Insta Beauty Unboxing and April Sample Impressions

I sort of can’t believe my April Play! by Sephora box has already arrived. Normally it seems like I’m counting down the days until I receive my next box, but this time I feel like I just wrote my March post! As soon as my box arrived I sat down and filmed another unboxing video. Please enjoy:

So! Insta Beauty…it’s a THING. As I mentioned in my video, there’s a trend where women and men post ultra-flawless, highly made-up Instagram selfies. The popular look is smooth skin, sculpted and luminous cheekbones, intensely detailed eyes, and large, pouty lips. The selfies sometimes look—and I’m sure often are—FaceTuned, sometimes to the point of appearing nearly inhuman. That look is not for me, not in the slightest. However, I clearly enjoy playing with makeup, and I welcome products that can enhance my natural look. So I was excited about this month’s theme for that reason.

Play! by Sephora April 2018
This month’s brochure comes with an Insta-worthy flat lay setting: a marble background and outlines for sample placement.

This month’s box included three skin care samples, two makeup samples, and a fragrance sample:

April 2018 Play! by Sephora Samples

The Makeup Samples

The first makeup sample this month is the Buxom Full-On Lip Polish in Celeste (full-size, $20). I was excited when I first saw this sample because I love trying out new lip products. Then I noticed how glittery this gloss is and my excitement deflated. I’m just not that into glitter, and I’ve realized why: I don’t like messes and glitter gets everywhere. Sephora’s website categorizes this “prismatic soft peach” gloss as a shimmer, but it has visible glitter chunks in it. In my opinion, that’s beyond shimmer.

Buxom Full-On Lip Polish in Celeste | Play! by Sephora
The gloss is pinker in person than in this photo.

The gloss goes on okay and has a pretty tacky consistency. This is a plumping gloss that tingles, which I actually like (it probably goes back to my days as a Carmex addict. The struggle is real). It did make my lips look a little fuller but seeing as how anti-glitter I am, I wouldn’t buy Celeste full sized. I would consider buying a cream or shimmer version, though—Buxom Lip Polish comes in 100 shades! You can see a pic of me wearing this gloss near the bottom of this post.

Next up is Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Perfector Skin Tint Foundation SPF 25 (full-size, $36). This product seems like a BB cream so I was interested because I prefer sheer over full coverage. What I also LOVE is that this product has SPF in it. I use so many products in the morning and if I can skip a step, all the better (though I’d prefer SPF of 30 or higher). However, the shade they sent me, #6, is described as a “warm sand” that I knew immediately was too dark for me. The brand currently only offers 10 shades—the darkest being “warm brown”—so it’s not great for those with darker skin. Also, the shades mostly seem to have yellow undertones—the names are almost all “warm” this or “golden” that. Maybe they’ll expand their shade range soon?

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Perfector in Shade #6 | Play! by Sephora

I tried the product even though the shade wasn’t right, and I wasn’t very impressed. The coverage was sheer, but I didn’t see much of a pore blurring effect. I also didn’t like the smell of this product; the best way I can describe it is “old grandma makeup.” Because this shade isn’t a good match for me (see swatch and pic below), I’m not going to wear it around town to test it out. Unfortunately, this sample is going in the trash.

The Skin Care Samples

This next sample is a totally new-to-me brand and product: Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Peel (full-size, $88 for a pack of 16). This product is a peel in wipe form! Very cool idea. I’ve used a couple peels before, the kind where you spread gel on your face and massage for two to three minutes before rinsing. Those work well for me, but a wipe would be even easier. I appreciate that Sephora included two wipes, because it can be hard to tell if a product is effective after just one use. Plus, at $5.50 per wipe, these two wipes together are worth more than the $10 value of the whole box!

Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Peel | Play! by Sephora

Usage is simple: at nighttime, massage a wipe over clean, dry skin two to three times a week. Follow with moisturizer per usual. The instructions remind you to use SPF the next day; the wipes contain alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), which can increase sensitivity to the sun. (DUH, you should use SPF daily, regardless!)

I do think my skin looked a touch brighter the morning after using the first wipe. I don’t expect to see much effect even after the second wipe, but I’d be curious to use these regularly and see if they deliver results. At $88, though, I won’t be buying a whole box anytime soon (even with the Spring Bonus this weekend).

