I was curious what October’s Play! by Sephora theme would be because they already did a fall theme last month. This month’s box arrived right around the time I received an email telling me it had shipped; either their notification system is delayed or Sephora has secretly figured out teleportation! This month’s theme is Complexion Companions: products meant to “set you up for a flawless look.” Sounds good to me!

I sat down and filmed an unboxing video right away, but I wasn’t happy with the result. I felt like I rushed through it, one of our cats kept meowing, and I didn’t like my camera setup and lighting. The video wasn’t awful, but I don’t think it’s worth posting online. So unfortunately, I will not be sharing an unboxing video with you this month.

October’s samples are all about creating a lovely #nofilter complexion, which is not an easy task when you are nearing 40. This box actually came at the perfect time for me, because I’m running low on my usual face makeup products and am trying to decide what to buy next. I don’t love wearing actual foundation and usually save it for special occasions; for your average date night or night out with friends I typically reach for Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Matte Tint or Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. Those are good when I want my skin to look a little more polished without slathering on a full coverage foundation (*shudders*). So I was thrilled to receive a box filled with new-to-me samples that I can play around with as I learn how to make my skin look good without putting on a virtual mask of makeup.

Here are my October samples…btw, how gorgeous is that pearly purple tube from Becca!

Because there’s a definite order in which these products should be applied, I’ll talk about them in said order. First up is Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Skin Booster (full-size, $41). This is a serum that can either be applied before makeup or mixed in with primer or foundation. The product contains hyaluronic acid and argan oil to help moisturize and nourish skin. I’ve used it several times now by smoothing a few drops into my skin before moisturizer, SPF, primer, and foundation, and I honestly can’t tell if it’s done anything positive for my skin. It certainly hasn’t upset my skin so that’s good, but I haven’t seen any real reason yet to buy this product full sized.

Next is the beautifully packaged Becca First Light Priming Filter (full-size, $38). Purple is my favorite color, so when you present me with a unicorn-violet sample I am going to be immediately drawn to it. This particular tube was not very full when I received it, and it was sealed so I know it wasn’t used or hadn’t leaked. I’m not sure why some brands don’t fill their samples up all the way! This primer looks quite purple when you squeeze it out of the tube but when you apply it, it transforms into a lovely luminescent base. Because the product has a subtle finish I’d be okay with wearing it on its own, and it can also just be used as a highlighter. I don’t need any primers right now, but when the time comes I would certainly consider buying this one.

The actual foundation sample is another Make Up For Ever product: Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation in the shade R230 (full-size, $43). The shade is slightly dark for me but not so dark that it’s unwearable. I’m sure it’s basically impossible to pick the right foundation shades for thousands of subscribers, so I don’t mind that the shade isn’t perfect for me. I like the texture of this foundation; it’s a liquid but it’s not runny. I don’t love the overall look of the foundation on my skin, though. Oddly, I feel like this one exaggerates my pores and blemishes. The foundation is billed as medium coverage, so maybe a lighter coverage product would be more my speed.

A powder is recommended to set your look, so Sephora included a sample of Laura Mercier Translucent Powder (full-size, $38). It’s a little hard to get powder out of the tiny holes in this jar, but what I do is tap powder out into the lid and use a brush to pick it up from there. This powder does give the MUFE foundation a nice finish, but I don’t see that much difference between this powder and the Laura Mercier Invisible Pressed Setting Powder that I use regularly; they seem fairly interchangeable to me. This translucent powder also comes in a pressed compact if that’s more your style.

Highlighters as a makeup trend are not going away anytime soon, so it’s not surprising that I received a sample of one: Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Moonlight (full-size, $42). I was eyeing this brand in a Sephora store the other day so I was excited to have a sample to play around with at home. Because it’s a liquid, you can mix it in with your moisturizer or foundation for a nice allover glow…or you can use it on its own to highlight your cheekbones, brow bones, down the bridge of your nose, etc. This highlighter has a tad too much sparkle for my taste when used on its own. But mixing a drop of it with foundation dilutes the sparkle effect a bit and makes me feel more comfortable wearing it. I have so many highlighter samples at this point that there’s really no need for me to spend money on a full sized version, but this is a pretty nice product and I’m interested in trying other products by Cover FX.

And of course, here’s a pic of some swatches on my arm so you can see how they look on someone with very fair skin:

L to R: Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation, Becca First Light Filter Face Primer, Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Moonlight

In the below pic I’m wearing all five samples on my face. I mixed a drop of the Cover FX highlighter in with the MUFE foundation rather than using it to highlight certain areas of my face. The finished look is pretty good, though as I said, I’d prefer a foundation with a little less coverage:

This month’s box also included a fragrance sample, Gabrielle Chanel (full-size, $105). Way too floral for me.

I’m quite happy with my October Play! by Sephora box because the theme came at just the right time for me. Even though I wasn’t in love with every single sample, I liked being able to try out products that were new to me (which is what draws me to this subscription in the first place). I now feel extra motivated to go to Sephora and try out more foundations so I can find the one that’s right for me!

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).