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Play! by Sephora Subscription Box Review – December 2016

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Play! by Sephora is a monthly beauty and makeup subscription. Each month they send you six samples, a PLAY! BOOK of tips and tricks, and a PLAY! PASS for in-store learning.

I used to work at Sephora so I naturally couldn’t resist this subscription!


Every month they included all of the samples a little drawstring bag with a different design.

The box variation I received this month is box ending in #832. To find out which box you’re receiving at the beginning of each month, follow these instructions:
If you log in through a browser, not the app, and go to my account > account details > online orders and open the play! Order Details, you can see the “item number” next to the image.”


My Subscription Addiction paid for this box.(Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)


The Subscription Box: Play! by Sephora

The Cost: $10

The Products: Five deluxe samples plus a fragrance sample, a PLAY! BOOK of tips and tricks, and a PLAY! PASS for in-store learning.

Ships to: U.S.

Check out all of our Play! by Sephora reviews and all of our reviews of Cheap Subscription Boxes for other similarly priced boxes!

Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!


Each box comes with a Play! Pass, which is a card you can use at Sephora (in-store) to get 50 extra rewards points, and you can also get one-on-one tutorials and tips of products from a Sephora consultant.

Although I do have to mention, you can walk in and get shown any tips and even a “mini makeover” (which is where a consultant will do a small demo on you like a certain eye look, how to do your brows, how to contour, matching you with a foundation, etc. and teach you what they’re doing) anytime! So if you don’t have this subscription (or can’t get off the waitlist), you can still go to your local Sephora and try out all the products featured, or any other products you’ve had your eye on.


This month’s theme is “the partygoers” – products that will keep you looking fresh all night long!


On the very inside of the folded info sheet is thorough details and tips about each featured product. They always give helpful information and advice so I definitely recommend making sure you read these.


Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara – 0.1 oz, value: $15

I’ve actually never tried Bobbi Brown mascaras before, so I was excited to receive this one! I really like the thinner brush because I feel like I have a little more control over placement. The pigment is very black and I’ve been wearing it all day with no smudges under my eyes. It added length and volume and I didn’t find it to be clumpy, either.


Sephora Cream Lip Stain, “Always Red” – 0.04 fl oz, value: $3.31

I love liquid lipsticks! And the formula for this one is nice – opaque, it goes on smoothly, and the applicator gave me a lot of control. It dries down matte and has great staying power! The info booklet gives some top notch tips: use a lip exfoliator and lip balm before applying your lip colors, and for easier application, start at the middle of your lips and move outwards to the edges.


Here’s a swatch to see the color better. This is a bright, true red shade.


Elizabeth & James Nirvana Bourbon – 0.07 fl oz sample

FYI – The brand Elizabeth & James is actually by Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen. Their Nirvana fragrance line has perfumes that are feminine but not really sweet. Nirvana Black is even a little peppery and spicy. I sold a lot of their fragrances while working at Sephora, but the Nirvana Bourbon fragrance is new this year. No surprise, I love it! It’s a “blend of sultry vanilla bourbon, oakwood, and a hint of tuberose for a bold, oriental-woody scent with intoxicating confidence.” This is perfect for this season, especially.


Make Up For Ever Step 1 Smoothing Primer – 0.16 fl oz, value: $5.92

Make Up For Ever released an extensive line of “Step 1” primers for every skin type and finish you could ask for last year. This is a sample of the mattifying primer, and I have to say it did an excellent job. I personally prefer a more natural/radiant finish to my skin, so trying this out, in contrast, I definitely noticed a difference. The formula is comfortable and doesn’t feel like anything and did a good job smoothing my skin’s texture, helping my foundation cover more with less, and really stay on well the whole day.


Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo – 0.8 fl oz, value: $7.43

Dry shampoo is a fundamental requirement for my day to day life. This one from Drybar absorbs oil and adds body, and my hair felt very clean with it, too! The scent is nice, but a little soapy and quite strong. It could be better but definitely could be worse. The formula didn’t leave patches of white in my hair when used from 6 inches away and was easy to work into my roots. I like this, but I wish it were unscented.


Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray – 0.5 fl oz, value: $3.88

This product is a long-time love of mine! I used this to finish up each client’s full-face makeover. Urban Decay worked with SKINDINAVIA to create this setting spray, which works to actually temperature-control your makeup to keep it fresh literally all night. To get the best use out of this, hold it 8-10 inches from your face and spray in an X and I shape on your face.


Here I am wearing the primer, mascara, and lipstick. I can definitely tell how well the primer mattified my skin, even when I was using a tinted moisturizer. If you have dry skin and prefer more natural or glowy/radiant skin finishes, I’d try a different primer from MUFE’s  (Make Up For Ever’s) line than this one.

The lipstick formula is great, but I’d love to dry some deeper colors for my own complexion – a berry or brownish red would be great this season for me!

Verdict: This was a great Play! by Sephora box for me! I will use every single product up. I got to try some totally new products, new versions of favorite products, and a long-time favorite that I always welcome more of.  All of the products I got this month work well, too. The value adds up to $35.54 not including the perfume sample, which is on the lower end for this sub but definitely still great for a $10 box. I’m happy!

What do you think about the December Play! by Sephora? What variation did you get?

Written by Haley Faye

Haley Faye

Haley Faye first discovered Beauty Army and Birchbox in 2012 and instantly fell hard and fast for the world of subscription boxes. Over the years of writing for MSA she has found many subscriptions to fuel her addiction, but her favorites include fashion, geeky, beauty, and mom/baby boxes to share with her son.

All views in this review are the opinion of the author. My Subscription Addiction will never accept payment in exchange for a review, but will accept a box at no cost to provide honest opinions on the box. This post may contain affiliate/referral links. Read the complete My Subscription Addiction disclosure.


  1. Box twins! Although I don’t have mine, I don’t know if it was stolen or if my sister lost it. I get my mail at my moms house :/

    But I love that color! I was worried I wouldn’t like it, but it looks great on you 🙂

  2. I’m a new subscriber 🙂 and have been waiting for my box to arrive for what feels like an eternity. I subscribed December 14th. It hasn’t charged me yet, so I’m assuming my first box will be January? I hope? 🙂 I’m just very excited. I’ve read so many reviews and wanted either this or ipsy but it seems that everyone steers more toward Play!

    Do you have ipsy? And if you have both which do you prefer and why?

    • I prefer Sephora Play for the high quality items and the mix of items. The Ipsy was nice but I feel that it is better for someone just starting to play with makeup or for teens, though I have gotten a few great items from Ipsy. You get bigger sizes in Ipsy but I still prefer the Sephora, but that is just my personal preference.

  3. I hope I never get another primer from any of my subs but I probably will. And red lippie stuff- just NO! Other than those two things, I’m usually happy with all my subs. I mean, how can I not be for $10

  4. UD setting spray, MUF primer, Lancôme mascara, dry bar dry shampoo, sephora liquid lipstick. E&J perfume. These are great products, but a complete miss for me. I gave everything in my box away for the first time ever.

  5. I love that mascara! I’m so picky about mascara that I would have never given this a chance. So glad they send us a variety of things we wouldn’t typically buy. It works great, super light and separates without clumping!

  6. I’m supposed to get this same box if my account is accurate and I’m super excited for each item but my box has been “in transit” from a town 30 minutes away for 9 days now. I’m afraid usps has lost my box :-(. I asked my postmaster about it and he to,d me to contact Sephora…I emailed Sephora and they basically told me to wait until the end of the month:-(

    • The same thing has happened to me a well! My box shipped out to 9th!

      • Same here!!!!😡😡😡 It’s looks like I’m not getting it.. Mailed out on 9 and it’s already the 28 of Dec

        • Mine FINALLY arrived today! It’s a little ironic that it showed up a few days after I contacted Sephora again. I know that they shipped it originally because tracking showed it arriving at a town 30 minutes away and being “in transit” to my town for over 10 days. I think maybe Sephora uses a cheaper shipping service that was considered low priority during the holiday rush so it just sat for days…maybe? Anyway, I’m glad to finally have it and hope yours both arrive soon. I’d contact your postmaster and Sephora if I were you.

