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Play! by Sephora Unboxing & Review (May 2016)

Play! is a subscription box service from Sephora. The subscription costs $10 a month, and each month subscribers receive a box that includes 5 samples of high end beauty products, a fragrance, and a pass redeemable for a beauty tutorial and 50 bonus beauty insider points. Beauty fans looking to subscribe to the service must join a waiting list, so reserve your spot now!

It’s time to Play!

May’s theme is “the forces of nature”, and in the spirit of the theme, this month’s box includes products that include all natural ingredients. This box is also their most eco-friendly one yet!

Sephora has used an obscene and unnecessary amount of paper in their previous boxes (two layers of cardboard, one layer of useless and annoying confetti), but this month they severely cut down on paper product by including only one cardboard box (the shipping box), a product guide book, and a cute, reusable drawstring pouch (which held this month’s products).

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I’ve had ample time to use these products and reflect, so let’s dive into this month’s box and see what I thought!

Note: Product values have been crudely calculated based on the price/ fl. oz ratio of each product.

DSC_0198Korres – Wild Rose Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial

Sample size: .34 oz
Value: $17.50

This overnight facial is formulated with wild rose oil and vitamin C –  ingredients that help promote skin brightening while simultaneously countering uneven texture and dullness. Korres claims that most people will see significant improvement in their skin after only one use, but as I found out, I’m not one of those folks.

This sample size was too small for me to see a noticeable difference in my skin before the tube ran dry, but it did feel cool and relaxing on my face. That coolness combined with its refreshing rose aroma made for a very relaxing facial experience.

But relaxing as this product may be, I wouldn’t recommend applying it immediately before bed.

The rose scent is beautiful, but it’s strong to the point where it becomes insufferable to the nostrils. There are worse things that could pump through your nose when you’re trying to sleep, but the scent is distracting none-the-less. I suggest waiting until you’re almost nose blind to the scent before attempting to nod off for the night.

Overall, I found Korres Wild Rose Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial to be a product that provides short term sensory satisfaction with zero signs of long term physical results.


DSC_0197Origins – Maskimizer Skin-Optimizing Mask Primer

Sample size: Maskimizer (.05 oz), Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask (.1 oz), Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask (.1 oz)
Value: $1.00

Origins is promoting the latest addition to their expansive skincare lineup, the Maskimizer! According to Origins, this new product was designed to optimize and moisturize the skin prior to mask application.

The Maskimizer comes with two mask samples: Origins’ Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask and Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask. Both are products I own and am familiar with (check out my review of the Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask), so these mini samples provided me with an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast the masking experience with and without Origins’ Maskimizer.

I cleansed my face with Origins Checks and Balances, patted it dry, and spritzed my skin with the Maskimizer. I let the product sink into my skin for a moment before applying the Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask. Applying this mask is always a messy endeavor – it tends to spread unevenly and has a tendency to clump – but with the Maskimizer, the process couldn’t have been smoother.

With the Maskimizer, the charcoal mask glided onto my face like never before, and for once it seemed to apply relatively evenly. I even found myself using less product to completely cover my face, which was a pleasant bonus!

Considering how some of my masks cost about $60 (I’m looking at you, GlamGlow), being able to use less product with the Maskimizer would prolong the life expectancy of my masks and save me a pretty penny or two down the road.

A moderate sum of $22 for a 3.2 oz bottle of Maskimizer may just need to be my next beauty investment!

DSC_0206Briogeo – Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask

Sample size: 1 oz
Value: $9.00

Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask is a weekly conditioning treatment designed to bring life back to dull, damaged hair and protect against future damage.

Sephora included a 1 oz sample of the product in this month’s box. 1 oz is barely enough to fully cover my extremely long, thick hair, but those with fine, shorter hair should be able to enjoy 3 or 4 treatments from this size.

I followed the directions on the bottle and left the product in my hair for about 10 minutes before rinsing it out. When my hair dried, it did feel soft and nourished, but no more than it does after using a drug store brand conditioner.

