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Sephora Play! March 2017

Another Sephora Play! is here.  The theme this month is, “The Gleam Team,” and for those of you playing along at home, I got box variant #451.  The bag this month is back to the old usual white cotton, but it does have a pale green ribbon and reads, “Glow Your Own Way,” (thanks for the earworm).

  • GlamGlow Glowstarter – 1.7 oz / $49 – (Product is .24 oz, value of $6.92 by volume)  I received the, “Nude Glow,” color.  I’m.. not impressed.  It’s way too glittery for an all-over moisturizer like it’s supposed to be, and it makes my skin look sparkly, and I’m not down with the whole wanna-be-Twilight-vampire look.  The product is also pretty heavily scented with a fruity vanilla scent which seems nice, until you realize that it’s all over your face, right by your nose, and ends up being way overpowering.  I know everyone talks big about how awesome GlamGlow is, but I’m finding the samples I’ve gotten are pretty unimpressive, especially considering the price.  Oh, and GlamGlow is owned by Estée Lauder, so they’re not cruelty free.
  • Urban Decay Vice Lipstick – .11 oz / $17 – (Product is .03 oz, value of $4.64 by volume)  In the photo, that sample is twisted up the whole way, and you can see the tube is just about the size of the perfume sample, so it’s pretty tiny and most of it is packaging.  Anyway, I received the color, “Big Bang,” which is described as a metallized bright pink sparkle.  By itself, it is a crazy glittery bright pink – something you’d expect to see on Jem and the Holograms, but not something you could actually wear to an office job unless you’re Jem’s concert promoter.  I saw someone say that is better used over another shade as a little shine booster, and I could see that being a far better use for it, so I’ll have to play around with using it over other lipsticks.  Urban Decay is cruelty free, however they’re owned by L’Oreal which isn’t cruelty free.
  • Verb Ghost Oil – 2 oz / $14 – (Product is .57 oz, value of $3.99 by volume)  HAIR OIL!  Except it’s not really oil.  The first 5 ingredients are silicones, a fragrance, then another silicone, and finally three oils and bamboo extract.  Moringa oil is ingredient number 9 out of 15.  So, sadly, WAY too many silicones for me since I don’t use silicones on my hair.  I’m going to stick with using actual oils instead – this is going straight to the trade/give-away pile.  As an up side, Verb is completely cruelty free.
  • Becca Shimmering Skin Protector – 1.7 oz / $41 – (Product is .34 oz, value of $8.20 by volume)  The color I received is, “Opal.”  I tried this out, and I swear to you it’s a direct copy of the GlamGlow product.  It looks nearly exactly the same on a quick swatch with the GlamGlow maybe being just a wee bit less sparkly.  The product has no scent though, so that’s nice, but I basically just got two highlighter cremes and I’m not a fan.  Guys, I really just don’t like highlighters and I don’t like my skin to be sparkly.  Sparkly eyeshadow?  HELL YEAH.  Sparkly, shiny cheekbones?  HARD PASS.  I guess I can keep these around and use them as eyeshadow primers maybe?  Becca was recently acquired by Estée Lauder, so we have two of basically the same sort of product from the same parent company.  Becca had been cruelty free, but their new parent company is definitely not, and it’s unclear yet if Becca will remain cruelty free or not.
  • Atelier Cologne Clémentine California Cologne – 3.3 oz / $130 – (Product is .05 oz, value of $1.97 by volume)  I thought with a name like Clémentine, it would be fruity and sweet, but instead I found the scent has a really unpleasant sharpness to it that drowns out the citrus.  I’m wondering if maybe scents that include pepper just don’t jive with my skin chemistry because every scent with pepper that I’ve tried out has just been atrocious on me.  I did get a little hint of citrus at the beginning, but that faded out pretty quickly and left behind something I had to scrub off because it was bothering me that much.  Oh well, it is still nice to try these on the off-chance that something hits big.  Oh, and Atelier Cologne is not cruelty free.
  • Josie Maran Surreal Skin Argan Finishing Balm – .5 oz / $36 – (Product is .1 oz, value of $7.20)  So, another illuminating moisturizer, but this one has a very, VERY subtle pearlescence that I actually really like.  It’s meant to be used as a moisturizer and makeup primer, so it’s not surprising that it’s primarily silicone based, but it does contain Argan oil and Shea butter.  I feel like this is something my dry skin will love, and it’ll give my skin a boost without the sparkle.  Bonus, Josie Maran is completely cruelty free.

