Sephora Play! September 2016


September’s Sephora Play! is here!  The theme this month was, “The Unbasic Basics,” which is a little nebulous of a theme, so I had no idea what they were going to include or what one would even consider an unbasic basic.  Clear brow gel is pretty basic, black eyeliner is pretty basic.. I don’t know.  Still, it’s fun to get this box, and it’s a great value for the price point.

  • Kat Von D Tattoo Liner – .7 mL / $20 – (Product is .2 mL, value of $5.71)  Okay, so I’ve heard great things about Kat Von D cosmetics and I’ve been itching to try this liner for a while.  The color I received is “Trooper,” a satin black.  The formula goes on smooth with a very fine point and dries nearly instantly – doesn’t transfer and really seems to stay put for a long time.  I’m SO clumsy and shaky-handed when it comes to liner, but this just goes on so easily, it’s like I can’t mess it up.  I just may have to spring for the full size eventually, I like it that much.  It’s vegan and cruelty free, but it does contain parabens unfortunately.
  • Anastasia Brow Gel – 8.5 mL / $22 – (Product is 2.5 mL, value of $6.47)  I use a tinted brow product that adds fullness to eyebrows since I have super thin brows and prefer that over a pencil and brow gel combo.  I really need the product that has little fibers in it that stick to your hairs and create fullness since I really don’t like the look of pencilled in brows.  I’ve used samples of this before, and it’s okay, but I probably would’ve preferred the tinted version since it saves time, and I only need one product instead of two.
  • Living Proof Night Cap – 4 oz / $28 – (Product is 1 oz, value of $7)  This is the only product I have absolutely no interest in.  I have curly hair and do a low to no shampoo routine.  The product sheet advertises that this is effective for up to 5 shampoos, even if you use a clarifying shampoo which means it builds up in your hair deliberately.  This is really bad for a no/low shampoo regimen since you’ll probably never be able to get it out of your hair without using harsh, sulfated shampoos (a no-no for dry, curly hair).  The ingredient list shows an acrylate at ingredient # 2, two sulfates, and a bunch of petroleum-based ingredients.  Basically, this is a HARD PASS for me and my curly hair.
  • Dr. Jart Water Drop Moisturizer – 3.3 oz / $36 – (Product is 1 oz, value of $10.91)  I had to try this right away since any product meant to hydrate dry skin is exactly what I’m interested in!  The formula is really unique – it squeezes out like a matte silicone-based makeup primer, but the second you start rubbing it into your skin, it changes texture and turns into a liquid.  It’s really interesting!  Not what I expected at all.  Immediately after application, it feels a little sticky but then dries and nearly disappears, leaving behind no discernible residue or oil, and there’s no scent to it either.  This would probably be great for under makeup since it feels a lot like a makeup primer.  My face did feel a little dry/tight after using it, but not as bad as just doing soap/water and not putting on a moisturizer.  I’d probably still have to follow up with an overnight heavy-duty face serum to keep my skin hydrated enough, but honestly, this is a great product to put under makeup since it finishes so nice and matte.
  • Sephora Rouge Shine Lipstick – .13 oz / $12.50 – (Product is .035 oz, value of $3.37)  I received the color, “Love Spell,” which is a pale warm pink.  There’s a whopping 5/8ths of an inch of product in there which, okay Sephora, I know this is a sample box, but this is your own store-brand line and we couldn’t get a full-sized lipstick here?  The color goes on rather sheer which is actually alright considering how pale of a shade this is – it’s far too light for my skin tone (pale on pale is just SO attractively corpse-like) – so it ends up that a sheer pinky nude isn’t that terrible since my natural lip color comes out more than the lipstick color.  The formula is also pretty glossy and shiny for a lipstick, and it almost feels more gloss-like than lipstick-like, but wants to clump up on any dry spots and just stick in patches where it feels like it.  Fun to try, and at the end of the day, I’m almost glad this was a teensy little sample because I’m just not that wowed by it.
  • Tory Burch Jolie Fleur Verte Eau de Parfum – 1.7 oz / $95 – (Product is .05 oz, value of $2.79)  The card backing for the sample says this is, “A Tomboy and Easygoing Mix.”  No.  Just no.  The first scents that come to your brain when you think tomboy aren’t going to be Jasmine or Lily of the Valley.  This smells more like a flower shop exploded than like a tomboy who’s been playing football, rock climbing, or having whisky and a cigar with the guys.  It’s just not evocative at all of anything tomboyish – it’s really rather girly and light.  I absolutely loathe jasmine and floral scents in general so this really doesn’t do it for me.  The citrus twist is refreshing, but the overpowering note is the lily of the valley, and it’s just too much for me.  Yet again though, I like getting these samples even if they’ve all been misses because they’re fun to try, and maybe one of them will eventually be one I like!

