Sephora Play! May 2017

May’s Sephora Play! has arrived!  For those of you that are avid Sephora Play! fans, my box variant was #264, and my profile is set to dry skin and dry hair.  Unfortunately, it seems like the profile went out the window this month since I got products that are all for “Normal to Oily” skin or oily scalp.  Complete miss on the product selection there, Sephora.  The theme this month was, “The Rising Stars,” and I think this might be the first theme that they actually paid attention to the theme.  All those brands are relatively new and are gaining popularity, so, well done.  The bag is different this month too – it’s a clear vinyl bag, perfect for stashing away on vacation (possibly airline carry-on safe as well?).

  • Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub – 2.7 oz / $19 – (Product is 1.35 oz, value of $9.50 by volume)  This is actually a combo sea salt scrub and shampoo.  There is no chance that I’d ever use anything like this on my dry scalp since it contains sea salt (REALLY?!) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate.  I haven’t used a product with SLS on my hair in years since my curly hair doesn’t need to be stripped of all of its oils with such a harsh surfactant.  It’s funny because this is the only product the company makes that contains SLS.  And the very idea of rubbing sea salt on my scalp when I have a terrible problem with dryness.. that’s just a disaster waiting to happen.  I saw other people report that this strips out color (I dye the ends of my hair a vibrant red using semi-permanent vegetable-based hair dye), so this is a HARD pass for me.  It’s also pretty heavily perfumed.  I think I may repurpose it as a plain old body scrub or exfoliator, but this isn’t going anywhere near my hair.  The company is cruelty free though, so that’s awesome!
  • trèStiQue Highlight & Perfect Multipurpose Stick – .21 oz / $34 – (Product is .04 oz, value of $6.48 by volume)  I’m not a big fan of highlighters to begin with, but this is one of those light, opalescent highlighters instead of a glitter bomb.  It’s subtle, so I actually like this as a brow bone highlighter to set of eye makeup.  It may be just a hair too light for my skin tone, and I’m pretty fair-skinned, but it’s also the only color they offer.  The company is also cruelty free.
  • Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser – 4.2 oz / $45 – (Product is 1 oz, value of $10.71 by volume)  SUNDAY RILEY!  I know and love Sunday Riley already since they’re a wonderful cruelty free company.  This product says it’s for normal to oily skin, but I love the brand so much, I don’t even care, I’m going to use this up and not even worry about the fact that it doesn’t at all fit my beauty profile.  The product dispenses as a cloudy liquid gel that works into a gentle, light lather (not super foamy, just every so slightly bubbly) and rinses away cleanly.  I didn’t find it was drying, and the scent was very light.  I’m not sure I’d go in for the $45 full size version, but it’s great to be able to try this out!
  • Nudestix Magnetic Matte Lip Color – .1 oz / $24 – (Product is .088 oz, value of $21.12 by volume)  I’m not sure why we couldn’t get the extra .012 oz to make this a full size?  It seems kind of silly.  But, maybe it’s all for the better since this color, “Greystone,” is quite possibly the most hideous color in the history of lip colors.  It’s brown.  Poop brown, dirt brown, disgusting brown.  I’m not sure this color would look good on anyone.  I heard people have tried layering other colors over it, but the formula is so opaque and strong that there’s nothing that can make it look good.  I mean, all of that would be awesome if it was a pretty color, but this isn’t.  It’s terrible.  The company though is cruelty free and there are other colors in this line that I actually like, but brown lipstick?  No.  Just no.
  • Maison Margiela Replica Eau de Toilette – 3.4 oz / $126 – (Product is .04 oz, value of $1.48 by volume)  The scent is, “Beach Walk,” and is actually not terrible!  The bergamot definitely comes out on top, and while the floral ylang ylang is there, it’s tempered a bit by the musk and cedarwood.  It’s a light scent that isn’t a stinky floral and I could absolutely wear this without wanting to scrub it off my skin.  It’s not enough of a hit that I’d ever pay $126 for a bottle, but it’s nice enough that I’d use up the sample.  Unfortunately, the parent company is L’Oreal, and this company does test on animals.
  • GrandeLips Hydrating Lip Plumper – .05 oz / $27 – (Product is approx 1.2 mL?, value of $20?)  I’m totally guessing on the product size – it looks about the same volume as the perfume once you remove the applicator.  It’s pretty close to being full size though, just in different packaging.  I tried this out already and while it does tingle, it doesn’t burn.  I can never really tell if these plumping products actually make a noticeable difference, but it works well enough as a hydrating gloss that I’ll use it regardless.  This company is cruelty free too!