So, overall, the value of the box comes to $32.92 which is pretty much on par with the usual box value.  The box only costs me $10.60 including tax, so the value is about three times the cost which is great.  Unfortunately, this month’s box came with three products that are essentially the same – highlighting products.  Fortunately, I really do love the Josie Maran Finishing Balm, and the brand is a big favorite of mine already since they’re cruelty free, so that’s awesome.  Other than the Josie Maran product though, the rest were a big miss.  I guess I really don’t get the whole craze with highlighters – I do really minimal makeup in terms of foundation/blush (read: generally never) so it’s just not something that’s on my radar really, plus I don’t like that shiny/shimmery/metallic look on my face.  Oh well, hopefully next month will be better!

Sephora Play! February 2017

February’s Sephora Play! just arrived today.  The theme this month was, “The Softer Side,” featuring items that are, as they said, low-key lovely.  The bag is a dusty rose satin bag that has, “Smitten,” printed at the bottom.  Another unique bag, and while I don’t quite know what to do with these, it’s neat to see everything packed in a bag like this, and see a different bag every month.

  • Sephora LashCraft – 5 mL / $7 – (Product is 2.8 mL, value of $3.92 by volume)  This is about half the size of the travel size, but it would’ve been nice to get the full travel size since it’s a Sephora brand product.  You can see from the photo it’s just about the same height as the perfume sample, so this is teeny tiny, definitely meant to only be good for a matter of a few uses to try it out.  I get that Sephora Play! is essentially a sample bag, but it would be nice if the Sephora brand products were a little bigger than a mini sized sample.  Anyway, the wand on this is flat on one side and it’s touted that the formula doesn’t require any chemical makeup removers (which is fine since I don’t use chemical removers, only natural oils to remove mascara, even the waterproof kind, so, moot point for me).  The ingredient list starts off with water, iron oxide, and olive oil esters which is pretty decent.  I found that it did clump up a little – the brush came out heavily saturated with product, so the problem may just be that the trial container doesn’t prepare the brush correctly as it comes out of the tube.  One coat was plenty, and I didn’t find this to be buildable.  A second coat just got sticky and thick and looked awful – one coat is plenty.  The brush though, I do like!  You start with the flat side to coat the length of your lashes and roll the brush to the rounded side as you run the brush over your lashes.  Mixed feelings on this!  It’s okay, but it’s not cruelty free (Sephora brand sells in China), and I’m not really wowed by it.  I do like the innovation with the brush, but it’s not enough as a whole to knock out my top three at the moment.
  • Too Faced Lip Injection (Glossy) – .14 oz / $22 – (Product is .03 oz, value of $4.71 by volume)  I received the color, “Milkshake,” which is a nude color with gold shimmer.  The color payoff isn’t a lot, but it’s enough to make your lips look a little milky white.  Here’s where I admit that I can’t pull off the whole nude lips thing and it makes me look like a corpse.  So, beyond the color, within a few minutes of putting it on, my lips started to tingle.  Then they started to burn.  Quick check on the ingredient list shows, “Capsicum Frutescens Fruit Extract,” and, “Capsicum Frutescens Resin,” in about the middle of the list, so yes, I just inadvertently put hot pepper resin on my lips.  After a few more minutes, my lips had turned bright red, and the burn was so intense that I had to wipe it off, so unfortunately, this is going straight into the trash since there’s no way I could tolerate having this on my lips for more than a minute.  What a terrible product – it left my lips so irritated that they were bright red for over an hour later.  It’s pretty clear that it’s just WAY too much capsicum in the formulation, so I’m not sure how this could be released like this.  I’m not a weenie when it comes to spicy food either, this is just incredibly too much.