Because this product would cost me $9.00 per treatment and yields the same results as a $7.00 8 oz bottle of Aussie,  this product is simply too expensive and too ineffective to add into my beauty arsenal.

To be fair to Briogeo, this product wasn’t designed for my hair. I do not blow dry my hair, flat iron it, or over process it with bleach and dyes, so my hair was already soft, nourished and relatively damage free.

So basically, this review is totally moot.


Bite – Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Kimchi

Sample size: .05 oz
Value: $8.50

Who doesn’t love trying out new lipsticks?

Bite’s Amuse Bouche Lipsticks are matte, bright, and highly pigmented, meaning a little goes a long way.

Sephora previously offered Beauty Insiders this lipstick in Radish as a points perk, but the color featured in May’s box is Kimchi – a beautiful hot pink shade named after a Korean dish. An odd name choice, but I’ll roll with it, I guess!

The color is a little too bright and loud for my complexion and face, and because the lipstick is matte, I found it to be far too drying for my lips.

In truth, I don’t think I’ll ever use this product again, but I will keep it floating around my makeup drawer just in case I’m feeling dangerous and spunky.


 Tarte – Tarteist Lip Crayon in Mauve

Sample size: .001 oz
Value: $2.00…ish

A teeny tiny sample of Tarte’s lip liner was included in May’s box, and I’ll be honest, this is totally uncharted territory for me.

I know that faux-celeb Kylie Jenner has made the internet absolutely obsessed with the practice of lip lining, but in an act of defiance, I never personally attempted the trend.

That is, until now. Thanks, Sephora?

This lip crayon comes in the color Mauve, a more-or-less neutral color for the lips. The color can be worn alone to highlight your lips or paired with your favorite lipstick or gloss. Once applied, this liner is on your lips for the long haul, becoming almost like a henna tattoo for your lips.

Lip lining really isn’t for me, but makeup fans who have adopted the trend will likely be pleased with the longevity and versatility of this product.


Atelier Cologne –  Orange Sanguine

Sample size: .05 oz
Value: $5.00 

Sephora tends to include at least one perfume or cologne sample in their monthly box, which is absolutely perfect for folks who want to try out different scents but not commit to just one (guilty!).

This month’s box included a sample from Atlelier Cologne called Orange Sanguine, a scent that definitely lives up to it name.

Orange Sanguine heavily relies on citrus extracts, but it also has beachy undertones less blatant to the nose, making this perfume fresh, young, and perfect for summer. The scent is appropriate for both casual and formal outings, but it does fade away sooner than one would expect from a perfume this expensive.

A full bottle of Orange Sanguine costs over $100, which my nose and my wallet both agree to be absurd. I’ll be throwing this sample in my purse to use as an occasional treat to my nostrils (and the nostrils of people who lurk a little too close), but my love story with this scent will end when the sample runs out.

Box rating: 3.5 out of 5

As is true with nearly every Play! box, the sample sizes are just too damn small. Sephora’s goal for these boxes is to induce more sales in store and online, but it’s difficult for consumers to form an opinion about a featured product (positive or negative) when they are given only teeny tiny samples. If consumers don’t have an opinion, then they are less likely to purchase the products featured. I won’t pretend to be an expert on business, but it seems to me that this concept would be covered in Business 101!

Shockingly enough, those teeny samples are worth a combined total of $43 – an excellent value for subscribers.

As far as product quality is concerned, I wasn’t extremely impressed with this box. None of these products left me eager for more (maybe the Maskimizer is an exception), and none were helpful additions to my beauty arsenal. However, the value and eco-friendliness of the May box nearly makes up for its lack of usefulness.

Overall, I give this box 3.5 Kimchi dishes out of 5, and Sephora gets to keep me as a customer for at least another month.

Tune in next month when I unbox and review the June Play! box, and leave your own thoughts in the comments!

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Beach Beauty: Easy Summer Makeup

Summer calls for carefree days and humidity-resistant makeup. Let’s be honest, the only thing that should be melting on your face is ice cream, not your makeup. Here’s a round up of my favorite everyday summer products to keep you looking glowing and fabulous all the way into September.

