you. The box includes fewer items than some of its competitors, but its top-shelf products make you feel like you’re getting a lot for your money. You can also upgrade to a deluxe version of the box, which starts at $49 per month.
Like Calmbox, It was easy to see how to incorporate the Hygge Box products into a self-care routine. One evening, after getting my kiddo to bed, I lit the candle, cracked open the chocolate bar, and read my book for an hour. Another day, I incorporated the cleansing oil into my morning routine. Then, I padded downstairs and brewed a cup of the strong and tasty tea.
There are a couple of other perks that set Hygge Box apart: A rewards program for subscribers lets you take advantage of promotions and discounts over time. And Hygge Box donates a portion of the proceeds from each box to One Tree Planted, a 501c(3) that supports reforestation projects.
If you or (your giftee) has food allergies, this probably isn’t the box for you: Hygge Box’s snacks often contain wheat, nuts and/or dairy. And, the cancellation process wasn’t easy: The site timed out several times when I was trying to log into my account, and I ended up having to email the customer service for assistance canceling my subscription, even though the FAQ page spells out the process fairly clearly. Still, even with those drawbacks, I loved Hygge Box. I found myself looking forward to using the choice products, and while the items didn’t melt my stress away, they definitely made me feel a little more joyful.
Best for Beauty Products
- Ships quarterly to the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.
- Annual and seasonal subscription options available
- Includes up to 8 full-size products with a focus on fashion, fitness and beauty
- Free shipping to U.S. locations; shipping fees apply for Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Canada, and the U.K.
- Products may include fashion, fitness, beauty, wellness and tech picks, along with customizable selections
- Ships quickly
- Easy to order, pause, and cancel
- Highly customizable
- Isn’t always intuitive to see how to incorporate the products into a self-care routine
FabFitFun is the self-care subscription box for you if you love sampling new products but don’t have time to shop for yourself. This was the biggest, most colorful box to land on my doorstep, and I was instantly excited to sample its contents. FabFitFun is also highly customizable. Upon signup, the site asks you for info about your general interests and sizing, and both annual and seasonal subscriptions allow you to choose products you’re interested in trying. I was able to pick four products from about six total items. Seasonal subscribers can choose four products from about six total items, whereas annual subscribers are invited to choose all six products that ship in their box.
Have I mentioned that I’m a busy mom? For that reason alone, I loved getting to hand select the products in my FabFitFun box. My box included:
- Christophe Robin regenerating hair mask
- Daily Concepts facial brush
- Winky Lux lip oil
- eyeko double act shadow stick
- Favor spoon rest
- Koral leg weights
- Halston pumice stone and foot booties
- yogawakeup accupressure yoga pillow
But despite my initial enthusiasm, it wasn’t immediately obvious how to use the products, especially for self-care. I ended up trying (and sometimes failing) to use the products throughout the day. For example, I sampled the regenerating hair mask, facial brush, lip oil, and eyeshadow as I was getting ready in the morning. I tried to remember to use the spoon rest while I was cooking dinner and the leg weights while I was working out (though the lavender ankle weights spent more time looking pretty in my living room). A couple nights, I spent time unwinding with the acupressure pillow, then treated my feet to a spa experience with the pumice stone and foot booties.
FabFitFun could be a good option if you’re in the phase of identifying your ideal form of self-care. Do you think you might love whipping up a healthy and delicious meal? Or do you really want to carve out 30 minutes to exercise each day? The variety of products that come in this box let you sample different wellness activities.
It might seem like eight full-size products is a lot—and it is. But FabFitFun ships quarterly, meaning that you have a good three months to burn through the items in your box. If for some reason you run out of products, or if you want to sample additional products in between boxes, you can head to FabFitFun’s online store. Similar to Hygge Box, the offerings there are often discounted.
While fun to sample, this box didn’t reduce my stress levels much, and I can’t say that any of the products helped me sleep better (my preferred form of self-care). All that said, I did love pampering myself with the name-brand products.