  • Bite Beauty Multistick – .17 oz / $24 – (Product is .07 oz, value of $9.88)  The color I received is, “Cashew,” listed as a rose taupe.  Again, nude lips aren’t my thing, but this is meant to be able to do everything from lips to cheeks and eyes, so even if it isn’t flattering on my lips, I can use it as an eye color.  It’s also the wrong color for blush for me, so I’m thinking it’s going to end up just being used for an eyeshadow, but it does look great on me as an eye shadow.  As a lip product, the formula is matte but still creamy and smooth.  As an eye color, it blends out easily.  I’m not sure any of the colors in this line really speak to me (I’m best with berry colors and there isn’t one), but the color, “Mochi,” which is a deep red, might end up coming home with me as a lip color.  I LOVE Bite Beauty already, and they’re cruelty free!
  • Origins GinZing Eye Cream – 15 mL / $30 – (Product is 5 mL, value of $10 by volume)  The first bunch of ingredients on this are water and silicones, but there are a bunch of fruit and plant-based extracts that follow.  The formula is a pearlescent light peach color, so it’s meant to be a luminizer as well.  Personally, I don’t use eye creams because I feel like they don’t really ever do anything noticeable.  This really didn’t do anything for me – my eyes didn’t magically feel, “energized,” nor did my dark circles magically disappear.  And $30 for a full size product from a company that engages in animal testing (they’re owned by Estée Lauder and sell in China) is a hard pass for me.
  • Tom Ford Neroli Portofino – 1 oz / $145 – (Product is .05 oz, value of $7.25 by volume)  Probably one of the more expensive perfumes we’ve gotten!  I actually like this a little – not enough to blow $145 on an ounce, but it’s nice.  It’s soft and fresh, but something (the lavender maybe?) makes it smell a little soapy.  I’d have loved for the citrus notes to come out more, but it comes out smelling like lavender soap on me.  It’s not awful, but again, not something I’d be willing to spend $145 on.
  • Clinique Hydroblur Moisturizer – .5 oz / $9.50 – (Product is .24 oz, value of $4.56 by volume)  The ingredient list is pretty disappointing.  It starts with water and glycerin, then polymers and silicones, and a few decent oils/butters (Shea, mango seed, squalane, beeswax).  Overwhelmingly, it’s water, glycerin, and silicone based, and goes on more like a silicone based primer than a moisturizer.  It goes on matte and a little ‘grabby’ (not sticky or tacky, but as if it would help makeup stick and stay better), so it would definitely work best right under makeup.  This probably wouldn’t make the cut as my sole moisturizer since I have super dry skin, but it’ll work well as a primer.  I’d probably not purchase this myself since again, the company is owned by Estée Lauder and engages in animal testing.

Overall, the value this month comes to $40.32 which is great and definitely on the higher end for this box!  It only costs me $10.60 per month including tax, so that’s nearly four times the cost.  Unfortunately, one product is a complete loss (the Too Faced Lip Injection), so it brings down the personal value to $35.61, but that’s about in line with prior boxes anyway.  I may not completely like all the products, but I did get a chance to try them and will likely use the rest of them even if they’re not necessarily items I’d purchase.  The stand-out product for me is the Bite Beauty Multistick and I do really love it as an eye shadow color.  I’m a little disappointed by the continued inclusion of Estée Lauder products – it seems a little like Estée Lauder is sponsoring the box and I’m just not interested in the company or any of the products from their subsidiaries.  Hey, Sephora, let’s see a 100% cruelty free box, huh?!  Or one without an Estée Lauder brand in it?

