Play by Sephora: June 2017

Okay folks, I know it’s been awhile, but so much has been going on this year and so much to catch you up on.  I got a new day job!  One that is more money, has better benefits, windows, less stress and an opportunity for advancement! Unfortunately, I’m still finishing out my old one with hardcore deadlines and crazy business that all happens at the end of September/beginning of October.  Soon, I’ll be free and that will give me more time to get you all caught up on cool stuff like a Kbeauty haul, a mystery game sub box, house renovations, and so much more.  I do post lots of sneak peeks on my Instagram, so you can see what’s in my sub boxes in real time.

I’ve also been promoting my debut novel, The Ice Maiden’s Tale.  I’ve gotten some really fabulous blog reviews and just had an awesome interview with Julie Whitley on her blog.  If you’ve read the book or just love fairy tale stories, I’d love to chat with you.

So now I’m just going to dive into the enormous backlog of boxes and go with my June Play by Sephora subscription.
June’s theme was “Summer Starters” (which is totally appropriate since it’s like 80 degrees today in NYC) – “Whether you’re sweating in the city or cooling by the pool, kick off your season of sunshine with these warm weather must-haves.”

Benefit CosmeticsThe POREfessional Face Prime
(Full Size: $31.00)
Description: “Silky, lightweight face primer minimizes pores and smooth s skin for a flawless soft-focus finish.”
Verdict: Anti-climactic
I lost count long ago of how many times I’ve gotten this as a sample.  It’s a nice product, but I’ve tried it a ton of times already.

First Aid BeautyHello FAB Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer
(1.7 oz: $28.00)
Description: “Ultra-hydrating priming moisturizer features electrolyte-packed coconut water plus micro-pearls for a subtle dewy glow.
Verdict: Love!
I love the First Aid beauty brand so I’m always up for trying a new product from them.

Ouai Rose Hair & Body Oil
(Full Size: $32.00)
Description: “Quick-absorbing blend of nutrient-rich oils from around the world replenishes hair and skin plus adds moisture and illuminates.”
Verdict: Hit!
Ouai is a brand that I’ve gotten in boxes before and I’ve really enjoyed their products.  I’m going to use this to try to tame some of my frizz.  Hopefully it will work!

Kat Von DEverlasting Liquid Lipstick in K-Dub
(Full Size: $20.00)
Description: “Long-lasting, high-pigment liquid lipstick with a creamy formula glides on smoothly like gloss but leaves a matte finish.”
Verdict: Like
If this had been another shade it would have been a love.  I adore Kat Von D’s eyeliner and I own and use some of her eyeshadows.  I’m not sure if I can pull off this bright fuchsia shade, but I’m happy to get a chance to test out the formula.

IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel
(5 oz: $29.00)
Description:”Lightweight coconut oil—infused hair styling gel softens and hydrates hair for effortless undone looks.”
Verdict: Hope you’re not allergic to coconut
This is the second coconut product in this bag and I’m thinking maybe having two products with similar ingredients in the same month might not be the best idea. In any case, I like getting new hair products because I have no idea how to style my hair and can use all the help I can get.  We’ll see if this helps me look less like I just rolled out of bed and stuck my finger in an electrical socket.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:
Yves Saint Laurent – Black Opium
(1.6 oz $91.00)
Description: “A modern and intoxicating scent with rich notes of coffee, sweet vanilla, and delicate white flowers.”
(Sorry I’m missing a pic, but for some reason the ones I took were all blurry.)
Verdict: Perfect if I want to knock out myself and take an elevator full of people with me.
I appreciate it when a perfume gives itself a name that makes it obvious it will simply kill people who are sensitive to scents (remember Dior’s “Poison”?).  You hear the words “Black Opium” and you know what you’re getting.  It smells like a migraine, the kind where you lock yourself in a dark room for days, put ice on your head, and hope not to puke on your sheets. Sniff at your own risk.

OVERALL
Verdict:
Hit!
Despite the boring POREfessional primer and the death by perfume, I really enjoyed this box.  It had a lot of great brands that and gave me a chance to try out some new offerings.  The only real fault I found was it having two coconut products, but that shouldn’t be a problem for most folks.

If you’re looking to try out some high end beauty but don’t want to commit to the high price tags, consider the Sephora sub. For only $10 a month, you get a good amount of product and a nice variety.

How do you feel about the “coconut oil” beauty trend?
Is it a great natural inclusion or has it become an over-used beauty buzzword?

THE BACKSTORY
Each month Play by Sephora, will send you 5 deluxe samples handpicked from their shelves (plus a fragrance bonus) – all in a collectible bag.

Cost: $10 per month (plus any applicable tax)
Bonus:  Each month you’ll get an included card that you can bring to Sephora for an extra 50 bonus points for any Purchase.  These points are part of Sephora’s VIB program and can be traded in for an assortment of samples.

