The Sephora PLAY! subscription is one of the best values in the current, crowded beauty box market. $10 gets you five good sized montly samples, along with a bonus sample (usually perfume or a smaller packet sample) as well as a card that gets you an extra 50 Beauty Insider points if you make an in-store purchase that month. For me, a major benefit to Sephora’s subscription is that their boxes will only contain brands that Sephora actually carries. Other similarly priced boxes (looking at you Birchbox and Ipsy) would send some of the very offest of off brands, things I was afraid to put on my face because I had no brand trust or even recognition. I don’t think anything I get in a Sephora box will harm me or be full of Chinese factory toxins. Probably.
I have been subscribed to the PLAY! box for a year now, and it’s been mostly hits and a few total misses, but at least no harmful products or brands that I’ve never heard of before. Let’s see what this month brought us.
This month’s theme is Beauty Schooled (Back to school for August? Groundbreaking.) and came with the requisite cotton drawstring bag. I can really do without these bags that brands are always sending out. No matter how clever and thrifty I try to be, I can never come up with enough ways to use them. I have stacks of makeup bags and I hate to toss them out, but come on. The one or two I carry in my handbag don’t get so dirty I have to replace them except once a year or so, and I get SO MANY. Come up with another thing, brands. Or just skip the bag, honestly I don’t mind. Anyway.
The items in this month’s box are only tangentially related to back to school, in that one supposes that one would use such items anytime, even when in class. I don’t go to school anymore, so whatever. I’d imagine it’s challenging to come up with a new theme every month, so there’s a free pass from me on these themed things actually making sense.
Hoola Bronzer by Benefit
I was super excited to get this mini bronzer, because everyone always raves about what a classic this Benefit product is. I don’t do bronzer, generally, so I was never going to buy this in a full size, but I was excited to try an adorable mini.
I don’t know why I bothered to get excited, because no matter how anyone raves about a bronzer they all look like escape from Loompaland on me. Behold the orangeness.
Bronzer just makes me look orange and dirty, this is no exception. It does feel nice, it’s a really soft, fine powder and it’s very pigmented as you can see, but no. I can sometimes use a very cool toned almost grey-taupe contour, but no bronzer, not ever.
Makeup Forever Artist Rouge Lipstick in C211 Rosewood
No, just no. Not at all. You know, the older I get the more sensitive I get to doing/using/wearing anything that gives me and “old lady” vine. Old lady is kind of chic right now if you’re a youth, because it’s all well and good to dye your hair gray when you’re 27 (Such a contrast between your delectable youth and your silvery locks! So ironic!) but once you’re in your 40s it won’t be so adorably quirky. You’re just going to look old and tired and no one will hire you or give you promotions. Not so fun now, huh. Anyway this lipstick gave me nothing but old lady vibes. Ughhhhhh.
This is a color I’d call “lack of imagination” pink. It’s not pinky enough to be a pretty, fresh color, it’s not neutral enough to be a true neutral and it’s hideously unflattering on me.
I have already thrown this in the garbage because I have no time or space for this crime scene of a color in my life. Maybe when I am 85 and don’t even care if I applied my lipstick inside my lipline because by then my lips will have disappeared almost entirely anyhow (That’s a THING you look it up.) but until then no.
Origins Original Skin Retexturing Mask with Rose Clay
To be honest I have not tried this. I am in the happiest place with my skin care right now and I don’t want to mess it up with a new product. I have liked things by Origins in the past though, and I will hold on to this for some other time when I am willing to experiment.
I took this no-makeup selfie last week to assess sun damage, and I really have to say my skin is looking damn fine right at the moment because I am both working really hard on it and throwing buckets of money at it. Sunscreen kids, wear your sunscreen.
Living Proof T.B.D. Multi-Tasking Styler
2018 has been the absolute worst hair year of my life. For reasons hormonal and nutritional my hair is currently just a Shakespearean tragedy playing itself out across my head without my consent. There’s nothing I can do to fix it right now, I don’t even think cutting it would improve the situation, so I am biding time and taking lots of vitamins and hoping that a few months will show a change. I haven’t tried this, because I have been experimenting with I.G.K. Rich Kid Coconut Oil Hair Gel with some modest success in helping me moisturize and retain curl, and I don’t want to mess that up.
Living Proof products have been hit or miss for me in the past, I did love their Curl Defining Style Cream for a while but then it started to feel too plasticky, and I mixed it with another product (from Briogeo) and it honest to god turned the Living Proof product into little gummy plastic white pellets on my head, so I looked like I had some kind of cyborg dandruff, and I didn’t have time to rewash and TBH I am still getting over the shame of that day. So I feel as if Living Proof might be a little too synthetic for my tastes is what I am telling you. Plus whenever I mention it to my hairdresser she frowns at me in a quite judgmental fashion. So this is a maybe-try, maybe-trade or gift to someone else.
I do appreciate the impertinence of their using an initialism AND a hyphenated phrase in their product name though, that’s nervy.
Anastasia Brow Gel in Clear
This did not wow me overmuch, because I can’t see that there’s much difference between high and low end brow gels. There’s a $1 e.l.f. clear brow gel that does pretty much the same thing as this $22 version, so.
Right now my go-to brow product is the Milk Gel Brow in Pilsner, which gives me color and hold, so this is just going in my extras/backups stash in case I have a dire need of a brow gel and/or run out of my e.l.f. one. What I do appreciate here is that it’s a non-clear tube, because a lot of these brow gels come in transparent tubes and after about two uses the clear gel turns a gross milky brown color which makes you immediately want a fresh tube. (Planned Obsolescence Marketing, my fave.) I guess here you are paying $22 so you’re not exposed to anything that could be described as milky-brown. Fair enough.
OUAI Volume Shampoo and Conditioner
Lastly there was a bonus item, this Ouai shampoo/conditioner duo which I have not tried for aforementioned hair reasons. I don’t feel you can really get a good feel for hair products with these single use packets, so I don’t see a lot of point to them, except they’re great for travel if you already know you like the product. I also have a grudge against this brand for having one of those pretentious unpronounceable names.
Final Grade for on Sephora PLAY! August 2018
You know when I opened this I thought it was a good box, but I think that was just brand hypnosis. It’s good to get things from luxe brands, but if they’re things like clear brow gel and old lady color lipstick and too-warm loompa bronzer then they’re not really of specific use to me. So this box was a C for me. The products weren’t bad, but they were absolutely not me, and the point of the box is that it’s supposed to be at least somewhat tailored to your needs/tastes. Nothing here was needed, and most of it I will probably never use.
Are you subscribed to any beauty boxes, or even this Sephora box? How was your month? Let me know in the comments!