Sephora Play! January 2017

Hey a (kinda) timely post for once!  This edition of Sephora Play! came in a few weeks ago with a theme, “Beauty, Set, Go,” which they say is a selection of, “super effective, ultra-hydrating skin care, makeup, and hair care to detox and refuel your beauty routine.”  Ehh, I’d say it’s a big miss on the theme here outside of maybe two items.  If you’re looking to “detox” (which IMHO is one of those goofy buzzwords – you detox every time you breathe or sweat, products can’t do it for you), why would you use products that are tested on animals or hair products that contain loads of chemicals instead of natural ingredients?  I had hoped for a more cruelty free and vegan/natural set of products, but no such luck.  The bag this time is white nylon with mesh on the back and reads, “Sweat is Just Another Way to Glow.”  Cute!  I like that they’re switching up the bags now.

  • AmorePacific Color Control Cushion Compact – 1.05 oz / $60 – (Product is .1 oz, value of $5.71 by volume)  I don’t use foundation a whole lot, but I have tried this product before.  It’s.. okay.  Neither color really works well on my skin, and I have no need for SPF 50 in my foundation since I tend to only use foundation in the evenings for special occasions and not as an everyday thing.  It bothers me A LOT that a chemical blocker is added to most foundations and creams anymore since I’d rather it be a choice than a mandate.  I don’t need SPF at night!  The sample size here is also a matter of a gripe – once the pouch is opened, there’s no way to give it a quick test and then use it later since it doesn’t re-seal.
  • Ouai Treatment Masque – 2.4 oz / $32 – (Product is .5 oz, value of $6.67 by volume)  Another super heavily perfumed product from OUAI that I can’t use on my hair since I don’t use silicones on my hair.  There are some really quality ingredients in there, but they’re ruined by the silicones and a really curious ingredient, “Chlorphenesin,” which Wikipedia lists as a muscle relaxant that can cause allergic contact sensitivity.  Not putting that anywhere near my dry scalp, no thanks.  It does beg the question though, is Ouai the new Harvey Prince of Sephora boxes?  There have been two products from this company that I haven’t been able to use on my hair and found to be overly perfumed.  Not a fan, Sephora, not a fan.
  • Clinique Almost Lipstick – .07 oz / $17 – (Product is .04 oz, value of $9.71)  It’s supposed to be a universally flattering color and does go on rather sheer so that you can build a deeper color if you want.  I found it to be way too dark for my tastes (I prefer berry and red colors) and it tipped a little too far into an icky black/brown on my lips, even with just one swipe.  The formula is nice though, moisturizing yet still light, I’m just not into the color.
  • Tarte FRXXXTION Stick Exfoliating Cleanser – 1 oz / $22 – (Product is .22 oz, value of $4.84 by volume)  This is a neat way to apply an exfoliating cleanser!  I like the idea that it’s in a tube as a solid gel, but you still have to work it into your skin with your fingers, so it’s not like it keeps your hands from getting messy.  The exfoliation is like a very fine dust instead of a coarse sugar scrub, so it’s gentle, but not too gentle.  You can still feel the grit working away at your skin as you work it around your skin.  I’m not sure I’d buy it since I prefer scrubs that are more coarse (dry skin, so it needs a heavy exfoliation), but it’s a neat idea, and I’m glad I got to try this!
  • Farmacy Honey Potion – 4.1 oz / $56 – (Product is .32 oz, value of $4.37 by volume)  I have to admit that this is the product I’m most interested in out of the box.  I’m a beekeeper, so a honey potion mask?  YES PLEASE.  The ingredient list shows they use a whole bunch of bee products from Honey to Propolis and even Royal Jelly in addition to herbs and vitamins.  I haven’t yet tried this, but I use honey as the carrier for powdered clay masks all the time, so I know this is going to be right up my alley.
  • Tory Burch Love Relentlessly – 1.7 oz / $86 – (Product is .05 oz, value of $2.53 by volume)  It’s.. okay.  It’s not something I’d buy for myself, but it’s not a mess of florals, so I’ll at least end up using this sample.  It comes out just a little bit too cotton candy sweet for my liking – I’d have preferred the sandalwood to deepen it and make it a little richer, but it’s just not happening for me.