Overall the value of the box this month comes to $69.29 which is pretty huge for a box that only costs $10.60 a month including tax.  Definitely one of the bigger value boxes!  I do have to give Sephora some credit this month too since I’d been ranting on about wanting a cruelty free box, and this one was SO close!  The only thing that was from a non-cruelty-free company was the perfume.  I’m not sure if it’s just because newer indie brands understand that their consumers are looking for cruelty free cosmetics and there’s no need or reason to test cosmetics on animals or sell in countries (*cough-China-cough*) that require the barbaric practice, or that Sephora actually aimed to include cruelty free products this month.  Either way, I’m glad to see it happen, and LOOK!  No Estée Lauder products this month!  It’s like they were listening to me!  So, out of 6 products, two were complete failures which leaves me with 4 products I’ll use.  I am a little disappointed that they seemed to not have bothered looking at the profiles this month, and I’m kind of sick of getting highlighters already, but I still want to hang on to this subscription for a bit since the price point is low and I’m still getting enough wins to make it worth it.  Looking forward to the next month!

Sephora Play! April 2017

The Sephora Play! for April has finally arrived today!  It’s a little later than usual, but it seems that my box variant, #575, was in the last batch to ship.  The theme for this month was, “Step it up,” so I expected something with intense colors, prestige brands, etc.  That didn’t really happen here.  The themes just never seem to be actual themes, just catchy slogans they trot out and then ignore when it comes to product selection.  I know I keep saying it, but for $10.60/mo including tax and shipping, I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining, but if you’re going to have a theme, stick to it.  The bag this month says, “The Best Things in Life Are Me,” and features a cartoonish girl in a tiara on the front with a pink ribbon.  Not my favorite bag, to be honest.  The design just isn’t to my tastes at all, and I think I prefer the more plain words-only designs.

  • Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover – 4.2 oz / $11 – (Product is .84 oz, value of $2.20)  This says it’s suitable for people with sensitive eyes, but it contains dyes and salt (sodium chloride).  There’s no reason for this to contain dyes other than to make it look pretty, and salt?!  Near your eyes?!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?!  I don’t need a waterproof eye makeup remover since I don’t really use waterproof makeup, plus, I use natural oils to remove my makeup and it does a far better job with zero irritation (and only one ingredient!).
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Primer – 1 oz / $36 – (Product is .25 oz, value of $9)  I would honestly almost count this as a zero value item since I know I’ve received this multiple times as a free sample on orders.  I have about five of these exact same size lying around already, and there’s nothing stepped-up about a primer that everyone’s already gotten a sample of a few times.  It’s okay – it’s a basic, silicone-based primer – but it’s nothing new or special.
  • Kate Somerville Exfolikate – .5 oz / $24 – (Product is .25 oz, value of $12)  The third ingredient is polyethylene, so the little exfoliator bits are plastic.  There is actually a ban on plastic microbeads passed in 2015 that goes into effect on July 1, 2017, and I’m not sure why Kate Somerville hasn’t gotten on board yet since these little plastic exfoliator beads are huge pollutants.  I did give this a try – the exfoliation action is much more of a fine sand than a coarse scrub.  It has a fresh, green and cinnamony sort of scent that isn’t overpowering.  Unfortunately, the use of plastic exfoliator beads is a huge problem for me, and I’m really surprised that they haven’t bothered to change their formula since the law is due to go into effect in a few months.
  • Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau de Toilette – 1.7 oz / $80 – (Product is .04 oz, value of $1.88)  Stinky floral mess.  I really can’t handle floral perfumes and this contains both violet and jasmine, so it’s a huge nope for me.  As usual though, I enjoy getting these samples since it helps me figure out what perfumes I do and don’t like.
  • Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream – 48 mL / $52 – (Product is 7.5 mL, value of $8.13)  This is a perfect fit for my dry skin profile.  The first bunch of ingredients are silicones, so I feel like this could double as a primer too.  It dispenses as a completely unscented gel, but goes on like water, and it makes my skin feel super soft.  It’s a shame this company tests on animals, or I’d be first in line to buy the full size!
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Waterproof Eyeliner – .04 oz / $21 – (Product is .01 oz, value of $5.25)  It’s a basic black eyeliner.  The formula does go on nice and velvety matte and richly pigmented, but again, it’s not what I’d call stepped-up – it’s a pretty basic sort of item.  I guess the brand is maybe the stepped-up part?  Unfortunately, the company tests on animals, so this isn’t something I’d buy again since there are plenty of cruelty-free eyeliners out there.

Overall, the value of the box comes to $38.46 which is pretty much average, and a great value for the cost of only $10.60 per month including tax and shipping.  This is a far better box than last month’s, and I appreciate the diversity in products this time around!  Unfortunately, only one product this month is from a completely cruelty free company, Marc Jacobs.  Smashbox is owned by Estée Lauder, and Kate Somerville by Unilever, so even if they individually are cruelty free, their parent companies are not.  It also marks yet another box with an Estée Lauder brand.  I’m still waiting on that 100% cruelty free box, Sephora.  With Earth Day this month, they totally had a chance too!

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?