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.

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.

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.

: 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?

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: 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.”
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.
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.

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.

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.

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:
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.


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?

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 Must Have: December 2014

So I’m powering through the last box stragglers of 2014, so it’s time for my last Popsugar box of 2014. Onto the December box which I hoped was full of Holiday goodies…
BoxOpen Box

SPUN by Subtle Luxury Speckled Metallic Scarf
(Suggested Retail: $62.00)
Category: Must Have Fashion
Description: “To feel even more festive this Winter, add this speckled metallic scarf to any outfit for a subtle sparkle and added warmth.”
Verdict: Love!
I love this scarf. It’s soft, beautiful and surprisingly warm. You can dress it up or down and wear it in different seasons. This was a great way to start the box.

Sparklepop Sydney Necklace
(Suggested Retail: $42.00)
Category: Must Have Fashion
Description: “Dress it up or down – this gorgeous 18K gold-plated necklace is a must have showstopper that can be worn long or layered with shorter necklaces.”
We so rarely get long layering pieces in sub boxes so I was thrilled to grab this. It’s versatile, classic and can be worn in a myriad of ways. It also looks great paired with the metallic scarf from this box. Another winner!

Canvas Dauville Platinum Bowl
(Suggested Retail: $29.00)
Category: Must Have Home
Description: “The hand-painted platinum interior will keep all your little gems or snacks tidy in a unique way!”
Verdict: Love!
This adorable bowl is the perfect size to collect jewelry on your vanity or paperclips on your desk. I love the organic outside paired with the glamourous inside. I checked out the Canvas Home site and fell in love with nearly everything. Popsugar followed up with an email code for 25% off anything off the site just use the code CANVASPOP. There are some seaglass colored bowls that are just screaming out my name….

Smashbox Be Legendary Long-Wear Lip Lacquer
(Suggested Retail: $24.00)
Category: Must Have Beauty
Description: “Look and feel legendary with this long-wear lip lacquer—the deep Bordeaux color and maxed-out staining pigment will ensure your color stays put all night long!.”
Verdict: Hit!
I have a fabulous Smashbox palette and some cream shadows, but I had yet to try their Lip Lacquer so I’m psyched to get this. I didn’t include a swatch because I am currently overwhelmed with lip products and didn’t want to open this one just yet.

Knot & Bow Parcel Tags
(Retail: $4.00)
Category: Must Have Home
Description: “After you’ve wrapped the perfect present, make it complete with tehse classic parcel tags or get creative and use them as organizing labels around the house!.”
Verdict: Hit!
These tags are really versatile and as far as wrapping items go this was a perfect choice for a sub box. The blue color means you can use them all year long, with everything from birthday gifts to labeling boxes of handmade treats.

Williams-Sonoma Cupcake Mix in Vanilla Bean
(Suggested Retail: $14.95)
Category: Must Have Food
Description: “When you’re craving gourmet cupcakes, get your fix with this easy vanilla bean mix for sweet perfection”
Verdict: Hit!
Now I’d never pay $14.95 for fancy cupcake mix, but I love baking and am always up for trying new things. I made these for my friends and their kids and topped them with chocolate frosting. They were tasty (as cupcakes always should be) but I didn’t find them all that much better than good old Betty Crocker.  So while I enjoyed the mix, I wouldn’t purchase it on my own.

Full Box

Looks like Popsugar saved the best for last.
I love, love, love this box. Did I mention I love this box? Popsugar really made up a lot of ground with this one. It was so thoughtfully curated and not only did these items all fit the season, they made a beautiful cohesive box. This is my favorite Popsugar box of the year and I hope they keep this momentum up in 2015.

This box cost me $42.95 and I received $175.95 worth of product. I loved or really liked everything in this box and I will use every single item.

In Popsugar News, they released a $65 Limited Edition Fitness collaboration box with Target which sold out in record time. After my recent disappointment with the Limited Edition Neiman Marcus box I’ve been opting out of Popsugar LE boxes, but after this December box I’ll probably be changing my mind.

What did you think of the December Popsugar Box? Was it your favorite of the year?


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

Popsugar Limited Edition Resort Box

If you read here frequently you probably figured out that I have an unnatural addiction to Popsugar Special Edition Boxes. I’ve given up trying to resist, so when Popsugar offered their Must Have Resort box I jumped all over it. After this winter that will not die (goddamn snow in the middle of April), I was dying to get items that would transport me to idyllic foreign locales with clear blue oceans, fancy spas and fruity drinks with little umbrellas in them. See that’s what “resort” means to me. The question is, what does it mean to Popsugar?


BoxOpen Box

Cuyana Turkish Towel
(Estimated Retail: $55.00)
Description: “Made of the finest grade cotton and bamboo, our summer towels are ultra-light and ultra- absorbent. Their generous proportions enhance their versatility. These towels are perfect for home, travel, and trips to the beach. Each towel folds up compactly with a fine weave preventing sand from getting caught between the threads.”
Verdict: Love!
This was the item that Popsugar released as a spoiler. I love the design of it and it definitely gives off a Turkish spa/bathhouse vibe. It’s soft and feels really high quality. I’m not much of a beach-goer (cause of the whole sunburn after 5 seconds thing) but I’m updating my bathroom with a nautical theme and this towel fits in perfectly.