Overall the value of the box comes out to $33.83 which is a great value when you consider it only costs me $10.60 including tax per month.  I guess this one was a bit of a disappointment this time around since the hair masque and lipstick are huge misses for me and the two items I do like, the Tarte exfoliator and Farmacy mask just barely squeak out to cover the cost.  I know, I’m more of a cruelty free makeup maven, so this isn’t quite a good fit, but for only $10 a month, I really enjoy getting the samples, even if they’re sometimes misses.  I still get to try things I wouldn’t normally try, so that’s a win for me!

Sephora Play! December 2016

December’s Sephora Play! arrived before the holidays, but you know how crazy things get with travel and such, so this is just going up on the blog now.  The theme was, “The Partygoers,” and featured items that were must haves for the party season.  I was expecting a little more glitz and glam, maybe a glittery eye shadow or something like that, so this one didn’t really live up to my expectations.  The black bag with gold lettering was a nice change of pace though!

  • Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara – .2 oz / $30 – (Product is .1 oz, value of $15 by volume)  So, it’s black mascara.  Really basic, not so much party themed.  I’m.. just not excited.  I would’ve liked something different like a glitter eyeliner or I don’t know, something else.  We did just get a black mascara in the August box as well, so.. meh?  I feel like I have SO much black mascara at this point, unless it’s some new brand that’s cruelty free, I really am just neutral on this.  I’ll use it, but.. eh.
  • Make Up For Ever Step 1 Smoothing Primer – 1 oz / $37 – (Product is .16 oz, value of $5.92 by volume)  This is in the Natural finish, “Base Lissante,” and is basically a lightly tinted silicone based primer.  Again, nothing really earth shattering here, it goes on matte, but I didn’t feel like it did anything spectacular or fill in lines or improve texture like it says it’s supposed to.
  • Sephora Cream Lip Stain – 5 mL / $14 – (Product is 1.3 mL, value of $3.64 by volume)  I received the color, “01 Always Red,” which is labelled as a matte bold classic red.  It’s definitely as advertised!  The red is stunningly perfect and goes on like a matte lip cream and stays put.  So far, I’m pretty impressed with this and love that it’s matte without feeling too drying.
  • Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray – 4 oz / $31 – (Product is .5 oz, value of $3.88 by volume)  This is a product I already know and love and actually fits the theme pretty well since it keeps your makeup right where you put it, easily keeping your makeup perfect all night.  It’s nice to have this as a sample size to tote along with me!
  • Drybar Bay Breeze Hydrating Shot – 4 x .5 oz – $38 – (Product is .5 oz, value of $9.50)  This is a nope for my curly hair.  It contains silicones – in fact, the 3rd ingredient is a silicone – so for a low to no shampoo regimen, this is a nope.  This specific silicone, amodimethicone, builds up on hair and won’t wash out without using a harsh sulfated shampoo that I won’t use, so this is going to the trade/share pile.
  • Elizabeth James Nirvana Bourbon – 1.7 oz / $85 – (Product is .07 oz, value of $3.50)  I’ve gotten a couple of samples of this, but I do really like it.  It’s a warm, woody scent that’s right up my alley with a blend of vanilla bourbon, oakwood and a nearly unnoticeable hint of tuberose.  It’s not overwhelming or too sticky sweet, but it makes for a nice twist on plain old vanilla that’s got a great warmth and richness to it.

The total value comes to $41.44 for a box that only cost me $10.60 including tax.  I’m super disappointed with the hair product, but I generally will be disappointed with hair products since I’m so picky about what I put in my hair.  The winner out of the box for me was the cream lip stain with the setting spray a close second, but the two together really don’t quite cover the cost of the box.  This one just kind of fell flat for me – I really did expect more glitz and glam for a party themed box.  Oh well, looking forward to the next one!

Sephora Play! November 2016


Oh man am I behind, like, crazy behind.  Yes, this November edition of Sephora Play! arrived on time as usual, but it’s been sitting around until I had time to sit down and actually review it.  Things get pretty crazy this time of year and with all the other commitments, the first thing to go is keeping up with the blog.  But hey!  Better late than never, right?

