Sunday, May 8, 2016

April 2016 Play! By Sephora - The It Crowd - Unboxing & Review

I don't know why it took Sephora so long to come out with a subscription service; when I think about mid/high-end makeup and where to purchase it from, one of the first retailers I think of is Sephora (possibly Ulta, too, but Ulta is more of a drugstore/hair care store in my mind, though they do carry a lot of the same brands).
The April 2016 Play! By Sephora box is my second one from this service, and I believe the 8th one overall (I've heard various times for when this subscription service started, but the booklets have numbers on them that I assume are counting the number of total boxes, unless Sephora is counting off a year starting at a month different than January. Last month was the 7th and this month is the 8th). The theme for April 2016 is 'The It Crowd', and when I saw the spoilers for it, I was quite excited!
Quick Run-Down: $10 a month makeup/beauty subscription service curated by Sephora; five deluxe to full size products, plus a perfume sample, all of which are sold at Sephora; no true rewards program, but you do get a little card that you can bring to a physical Sephora to get an additional 50 Beauty Insider points with a purchase; Sephora is still slowly rolling out this service, so you do have to sign up for a waitlist and then wait for them to offer it to you; there have been some concerns over this waitlist system and it appears that it has more to do with your geographic location than what order you signed up for it (and there was recently a lot of confusion when Sephora appeared to offer everyone a chance to sign up for it, but still e-mailed people and wouldn't let others sign up based on zip codes...I don't know. All I know is that I signed up the day they opened the waitlist and got an e-mail invite to subscribe a couple months ago).
This subscription comes in a square cardboard box with the iconic Sephora stripes and a lipstick pattern with pops of pink and red (I think Sephora's official colors are black, white, and red). Both the tissue paper and the info book, shown here, have black and white stripes as well.
As I said above, the theme for this month is The It Crowd, and Sephora is featuring new, on-trend brands and products. Sephora includes a fairly large info booklet, but I don't find it to be very informative, a least not in the way the Allure mini mag is. All the products get a two page spread, but it's mostly graphics with only a few blurbs of info and/or instruction.
First up is a sample of the Milk Makeup Sunshine Oil. This is a new brand to Sephora, and it's been all over Instagram recently (it's also available at Urban Outfitters, so you know it's trendy). This is a multi-use, all over oil that you can use on your face, skin, hair, nails...where ever you need a little hydration. It also doesn't have argan oil, which means I can use it!
It does have lemon oil, though, so be careful if you use this and then find yourself in direct sunlight for a while. The full size of this product comes in a rollerball, which makes it easy to use on the go or for traveling, but I also like the little resealable plastic pouch the sample comes in. The full size is 0.5fl oz for $38, so this 0.1fl oz sample is worth about $7.60.
I love Sunday Riley products, but they are super expensive, so I always jump at the chance to get a sample or two. This is the Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment and it promises to deeply exfoliate (hence the lactic acid) to reduce the appearance of dark spots, hyper-pigmentation, and fine lines.
My skin isn't horrible, but I do have a lot of scarring (mostly just hyper-pigmentation, not a lot of textural scarring) from acne. I don't think I'll see any real results from this small sample, but it's always nice to be able to try something super expensive before purchasing it (and then possibly returning it and wasting your time and the company's money). The full size of this product is $105 for 1oz/30mL, making this 0.3oz/10mL sample worth $31.50. At that price, I have high expectations for this product's performance!
I'm going to be honest, I've never been a big fan of Clinique products. I've bought into the hype and purchased them in the past, and I thought I liked them, but in the end I realized that they didn't perform the way I wanted nor expected them to. I feel bad saying that because I know Clinique products are very popular and a lot of people swear by them, and they probably work for a lot of people, but they just don't seem to work for me. I'm also sad because I like that Clinique makes all their products fragrance-free; I wish all skin care brands did that since added fragrance is unnecessary and can actually be quite irritating.