Best for Feel-Good Products
- Ships monthly to U.S. and international locations
- 3-, 6- and 12-month subscription options available
- Includes 6–8 full-size products with a focus on self-love and relaxation
- Products may include mindful activities, journals, aromatherapy, and beauty products
- Easy to order, pause, and cancel
- Packaging is mostly recyclable
- Small shipping window each month can mean waiting for your box to ship
- TheraBox doesn’t accept responsibility for lost packages marked as “delivered” by a postal carrier
- No customization
Customers love TheraBox. Publications ranging from Verywell Mind to Brides rank it as the top self-care subscription box of 2022, so I was excited to give it a try. TheraBox says it focuses on promoting happiness through wellness and beauty products. Boxes also include a single “happiness-boosting” activity. The service works with brands that have a giveback mission and/or products with a comparatively lower environmental impact. Most of the packaging was recyclable, save for a couple plastic wrappers.
My “healer” themed TheraBox included:
- Hair mask scalp treatment and shampoo
- Eucalyptus essential oil shower and spa spray
- Overnight recovery face cream
- Bamboo cleaning cloths
- CBD vitamin D3 spray
- Strawberry lip balm
- Skin reboot peeling face mask
- Toilet tissue moisturizer (an alternative to wet wipes that you spray on toiler paper)
- Pawsitivity cards
TheraBox shipped with the most comprehensive user information of all the self-care subscription boxes I tested. Still, even with the detailed booklet explaining each product and its origins, it took some effort to figure out how to integrate the products into a self-care routine. Like my experience with FabFitFun, I ended up using the TheraBox products when I could carve out some time.
For example, I sampled the hair mask and eucalyptus spray (which I loved) during my morning shower. One night, I took a bath and used the sheet mask, which turned out to be the perfect, easy pick-me-up after chasing after my toddler around all day. Another night, I tried the overnight recovery face cream and the strawberry lip balm before tucking myself into bed.
I found some of the other products less appealing. The Pawsitivity cards featured animal-inspired puns like “my im-purr-fection makes me special and unique,” that were meant to be uplifting but somehow left me feeling worse off. And I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the toilet tissue moisturizer.
If your version of self-care involves unwinding with a face mask and journal prompt, TheraBox could be a good fit. It’s also a natural choice for those who want to sample wellness products with a relatively low environmental impact. Not every product in the TheraBox is 100% organic, but many of the brands it partners with take an environmentally conscious approach to manufacturing and packaging.
It’s been nearly a month since I tested the box and I’m still using the eucalyptus spray in the shower (it’s almost like I’m in a steam room, if I close my eyes). And I love the strawberry lip balm, which has a petroleum- and paraben-free formula that’s safe enough for my toddler to use.
Like Hygge Box and FabFitFun, TheraBox has an online store that sells products that have been featured in past boxes. It also publishes an informative blog with info about products and boxes. One notable drawback: The brand says it consults with licensed therapists to curate its boxes, but I didn’t find TheraBox to be any more therapeutic than the other boxes I sampled. Additionally, the brand doesn’t accept responsibility for lost or stolen boxes that have been marked “delivered”; keep this in mind if you won’t be available to intercept your box when it arrives.
- Interview with Lena Neufeld, Licensed Psychologist (May 10, 2022).
- Self-care means different things to different people: “Self-care: A concept analysis,” International Journal of Nursing Sciences (October 2021).
- Early studies indicate that self-care may be a promising strategy in preventative health: “Are formal self-care interventions for healthy people effective? A systematic review of the evidence,” BMJ Global Health (November 2019).
- “Self-care interventions to advance health and wellbeing: a conceptual framework to inform normative guidance,” BMJ Global Health (April 2019).
- “Your Healthiest Self: Wellness Toolkits,” National Institutes of Health (August 2021).
- “Care for Yourself: One Small Way Each Day,” Centers for Disease Control (July 2021).
Our research and review process is intended for informational purposes only—never as a substitute for medical treatment, diagnosis, or advice. Recommendations or information found on this site do not infer a doctor-patient relationship. Always consult a healthcare provider if you have questions about how a product, service, or intervention may impact your individual physical or mental health. Our evaluations of products, services, and interventions have not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration. Information and research about health changes frequently. Therefore, some details or advice on this site may not be up-to-date with current recommendations. The Nessie is an independent publication and is not in any way affiliated with the production or creation of products, providers, services, or interventions featured in reviews or articles on the site.