My January Play! by Sephora post is coming to you later than usual because my box arrived the day before my husband and I left for a weeklong vacation in Grand Cayman. As much as I enjoy writing these posts, I was not about to work on one while in the Caribbean.  🙂

January’s theme is “Happy You Year,” which is all about a new, hydrating beauty routine. Though I didn’t work on this post while on vacation, I did manage to squeeze in an unboxing video before we left town. I used my iPhone to film the video this time around, and I think the audio quality is marginally better than it is on my laptop webcam. So if you’d like, check out my unboxing video before you dive into my review:

This month’s brochure included a year’s worth of beauty resolutions on the back: one challenge for every month. Things like drink more water in January, wear bright lipstick and buy yourself flowers in February, etc. When I took a look at the samples Sephora sent me this month I was pleased to see that all five samples, plus the sixth bonus sample, were new to me. Also, no fragrance sample to throw in the trash!

Here’s a look at my January 2018 samples, along with a peek at the “Happy You Year” bag that housed the samples:

First up are my bonus samples: Alterna Haircare Caviar Anti-Aging Replenishing Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner (full-size, $34 apiece). These products contain ingredients such as pure caviar extract to fight signs of aging hair: dryness, brittleness, and breakage. Aside from graying, I had never really thought of hair as something that ages…cool, one more thing to worry about.  😛

ALTERNA HAIRCARE CAVIAR Anti-Aging® Replenishing Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner samples | Play! by Sephora

I used these sample packets on vacation and you know what? They were really good, at least while I was in a tropical climate. The first couple days in Grand Cayman I used Bumble & Bumble Surf Foam Wash Shampoo and Conditioner packets that I had received with an order, and my hair was a yucky, frizzy mess. Then for the next couple of days I used these Alterna samples and my hair looked and felt so much smoother in the humid, salty air! I have a feeling my hair might be fine with the B&B surf products when I’m at home with my usual climate and water, but I’m curious how Alterna products would have worked while at home. At least I experienced a couple days of decent hair with them on my vacation! Hair care products are the one beauty area where I don’t like to spend as much money, so I probably won’t buy these full sized even though they were quite good.

Next is Smashbox Photo Finish Primerizer (full-size, $42), which came in a cute, tiny glass vial. I don’t use foundation—or even tinted moisturizer—daily, so I don’t necessarily need a primer for regular use. But I do love the idea of a hybrid moisturizer and primer…cutting an extra step out of my skin care routine would be great. I’ll confess I didn’t use this product much while on vacation, but it feels nice going on and absorbs quickly. It contains hyaluronic acid for moisture retention and niacinamide for improving vitality. I don’t see myself buying this product full sized anytime soon because I’m overloaded with skin care products right now.

Smashbox Photo Finish Primerizer | Play! by Sephora

My next January sample is GLAMGLOW SUPERCLEANSE Clearing Cream-to-Foam Cleanser (full-size, $32). I received a GLAMGLOW GLOWSTARTER Mega Illuminating Moisturizer sample in my March 2017 Play! box  and I liked it, so I was excited to try another product from the brand. This cleanser contains a blend of three charcoals to suck excess oil and makeup out of your skin.

GlamGlow Supercleanse Clearing Cream-to-Foam Cleanser | Play! by Sephora

I had fun using this sample because the blue-gray hue of the product made me look like a zombie (see below)! Undead appearance aside, this cleanser was great for washing off all of my sunscreen and makeup at the end of the day. It’s a little pricey and I don’t need any cleanser at the moment, but I’d consider buying it full sized in the future.

I’m not topless…I wore a strapless dress that night. 🙂 See also: terrible humid/windblown hair after drinking wine on the beach.

My next sample this month is Fresh Rose Floral Toner (full-size, $40). I really liked the Fresh Rose Face Mask that I received in my July 2017 Play! box  so I was looking forward to trying another product from the same line. I know I always complain about facial products with a strong scent, but the rose scent of this product is just so lovely!! The full sized version comes in a mister bottle so you can also use it as a facial mist or makeup setter if you’d like. I probably wouldn’t buy this product full sized due to the price, but if it were more affordable I could see myself adding it to my regime.

I only received one makeup sample this month: Lancôme CILS BOOSTER XL Super-Enhancing Mascara Base (full-size, $25.50). I’ve tried a couple mascara primers in the past—most recently, as part of a Clinique HIM Dual-Ended High Impact Mascara & Primer Duo in my August 2017 Play! box. This primer is intended to rejuvenate lashes while prepping them for mascara and upping the drama factor.

Lancôme CILS BOOSTER XL Super-Enhancing Mascara Base | Play! by Sephora

I went through my whole vacation using the primer under mascara and not feeling like it was really having any effect. So this morning I decided to do a very complicated, scientifically sound study: I used the mascara primer underneath Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara on one eye, and only applied mascara to the other. Lo and behold, the primer does actually boost the effect of mascara! See below pic for comparison.

It’s not an incredibly dramatic boost, but the difference is indeed visible. So, color me impressed. I’m honestly pretty happy with my lashes on their own so I don’t feel like I want to spend the money on a mascara primer, nor do I particularly want to add another step to my makeup routine. But if you’re interested in a mascara booster, I can say that Lancôme’s works!

Last but not least this month is Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream (full-size, $26.50). I wasn’t super impressed with the Clinique Pep-Start HydroBlur Moisturizer that I received in my February 2017 Play! box, but I’m liking the eye cream better. I wouldn’t say I like it enough to buy full sized, but it’s nice to use the rounded tip to give yourself a little bit of an under-eye massage (…that’s what she said? No…ew.). It was nice to have this mini tube with me on vacation—I used it as my eye cream every morning and night!

Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream | Play! by Sephora

So that’s it! I’m very pleased with this month’s box. I’d say my favorite sample was the GLAMGLOW cleanser, but honestly, there was not a single dud in the bunch.

Did you find any new favorites in your January Play! by Sephora box?