Save

Play by Sephora: July 2016

Okay, so I haven’t been dead or on some awesome vacation or anything.  My day job has been insanely busy and as glamorous as filling out government forms and doing word problems in a windowless basement is, I’d much rather be chatting with all of you.  So I’m glad to be back with some overdue reviews plus fun new boxes.  I now post sneak peeks of all my boxes on Instagram so you can follow suscriptiontherapy to see box spoilers in advance.

So it’s time to discuss one of my newest monthly subs: Play by Sephora.  This box is Birchbox’s direct competition in the $10 beauty box slot.
Let’s check out what showed up in July.
open-box bag
July’s theme was “Effortless” – Some Like it Haute.  Sephora described this as “Calling all warm-weather essentials and sunny standouts: this month we’re taking on the long days and haute nights with a sultry selection that will keep you chic all summer long.  Soak up the best of the season with an innovative blotting sponge, a shine-boosting hair treatment, and more beach-worthy finds.”
wave-spray
OUAI Wave Spray (5 oz: $12.00)
Description: “Weightless texture mist gives hair an effortless, undone look while adding volume and shine.
Verdict: Hello Old Friend!
This product may look familiar because it popped up in my Summer 2016 Rachel Zoe Box of Style.  My go to style is to air dry my hair and let it be wavy so I really love this product.  Even though I got this in another box, I’m still quite happy to have another.
blender
Beautyblender Blotterazzi
(Full Size: $20.00)
Description: “Washable and reusable, this revolutionary cushion blotter is designed to fit into facial controls to remove shine and absorb oil without disturbing makeup.
Verdict: Confusing
I don’t really get this product.  It sounds like it replaces facial blotting sheets except you carry it around and reuse it and wash it.  Is that right?  I don’t really see how this is an improvement over the regular old oil blotting sheets that don’t require much effort.  I just can’t see myself using this.

cleanser
First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser
(2 oz $10.00)
Description: “Rich in botanicals and antioxidants, this gentle cleanser transforms from a light, whipped texture to a lush, creamy lather.”
Verdict: Like/Gift
First Aid Beauty is a wonderful brand and I am a huge fan of their moisturizer.  Their products are great for folks with sensitive skin and are fragrance free.  I have a friend who adores their stuff and since I’ve got a cabinet full of cleansers, I’m going to past this along to her.

primer
Smashbox Photo Finish Primer
(1 oz: $36.00)
Description: “Silky and lightweight, this iconic primer for normal to dry skin keeps makeup in place while helping to create a flawless finish..”
Verdict: Have we met before?
I swear over the years I’ve gotten like 50 samples of this.  It just pops up everywhere.  It’s a solid brand and a popular item, but I would have liked to see a new brand or product take this slot instead.

hoola
Benefit Cosmetics Dew the Hoola Soft Matte Liquid Bronzer
(1 oz: $28.00)
Description: “Lightweight and shimmer-free, this soft-matte liquid bronzer creates a warm, radiant look that is sheer and seamless..”
Verdict: Enough with the bronzers
Look, I’m pale–like ghostly, blood drinking, powder pale.  And I’m totally cool with that.  All these bronzers in boxes are so warm and orange they don’t make me look “radiant” or “seamless”.  They make me look like a reject from the Willy Wonka set.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:
citrine
Nest Fragrances Citrine (1.7 oz Size: $68.00)
Description: “Layers of fresh lotus flower and freesia mingle with birth citrus and a base of previous woods.”
Verdict: Disappointing
Even though perfume is my beauty box nemesis, I had high hopes for this product because it highlighted citrus and I’ve had some luck with Nest perfumes in the past.  Sadly this was too strong for me, and the citrus wasn’t really as prominent as I would have expected.  I’ll have to pass it along to a friend.

OVERALL
sephora-play-july-2016

Verdict: Not for me
With tax, I paid $10.70 for this box and while I think it had good products they weren’t quite the right fit for me.  The only item I will really use out of this grouping is the wave spray, so this box was a bit of a miss.  Hopefully the next will have more items that appeal to pale redheads with aversions to strong perfume.

What did you think of the July box?
Would you have liked these products or found them to be disappointing like I did?

THE BACKSTORY
Each month Play by Sephora, will send you 5 deluxe samples handpicked from their shelves (plus a fragrance bonus) – all in a collectible bag.

Cost: $10 per month (plus any applicable tax)
Bonus:  Each month you’ll get an included card that you can bring to Sephora for an extra 50 bonus points for any Purchase.  These points are part of Sephora’s VIB program and can be traded in for an assortment of samples.

Popsugar: January 2015

I just got an email that my February Popsugar box has shipped so it’s definitely time for me to review the January one. Popsugar is probably my favorite subscription, because even when I don’t love everything I always feel like I get am excellent value for my money (plus it’s helped me discover some really great gifts.)
Box

Now January boxes usually bring a plethora of fitness and “health” stuff in our sub boxes which can be good or bad (see last January’’s “juicing book”) thing.
Open Box

Hat
Jack + Lucy Pom Pom Hat
(Suggested Retail: $32.00)
Category: Must Have Fashion
Description: “Stay warm and cozy during Winter with this slouchy heather-gray hat! The faux-fur pom-pom offers an unexpected element to your average beanie.”
Verdict: Like
This winter I’ve been collecting hats even though I usually just grab my tried and true slouchy knit hat from Urban Outfitters. This brand has been featured before, but it’s not available through any online store (unless you’re buying it from a reseller). The style of the hat is pretty neutral and it’s actually quite large. I’m not sure if I love or hate the pom-pom but I’ll keep this with my other knit hats when I want to mix things up a little.