  7. Haley- that red lip color looks great on you! I haven’t tried mine yet but I’m hoping I can pull it off. I rarely wear red, no reason- but I read a lot of reviews on this color and lots of ladies love it.

    Maybe not an everyday shade, but you definitely could rock that color when dressed up.

  8. So excited to get mine – I have been wanting to try that Elizabeth and James Bourbon!

  9. Damn! Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen are still killing it. Hahaha!

  10. I got the same items and it was a definate hit for me. I loved every one of the items. That mascara is amazing! Love the primer too. It all is being used up and fast because its all wonderful stuff!!!

  11. I subscribed to Sephora Play on December 7th. I never received an email about it being shipped yet, nor was my credit card charged. When do they ship them out? Will I even get decembers or does it take a month or 2 when you first sign up to finally get it? Thanks!

    • Melissa, I subscribed on November 14, got a confirmation that I was in and inviting me to fill out my profile. I didn’t get a November box. My credit card was charged on December 5; I got an email saying my box had shipped on December 15; and I received my December box yesterday (I’m in Oregon). So I imagine that you won’t get a December box. It’s too bad they don’t let people know!

      • Thanks for letting me know! Yes, they should let their customers know what’s going on. I got the email for my profile and saying I was in.. but then that was it! Makes sense now.. thanks!

  12. Is there a way to opt out of getting a fragrance sample every month? Not to get something else, but just no fragrance.

    My husband and I both have scent sensitivity, but I thought we’d be okay if I opened the box outside and whisked the perfume into the set of baggies I had waiting to seal it into. I took everything else out of the box, turned the bag inside out, and spread everything out on the lawn overnight to let it air out, but we can still smell a bit of the perfume. I hope another day and night or two will help.

    This is my first Sephora bag after six months of waiting and never getting an email; it was thanks to MSA that I learned when there were openings. I’m not thrilled to get shampoo, but the other items I’m eager to try, since most of them I never have before; not just those brands, but no dry shampoo, red lip color, etc, at all. I do use mascara regularly, but I’ll be interested to see how the Lancome differs.

    • You may want to contact CS about the possibility of opting out of the fragrance. I’m not sure if it’s possible, because unfortunately the fragrance is the only guaranteed item to be in the bag each month. They like to say it’s the “bonus” item each month.

      Just my two cents about that… they like to say their bag contains 5 samples, plus a “bonus” perfume, every month. I think they call it a bonus to appease some subscribers who have an aversion to receiving a guaranteed perfume vial in every box, and this helps to think one is really only subscribing for the other five products. But, I’ve always thought of the Sephora box as a 6 product sub box, which for me is great (since I love trying new perfumes). When I tell friends about the box, I always say it’s guaranteed to have 6 items every month, and one item will always be a sample of a perfume. I guess we can spin it to whichever way makes us feel better about the box. 🙂

  13. Great review! I agree that the primer works well. I have a very oily t-zone while my cheeks are dry and it really kept me from getting greasy throughout the day. I’m probably going to use all samples except the red lip which I will probably give to my sister.

    • Did you receive the mattifying primer or the smoothing primer? Just asking because I noticed Hayley mentioned receiving the mattifying primer, but the smoothing primer is pictured. I thought they were two different products, and I could have sworn one of the variations I was to receive was the mattifying primer as one of my profiles is set to have oily skin (which I truly do have), plus I’m almost positive the MSA spoiler said the mattifying primer was included, but I ended up receiving the smoothing primer in both boxes (plus, the smoothing primer is the only one I’ve seen other reviewers getting). Hayley mentioned the primer she got mattified her skin well, and since the smoothing primer is shown, I’m wondering if they’re actually one in the same.