Step 1: Moisturize!

You’d think the last thing you would want on your face is moisturizer during the summer, but skin can get dry even if you’re in a humid climate. I try to stay as light as I can with my moisturizer because I have oily skin, and my favorite serum to hydrate right now is Origins Original Skin Renewal Serum. It keeps my skin feeling moisturized and soft without my face feeling heavy or greasy.

Original Skin™ Renewal serum with Willowherb – $39, Origins

A great moisturizer for those with dry skin is the Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47. One pump of this is instantly absorbed into dry skin, making it super soft. Plus, added SPF in your moisturizer is great for summer days. Always wear some sort of sunscreen!

Ole Henriksen Total Truth™ Vitamin C Eye Crème – $45, Sephora

If you suffer from under eye dryness like I do, try Ole Henriksen’s Total Truth Eye Creme SPF 15. It really moisturizes the under eye area, making under eye concealer go on smoother and with less settling into fine lines.

Step 2: Prime

My all time favorite summer primer is Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Light. I don’t know about you, but I really hate the silicone based primers on the market right now. I feel like an oil slick with a silicone based primer on. Unlike the original Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, the Light version goes on like a slightly tacky lotion but dries to a smooth texture. It really feels much lighter and less like I’m trying to clog my pores. Plus, any foundation I’ve used over this goes on like a dream!

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Light – $36, Sephora

Step 3: All about that base

It was really hard picking a favorite summer foundation, and my toss up was really between Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua and Sephora’s own Teint Infusion. Chanel’s foundation is incredible but I’d rather put my money towards drinks on the beach than foundation during the summer. At nearly half the cost, Sephora’s Teint Infusion is an incredible foundation for the money. It’s a serum foundation and a near perfect dupe to the Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation. It is in a glass bottle with a dropper, and 3-4 tiny (and I mean tiny!) drops evens out skin tone and makes your skin look naturally radiant. It’s a buildable light to medium coverage with 12 hour hydration (according to the packaging). This foundation sets to a natural finish, not too dewy and not too matte, making it perfect for both oily and dry skin types.

Teint Infusion Ethereal Natural Finish – $24, Sephora

My all time favorite under eye concealer for any season is the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind under eye concealer. I used to be absolutely obsessed with MAC’s Pro Longwear concealer but it really dried my under eye area out and my under eye area was never as “bright” as I wanted it to be. Not the case with the Age Rewind concealer. This stuff is pure magic for under $10. Easy application and great coverage. It has a weird sponge/felt? applicator that really gets a good amount of product on there. Just rub a bit of that on in an upside down triangle shape on your under eye and blend with your ring finger and bam! Perfectly bright and concealed under eyes.

If concealer tends to set in your fine lines like it does on me, set it with an under eye setting powder. My current favorite is the $3 E.L.F High Definition Under Eye Setting Powder. For $3, this stuff is absolutely incredible. It sets concealer perfectly and you don’t feel as bad when you leave it open and knock it over because of how cheap it is.

Step 4: Bronzing, contouring, and highlighting

Contouring and Highlighting has become such a huge craze in the makeup world, but personally, I’m over it. I don’t have 45 minutes to blend out my contour on the daily. For the simplest contour and bronze, I’ve become a devout believer in Chanel’s Soleil Tan de Chanel. As pricey as this is, my goodness is it worth it. Its a universal bronzing base/ Cream Bronzer that blends so flawlessly its unreal. It does look a tad bit orangey in the container but once on the skin it just melts into this beautiful, natural, I’m-a-Victoria’s-Secret-model bronze. A little goes a long way, and lighter skin tones can definitely use this. It’s super super buildable too, and will really give you a gorgeous natural bronze. I use it to very lightly contour my cheekbones by applying it in the hollows of my cheeks and bring it along my hairline and temples with my Real Techniques flat top Stippling Brush.


