Play by Sephora: July 2017

We’re continuing the push through my backlog of reviews with my July Play by Sephora subscription.  I do post lots of sneak peeks on my Instagram, so follow me there if you want to see the boxes before I post my review.

July’s theme was “Beauty Staycation” – which is actually sort of where I’m at right now since my break before my new job starts.  Of course, the “beauty” part is more about my house than me, but it still works.
Now to the box!

Bobbi BrownEye Opening Mascara
(Full Size: $30.00)
Description: “Long-wearing mascara visibly thickness, curls, and lifts lashes with a carbon-black formula.”
Verdict: Anti-climactic
So many black mascaras, so little time.  I didn’t find anything extraordinary about this mascara although I did like the brush, which was on the larger side. Still, there’s nothing about this mascara that would be worth $30.  I also don’t think it fits in a “beauty staycation”.  That implies different treatments and pampering, and mascara is not in that category.

Fresh Rose Face Mask
(1 oz: $25.00)
Description: “Hydrating and toning gel mask refreshes tired, dull skin with a calming infusion of pure rosewater and rose petals.
Verdict: Love!
I’ve always liked the Fresh brand and a rose mask sounds perfect for a “beauty staycation”.  I’m excited to try this one out once I’m not covered in paint.

Briogeo Rosarco Milk™ Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray
(Full Size: $20.00)
Description: “Ultra-light leave-in conditioning spray delivers non-greasy moisture without weighing down hair.”
Verdict: Like
I’ve tried Briogeo products before and haven’t been blown away, but haven’t disliked them either.  My hair is a wreck thanks to the hard water we have at the new house, so I’m happy to try any hair treatment that might help.

Tarte Color Splash Lipstick – Rainforest of the Sea™ in “Set Sail”
(Full Size: $21.00)
Description: “Long-lasting yet moisture-rich lipstick softens and smooths lips while providing full-coverage color.”
Verdict: Love!
They describe this shade as a “dark nude” and it is lovely.  It’s a great every day color for when you want to look put together, but not like you’re wearing too much makeup.  The consistency did seem a little softer than most lipsticks, which is a bit of a problem with this small tube, but I’m sure it’s not an issue with the normal size.

CaudalieVine[Activ] Glow Activating Anti-Wrinkle Serum
(1 oz: $52.00)
Description:”Highly concentrated pollution protection serum reveals a youthful glow while helping to visibly smooth fine lines.”
Verdict: Like
Caudalie is a great brand and since it costs $52 for an ounce, I’m happy to be able to try it out.  I also like that you can use it under your makeup.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:
CLEAN Reserve Sueded Oud
(3.4 oz $95.00)
Description: “This creamy and sophisticated scent puts a new twist on a traditional heavy oud fragrance with its light, fresh notes.
Verdict: Not for me
Definitely appreciate the idea of a lighter fresher floral, but this is still too strong for me.

OVERALL
Verdict: Hit!
I loved the lipstick and the rose mask, and except for the perfume,(which I always write off anyway) I’ll use everything in this box.  I loved the theme of a “beauty staycation” but I felt like they didn’t really embrace it. Rather than lipstick and mascara which are more for going out, I think we should have seen more treatments and masks.  Still, for only $10.69, I think this was a great box.  If you’re looking for a budget friendly beauty box, Sephora is at the top of my list.

Have you ever had a “beauty staycation”?
What did you do?

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.

 

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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: May 2017

It’s been a rough week.  I’m not quite at the point where I can articulate something clear and thoughtful about the terrorism that shook Charlottesville.  All I can say is that we’ve beaten hate before and we will do it again, because despite everything, most people are good. (Although sometimes I know it doesn’t seem like it.) We just have to stand together and help each other, and most of all never, ever, ever let hate be the loudest voice in the room.

Now, I know sub boxes are especially frivolous at this time, but I refuse to let terror stop me from doing the things I want to do.  So today I’m going to review my damn May Play by Sephora subscription and keep on keeping on.

If you want to see my box reveals as soon as I get them, follow me on Instagram for real time spoilers.
May’s theme was “The Rising Stars” – “This month we’re taking you on a tour of cult favorites, hard-to-find formulas, and one-of-a-kind brands that are making their mark.”
This month we got a super cute plastic pouch.  Great for tucking in some toiletries when you go to the beach, pool or waterpark.