      • Hi Luna, I got the same box as Haley and also got the Smoothing Primer. I think everyone with this box number (or all boxes) got the Smoothing Primer. Sephora’s page says that the Smoothing Primer is “For Large Pore & Fine Lines” and it is listed under “Natural Finish.” You are right that Make Up For Ever has a separate Mattifying Primer though. I haven’t tried it yet, but I have oily combination skin and large pores, so I definitely think it’s worth trying. Even the Cover FX illuminating primer from last month was nice for me, especially in the winter months when patches of my skin dry out.

  14. I resubscribed to Sephora Play after canceling BB. I loved this box, and am so happy I did not get a dry shampoo. I received a leave in conditioner. Also I received a Lancome mascara, which is my absolute favorite. I did get the UD mist (it does not seem to be squirting properly) and the MU primer, as well as the lip stain, which I have not tried yet. I thought this was a great box – new products to “play” with 🙂

  15. Liz, for the primer, how much product did you use, please? It said pea-size in the video, but quater-size in the instruction. So confused…

    • Charlene, definitely use pea-sized. You don’t need too much of a primer at all. If you find you absolutely can’t make whatever portion you start with stretch for your whole face, you can always add more! You can’t add less if you start with too much. 😉 hope that helps!

  16. Mine has been in limbo for6 days so I’m probably not gonna get it so I’m upset 🙁

    • Mine was stuck for 5 days, but finally was delivered on Wednesday. Don’t lose hope! (at least without contacting customer service first 😉 )

    • Amanda – same for me as with Rae… it was stuck “in transit to destination” for 5 or 6 days before I got it. Tracking made it look like it should have been delivered on the 15th. I called Sephora CS and they said to call back if it didn’t show by the 24th. Hope yours shows up!

  17. Still waiting for mine. I can’t wait to see it!

  18. I thought this month’s bag was really cute. Nicer than the white ones , for sure.

    • Me too! I hope they start doing the bags in different colors more often.

    • Other colors would be nice, especially for a holiday theme. Red or pink for Valentines day, green for St Patrick’s, red or blue for 4th of July etc.

    • Yes! I was actually most happy with the bag over everything else lol

    • I know! I loved the black -and would be happy to get any dark color.

  19. I had a different box number (696) but got all of the same things and variations. I agree with the scent on the dry husband is sensitive to scents and it was way too strong for me to be able to use.

    • I believe there’s two sets of numbers. One is your ‘order number’, and the other is the ‘item number’. Maybe you’re looking at your order number.

  20. I got he same box, but they threw in two mascaras! Score! I actually love the scent of the dry shampoo! I’d totally buy it if I ever run out of dry shampoo samples…lol!
    That Bourbon scent is amazing too.

    • I guess you got the mascara that was missing from my bag lol!

      • Speaking of mascara — I’ve had ipsy since June.. every. Single. Month. I have gotten a black eyeliner and a mascara!! Literally every month since June!!! I’m good for a while I wish they’d stop!!!

  21. I don’t understand why it says .5 oz for the Urban Decay All Nighter is $3.88 when the 1 oz version sells at Sephora for $15. Wouldn’t that make half the size $7.50?

    • The 4 oz version sells for $31 which divided by 8 comes out to 3.875… rounded up to 3.88.

    • Brenda – I use the full-sizes to determine the value since trial sizes are usually marked up quite a lot.

  22. Wow, that lipstick color looks amazing on you! When I received it I thought it would be difficult for anyone to pull off that shade. Looks clownish on me but beautiful on you! Anyway, I got the exact same box and my favorite is the mascara.

  23. I thought the dry shampoo was terrible. It made my hair feel really unpleasant to the touch. Even the cheapo “Not Your Mother’s” dry shampoo doesn’t do that.

    Agree that the MUFE primer is awesome.

  24. I guess it’s hard to please everyone. I got the same variation but am so not into setting spray and dry shampoo — I actually got rid of all the ones I’d accumulated from beauty boxes earlier this year because I never once picked either of those types of items up. The other products are useful to me, but there have been a couple of items in every box that I’m just not feeling, so I’m probably letting this one go. (My credit card didn’t update properly for my subscription after the whole Julep-related hacking thing, and now I’m just not going to bother to call and change it.)

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