Unboxing Frenzy: Sephora Play! and Popsugar Must Have box December 2016

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Are you always curious to see what's inside monthly subscription boxes? Do you like unboxing posts? Yeah? Well then you're gonna love this one, because I'm about to show you the innards of two of the most popular beauty and lifestyle boxes for December 2016! Let's get started:

Sephora Play! box December 2016

What is Sephora Play! ?

By now, I'm sure most of you already know. If you don't, here's the deal: Sephora Play! is a beauty subscription box that comes to members' mailboxes every month and costs $10, charged automatically to the credit card on file. For this price, we receive 5 samples, deluxe or travel sizes of makeup, skincare, haircare products and one fragrance sample. You cannot pick your samples - you just get what you get and there's no exchanging samples you don't like. I don't remember filling a survey asking for my preferences when I signed up, but the subscription is linked to your Sephora BI/VIB/Rouge account, so you might want to complete your profile just in case. Different subscribers may receive different samples every month, so what you see in my box might not be what someone else got.

The Sephora Play! program was launched last year in a bunch of test markets in the US and just opened nationwide in April. Subscribers are charged in the beginning of each month and the box is supposed to be shipped in the 3rd week of the month: I was charged on December 1 and my box was shipped earlier than usual, on December 8. It took its sweet time to arrive though, I only received it 8 days later on December 16. The box was sent through UPS Mail Innovations as usual, which is a mix of UPS and USPS, where UPS brings the box to your city and USPS does the final delivery in your mailbox.

Let's unbox this month's goodies!


This month's box is called The Partygoers. Not an unexpected theme for a December box, but it's always an exciting one! The usual canvas bag that contains all the products is definitely different and more festive this time: it's black rather than white, and the ribbon and print are both gold. Cute! But what about the content? Hmmm....

What's in the December box?

Well, let me start by telling you what was NOT in my box.... I only got 4 products instead of 5, and one of the items listed in the usual leaflet was indeed missing: the Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Primer. That's not exactly a new or exciting product, but I was incredibly pissed to see that my box was missing one out of five products. I mean, come on, $10 is already not cheap for a handful of samples or tiny travel-sizes, but if something is missing, it's a rip off! So I called customer service, and they told me that they couldn't send me the missing item, but they gave me 50 rewards points for the trouble. Okay... Considering that this exact sample would "cost" at least 100 points if it was a reward, that's not really cool. But then Sephora's customer service answered one of my tweets about the situation, and after I provided all the details, they did send me the missing sample with 2-day shipping. So now, I have all my products, and 50 extra points. Not too bad! Lesson to learn from this story: if that problem ever happens to you, call AND tweet. Hell, even contact them on Facebook for something more!

- Bobbi Brown Smoky Eye Mascara: I'm always happy to test new mascaras with a travel-size tube, and this is one I haven't tried yet. But what exactly is festive and "partygoer" about a simple black mascara?

- Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray: this is a best-seller that is often mentioned by bloggers as a favorite, but somehow I've never tried it. So yes, I'm very glad to find this rather generous mini spray in my box, and it does tie to the party theme quite well. I think, however, that many subscribers will be disappointed to receive a product they already own.

- Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain in Always Red: I'm saying this every month and I'll keep saying it until the end of time: if Sephora sends a product by their own brand in the Play! box, they should make it full size! This sample is actually so tiny that I want to call it a micro gloss. It is, indeed, a sample and not a travel-size. (I had issues with my pictures, sorry I don't have a shot of the tiny tube itself).

Swatch of Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain in Always Red
Swatch of Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain in Always Red

- Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo: a travel-size spray of dry shampoo is always useful, and I haven't tried the Drybar brand yet, so that's not bad. Uneventful, but not bad.

- And the usual extra fragrance sample: Elizabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon. Sadly, this is probably the most exciting item in this box. It's new, it's something I've been meaning to try, and it's trending. Oh I wish that description applied to the rest of the box...


