The holiday season is officially here, so when my December Play! by Sephora box arrived this week it felt like an extra gift—even though, like periods and full moons, it happens every month. As I expected, the December box was holiday themed, with a cute Art Deco design on the brochure:

I filmed my third unboxing video this month, and while I’m not thrilled with how I did my makeup (I’ve decided that red eyeshadow just isn’t flattering on me), I’m sharing the video anyway. I have yet to figure out a digital camera setup that works well, so I used my webcam again…therefore, my usual apologies about video and audio quality apply.

I always forget to speak up to make sure the mic on my laptop actually picks up my voice!I hope to get better at these videos with time. Okay…moving on. “Glam Straight” is the tagline for December’s box, which included one hair care, one skin care, and three makeup samples (one full sized!). Oh…and a fragrance sample.

Here you can get a better look at the Art Deco design, with my samples displayed against the light gold Glam Straight pouch:

The first sample this month is something I’ve seen in Sephora stores but never looked at closely: Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream (full-size, $48). As you saw in my unboxing video, I have no idea how to pronounce Cicapair.* So…according to my brochure, this cream contains Centella Asiatica, which is a wild grass that tigers use to treat their wounds. Now THAT is awesome. If it works for those majestic creatures, I’m down to try it! The cream, which has an herbal, slightly medicinal scent, is supposed to help calm redness and irritation— which could certainly come in handy this winter. I tried the cream on a couple areas of my face that felt a little irritated after using the boscia Luminizing Black Charcoal Mask, which is fun to use but is honestly a bit painful to peel off. The cream did soothe those spots immediately, so this stuff seems like it delivers on its promise.

Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream | Play! by Sephora

My next sample is, if I’m not mistaken, the first eye shadow sample I’ve received in a Play! box: Smashbox Cover Shot Eye Shadow Duo in Golden Hour (full-size, $29). These two shadows (Turned On and Psyched, though I have no idea which is which) are colors from a palette that contains two matte base shades and six shimmer shades. When I swatched these colors during my unboxing video, I was impressed with how soft and buttery they felt. The lighter peachy shade reminds me of the classic Nars Orgasm collection. Like I said in my video, this duo could be used to create a nice bronzy, smoky eye. I think these colors are lovely, and the rest of the shades in this particular palette are pretty as well…and at just under $30 for eight shadows, it’s something I’d consider buying full sized. Not that I need any more eye shadow palettes at the moment! Smashbox offers five other Cover Shot Eye Palettes in a variety of colors, too. You’ll find swatches of these two shadows further down in this post.

Smashbox Cover Shot Eye Shadow Duo in Golden Hour | Play! by Sephora

Next up is my hair care sample: Drybar Triple Sec 3-in-1 (full-size, $26). I am usually very MEH about hair care samples, and my feeling about this one is no exception. I’ve received probably six or seven different dry shampoo samples over the years and I just don’t get excited about them because dry shampoo is not something I use regularly. The samples have all seemed pretty much the same, too. This Drybar spray isn’t billed as a straight up dry shampoo, but it’s intended to “revive lifeless strands, add volume and body, and extend blowouts.” I have never had a blowout in my life, so that feature is neither here nor there for me. The brochure also mentions that the spray “will give you soft, matte texture” which is like…who wants matte hair? Not I! I tried this spray out and the scent was very overpowering for me. I felt like I had a cloud of powder odor around my head, Pig-Pen style. I only lasted about 30 minutes before I had to shower and wash the scent out. I definitely won’t be buying this product full sized.

Drybar Triple Sec 3-in-1 | Play! by Sephora

My second makeup sample this month is Make Up For Ever Artist Rouge Lipstick in Hot Red (full-size, $22). The color is not quite as bright as its name would lead you to believe—it’s actually just a really nice, classic red with a bit of a blue undertone. The brochure says this sample is “exclusive” but I don’t know if that means this lipstick or this particular shade is exclusive to Sephora, or what. The lipstick glides on easily and feels moisturizing, which is a key feature for me because I literally can’t even with dry lips. I think this red shade would look good on a wide range of skin tones; it does work well on me without being shockingly bright. You can see a swatch on my arm as well as a pic of me wearing it on my lips when you scroll down in this post.

Make Up For Ever Artist Rouge Lipstick in Hot Red | Play! by Sephora

My final makeup sample this month is not actually a sample: it’s a full sized Clinique Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen in Black ($21). Happy Holidays to me!

Clinique Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen in Black | Play! by Sephora

Immediately upon removing the cap in my unboxing video I noticed that this eyeliner brush tip looked almost exactly the same as the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, which I love and have repurchased a few times. So I photographed the two pens next to each other for comparison:

The Clinique liner costs exactly one dollar more than the KVD version.

I didn’t take a pic of the pen tips because my camera wouldn’t capture the detail well enough. But I did swatch a thick line of each on my hand. KVD is on top, Clinique is on the bottom (that’s what she said?):

Clinique has a slightly shinier finish.

I used the Clinique liner to do a winged look for a date night, and you can see the end result in the last photo in this blog post. I find this type of liner pen to be easier to use than many others—there’s something about the fine, flexible brush tip that works well for me. I’ll probably stick to repurchasing the KVD liner, but it’s nice to know there’s a comparable alternative out there.

And, per usual, I received a fragrance sample that I don’t give a crap about: Atelier Cologne Clémentine California Cologne Absolue Pure Perfume (full-size, $130). I dabbed a bit on my wrists to test it out, but I didn’t like it. That’s all.

Here I’ve swatched the two eye shadows, the liner, and the lipstick on my arm:

December Play! by Sephora makeup sample swatches
Top to bottom: Smashbox Golden Hour eye shadows, Clinique Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen, MUFE Artist Rouge Lipstick in Hot Red

And in the below pic I’m making a sort of odd expression so you can see the subtle winged eye liner that I created using the Clinique pen. My eyelids are semi-hooded, so it’s hard to see my liner unless I raise my eyebrows. I’m also wearing the Smashbox eye shadows and the MUFE lipstick in this pic:

So that’s it for December! I’m quite satisfied with my samples this month; really the only dud for me was the Drybar spray. Everything else is pretty great, but my favorite by far was the full sized Clinique eye liner.

Did you receive anything amazing in your December Play! by Sephora box? Will you be creating holiday party looks with this month’s samples? I know I will!

Read my previous Play! by Sephora reviews.

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).

*I’ve mentioned this before, but it always baffles me when brands or products have confusing or unpronounceable names. I think it’s because one of my pet peeves is when people don’t pronounce things correctly…so when I myself don’t know how to pronounce something I get frustrated. Like, why would you want to name your product something that’s hard to pronounce or spell—the smart thing to do would be to dumb it down for consumers. And I never know how to say “Dr.Jart+” itself—are you supposed to say the “plus?” Why is there no space after the period in the name? Argh.  😛   Anyway…thus concludes another mini-rant on names.