Unboxing: Sephora Play! January 2017

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After a few disappointing months, I was anxious to receive the first Sephora Play! beauty subscription box of the new year. Is it getting better, or am I going to cancel my membership? Let's find out!

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 in 2015 in a bunch of test markets in the US and opened nationwide in April 2016. Subscribers are charged at the beginning of each month and the box is supposed to be shipped in the 3rd week of the month: I was charged on January 3rd. 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 to your mailbox. I didn't get a shipping confirmation email or a tracking number until my box got transferred to USPS, and I think that's the 3rd or 4th time I have a problem with the tracking system! I finally received it on January 20th.

Let's unbox this month's goodies!

This month's box is called Beauty, Set, Go. The theme this month is rather obscure... I guess motivation is the best way I can describe it. The samples came in a very different little bag this time: it is made of a synthetic material rather than the usual canvas, and the whole back is mesh. With the neon orange ribbon and "sweaty" quote, this fun bag looks like it should contain fitness or workout related products. I was expecting to get some gym bag essentials in there, such as what you get in Sephora's Skin Fitness Kit or Yuni Sweat, Refresh, Go set, but nope... Instead, the products are supposed to be "super effective" essentials to keep me motivated all year long.

What's in the January box?

- tarte FRXXXTION Stick Exfoliating Cleanser: skincare sticks are all the rage at the moment and this product is a recent intriguing launch. Unfortunately I personally stay away from scrubs because they irritate my skin and aggravate my redness issues, so this is not something I see myself buying in the future. I will only test it on my chin, hopefully it can help with the blackheads that keep coming back there!

- Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Face Lifting Moisturizer SPF20: for a second after emptying the contents of the bag, I thought it was another tube of the Caudalie Resveratrol Eye Lifting Balm that I received in a Play! box a few months ago! But no, this time it's the moisturizer with SPF. Fine, I'll try it, but I wish they would vary the skincare brands more in the Play box. Or at least not send me another product from the very same Resveratrol range!

- Boscia BB Cream SPF27: guys I just don't like BB creams. They're either basic tinted moisturizers (for the US versions) or super heavy and pasty (for the Asian ones). I like Boscia and I do want to explore the brand more, but this product really doesn't work for me. It's supposed to self-adjust to match your skin tone - right... As usual with products that make this claim, it is total BS. It's just so sheer that it won't look revolting if the shade is not the perfect match for you. And for me it's really too dark right now, so it gives me a fake tan look. I will try it again in the middle of the summer, if I don't lose the tube by then.

- Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey: eeerhh, okay. Black Honey is an iconic shade by Clinique that was launched ages ago, and as a matter of fact I've had this exact lipstick for years (might be time for me to toss it actually). I'd be surprised if most Sephora Play! subscribers hadn't tried it yet considering its cult status and the fact they are beauty enthusiasts. Don't get me wrong, it's a great, easy-to-wear sheer lippie that should work for most skin tones. But it's not the kind of new and upcoming product I'm hoping to get in the Play! box. Oh and the Almost Lipsick bullets are so fragile that they constantly break. My sample broke on first use...

- Ouai Treatment Masque: another brand repeat here, a few months ago I got their Wave Spray that did absolutely nothing for me. The tube is quite small and doesn't feel fully filled, so with my long hair I expect to get only one use, which isn't enough to really judge a product.

- And the fragrance sample, Pinrose Wild Child: I love Pinrose, I recently purchased their Treehouse Royal scent, so I'm happy to discover another scent in their range. But one wipe, really? At least with tiny sample vials I get multiple uses.


I'm relieved to finally see a decent box from Sephora, although some of the star products it contains either don't work well for me or have been staples in my stash for years. At least everything is from solid brands, even though I think they should avoid repeating brands so often. What's more puzzling is the fact that the whole design of the bag and the supporting materials point towards a fitness inspired box ("Flex your beauty muscle", says the sephora.com/play website), but none of the products really relate to that theme, except maybe the Tarte Stick, with some imagination. It feels like they had a great idea, created the visuals to go with it, but couldn't find products to fit the theme from their partner brands... I would have loved to discover Yuni in this box, a niche brand that recently arrived at Sephora and makes body products for active lifestyles, such as a no rinse body wash and Pocket Savasana relaxing aroma roll-on.

Number of products: 6
Makeup products: 2
Products I'm really excited about: 0
Products I know I won't use: 0
My grade: B-

Shop January products

The product featured in this review was purchased by Lulle. I received no compensation to write this post, which only reflects my personal opinion. This post contains affiliate links.

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