Ipsy is literally only $10. No surprise tax. So I already liked it better right off the bat because of that. The pricing feels more honest. Ipsy also doesn't have a store front, and definitely not in my state, so it makes sense that they don't charge me sales tax.
In case you can't tell already, Ipsy is the clear winner in my opinion, but let me tell you why.
Besides being upfront about their pricing, they also give you more for your $10. Both services give you 5 beauty products, usually sample-sized (every now and then there is a full-sized product, but it's mostly sample-sizes and deluxe-sample-sizes). But Ipsy also gives you a little make-up pouch too. So that's a bonus. Birch box items come in a cute box but that's less useful to me personally than a small zippered pouch that I can actually use (they're great for carrying make-up in my purse, I've used them for coins, and they're perfect for travel).
One of the reasons I decided to try Birchbox was that as a first-time subscriber, I got an entire bonus box of 5 items, FREE, shipped with my first box (which is why the photo above shows 10 items instead of 5).
Unfortunately, most of the items are things that were redundant (multiple moisturizers), and I actually received duplicate mascaras. Yeah, that's right, they couldn't even send me 10 DIFFERENT samples. I got 2 mascaras. And the mascara freakin' sucked too, which didn't help me feel better about being given identical items. And one of the eye serum samples was soooo small that I got literally 3 uses out of it. That's not even long enough to know if I like the product or can see results. The tube was mostly air. And the CC Cream sample I received was so small I thought it was a joke. I can maybe use it once, so it's not even good to take on weekend trip unless I'm only going to be gone for literally one day with no overnight stay. I also received FOUR hair products. I don't want THAT many hair products. I primarily was hoping to try out new make-up.
Ipsy gives larger sample sizes, and you won't get duplicates. I bought my daughter an Ipsy subscription and for the month of December she received a full-sized eyeliner, a mini Smashbox lipstick (in a shade of red that screams "Take no prisoners"), a full-size eyeshadow, an eyeshadow brush, and 2 sheet masks (so technically that was SIX ITEMS!), but I was actually jealous and went and immediately signed up for Ipsy myself. Unfortunately I was too late to get a December bag, but I took a sneak peek at what I'll be receiving in January and I don't think I'll be disappointed (thought it's not as awesome as the December bag, but still, at least it's not 40% hair products and 2 identical mascaras).
My final verdict is that Ipsy is simply better in every way. You get more items for less money. The items are actually things I want to use, and I think the value exceeds the price point. Also, it's a fun surprise to get every month for a mere $10. TEAM IPSY!!!
Disclosure time: I am plugging my daughter's referral link in here because she would LOVE to get some Ipsy reward points, and it would totally make her day if you used her code to sign up! She is having a lot of fun playing with her goodies and it was definitely the right present for her as she learns how she wants to express herself. If you don't already subscribe and want to, click her link HERE. Not that I haven't already linked it all over this review or anything. ;) So you should use her code to sign up. THINK OF THE CHILDREN.