NUDESTIX Magnetic Matte Lip Color in Greystone
(Full Size: $24.00)
Description: “A three-in-one matte lip stain, lip color, and lip liner that has a long-wearing, intensely pigmented formula in a bold, dep shade.”
Verdict: Like for Fall/Winter
I didn’t swatch this one because the color seems way more suited to Fall/Winter so I’m going to save it for then.  It’s described as “griege” shade and seems like a throwback to the 90s.  Even if it doesn’t work well with my pale complexion, I’ll have some fun playing around with it.

trèStiQue – Highlight & Perfect Multipurpose Stick  Maldives Luminescent
(Full Size: $34.00)
Description: “This silk-smooth gel highlighter stick Paris a barely-there, lightweight texture with a luminous champagne pink shimmer.
Verdict: Like
Champagne pinks usually work well with my complexion.  I have so much makeup open that I wanted to save this one, so I didn’t swatch it. Unlike the matte lipstick, this felt appropriate for summer.

SUNDAY RILEY – Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser
(Full Size: $45.00)
Description: “Luxurious clay cleanser uses potent ingredients to minimize the appearance of pores and brighten for clear, balanced skin.”
Verdict: Like
Sunday Riley is one of those brands that bloggers adore and has quite a cult following.  It’s also pretty pricey, so I’m always glad to get some samples to try out.

Grande Cosmetics – GrandeLIPS Hydrating Lip Plumper in Clear
(Full Size: $27.00)
Description: “Clear gloss uses a patented hyaluronic acid-infused formula to visibly plump lips while also softening over time.”
Verdict: On the fence
I’m not usually a fan of “plumping” lip products, but I’m willing to give it a try.  I do like that it’s clear so you can pair it with your favorite lipstick or gloss.

Christophe Robin – Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt
(Full Size: $53.00)
Description:”Cleanse, purify, and rebalance a sensitive or oily scalp with this soothing sea salt scrub that leaves hair soft and refreshed.”
Verdict: Love!
My scalp is one of my problem areas so getting a hair product to target that area is awesome.  I hope I don’t like this one too much since a full size is pretty pricey at $53.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:
MAISON MARGIELA – ’REPLICA’ Beach Walk (3.4 oz $126.00)
Description: “Transport yourself to sandy seaside memories with this radiant scent of bergamot, coconut milk, and lemon.”
Verdict: Finally!
The rare perfume that I can wear!  I love citrus scents so this was a nice surprise.

OVERALL

Verdict: Love!
This box was such a huge improvement over April’s.  I’ll use every product and there are lots of brands here that I haven’t tried before.   I also thought it had an excellent balance of products, although if I want to be nit-picky, I’d say they should have opted for a different makeup item rather than 2 lip products, and that the shade of the nudestix should have been more seasonally appropriate.  Still, this was a great box for $10, and Sephora still stands as my favorite budget beauty sub.

What type of lip colors do you wear and do you change them by season?

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

Play by Sephora: April 2017

I finally got a moment to catch a breath from the endless home renovation projects and the book release madness for my debut novel, The Ice Maiden’s Tale, to take stock of my box reviews. Unsurprisingly I’m hella behind, so today I’ve got my April Play by Sephora box.  There was a billing snafu in March, so I ended up missing that box, but I’m picking right back up with my April one.  This is one of the best budget beauty boxes at only $10 per month, so if you want to try a sub, but don’t have a lot of spare dinero, consider Sephora.

If you want to see my box reveals as soon as I get them, follow me on Instagram for real time spoilers.
April’s theme was “Step It  Up” – “Upgrade your everyday routine with best in class products to set yourself up for beauty success. Try an eyeliner beloved by makeup artists, skincare selected for your specific for your specific concerns, and more must-haves to step up your beauty game.”

