Mini-Reviews: Play! by Sephora April 2016

I got an e-mail a while back letting me know that there were spots available if I wanted to subscribe to the Play! by Sephora boxes.  I took a peek at the past boxes and decided it was worth a whirl, especially for $10 a month.  The Play! boxes contain 5 deluxe samples from Sephora brands, along with directions for use and a card for a free consultation with respect to those products.  My first box, the Play by Sephora April 2016 edition, arrived just a little bit ago.

The Play by Sephora April 2016 box theme was “the it crowd”, claiming to “revitalize your routine with the hottest things in beauty”.  Here are mini-reviews of the items inside – since they’re deluxe samples, and I only got one of each, there wasn’t really enough product for me to test them long enough to call them real reviews (with the exception of the perfume, lip product, and blush).

Milk Makeup Sunshine Oil

Milk Makeup is a fairly new brand.  Their theme is “High concept, low maintenance”, which frankly sounds pretty cool.  Most of their products are designed to be multifunctional, and the Sunshine Oil is no exception: it can be used on the face, body, and hair.  The down side to Milk Makeup products? Low to no preservatives – which is okay if you’re shipping domestically, quickly, in a weather-insulated manner, but I know I personally avoid importing low/no-preservative brands because of concerns about contamination and spoilage.  Even for domestic brands, during the summer, especially the worst days of it, I would be concerned about my products going “off” if they were sitting in a box that had been delivered to my front porch.

Milk Makeup calls this its “everything oil” and it comes full-size in a rollerball pen applicator.  My deluxe sample came in a cute plastic squeeze tube, but I think the pen would be better so there’s less wasteage.  It is vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free.


Ingredients:  Vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, Persia gratissima (avocado) oil, Citrus grandis (grapefruit) peel oil, Citrus tangerina (tangerine) peel oil, Citrus nobilis (mandarin orange) peel oil, Citrus medica limonum (lemon) peel oil, Prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernel oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lecithin, Phenoxyethanol, and fragrance.

This oil has a cheerful citrus fragrance (my favorite – I love citrus).  It absorbed fairly easily into my skin and didn’t irritate it, which is awesome because my skin hates facial oils. It didn’t look shiny or oily, really, but it does contribute to that really dewy look that some folks love.  The scent doesn’t linger long.

You can get the full-sized version at Milk Makeup’s page for $38 or at Sephora for the same price.

Sunday Riley Good Genes

Good Genes is a lactic acid treatment that is designed to brighten, exfoliate, plump, treat hyperpigmentation, and provide radiance to the skin.  Lactic acid is an AHA treatment, so if you are going to use this product you need to be using sunscreen every day.  (Let’s be real, you should be using sunscreen every day anyway, but especially if you’re using chemical exfoliants.)


Since this product is listed as being usable both as a mask/peel and as a daily serum, I figured why not try both?

So when I used it as a treatment (which means that I used it instead of my Curology prescription – I put it on right away, let it sit for half an hour, then went along with my usual nightly skincare routine), I did notice some peeling in the drier spots on my face the next morning.  When I used it as a serum, sandwiched in between the other steps in my routine, there was no peeling at all.

This product has a sour smell that I found kind of intriguing when I first started using it and then started to not like so much as time went on.

Ingredients: Opuntia Tuna Fruit (Prickly Pear) Extract, Agave Tequilana Leaf (Blue Agave) Extract, Cypripedium Pubescens (Lady’s Slipper Orchid) Extract, Opuntia Vulgaris (Cactus) Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract & Saccharomyses Cerevisiae (Yeast) Extract, Lactic Acid, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butylene Glycol, Squalane, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Ppg-12/Smdi Copolymer, Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol And Ceteareth20, Glyceryl Stearate And Peg-100 Stearate, Arnica Montana (Flower) Extract, PEG-75 Meadowfoam Oil, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass) Oil, Triethanolamine, Xantham Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Steareth-20, DMDM Hydantoin.

You can buy a full-size bottle of Good Genes at Sephora, Nordstrom, or Amazon for $105 for one ounce. (Ouch.)

Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream

I have a love-hate relationship with eye creams.  I love adding moisture to my eye area, which seems to be perpetually dehydrated, but I have a hard time finding products that actually consistently deliver moisture without over-greasing things.  So an eye cream in a box is just an invitation for me to dump whatever I’m using currently and try my new shiny toy out.


The Pep Start eye cream is part of a new skincare line from Clinique, and claims that it “hydrates, brightens, and perks you up”.   As for the brightening, I can’t really tell any sort of difference, but I’m not the ideal person to test that out.  My undereye circles will be there long after I am dead – they’re both genetic and pretty dark.  However, it is a nice, light moisturizer that’s suitable for daytime use.  If your undereyes don’t tend to be dry you can use it at night too, but I need something a little stronger then.

Nars Rikugien

Rikugien (named after the Japanese park Rikugi-en) is part of Nars’ Satin Lip Pencil line.  All of the colors are named after gardens. (Fun facts to know and tell.)  Rikugien is listed on Sephora as a “rose pink”.  It’s a fairly muted shade that should work fairly well as a neutral on just about any skin tone.  The paler you are, the more dramatic the color will be, although it’s no fuschia or orange.  The Satin Lip pencils glide on really smoothly and are pretty comfortable to wear, although the staying power isn’t great.


Here’s a swatch on my hand.


As you can see, it’s not super opaque, but it’s nice and glossy and a great sort of natural color.

You can get this pencil at Nordstrom, NARS’ website, and Sephora, for $26.

Derek Lam 2AM Kiss Perfume

I used to be a huge fan of Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs (seriously, my stash was unreal until I cleaned it all out a couple months ago), so I’m no stranger to perfume – but I don’t generally wear it anymore.  And I’m very picky about the scents I wear, which I think is true for a lot of folks regardless of gender.  That makes me a little confused as to why Sephora puts a perfume sample in every single Play by Sephora box – it’s much more likely to be a miss than a hit, and I think loads of us would prefer a different deluxe sample regardless of whether it was makeup, skin care, or hair care.


In any case, 2AM Kiss is part of Derek Lam’s 10 Crosby Lane series of perfume, and is listed as having a blend of “salty woods and crystallized amber”.

Sephora Colorful Cheek Tint Gel

Since this is a Sephora box I guess we can’t escape having a Sephora brand product in there somewhere.  This is a liquid cheek tint in the color “Peony”.  It’s actually a little too cool a color for me to wear comfortably, so I wouldn’t recommend the shade for folks with a warmer skintone.


Here is a swatch of it straight out of the tube, and then blended out.


As you can see, this product is actually super sheer.  That’s great for folks who are into a more subtle look.  For folks who aren’t, it may seem like you’re using a whole lot of product to get the look you want. I had to use two layers of the product to get the color swatch you see on the bottom of my hand there.  A full size is $14 and is only available at Sephora.


All in all, I think the Play by Sephora April 2016 box was a pretty decent deal – despite the addition of perfume, which is useless to me (my workplace is fragrance-free), the Milk Makeup Sunshine Oil and Sunday Riley Good Genes samples alone would have made this box worth it, and the other samples just make it even better.  There is a new box every month, so I am thinking about making this a returning feature for as long as I keep my subscription.  What do you think?

You can sign up or get on the waiting list for the boxes here.

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