  • The Estee Edit Dissolve The Drama – 6.7 oz / $32 – (Product is .5 oz, value of $2.39  by volume)  I’m a total ingredient-reader, but the only way I could find a printed list of ingredients for this product was in the Sephora Q&A section – Estee Lauder doesn’t even have a list on their website!  Anyway, the first oil is 9th out of 17 on the ingredient list, the first 7 being chemically derived thickening agents.  Really unimpressive.  The whole Estee Edit line is really unappealing to me since it feels like it’s trying too hard to be something young and hip but still using the same tired old ingredients and formulas in a new package.  This has a very light fragrance that I don’t find appealing (stinky floral) and the texture is odd – like rubbing alcohol and oil at the same time.  I won’t even dare bring this near my eyes to try it since they’re too sensitive and I love my plain jojoba oil for makeup removal MUCH better.
  • Cover FX Illuminating Primer – 1 oz / $38 – (Product is .16 oz, value of $6.08 by volume)  This is WAY too light for my skin.  I didn’t find that it illuminated so much as visibly lightened and I’m already a pretty fair shade of pale to begin with.  I probably couldn’t use this all over my face, just in areas where I needed a highlighting boost.  Honestly, I prefer a more matte look and this definitely leaves behind a dewy sort of look that I don’t like.
  • Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color – 1.64 g / $29 – (Product is 1 g, value of $17.68 by volume)  The color I received is, “Rose Gold,” which is pretty much just plain gold (not like Apple’s new name for pink).  I’m not a huge fan of cream/stick eyeshadows like this since they tend to crease, but I haven’t had a chance to try it out just yet, so the verdict is out so far!  The color goes on nice and blends easily though so I’ll still use it, I’m just not huge on the formula.
  • Sephora Ultra Shine Lip Gel – .11 oz / $12 – (Product is .1 oz, value of $10.90 by volume)  The color I received is, “Pin-Up Pink,” a pretty bright, almost neon pink.  There’s really barely any color payoff, so the color isn’t nearly as intense on as it looks in the tube.  For a gloss, it’s not that sticky and actually feels nicely moisturizing.  There’s a light bubblegum scent/flavor to it that’s actually surprisingly nice!
  • GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment – 1.2 oz / $69 – (Product is .3 oz, value of $17.25 by volume)  My first thought was, DAMN, that’s pretty expensive for what’s basically a mud mask.  The ingredient list has a decent concentration of an ingredient that contains AHA and BHA which my skin responds pretty well to, plus the usual clay and charcoal.  Unfortunately, it has a very heavy peppermint scent to it as well as including peppermint oil, so that’s a total deal breaker for me.  I did try it out since I had the sample.  The formula is a medium to thin consistency and a dark grey from the charcoal with little bits/chunks of what are apparently tea leaves in the formula.  You’re supposed to use it very thinly which may allow for about 3 applications in the sample tube.  The peppermint makes it feel cooling, but it also caused my eyes to water since the scent is rather strong and after a little while my skin felt like it was burning too (I seem to be a little sensitive to peppermint oil).  Did it work wonders on my skin?  Ehh.  Not $69 for just over an ounce of product miracles, but my skin did feel toned without feeling tight, so it was nice, but not quite worth the price tag.  Between the peppermint and the price, this was fun to try, but I’d never buy it.
  • Stella McCartney Pop Eau de Parfum – 1.6 oz / $72 – (Product is .05 oz, value of $2.25)  The musk doesn’t balance out the awful florals enough to make this wearable for me, so this is another in a long line of floral fails for me.  It’s not as terrible as some of the other samples, but it’s definitely not one I could wear and not want to wash off in under 10 minutes.  I still prefer the cedarwood, sandalwood, and musks by themselves without any of the violet or plumeria.

For a value, this box totals up to $56.55 which is a great value when you consider I only paid $10.60 for the box including tax!  This box was less of a hit than others since I really didn’t like half of the box, but the half I did like was where the big values were with the eye color and mud mask.  I mean, even if I didn’t necessarily like the mask, I’m glad I had a chance to try it, especially since it has such a high price tag for the full size.  And hey, the box is all about trying new things, so that works!  Looking forward to December’s box!