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream
(Full Size: $52.00)
Description: “Lightweight moisturizer with airy formula delivers a burst of hydration with three different types of hyaluronic acid.”
Verdict: Like
“Hyaluronic Cloud Cream” sounds like a lab experiment meets an RPG game.  It sounds interesting and I’m always up to try a new night time moisturizer so I’ll happy to test it out.

philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser
(Full Size: $24.00)
Description: “A gentle, award-winning one-step face wash that cleans, removes makeup, tones and lightly hydrates for a fresh complexion.
Verdict: Miss
I know some people adore and swear by Philosophy products but they just never work for me.  Their “hope in a jar” cream was more like “fish on my face” and this cleanser just feels way too stripping.  It gives you that “squeaky” clean that makes your skin feel so dry.  It just didn’t work for me.

Smashbox Iconic Photo Finish Foundation Primer
(Full Size: $36.00)
Description: “This iconic primer creates the perfect canvas for make-up application while leaving skin soft and silk-smooth”
Verdict: Repeat Offender
Is there a beauty sub box or freebie bag in existence that hasn’t had a Smashbox primer in it?  I swear I think I’ve got a hundred of these over the years.  If you’re into beauty you’ve probably gotten this sample before.  I’d rather see more new and interesting products.

SEPHORA COLLECTION
Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover
(Full Size: $11.00)
Description: “A gentle, go-to waterproof makeup remover perfect for sensitive eyes and enriched with lash-strengthening vitamins and extracts.”
Verdict: Not for me
I don’t care for these type of eye removers and prefer the oil based cleansers which work better for my skin.  This one was much gentler than most eye makeup removers, but still completely great for my sensitive skin.

MAKE UP FOR EVER
Aqua XL Eye Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner

(Full Size: $21.00)
Description: Beloved by makeup professionals, this creamy, budge-proof eyeliner glides an easily and leaves an intense, jet-black color.”
Verdict: Love!
Makeup Forever is one of my favorite brands so even though a black eyeliner is a bit boring I’m still happy to have this.  It’s a great size for travel or to keep in your purse’s makeup bag.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:
Miu Miu L’Eau Bleue (1.7 oz $90.00)
Description: “This fresh, floral fragrance consists of lily of the valley and notes of honeysuckle to evoke the beginning of springtime.”
Verdict: Too floral
As usual this perfume doesn’t work for me.  The floral is too strong – I think it’s the lily that is off-putting.

OVERALL
Verdict
: Not my favorite
I found this box pretty boring.  Except for the eyeliner I didn’t really love anything.  The choices fit the “beauty routine” but there needed to be a more interesting element here.  Maybe a lip balm from a new brand instead of the tired Smashbox primer?  I paid $10.70, which is a little much since I only liked two items, but hopefully future boxes will be more interesting.

Do you like more practical items in your beauty boxes or more unique and trendy things?

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.

Play by Sephora: February 2017

I’ve been hella busy with the house, the upcoming release of “The Ice Maiden’s Tale” and the blog redesign, so as expected I’m a wee bit behind on my boxes.  Today we’re heading back to February for my Play by Sephora review.  This is one of the best budget beauty boxes at the $10 price point, so if you don’t have a ton of cash, but want to try out a beauty sub, check this one out.

If you want to see my box reveals as soon as I get them, follow me on Instagram for real time spoilers.

February’s theme was “The Soft Side” – Make a Radiant Understatement “Muted, mellow shade shades and skin-perfecting formulas are a never-fail way to show off your natural beauty.  From a romantic lip color to a radiance-boosting eye cream, add definition and just a hint of dram with this month’s subtle-yet-stunning lineup of makeup and skincare.”


CLINIQUE Pep-Start HydroBlur Moisturizer

(Full Size: $29.50)
Description: “A lightweight, oil-free moisturizer-meets-primer instantly blurs imperfections while providing all-day hydration for a silky, soft-focus finish.”
Verdict: Like
I love trying out different primers and one that is light and moisturizing sounds particularly appealing.


Too Faced Lip Injection Glossy in Milkshake
(Full Size: $22.00)
Description: “Sheer tinted gloss uses a botanical-infused formula to visibly plump lips instantly while also hydrating and softening over time.
Verdict: Like
I’ve been looking for some nude lip products and I like that this one is hydrating.  This would look great paired with a smoky eye.


Rainforest of the Sea™ Quench Lip Rescue in Nude

(Full Size: $19.00)
Description: “Sheer ultra-moisturizing lip balm delivers vitamin-rich hydration and nurtures dry lips while providing a soft natural tint.”
Verdict: On the fence
This product is definitely moisturizing, but the color is very light and it doesn’t have much staying power.  It also got very soft, pretty quickly and it didn’t go anywhere with a lot of heat.  I’m thinking this product isn’t something to leave in your summer bag.


