Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sephora Favorites Sun Safety Kit 2016 - Review!

For the last four years (starting in 2012), I've made it a point to purchase the Sephora Favorites Sun Safety kit every summer. Out of all the skincare products I use, sunscreen is pretty much the one product I can't do without (it's about tied with cleansers). I know I've talked up the Sun Safety kit for this year, especially because I was so impatient about it and ended up purchasing a few other kits and now I have a sunscreen hoard, so I apologize for how long it's taken me to post about it.
This kit is no longer available online, but I have still seen it in some physical Sephoras (Sephoras in JCP had their own mini kit; these, to my knowledge, were never available online and I've only seen them in stock once). I think it's pretty telling how long this kit has stayed in stock this year; the first year I purchased one, I got the last one in the store and I never saw them after that (I know I purchased it before June because I got it as a gift for my mom before my wedding). A lot of people have expressed concerns about the Sephora Favorites kits in general in regards to product size versus value and, after doing some research into past kits, I'm kind of surprised at how much the value has decreased.
One positive about the Sephora Sun Safety kit is that the cost has stayed about the same. The kit was $32 last year, and it was $32 again this year, though it's important to note that the estimated retail value of the 2015 kit was $155 and the estimated value of the 2016 kit is $127 (I looked back even further and found some interesting prices/values: in 2012 it was $30 for about $194 in value, in 2013 it was $30 for $210 in value, and in 2014 it was $32 for about $177 in value). Another positive is that Sephora partners with the Skin Cancer Foundation for these kits and donates $20 for each one sold (I'm sure it caps off at some point, though); if you look at it that way, after donating $20, you're only paying $12 for the products, so it has an added value beyond the samples.
Besides the decrease in sample size and amount (in 2015 there were 16 products, this year there are 15 products), I've also notice a decline in the quality of the 'travel bag'. In 2012, this kit came in a really nice plastic travel case. 2013 it was in a good quality, clear plastic zip-up bag. 2014 had a decorated canvas and plastic zip-up bag. In 2015, it was a mostly clear plastic bag with hot pink trim and a handle (I used it as a purse for work for a while since we could only use clear bags; it lasted for a bit, but it started popping seams pretty quickly). This year, we're back to a canvas/plastic combo, but it feels a lot cheaper than the previous ones. I also think this is the biggest bag this kit has come in, at least during the time that I've been purchasing them.