My next skin care sample is Philosophy Purity Made Simple Ultra-Light Moisturizer (full-size, $25). I noted in my unboxing video that I didn’t love the scent of the Philosophy Purity Cleanser that I received in a previous box, so I wasn’t super excited about this sample. This moisturizer smells very similar to the cleanser; both smell a little like laundry to me. That’s generally not a bad scent, but it’s not a scent I want on my face. I mentioned in the video that I also didn’t like the cleanser because I thought it had parabens; after checking the ingredient list I can confirm that it does contain methylparaben and propylparaben. However, this moisturizer is paraben-free, so it has that going for it, at least.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple Moisturizer | Play! by Sephora

I do like the light consistency of this moisturizer; I think it would be a good one to use in the summer. But honestly, there’s just nothing about this moisturizer that excites me. I hate to rag on a brand, but I feel like Philosophy is a tad outdated, like they haven’t kept up with the rest of the skin care world. Meh.

My final skin care sample this month is Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate 12.5% Vitamin C (full-size, $62 for 1.7 oz or $81 for 2.5 oz). This sample is exciting because as far as I can recall I’ve never tried a line-reducing product. I don’t have tons of wrinkles but there are a few on my forehead and a couple fine lines around my upper lip, one that’s particularly pronounced. I used to be a BIG Kiehl’s fan and my medicine cabinet basically looked like a Kiehl’s store. Then when I started checking product ratings on Environmental Working Group’s database, Kiehl’s products always came up with poor ratings so I stopped buying the brand. It appears they’ve started cleaning their products up—for example, the Rare Earth mask that I bought years ago contains parabens, but their newer formulation is paraben-free. And so is this sample!

Kiehl's Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate 12.5% Vitamin C | Play! by Sephora

I’ve used this sample a couple of times; it’s too soon to tell if it’s truly reducing my fine lines. It has a light, pleasant citrus scent and does not irritate my skin. This product is pricey, but if it does turn out to be effective it might be worth the splurge.

The Fragrance Sample

Hell hath frozen over, because I actually like the fragrance sample this month! Congratulations, Burberry My Burberry Blush (full-size, $90 for 1.6 oz)! I’m VERY set in my ways with fragrance and almost always throw my fragrance samples away after one spritz. My Burberry Blush is described as “a fruity and beautifully feminine floral fragrance that captures the vibe of strolling through a London garden.” I think the words “London garden” primed me to like this scent.

Burberry My Burberry Blush | Play! by Sephora

To me, this fragrance has a bright floral scent, as opposed to the often cloying florals of many other fragrances. The perfume also smells a little grassy to me, which I think contributes to the clean vibe. I tried wearing this the other day and it didn’t annoy me, so I’ll try wearing it some more. I know it won’t replace my ride-or-die Marc by Marc Jacobs, but if I continue to like it I might even consider buying the rollerball ($29). Pigs have flown, the fat lady has sung, yada yada.

Swatch Time!

Below you can see the Buxom Celeste gloss and the MUFE skin tint on my arm. The glitter in the gloss doesn’t really show up in the photo, but rest assured it’s there (it took a little scrubbing to get it all off!). This pic illustrates how off the skin tint shade is for me…

Swatches of Buxom Lip Polish in Celeste and MUFA Ultra HD Perfector in Shade #6
Top: Buxom Lip Polish in Celeste. Bottom: MUFA Ultra HD Perfector in Shade #6

Here I am with the skin tint and lip gloss on. The skin tint shade doesn’t look as bad as I expected after swatching it, but it’s still not right. My lips really do look a little fuller than usual, so the gloss’s plumping action is pretty good!

Overall I’d say this month’s box was so-so. The makeup samples sounded more exciting than they turned out to be. I do like the Dr. Dennis Gross and Kiehl’s samples so far but it’s too soon to tell if they’re actually effective, and the Philosophy moisturizer will go in my travel bag as something to use up when I’m away.

Did you find any new favorites in your Play! box this month?

What is Play! by Sephora?

Play! by Sephora is a $10 per month beauty subscription that includes five deluxe samples plus one fragrance sample; the samples are curated based on your Sephora beauty profile (hair color, eye color, skin tone, skin type, skincare concerns, haircare concerns, etc.). And of course, you can purchase full-sized versions of any samples from Sephora and earn VIB points if you’re a part of that program—which I highly recommend signing up for if you ever shop at Sephora. This subscription program also offers subscribers a “Play! Date” each month, which invites you and a friend to attend an in-store meetup to learn how to use the products in that month’s box (RSVP is required).