In this box, we got a deluxe sample of one of Cliniques newer products, the Pep-Start Eye Cream. This is an eye cream that you use in the morning (though the instructions say you can use it at night, too) to de-puff, brighten, and hydrate your under-eye area. You can also use it on your lids, which is awesome! I'm always looking for the next best eye cream, so I'm definitely going to give this a try, but I don't know what to expect from it.
The full size tube has a special, round applicator to assist with de-puffing, but it's plastic, so I'm not sure if it will be as effective as the metal applicators that have a cooling effect. This deluxe sample tries to emulate the rounded tip, but I'm not sure how it compares (I'm just looking at pictures of the full size on Sephora's website). The full size is 0.5oz for $26.50, so this 0.1oz sample is worth about $5.30.
I'm kind of surprised they included this product in an "On Trend" themed box; this is a NARS Satin Lip Pencil in the color Rikugien. Don't get me wrong, NARS products are always on trend, but they are not new, and this is neither a new product nor a new color (though you could consider it a cult favorite). It just doesn't seem to fit in, and a lot of people weren't happy to see this in their box since this was one of the birthday gifts Sephora offered and they assumed that Sephora was just trying to get rid of them.
Questionable intentions aside, this is a nice product and since I don't already own this color, I don't mind getting it in this box.
I much prefer the Satin Lip Pencils over the Velvet Mattes because the latter are so incredibly drying on my lips. I feel like I still get the perks of a matte, such as  a good amount of wear and a non-shiny finish, without any of the discomfort. Even though these pencils are plastic, I'm 90% sure you can still sharpen them (I do own the NARS pencil sharpener since it's really good and less expensive the the Urban Decay Grindhouse, but I've never used it to sharpen one of their lip pencils), especially since they don't twist up.
Everyone got the color Rikugien, a rose pink inspired by a park in Tokyo. This is a fresh swatch, so it looks a little shinier than it does when it dries down, but the color remains the same. A full size Satin Lip Pencil is 0.07oz for $26, so this 0.05oz sample is worth a surprising $18.60.
The last sample this month (besides the perfume) is from the Sephora Collection. Out of all the in-house makeup brands I have tried, the Sephora Collection is one of the best. Most of the products are high quality and are quite affordable (there are some duds, but that's true for any makeup brand, from drugstore to high-end), plus there are a lot of interesting, on-trend, and innovative products, like this Colorful Cheek Ink Gel in the color 01 Peony.
Gel blushes aren't all that new, Becca has had them for a while now, but I feel like they still haven't really caught on in the U.S. I like gel blushes since they are easier to work with than heavier creams (especially if you want a more sheer, natural flush) and they look more natural than powders since they blend into the skin better.
Out of the tube, this product is a bright, cool-toned pink, but when you blend it in...
You get a very sheer, very natural flush of color. Sephora suggests using a brush with this product and that a little goes a long way, but I found that I preferred using my fingers and that I needed to use a little more than I thought I needed. A full size is 0.67oz for $14, making this 0.35oz sample worth about $7.30.
For the perfume sample this month, we got a vial of Derek Lam 10 Crosby 2AM Kiss.

This perfume is from Derek Lam's line of New York inspired fragrances and it has notes of salted caramel and crystallized amber. I do like amber, but caramel can be hit or miss for me; I think it depends on how much vanilla it has and how 'burnt' it is. This perfume smells almost like incense to me; it's very rich and best suited for nighttime wear and/or for autumn and winter. I don't calculate the values of these perfume samples since they don't really count towards your five deluxe sized samples.

Overall, I got five deluxe-sized samples (though some were pretty close to being full-sized) and a perfume sample with a total value of about $70.30, which is super impressive considering I only paid $10 for this box! Some people have expressed concerns that the samples in these boxes are just the 100-point rewards that Sephora offers, but I don't mind paying $10 to get five of them since you have to spend around $500 (less if you purchase items or have coupons that give you bonus points) to earn enough points for them. Even with all the confusion surrounding the waitlist and how it's decided who gets to sign up for this service, I do recommend trying to get this subscription if you're into these type of beauty/makeup sample boxes.

Thanks for reading! <3

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