Epicuren Discovery Tropical Lave (Estimated Retail: $20.00)
Description: “The soothing, silky gel- made from coconut oil, papaya extract and other natural ingredients – can also be used as a shampoo.”
Verdict: Fail
Maybe I’m hard to please but in a luxury box I expect items to have nice packaging and feel luxurious. This thing looks like something you picked up at Walmart in 1985. It smells like coconut, because there aren’t a million products out there that will smell like coconut. If Popsugar was going to go the whole “tropical bodywash” route I expected something far nicer. Past special edition boxes have included much better packaged and far more interesting body items. And no woman who shells out $100 for a beauty subscription box is going to want bodywash that “doubles” as shampoo. I also couldn’t even figure out the price because you need to register on their site to do it. Let’s just say it’s $20 because it really shouldn’t cost more than that.

Folded Open Clutch
R.B. of McD #2 Clutch (Estimated Retail: $100.00)
Description: This Popsugar exclusive is handmade from canvas and leather and comes in two different styles: tan and navy or al navy. Wear it as a fold-voer clutch or wallet and give off the ultimate cool-girl vibe.”
Verdict: On the Fence
I have mixed feelings about this item. If this wasn’t a resort box I’d probably give it a “love” verdict. This items feels way more suited to a New England vacation than heading out to a resort. It’s not fancy enough for an evening out, nor is it practical enough for daily sightseeing since it has no wristlet strap. The colors also don’t scream out spring or summer. If this was made exclusively for Popsugar why not feature a cheerful bright color or even a soft mint or melon? I just can’t imagine anyone seeing this bag and thinking “resort”. The shape of this seems more suited for use as a toiletry bag. It’s definitely nice quality but the total wrong fit for this box. If Popsugar had replaced the weird bodywash with a lucury travel sized set of toiletries it would have made a great pairing. Similar bags on the R.B of McD site cost $180 but they are all leather (not part canvas) and have a lovely chain strap. I think we can safely estimate this at $100 (thought it’s probably worth more). I’m still so confused why they chose this color palette and left off a chain/strap.

Salty Road Salt Water Taffy in Salty Caramel Apple (Estimated Retail: $6.50)
Description: “The all-natural flavor is made from unique apple cider jelly and a secret blend of fresh spices.”
Verdict: On the Fence
So this is beautifully packaged, but once again I’m not feeling resort here. I’m a Jersey girl and salt water taffy = Atlantic City and I’m sorry, but in no way does that scream out luxury resort. (I don’t care how many millions Christie spends on advertising that we are “stronger than the storm”.) I’m sure this is tasty, but “apple cider” flavor and salt water taffy do not scream out resort to me. I’d give this a “love” in a different box, but not this one. Couldn’t they at least go with a tropical flavor? Apparently Popsugar thinks beach = resort. It doesn’t. Resort is a goddamn fashion thing and it doesn’t mean any old beach and I shouldn’t have to lecture you on this Popsugar!!! Okay, okay I’m fine, but I’m just getting agitated with this box. Note to Popsugar: “Resort does not mean what you think it means”.

Clark’s Botanicals Cellular Lifting Moisture Mist
(Estimated Retail: Full Size 30mL $28.00)
Description: “This refreshing facial mist from Clark’s Botanicals is designed to improve skin in more ways than one. The anti-aging formula delivers maximum hydration minimizes wrinkles, helps heal sensitive areas, and firms the skin…the convenient travel size means you can take it anywhere.”
Verdict: Like
An anti-aging face mist seems perfectly suited to a luxury resort spa feeling. I’ve never tried a product like this and it seems a great little item to use to refresh you during a vacation when you’re tried or overheated. The travel size will fit easily even in a smaller handbag.

Smashbox Cosmetics: The Santigolden Age: Double-ended Limitless Eye Liner
(Estimated Retail: $24.00)
Description: “…musical artist Santigold partnered with Smashbox to create this limited-edition, double-ended liner with blue and gold colors.”
Verdict: Love
I’m relieved to find another item that actually feels resort to me. It’s also great that this is limited edition. I have a lot of Smashbox cosmetics and they are excellent quality. I know that gold eyeliner is a big trend and I’m interested in trying it out. I’ve used navy before successfully so we’ll see how I handle a new shade of blue.

Sisco Beluti Bracelet Stack(Estimated Retail:$100.00 )
Description: “You’ll be one of the only ones to wear these baubles made exclusively for Popsugar by Sisco Berluti, a jewelry line loved by celebrities like Halle Berry and Jessica Alba. The three bracelets…are designed from turquoise, brass and labradorite stones.”
Verdict: On the Fence
On the bright side this certainly fits the resort theme so it has something over on half the other items in the box. The problem for me is that it just feels cheap. I know it’s a celebrity jewelry line but the bracelets just didn’t wow me. I feel like I could put together something just as nice or find something similar in Charming Charlie for a fraction of the cost. I understand why this was in the box and I think it was a great thing to include, but I’m just not sure it’s for me.

Full Box

Since I started my subscription box fix, I’ve gotten ALL the popsugar limited edition boxes: the Fall, Neiman Marcus & the Holiday box along with this one. This is the only one I’ve been disappointed in.

I feel like Popsugar thought resort just meant “beach” or “ocean” while “resort” has a lot of other fashion connotations. I was expecting high fashion/luxury resort not slightly nautical and boardwalk.

If Popsugar had labeled this as a “beach box” or a “summer box” I would have had more appropriate expectations. I paid $107.00 for this box and got well over $300 in value so I definitely got my money’s worth, I just expected more thoughtful selections.

So what did you think of the Popsugar Limited Edition Resort Box?

Did it scream out resort to you or leave you wanting?

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 sitewide
POPSUGAR10 = $10 off a 3 month subscription

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