Overall the value comes to $36.25, and for a box that costs $10.60 per month (including tax), that’s a really good cost to value ratio!  The only thing I won’t be using at all is the Living Proof product, but everything else is alright.  My stand-out product is definitely the Kat Von D liner and I’m SO glad I got to try that, and between the liner and the moisturizer, my box value is well covered.  Looking forward to next month!

Sephora Play! August 2016


August’s Sephora Play! has arrived!  This month’s theme was, “Wink Outside the Box,” so of course there are a bunch of products for eyes.  All of these are samples, no full-size products in the lot, but for a box that costs $10, I guess that’s to be expected!  It does give me a chance to try products and not end up with a full sized product that doesn’t work, so that’s good.

  • Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow – .07 oz / $21 – (Product is .02 oz, value of $6 by volume)  The color received is I544, “Pink Granite,” though it looks less pink and more purple to me.  It’s velvety smooth and iridescent.  It’s a nice color, nothing really outrageous, just a pretty basic color that probably everyone can use.  I’m not sure I like the packaging since it’s plastic and cardboard, but it *is* a sample, so..
  • Lancome Energie de Vie Smoothing & Glow Boosting Liquid Moisturizer – 1.69 oz / $55 – (Product is .16 oz, value of $5.21 by volume)  The tube is probably about half full which means this is a teeny little sample of a pretty expensive product.  It smells nice, and the formula is basically like a watery gel so it applies easily.  I’d probably never buy it because of the price and because denatured alcohol is the 4th ingredient which is no bueno for my dry skin, and moisturizer my ass – none of my moisturizers contain alcohol!  I’ll still try it though, but I can’t see how this is a good product to include here when my preferences are set to dry skin.
  • Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm – 15 mL / $68 – (Product is 7 mL, value of $31.73 by volume)  This is the highest value item in the box and the one I’m least interested in.  Yeah my eyes get puffy and have dark circles and wrinkles, but after trying eye cream after eye cream, nothing has ever made a difference, and I find them about as effective as water.  It’s a thick cream that has a very light fresh sort of scent.  So far it hasn’t irritated my eyes, and the ingredient list, outside of extracts and shea butter, has a bunch of silicones but no parabens, sulfates, or phthalates.  I probably would’ve preferred getting a full-sized mascara or something else instead of this product.
  • Clean Reserve Eau de Parfum – .34 oz / $25 – (Product is .05 oz, value of $3.68 by volume)  This is probably not a scent I’d ever pick for myself.  I could smell this when I opened the box and it basically smells like fresh laundry which is a nice scent, but not for a perfume.  It warms up a little on the skin with a hint of a deeper sort of musk, but it still mostly smells like laundry.  It’s not too overwhelming or floral which is nice, but I don’t think I want to smell like clean clothes all day.  I do like that the company is committed to eco-friendly practices, but this perfume is just not to my style, and as it’s on me while I write this, I definitely like it less and less as time goes on.  It’s like I doused myself in fabric softener.  I ended up having to go wash it off since it was starting to bother me.
  • Urban Decay Perversion Mascara – .4 oz / $22 – (Product is .1 oz, value of $5.50 by volume)  It’s just a hair smaller than the travel size which is .13 oz for $10.  I’ve heard LOTS of good things about this mascara, and taking a check over the ingredients, no cyclopentasiloxane or parabens!  It’s a keeper!  Or at least, I’ll be able to try it and see if there’s something else in it that irritates my speshul snowflake eyes.
  • Sephora Waterproof Contour Eye Pencil – .04 oz / $10 – (Product is .017 oz, value of $4.25 by volume)  The color received is #33, “Love Affair,” which is a shimmery plum color that I rather like.  It’s another product that seems to be okay for my eyes as far as the ingredients go, so I’ll have to give this a try and report back if it irritates my eyes or not!

The total value of the box by my estimation comes to $56.37 which is pretty decent for only costing $10.60 including tax.  I’d definitely have preferred to see more eye makeup products (a shadow primer or fake eyelashes?) in a “Wink Outside the Box” theme and less skin care type products, or at least have one of the makeup products be full size.  For the over $30 value of the eye cream, we could’ve had a mini palette from Tarte or Smashbox, or a nice mirrored compact, or something other than an eye cream (I’m really not feeling the eye cream for the price it takes up which is over half the box value).  It is a good variety of products though, just not as eye-focused as I initially thought, and I do like getting a perfume sample every month even if both of them have been complete misses so far.  Finding a scent you like can be a real pain and having a sample to try and think about on your own time instead of a snap decision in a store is pretty nice.  Anyway, sort of mixed feelings on this box I guess – I was expecting something entirely different this month!