SEPHORA COLLECTION LashCraft Length & Volume Mascara
(Full Size: $12.00)
Description: “A jet-black volumizing mascara with an innovative flat paddle-shaped wand to lengthen and lift lashes.”
Verdict: Okay
I’m always on the lookout for awesome mascara, but this one is pretty ordinary.  Not bad, not amazing, but perfectly adequate.


Origins GinZing™ Refreshing Eye Cream

(Full Size: $30.00)
Description: “A luminous eye cream infuse with coffee beans, ginseng, and magnolia extract ot visibly brighten and depuff the undereye area.”
Verdict: Love!
Eye creams are one of my fave items to get in sub boxes.   I use them regularly and they typically cost quite a bit so sampling them in advance is super helpful.  This one was really light and suitable to wear even in the morning.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:

Prada Candy (1.7 oz $90.00)
Description: “A confident, daring, and seductive fragrance, this feminine scent features caramel, benzoin, and notes of white musk.”
Verdict: Confident = way too strong
As usual this doesn’t work for me.  I’m just going to pass it on to someone else who might enjoy it.

OVERALL

Verdict:
A bit uneven
This box had a lot of practical items that fit the “low key” “basics” vibe, but the curation felt a bit off.  There were two moisturizers and two nude lip products included.  I would have liked to see a hair product and maybe a nude shadow or a natural blush.  Overall, the box was still a great value since I paid $10.70 and I’ll use nearly all of the items.  The Too Faced gloss was a great size and easily covered a chunk of the box cost.

I’ve got so many more box reviews coming up including some really unique subscriptions, so be sure to check back.

What types of products do you want to see in beauty boxes?

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.

Play by Sephora: January 2017

I was looking down my handy dandy spreadsheet of “to do” reviews and realized I am woefully behind on my Play by Sephora subscription.  So for Throwback Thursday we’ve got my January 2017 review.  At only $10 a month, this box is a great bargain and sends a fun assortment of beauty items under a monthly theme.

January’s theme was “Beauty, Set, Go” – Stellar Products are only the Beginning.  Sephora described this as “It’s time for a fresh start: this January, detox and refuel your beauty routine with a section of super-effective, ultra-hydrating skincare, makeup, and hair care.  We’re beginning 2017 with an innovative on-the-go cleanser stick, game-changing moisturizers, and more essentials that will keep you motivated all year long.”


Tarte – FRXXXTION Stick Exfoliating Cleanser

(Full Size: $22.00)
Description: “Exfoliating gel cleanser in a unique twist-up stick format transforms from a solid gel to a cleansing lather that gently sloughs away impurities.
Verdict: Does this come in wrapped in plain brown paper?
This is such a unique product and I don’t think I’ve ever tried a stick cleanser that is exfoliating and lathers.  I’m intrigued and excited to try it out.  However, I do have a PSA – Dear Beauty Companies – stop it with the goddamn stupid names!  We just want to be able to easily google products and recommend them to our friends.  Something called “FRXXXTION Stick” does not strike up images of cleansers, nor is it something you want to recommend to the lady on the bus after she compliments your glowing skin.


Youth To The People – Age Prevention Superfood Cream
(Full Size: $48.00)
Description: “Whipped, lightweight cream restores and rejuvenates skin and deliver antioxidants with potent plant extracts.
Verdict: Like they took every hipster word they could find and put in lotion form
I love vegan and natural beauty products, but you know, enough with the goddamn Kale already.  They call this “a green smoothie for your face”.  I am firmly in the vegetables-don’t-belong-in-cold-beverages camp so this is not a selling point for me. I’m sure I’ll try this out, but I’m going to be a bit grumpy about it.


Ouai – Treatment Masque

(8 – .3 oz treatments: $32.00)
Description: “Restorative mask helps to care for damaged hair and leaves strands feeling smooth and touchably soft.”
Verdict: Hit!
My hair is getting to be ridiculously long (like Sister Wife long) and I’m putting off a haircut as long as possible to save money for my house.  This means hair masks are my savior right now.  I really need to break down and cut my hair already, but the masks help me delay the inevitable for just a tad longer.


Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey

(Full Size: $17.00)
Description: “Sheer lip color with a glossy finish in the bestselling, cult-classic Black Honey shade.”
Verdict: Hit!
This is a cult-classic and if you’re into beauty at all you’ve probably heard of it.  I didn’t swatch this because I want to save it for after I’ve used up a few more of my products. This is a great shade for days when you want a natural look.  While the product looks dark, it goes on sheer and is very wearable.


AmorePacific Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+

(Full Size: $60.00)
Description: “Cushion format CC cream hydrates, protects skin, and delivers buildable weightless coverage in two blendable shades.”
Verdict: Hit!
I love that this CC cream has a pink/cool undertone option. It’s amazing how many BB/CC creams and foundations don’t.  I’m always looking for the perfect CC cream with SPF, so this is exactly the type of product I like to try out for myself. $60 is steep so I’d be leery to buy it without a sample first.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:

Tory Burch Love Relentlessy (1.7 oz $86.00)
Description: “Unabashedly feminine and tender, this delicate scent feature notes of pink pepper, orris, and patchouli.”
Verdict: Friends don’t let friends wear patchouli
You know me and perfumes don’t typically work out and Patchoui is a death knell.  If you love it and can pull it off, kudos to you, but most people end up smelling like a dirty hippie.

OVERALL

Verdict:
Hit!
I thought this box hit the January detox/new year theme very well.  It featured a lot of very practical items and the black honey lipstick was a great size that could easily be worth a couple dollars on its own. With tax, I paid $10.70 for this box and I’ll use nearly everything. If you want to try out pricier makeup and don’t know where to start, I highly recommend trying out a Sephora Play subscription.  For $10, you’ll get a chance to try out some expensive brands and products and be able to decide if they are worth the splurge.

I’ve got so many more box reviews coming up including a fun, snarky women’s box and a free goodie box so be sure to come back.

If you want a sneak peek of the full boxes, just follow me on Instagram.

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.

 

Play by Sephora: December 2016

Another day, another box review I’ve been hoarding.
Today is my budget friendly pick: Play by Sephora.  At only $10 a month, they send a fun assortment of beauty items under a monthly theme.

December’s theme was “The Partygoer” – Meet Your Night Out Necessities.  Sephora described this as “Small soirées, company festivities, all-out holiday bashes: no matter how you’re celebrating, this is the selection for the party season.  We’re wrapping up 2016 with inky-black mascara, a show-stopping red lip shade, and more must-haves for getting ready for fun—and looking fresh all night long.”
open-box open-box-2
This month’s bag is my favorite.  I’m definitely keeping this one to re-use.

lancome
Lancôme HYPNÔSE DRAMA Instant Full Body Volume Mascara
(Full Size: $27.50)
Description: “Volumizing mascara coats lashes from root to tip for full-drama, flake-free lashes in a single stroke.
Verdict: A mixed bag
Lancome is a great brand and a super dark volume mascara is a great pick for a party look, but this formula has a couple issues.  First, it smells really strong of perfume.  I have tried a lot of mascaras in my time and none smelled this strong.  I don’t quite understand it.  Why would you want something that strongly scented right by your eyes?  Second, I felt like it did get a bit clumpy and gave my lashes that spider leg look.  It wasn’t extreme, but it was enough that I wouldn’t purchase this product on my own.  On the bright side, it stays on well and is a very saturated black.

sephora-lip sephora-lip-2
SEPHORA COLLECTION – Cream Lip Stain in Always Red
(Full Size: $14.00)
Description: “Decadent yet lightweight stain moisturizes while saturating lips with a bold, nonstop shade of crimson red.
Verdict: Like
A bold red is almost a requirement for a Holiday makeup box.  I didn’t swatch this as I’m saving my new makeup for after my move, but the shade does seem to lean a touch warm.  I’ll have to wait and see if it works with my skin tone, but it’s size and bold hue make it perfect to slip into your tiny party bag.

setting-spray
Urban Decay – All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray

(1 oz: $15.00)
Description: “Weightless setting spray prevents makeup from fading, smudging, and settling into fine lines for a touch-up free finish.”
Verdict: Perfect Pick!
A makeup setting spray is a perfect pick for this box, and Urban Decay’s version is the gold standard in makeup.  You spritz it on to keep your makeup in place for the long haul.  I already own this product, but didn’t mind getting another.  This is the perfect size to throw into a travel kit.

   mufe
MAKE UP FOR EVER Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Primer
(Full Size: $37.00)
Description: “This silky primer helps makeup las longer while the targeted formula balances skin’s texture, resulting in a smoother more even look.”
Verdict: Love!
I love MUFE primers and haven’t yet had a chance to try the “smoothing” one, so I was super excited to find this in my box.  Primer’s can really make a huge difference in how your makeup goes on and how long it lasts.  I’m interested to see how this one differs from the other MUFE ones I’ve tried.

bay-breeze
Drybar Bay Breeze Hydrating Shots
(Set of 4: $38.00)
Description: “Salon-quality, single-dose treatments quench dry hair and scalp, then wash away for shiny, silky-soft hair.”
Verdict: Like
I have a dry scalp so a hydrating treatment sounds promising.  $38 for 4 shots is more spendy than my budget allows, so it’s nice to be able to try out something I wouldn’t otherwise.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:
perfume
Elizabeth and James – Nirvana Bourbon (1.7 oz $85.00)
Description: “An intoxicating bend of vanilla bourbon and spice wood with a delicate floral note.”
Verdict: As usual, No.
For me the description “intoxicating” on a perfume means “go take an aspirin immediately”.  As usual, this is too strong for me.  I’ll pass it on to a friend.

OVERALL
sephora-play-december-2016
Verdict:
Hit!
I thought this box hit the Holiday party theme perfectly and featured a lot of great brands.  With tax, I paid $10.70 for this box and I’ll use nearly everything in it. If you want to try out pricier makeup and don’t really know where to start, I highly recommend trying out a Sephora Play subscription.  For $10, you’ll get a chance to try out some expensive brands and products and be able to decide if they are worth your hard-earned Benjamins.

I’ve got so many more box reviews coming so be sure to come back.  And if you want a sneak peek of the full boxes, just follow me on Instagram.

What beauty product is your must have for a glamorous night out?

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.

Play by Sephora: November 2016

For Throw back Thursday, I’ve got the last of my November box reviews.  Today is my budget pick: Play by Sephora.  At only $10 a month, they send a fun assortment of beauty items under a monthly theme.
open-box-1 open-box-2
November’s theme was “Best in Glow” – Meet Your Partners in Shine.  Sephora described this as “It’s love at first bright: bypass winter dullness and wake your skin up with this month’s lustrous lineup of gleam-getting, radiance-ready beauty.  We’re hitting the highlights with an ultra-shiny lip gel, refreshing face mask a, and other illuminating makeup and skincare essentials.”

cover-fx
COVER FX Illuminating Primer
(Full Size: $38.00)
Description: “Glow-inducing, silicone-free primer preps skin with a light-reflecting mineral complex and helps eliminate dullness.
Verdict: Hit!
Primers are relatively new to my beauty regimen so I’m always excited to try out new ones.  I have a couple other Cover FX products and so far it’s a brand that I really like.

caudalie
Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet
(Full Size: $39.00)
Description: “Rejuvenating and lightweight, this luscious gel cream hydrate and softens skin while visibly calming redness and congestion.
Verdict: Hit!
I really like trying out moisturizers with unique textures and I love the lightness of this cream.

laura-mercierlaura-mercier-open
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour in Rose Gold

(Full Size: $29.00)
Description: “Multi-purpose, high-pigment eyeshadow stick glides on and blends easily for transfer-proof, all-day wear.”
Verdict: A Favorite!
Laura Mercier is one of my go to makeup brands.  Their eye sticks go on so easily and have a great color payoff.  I actually already own the full size of this so I’m putting it in my makeup stash for when mine runs out.  This color looks beautiful on so many skin tones and gives that shimmery candlelit glow.  This size is also quite generous and this sample should last for a long time.

sephora-lip
SEPHORA COLLECTION Ultra Shine Lip Gel in Pin Up Pink
(Full Size: $12.00)
Description: “Hydrating, glossy lip gel visibly plumps lips with a lustrous sheen and always flattering hot pink hue.”
Verdict: Like
I like getting fun makeup samples and this is probably not a shade I’d choose on my own.  I didn’t swatch it because I have so many open products, I want to finish a few first.