On to the products! Many of these are repeats, both from past bags and other sample sets I've purchased throughout the year, but since these are skincare/sun protection products, I don't mind getting dupes since I know I will get use out of them. I also don't think there's anything too new or groundbreaking here; the intention of this kit is more to show people the variety of sun protection options available and less to introduce them to new brands/products.
First up is the Algenist Sublime Defense Anti-Aging Blurring Moisturizer SPF 30. Algenist makes a Sublime Defense sunscreen and a Sublime moisturizer, so this product is like a combination of the two! I don't mind using multiple products (sometimes, I even prefer to use a separate sunscreen and moisturizer), but these 2-in-1's are good for people who want to make their skin care routine as minimal as possible.
Next is the Boscia BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 27 PA++. Normally, I prefer sun protection products with an SPF 30 and above, but the PA ++ indicates that this product is particularly good at blocking UVA rays (to quote Sephora: 'The PA system is a grade of UVA protection that provides superior defense against the rays that cause collagen damage and photo-aging of the skin.'). I get a little anxious about trying new BB creams since the color match isn't always ideal, but, even though this product looks dark right out of the tube, it blends in pretty seamlessly. It's also really lightwight; it reminds me of a gel moisturizer in texture and application.
This was one of the products that was supposed to come in my Macy's Sun Essentials kit but did not (...still slightly upset by that): Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution SPF 50 Sunscreen. This is both a sunscreen and an 'anti-pollution' product (it has anti-oxidants) and Clarins says you can reapply it throughout the day over your makeup by lightly pressing more on top. Interesting!
Based on my experience with the COOLA Makeup Setting Spray sample I got in my Birchbox, I was worried about breaking the seal on this one. I'm pleased to report that this bottle didn't smell super weird or awful after taking the plastic off and, when I sprayed it on my hand, it only had a very light sunscreen-y scent. So...pretty sure the one I got in my Birchbox had either gone bad or was damaged/tampered with at some point. Super gross (don't worry, I threw it away right after posting about it). I really wanted to try this product out since the idea of a setting spray/sunscreen sounds incredibly convenient to me, so I'm happy that I got a usable bottle in this kit.
Ah, what sun protection kit would be complete without some Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45? I've talked about this stuff quite a bit, so I won't go on about it again, but all you have to know is that it's awesome and you should try it (this version or the Black Label Detox version which is great for acne/oily skin).
Next is the Dr. Dennis Gross Dark Spot Sun Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50. The name of this product and the description implies that this will also help with dark spots, but it doesn't seem to make any real promises outside of being a sunscreen (which in itself means that it will help prevent dark spots and photo-aging). It does have a 'Melatonin Defense Complex' which includes antioxidants, melatonin, vitamin C and vitamin E to help protect against pollution (like the Clarins sunscreen) and hyper-pigmentation, but I feel like most of the benefit of this product comes from the fact that it's an SPF 50 sunscreen.
I'm pretty sure Sephora has included one these Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments in this kit every year, which is great for most people because these are generally well-loved (and super expensive to purchase in full size), but I'm not a fan of them. This particular balm is the Rose tinted one.
These are high quality balms (even the packaging is thick and sturdy; I also like how you have to twist them open so you don't have to worry about them randomly opening up in your bag), but the texture (they feel really slick and thick on my lips) and smell (a citrusy version of brown sugar) kind of get to me after awhile.
If you thought the PA++ of the Boscia BB Cream was impressive, this Kate Sommerville Daily Deflector Moisturizer is Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ PA+++. So, basically, almost none of the sun is going to touch your face. Nice! I'm pretty impressed with the level of protection this product provides and it has the added bonus of being a moisturizer, too.
I have a lot of samples of MDSolarSciences products, but I honestly can't remember ever trying one. I think part of the reason is that I have a lot of other skincare/sun protection products that I tend to reach for before I even remember I have these products because this isn't a familiar brand to me. This is a mineral-based SPF 50 sunscreen, which is everything I love in a sun protection product, but this sample tube feels exceptionally light so I'm not sure if I'm going to get enough uses out of it to decided if I like it or not.
Man, this product has been everywhere this year (and last year, too!). This is the Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++ (look at all those pluses; yesssss). I've actually gone through a full size of this product and, overall, think it's good, especially since it's a 3-in-1 treatment, primer, and SPF. I know this is going to sound weird, but I almost don't like having almost all my AM skin care taken care of by one product. I've tried using this as just my sunscreen or just my primer, but it doesn't really mix well with other products. It works best applied on a clean, completely dry face; you could probably use this over other products, but you'd have to wait until they absorb completely, which defeats the purpose of using a multi-use product in the first place. may notice this is not a nice, new lightbox photo. I couldn't find the picture I took of the Sun Safety version of this product, but luckily I got the exact same thing in a different kit earlier this year! This is the Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion SPF 30. This isn't the highest SPF sunscreen/moisturizer out there (and it doesn't have any pluses...),but this is one of my favorite chemical-based sunscreen/moisturizer products. I've really come to love Peter Thomas Roth as a brand over the last year or so, and it's because I find that their products perform well without a lot of 'showmanship' (no excessive packaging or hype). This is also one of the few products in this kit that come in an opaque pump bottle, which helps protect the integrity of the ingredients. Normally, I prefer a mineral-based sunscreen, but if I have to use a chemical-based one, I'll reach for this product first.
This used to be one of my favorite sun protecting products; I liked how it felt on my skin and thought it was effective (plus it's by Shiseido, which is a brand I equate with good things). After experiencing the wide range of sun protection products available, and after knowing a little more about certain ingredients, I'm not sure how I feel about it anymore. This is the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Water Resistant (80 Minutes) Sunscreen WetForce (whew!). I like that it has a high SPF (legally, a product can't label itself as having more than SPF50+ since, after that, the difference in sun protection is nominal; 'an SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays, an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays', to quote WebMD. After that, you're talking less than 1% differences and no product will protect you 100%), but it also has a lot of silicone and alcohol.
Sephora always includes at least one fake tan/bronzer product (to show you can still look tan without having to actually be tan), and this year it's the St. Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion. I don't use fake tanners because I am way too scared I'm going to mess it up and look streaky/orange (I prefer to be pasty over looking like an Oompa Loompa that got stuck in a downpour), so this is going to go straight to a family member. This product has surprisingly mid-to-negative reviews on Sephora's website, so maybe it's better that I don't want to try it.
Another Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50. This product has the same appeal for me as the Coola one does, though I will say I dislike the scent a lot more. It smells like chewing gum (that sweet, chemical mint) and leaves a weird feeling on my skin (it's almost like touching a NARS compact, that rubberized velvet kind of feel). I'll keep one bottle to try, but I'm probably going to give the other away (unless I find the I absolutely love using it while going through the first bottle).
And finally, the last product in this kit is the tarte Tarteguard 30 Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30. I have three or four of these little bottles now, but again, I know I will go through them so I don't mind. This is from tarte's summer line and, if the packaging is any indication, they put a lot of thought into this product. I love how the bottle is opaque and has a pump (just like the full size and like the Peter Thomas Roth sunscreen), and it's even made of glass (again, like the full size). Not sure if the glass packaging has any advantage over plastic, but it definitely adds a feeling of weight and luxury.

And that's everything in the Sephora Favorites Sun Safety Kit for 2016! I apologize that this post is so long, but I wanted to be as informative as possible without rambling on too much. I do think this kit was (and still is, if you find it in stock) worth $32, but it is quite telling that, while the price of this kit hasn't changed much over the years, the value of the products has gone down significantly. With the other Sephora kits, I've argued that the smaller sample sizes are because the prices of the full size products are rising, so, in order to keep the cost to us down, Sephora includes smaller samples. In this case, I can't make the same argument because, if it was just the sizes of the samples changing, the overall value of the kit wouldn't decrease so noticeably. There was also a lack of SPF eye products, which is sad because it can be difficult to find a sun protection product that won't irritate the delicate eye area (...or your eyeballs). Hopefully, the 2017 Sun Safety kit brings back some of the sparkle of previous years.

Thanks for reading! <3

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