For highlight, I love The Balm’s Mary Lou-Manizer powder highlight. This stuff is amazing and gives you a perfect champagne colored highlight. This is amazing for all skin tones for a perfect highlight on the top of cheekbones, under the eyebrow, tip of nose, and Cupid’s Bow. Use a light hand though if you’re going for a natural glow. The Mary Lou-Manizer is pretty pigmented for a highlight.

Mary-Lou Manizer® – $24, The Balm

Hourglass makes incredible blushes and I’ve fallen in love with nearly all of their Ambient Lighting Blushes. My favorite is in the shade Diffused Heat which is a beautiful coral-red color. The Ambient Lighting Blushes are swirled with the Ambient Lighting Powders and come in a beautiful almost tie-dye like pattern. The pigment of these blushes are great and this color will still look amazing in the middle of winter on the cheeks.

To extend the wear time of your makeup, always finish with a setting spray. My favorite is the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray, which is oil free and keeps your makeup looking fresher for longer.

Step 5: Finish off your face

A strong brow is all the rage right now and I’m totally obsessed with filling in my eyebrows. In my opinion, nothing does as great a job as Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz does. This stuff is seriously sent from the heavens and makes your brows on FLEEK. The double sided brow pencil has the pencil on one side and a spoolie on the other to blend out the color as you’re working it through the brows. I fill in my brows by drawing the shape underneath the brow first and blending the color into the brows. The point on the mechanical brow pencil is always pretty sharp too, which is perfect for gently drawing little lines in hair like strokes to make naturally full brows. I set my brows with NYX’s Control Freak brow gel which is one of the greatest brow gels I’ve used. This formula doesn’t flake and manages to keep my brows on fleek all day and into the night.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz – $21, Ulta

I haven’t found my ultimate favorite summer mascara yet, but I am enjoying both Tarte’s Lights Camera Lashes and Benefit’ Rollerlash, and have even been combining both of them.

For summer lips, I try to look as natural as possible, and my favorite nude-pink lipstick is MAC’s Kinda Sexy. It’s a perfect matte lipstick and really isn’t that drying. Plus it’s pretty long wearing too, and really finishes off the face for a perfect natural summer look.

Have you tried any of these fabulous products? Let us know in the comments below!

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First Look at ‘Arkham Knight’ DLC, ‘Batgirl: A Matter of Family’

Barbara Gordon will finally be getting her own side missions in the most recent installment of the Arkham game franchise in the DLC Batgirl: A Matter of Family, according to Entertainment Weekly. Best known as Oracle in the franchise, Barbara has played a pivotal role is assisting Batman with intel on the baddies terrorizing Gotham City. Now she’ll enjoy her own playable arc and Warner Bros. Games Montreal design producer Justin Vazquez promises a unique perspective. The first image from the DLC was released, showing Batgirl taking down some of Joker’s henchmen with gusto.

Those with the season pass to Batman: Arkham Knight will unlock her story on July 14 and the DLC will be available for purchase separately on July 21. In the DLC, Batgirl will team up with Robin to take on the Joker and Harley Quinn in the nautical theme park setting of Seagate Amusement Park to save her father, Commissioner Gordon. One of the great features of Arkham Knight, the Dual Play system, will be present and allow you to seamlessly switch between playing as Batgirl and Robin during timed takedowns of the various enemies. Batgirl will also have unique hacking capabilities unlike any seen before while still maintaining some of the brute strength players are used to with Batman. If her gameplay is similar to the strength we saw in Harley Quinn’s (too short) Arkham Knight side story DLC then I am super excited. Vazquez notes that “hacking is really what separates her from the other characters. It’s a gameplay mechanic with which the player can create situations for Batgirl to really shine.”

Along with the tag-team fight between Batgirl and Robin against Joker and Harley comes side quests, collectibles, and of course Easter eggs for fans. Because the story is a prequel, taking place before 2009’s Arkham Asylum, I expect that it will have a lot of the same feelings that Asylum had with the modern flare of Arkham Knight.

For those either with the season pass or who plan on buying the add-on, what are you most looking forward to? What are your thoughts on the other DLCs for Arkham Knight so far? How are you liking the main story line? Let us know in the comments!

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