glamglow
GLAMGLOW YOUTHMUD™ Tinglexfoliate Treatment

(Full Size: $69.00)
Description: “Exfoliating mud mask increases skin’s vibrancy by gently resurfacing and tightening the appearance of pores.”
Verdict: Like
I hear so many folks rave about Glamglow, but the high price tag just isn’t in my budget.   I tried this out and it definitely felt like it exfoliated my skin, but it’s worth $69.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:
perfume
Stella McCartney Pop (1.6 oz $72.00)
Description: “A celebration of self -expression and independence, this bold, contemporary scent layers birgight floral notes over a base of sandalwood.”
Verdict: Nope.
As usual it’s too strong for me.  I’ll pass it along to a friend.

OVERALL
sephora-play-11-2016
Verdict:
Hit!
With tax, I paid $10.70 for this box and I feel like I definitely got my money’s worth. The Laura Mercier eyestick is pretty much worth the price of admission.  Once again, I feel like Sephora offered a great variety of products from quality brands in generously sized samples.  Of all the budget beauty boxes in the $10 and under slot, I think this one is the best.

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.

Play by Sephora: October 2016

For TGIFriday, I’ve got a great budget pick: Play by Sephora.  At only $10 a month, they send a fun assortment of beauty items under a monthly theme.
open-box-1
October’s theme was “The Cool Cut” – The Next Big Things.  Sephora described this as “These are the ones to watch: uncover breakthrough formulas, indie fins, and products that truly stand out from the corwod.  Before they hit the mainstream, try out routine-changing skincare and hair innovations, a coveted liquid lipstick , and other of-the-moment must haves.”
open-box-2

smashbox smashbox-applicator smashbox-swatch
Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick in Driver’s Seat
(Full Size: $24.00)
Description: “Matte liquid lipstick keeps going for eight hours with a water-resistant, non-feathering formula.
Verdict: Hit!
This shade is a touch warm for my taste, but not so much that it’s unwearable.  It did have staying power and wasn’t as drying as most matte lip products I’ve tried. It’s also a generous size for a $10 box.  We’re off to a great start!

bamboo-creme
Erborian Bamboo Crème Frappée Skin Reviving Fresh Gel
(Full Size: $43.00)
Description: “Deeply moisturizing gel-cream with a unique frosty, whipped texture sinks effortlessly into skin to revive and refresh.
Verdict: Hit!
I’m not sure it’s possible for Erborian to add any more buzz words to the name of this product, but the description makes it sound super intriguing.  A gel with a frosty whipped texture?  A combination of Korean skincare and “luxurious French scents”?  Sign me up.

robin-mask
Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask with Rare Prickly Pear Seed Oil

(Full Size: $71.00)
Description: “Sumptuous and full of antioxidants, this conditioning hair mask strengthens strands while enhancing color and shine.”
Verdict: Love!
This is one hell of an expensive hair mask.  I mean, I thought my giant tub of $29 hair mask that lasted 2 years was a huge splurge, but $71 on my nonprofit salary just ain’t happening.  Getting a pretty generous sample in a $10 box is wonderful.  I’m going to save this for when my hair needs a pick me up.

glossgloss-applicatorgloss-swatch
The Estée Edit Flash Photo Gloss

(Full Size: $20.00)
Description: “Innovative, high-shine gloss with cool blue undertones that makes teeth appear brighter—t’s the ultimate must-have for selfies!”
Verdict: Like
You can wear this alone or layered over another lipstick.  I really like that this came with a matte liquid lipstick so that you could pair them together to change the effect.  The reason this is only a “like” is that I think the gloss is stickier than I prefer.  However, I’m intrigued with the “blue undertone” aspect and I’m going to experiment and see if it can help make some of my warmer lip shades a bit better for my skin tone.

skin-dew
Farmacy Skin Dew Hydrating Essence Mist & Setting Spray

(Full Size: $44.00)
Description: “Invigorating facial mist is just the thing to freshen or set makeup, add moisture, and soothe skin.”
Verdict: Like
Farmacy is one of those brands that has been popping up a lot in sub boxes.  This isn’t a product I would seek out on my own, but it will be fun to try out.  I’m particularly interested in how it will function as a makeup setting spray.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:
mon-paris
Yves Saint Laurent Mon Paris (1.6 oz $92.00)
Description: “Inspired by a love for the sophistication and allure of Paris, this scent layers fruity and floral notes over a musky base.”
Verdict: Sometimes Paris isn’t a good idea
Too strong for me. I’m going to have to pass this along to a friend.