Cream
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
(Suggested Retail: $30.00)
Category: Must Have Beauty
Description: “Banish dry skin for good with this cream that delivers moisture from head to toe. Allergy tested and free of fragrance, harsh chemicals and parabens, it’s safe for even the most sensitive skin.”
Verdict:
Love!
To start this is a giant size of cream so great value right there. I’ve heard amazing things about First Aid Beauty so I’m psyched to try out one of their products. This is rich without being greasy and there is no fragrance so this is perfect to share with that guy in your life. This was a fabulous choice by Popsugar because this winter has been pretty harsh and I think most subscribers could probably use this.

Cup
KeepCup Brew 12-Ounce Reusable Coffee Cup
(Suggested Retail: $26.00)
Category: Must Have Home
Description: “This colorful coffee cup is the perfect replacement for disposable cups. KeepCup’s smart and consumer-friendly designs will keep your beverages warm time and time again!
Verdict: Hit!
This reusable coffee cup is attractive, practical and a nice change from the mugs and plastic travel cups we often see in boxes. I’m probably not going to use this for travel (because of the glass) but I will enjoy it with my next homemade Café Mocha.

Yoga
Manduka eQua Hand Towel
(Suggested Retail: $16.00)
Category: Must Have Fitness
Description: “Retire your old gym towel for this superabsorbent multipurpose Manduka towel instead. The lightweight yet durable microfibers are perfect on the yoga mat and beyond!
Verdict: Like!
We knew there’d be a fitness item in this box and I think this was a thoughtful pick. It’s a “yoga” hand towel but it can be used for any workouts and I think most folks will be able to use this no matter what their workout of choice.  Bonus points for the cheerful turquoise shade.

Eye Treatment
ToGoSpa EYES
(Retail: $12.50)
Category: Must Have Home
Description: “For a mini spa treatment, pamper yourself with these refreshing gel eye pads from ToGoSpa. It’s the convenient and cool way to reduce dark circles or unwanted puffiness.”
Verdict: Love!
I love face and eye treatments and these sound like they’ll be perfect after a long day at work with an even longer commute home through the snow.

Tattoos
Skin Jewel Tattoos EMPIRE
(
Suggested Retail: $18.00)
Category: Must Have Fashion
Description: “Add even more shine to the New Year with these Skin Jewel Tattoos, sponsored by the new hit drama Empire on Fox. The decorative mix of gold and silver can go anywhere on your body, and check out POPSUGAR Beauty to see how they can work as nail art.”
Verdict: All the single ladies…
I can’t decide if these are more Hoochie Mama or Spring Break. Thankfully they can work as nail art, but I do think I’m just going to set them aside for a gift to some college-aged relative.  They’ll work great with that glow-in-the dark orange lipstick from my last Memebox.

Granola
Nature Valley Peanut Butter ‘n Dark Chocolate Protein Granola
(Suggested Retail: $3.68)
Category: Must Have Food
Description: “Eating healthy and feeling satisfied just got easier with Nature Valley’s Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Protein granola. It’s the delicious way to add protein to your day and stay on track.”
Verdict: Hit!
I always love it when I get free breakfasts from these boxes and this granola is generously sized. It definitely doesn’t skimp on the peanut butter which makes it quite filling. This would be great with some Greek yogurt, or my favorite healthy treat, ice cream. (Listen you can interpret “heart healthy” your way and I’ll interpret it mine).

OVERALL:
Full Box
Verdict:
Hit!
I was a bit worried this box would be full of stuff like raw food cookbooks and kickboxing DVDs but this box had a nice balance of  healthy “new year” items and some practical things as well. I paid $42.75 for this box and received an estimated retail of $138.18. I will use everything but the skin tattoos so I’m quite happy with the box. I feel Popsugar’s curation on their monthly boxes has gotten a lot tighter over the last few months and I’m interested to see what February brings.

What did you think of the January Popsugar Box? Did you like the practical theme or were you looking for more excitement?

THE BACKSTORY

Popsugar is a women’s lifestyle subscription that delivers a monthly box of fun, full-size products hand-selected by Popsugar editors.

In addition to Popsugar’s monthly must have boxes, they have some seasonal special edition boxes that contain uber luxe items.  The price tag on these boxes is higher, but the products you receive are high end.

Popsugar Pricing:
Monthly – $39.95
3 Months – $109.85
6 Months – $214.70
12 Months – $404.40

Coupon Codes:  REFER5 = $5 off site wide
POPSUGAR10 = $10 off a 3 month subscription