So let me try to express my feelings about this box...
Regardless of the mishap with my box missing an item, the products are not bad. They're from good, well-known brands. Some of them have a great reputation. But where's the excitement, the novelty? Where's the magic of the holidays? Where are the reindeers, the light garlands, the new year's eve fire crackers?
Everything comes in a stylish black bag with a gold ribbon, but where's the gold inside? Where are the fun party makeup products? You want to give me a mascara in the Partygoers box, fine, but make it a gold top coat for the lashes, or a fun and unusual shade! You include a hairspray, hey, what about one with sparkles! See what I mean? Yes, most items fit the theme alright as "party staples": you've got the primer, the setting spray, the red lipstick, the dry shampoo to volumize your hair, etc... But where's the cool, the unexpected, the bling, the festive? And don't you think the holiday box would be a great occasion to impress subscribers with a full-size item for a change?

Number of products: 5 (missing 1!)
Makeup products: 4
Products I'm really excited about: 0
Products I know I won't use: 0
My grade: C

Popsugar #MustHaveBox December 2016

I'm disappointed by Sephora again, but will Popsugar make me forget the letdown? Let's take a look!

What is Popsugar Must Have Box?

It's a lifestyle subscription box: every month, members receive a curated selection of full-size fashion, beauty, and home items. The cost is $39.95 a month for the regular box, and $15.95 for the Mini. You can find all the info here, and don't forget to use the code SHOP5 to get $5 off your first box!

Popsugar sent me the regular-sized box for consideration.

What's in the December box?

Monthly subscription box lifestyle beauty decor

This month is all about being festive yet minimalist, and I feel like a lot of the items will make great stocking stuffers for people around me!

- Odeme catchall and ring dish: I was surprised when I opened my Must Have Box to find... more boxes. Of course, it makes sense that this porcelain dish set had to come in its own cardboard packaging to survive the handling by the postal service.... The two dishes are the perfect size for a vanity, or a dresser in your bedroom. They're very simple, white with black lines on the outside, and I have to say not really my style. Give me some gold china, or the opposite, some post-industrial tin, or some weathered wood! But I'm sure the person I'll gift this set to will find them very cute and useful!

- Baublebar Snowfall Pendant: it's always hard to get it right with jewelry, and here again, this pendant isn't really my style. In fact I don't wear much jewelry at all, so I'm very, very picky. But again, I have someone in mind for whom this minimalist pendant will be a perfect match.

- Mane Message Date Night Bobby Pins: yep, sparkly gold and silver hair pins, these ones are for me!

- Winky Lux Lip Pill in Bunny: I've never hear of this brand, but the packaging of this small lipstick is adorable. And from the swatch, it's absolutely gorgeous: rich, opaque, with a soft texture that glides on the skin, and in a perfect festive color, a deep reddish pink.

Swatch of Winky Lux Lip Pill in Bunny
Swatch of Winky Lux Lip Pill in Bunny

- Sisters' Gourmet Baker's Dozen Classic Chocolate Cookie Mix: at first I was confused about this jar, but then I realize it contains everything you need to make cookies, except for the fresh and perishable items such as egg and butter. How fun is that! I'll also give this one away as a stocking stuffer, because I know someone who'll absolutely love it!

- Dessange Color Restore Color Protecting Top Coat Serum: I'm a big fan of Dessange shampoos, and I used to go to that chain of hair salons in France to get my haircuts! However my hair is not color treated, so I'll give this serum to someone who will truly benefit from it.


Again, Popsugar offers a nice selections of items for the home, beauty products and accessories. Some of them were not a great fit for my personal style, but that's always a risk with subscription boxes, and at this time of year they'll make great little stocking stuffers!

The Sephora Play! was purchased by Lulle while the Popugar Must Have box was sent by PR for consideration. I received no compensation to write this post, which only reflects my personal opinion. This post contains affiliate links.

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