Sephora Play! July 2016


I was FINALLY able to sign up for PLAY! by Sephora just this past month.  It appears they’re slowly opening up subscription spots periodically, so if you haven’t gotten an invitation yet, it hopefully shouldn’t be long!  Anyway, my first box arrived this week on July 19th.  Inside the black and white striped box, there’s a folded insert that shows the products you received as well as a card for 50 Beauty Insider points when you purchase items in-store at Sephora.  Underneath that is a bag containing the products.  This month’s theme was, “Effortless Summer,” and the bag has a cute pink ice pop design with a lipstick kiss mark next to it.  The boxes were apparently a little different depending on your preferences and I know I received the “Dry Skin” variant.

  • benefit Dew the Hoola – 1 oz / $28 – (Sample size is .16 oz, value of $4.48 by volume)  At first I thought, eh, bronzer, because it’s just not a thing I wear generally.  I thought the product looked a little dark for my fair skin, but it actually goes on very subtly and makes for a nice summer glow that will definitely work to extend what little natural summer bronzing I pick up from gardening and mowing the lawn.  It would definitely be too dark once I fade back to pale in the winter, but this will definitely work for late summer and fall.
  • First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser – 1 oz / $5.50 – (Trial Size Product)  Fragrance free and SLS/ALS free!  It foams slightly into a creamy lather and doesn’t irritate my skin or feel drying at all which is rather nice.  Definitely going to keep this to slip into my travel bag.
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Primer – .5 oz / $16 – (Sample size is .25 oz, value of $8)  I have a bunch of these that I’ve gotten as free samples on various orders, but it works well enough that I’m not mad to have another one that I’ll use eventually.  I really don’t ever do a full-face foundation since I just don’t need it and feel smothered by foundation anyway, but for the times that we’re going out somewhere nice and I do the full dip, this is nice to have on hand.
  • Ouai Wave Spray – 5 oz / $26 – (Sample is 1.7 oz, value of $8.84 by volume)  It smells nice, but it has an ingredient, “Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate,” which is a, “sticky ingredient that can cause hair and scalp dryness, plus strip hair color with repeated use,” according to  I do color my hair with henna and my scalp is already SO DRY, so this is a big miss.  Bummer too, because it smells rather nice, but the more I look at ingredients, the more it seems they chose the more irritating ingredients.  Plus, my hair is already phone-cord curly, and I really don’t need MORE waves/curls, so this misses the mark in multiple ways.  Going to throw this is the trade/give-away box.
  • Beautyblender Blotterazzi – 1 set / $20 – (Sample is a single blotter, approx value $10)  Oh man, peak summer, so I can definitely use this.  The little cardboard pack has a single blotter made from the same material as the beautyblender and has a small packet of liquid cleanser inside as well to clean the blotter pad.  It’s pink (eew, pink, ugghhh), and I’m not sure how to keep it sanitary while being used since the packaging is cardboard, but I might be able to sneak it inside an old mint tin or something?  Still, incredibly useful for summer whether you wear makeup or not.
  • Nest Citrine Fragrance – 1.7 oz / $68 – (Sample is .004 oz, value of $.16 by volume)  Well, I guess it’s good this is the lowest value item in the box because I really don’t like the scent.  It’s far too floral for me and in a bad way.  One of the scent notes is Freesia and that’s probably what’s turning me off.  I like scents that are a little deeper and muskier, with none of the stinky flower shop florals (Jasmine, Freesia, Rose, etc).  This is going to the trade/give-away box as well.

The total value comes to $36.98 which is decent for a box that cost $10.60 (including tax).  Even when you take out the two things I won’t be keeping, the value is still $27.98 which is above the cost.  I’m super bummed about the Ouai spray since it looks like it’s just going to irritate my already sahara-dry scalp, but I may give it a whirl on dry hair and try to keep it down at the ends to see if it helps with frizz.  I’m not entirely sure if this box is going to be a hit most months since it’s not cruelty-free and doesn’t contain the hippie-crunchy-granola sort of products I like – it’s more mainstream and popular instead of ingredient-conscious.  Still, for $10, as long as the box value keeps exceeding the cost for the items I do keep, it’s worth it!  Plus, if you have a Sephora nearby, the 50 points every month add up quickly.  Unfortunately my closest Sephora is in the Mall From Hell and between fighting for a parking spot and walking through the mall just to get to Sephora, I doubt I’ll be getting to the store to take advantage of these.  Oh well, 4 out of 6 of the items in the box were still worth trying and keeping, so that works for me!