OVERALL
sephora-play-10-2016
Verdict:
Love!
With tax, I paid $10.70 for this box and I feel like the hair mask and Smashbox lipstick would have been worth that much on their own.   What I really liked about this month was that there were so many brands and products that I’ve never tried before.  If you’ve been wanting to try a beauty sub and are on a budget, consider Sephora Play.  The samples are generous, they feature a nice variety of categories and you get a card for extra points when you purchase something from the Sephora store.

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.

Play by Sephora: September 2016

For Friday, I’ve got one of my favorite budget boxes: Play by Sephora.  At only $10 a month, they send a fun assortment of beauty items under a monthly theme.
open-box bag
September’s theme was “The Unbasic Basics” – An Anything But Ordinary Assortment.  Sephora described this as “Sharpen your eyeliner and swipe on some lipstick: go back to beauty school this September with a selection of hair, makeup and skincare must-haves that always make the grade.  Be a straight-A student with an above-average eyeliner, reimagined moisturizer, and other next-level necessities to become the building blocks for your beauty routine.”

lipsticklipstick-swatch
Sephora Collection Rouge Shine Lipstick in Love Spell
(Full Size: $12.50)
Description: “Deep glossy shine meets a go-to shade of pink in this creamy, moisturizing lipstick.
Verdict: Hit!
I’m always on the hunt for the perfect everyday pink lipstick so I was happy to try out a new shade.  This lipstick felt quite nice going on and has excellent shine.

tattoo-liner eyeliner-tip eyeliner-swatch
Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper
(Full Size: $20.00)
Description: “Waterpoof brush-tip liquid liner glides on to reveal precise, bold strokes of highly pigmented color.
Verdict: A favorite
This is one of my holy grail products.  I keep trying out other liquid liners and none are as easy to apply as Kat Von D’s.  It also has awesome staying power—definitely worth the splurge and since mine is getting a bit low, I was psyched to get a new one.

anastasia
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel
(Full Size: $22.00)
Description: “Lightweight, flexible hold gel sets, defines and keeps brows in place for a polished look that stays all day.”
Verdict: Love!
Anastasia Beverly Hills is one of the go to brands of eyebrow products.  Julep got me hooked on using clear eyebrow gel to set my brows and I’m excited to try out another brand and see how they compare.

transformation
Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation
(.5 oz: $14.00)
Description: “Light, silky and oil-free, this moisturizer melts into skin to help soften, brighten and even skin tone.”
Verdict: Like/Gift
This product sounds lovely, and this is an excellent brand but I have so much skincare stockpiled I’m not sure if I’ll use this myself or tuck it into someone else’s gift.

hair-mask
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Overnight Perfector

(Full Size: $28.00)
Description: “Get a full week of softness and sine with this long-lasting, weightless perfecting solution that keeps your hair looking its best.”
Verdict: Gift
I love trying out new hair masks and treatments but I still have a full size of this from a long ago Nina Garcia Quaterly box.  I’m going to gift this to a friend I think will enjoy it.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:
perfume-envelope atelier
Atelier Cologne Sud Magnolia (1 oz $85.00)
Description: “A refreshing floral blend that balances delicate notes of magnolia with layers of wood and citrus.”
Verdict: A little too strong
Atelier is one of the few perfume brands that I can typically wear but this one didn’t work.  For me, the musk and floral overpowered the citrus notes, but I do think it would appeal to a lot of other subscribers.

OVERALL
sephora-play-september-2016
Verdict:
Hit!
With tax, I paid $10.70 for this box and I feel like with just the liner, lipstick and gel I got my money’s worth.  I will use all of those products regularly.  The remaining items will make nice little stocking stuffers for friends.

What brand is your favorite “Unbasic” basic?

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.