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PLAY! by Sephora #249 Subscription Box Review – December 2019

Play by Sephora December 2019 subscription box review

PLAY! by Sephora is a monthly beauty and makeup subscription box. Each month, Sephora sends you a mix of six samples (including cosmetics, haircare, skincare, fragrances, and other beauty products) personalized to match your preferences and a PLAY! BOOK of tips and tricks for just $10 + FREE shipping.

Sephora curates several variations of their PLAY! boxes each month and matches you with the version that best fits the preferences you set in your profile. (You’ll fill out your profile when signing up—you can also update your profile at any time). The variation I received this month is the box ending in #249. 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.

open box

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

group shot of all items

About PLAY! by Sephora

The Subscription Box: PLAY! by Sephora

The Cost: $10/month + FREE shipping

The Products: Five deluxe samples plus a fragrance sample and a PLAY! BOOK of tips and tricks.

Ships to: The US

December 2019 PLAY! by Sephora #249 Review

outside of info fold-out inside with product images and info

Each PLAY! box comes with an info sheet that provides the theme of the box and detailed product info. 

magenta and clear plastic bag

Each month, your samples are tucked inside a recyclable pouch. This one is incredible for travel—it’s so much more chic than a kitchen zipper bag!


Smashbox Super Fan Mascara – Buy a full-size 10 ml for $21.00

I don’t know that I have tried this mascara before, and I am always open to finding a new favorite. This one is quite nice! It has a brush that reminds me a little of one of my faves, BadGal Bang, but with a fuller middle. It worked really well too, coating my lashes with a deep black shade and giving them length. I liked it!


Wander Beauty Lip Retreat Oil in ‘Skinny Dip’, 3 ml – Estimated Value $6.60 (Buy a full-size 10 ml version for $22.00)

I really like this stuff. It is a perfect sheer nude that adds just a little extra something to my natural lip color. It also is super glossy and makes my lips look even fuller, kind of like a faux injection sort of vibe without the tingle or burning of products that also are meant to give that effect. The downside is that it is more than a little messy, though the full size has a doe foot applicator instead of a squeeze application.

It has a sheer but nude look.


OUAI Body Crème, 1 oz – Estimated Value $5.07 (Buy a full-size 7.5 oz for $38.00)

When the spoilers came out for this month, this was legit the only item I just HAD to have. I have had my fingers crossed ever since and I was thrilled to see it in my box. I am an OUAI fanatic. I really love this brand. Their formulas work beautifully, smell fantastic, and the packaging is to die for. That is like the Megan trifecta. Recently they released a body wash and this body cream, and I have been dying to try it. It has a new scent called Syibuya which smells really familiar somehow, like an ex-boyfriend whose cologne I used to steal, but better. It is a blend of musk, citrus, spices, and petals and I am obsessed with it. The formula itself absorbs beautifully and leaves skin so soft! This is absolutely going in my Sephora shopping cart.


Dr. Brant No More Baggage Eye De-Puffing Gel, 3 g – Estimated Value $8.40 (Buy a full-size 15 g for $42.00)

I wish I could say I liked this stuff, but texturally, it had some issues, at least for me. It is a really thick and heavy gel which was difficult to apply without feeling like I was pulling on my undereye skin, even after warming it between my fingers. I did finish application with delicate patting motions which helped. I didn’t notice a difference and the texture became weirdly sandy, and did not work in combination with my other normal products.


fresh Rose Deep Hydration Moisturizer, 7 ml – Estimated Value $5.88 (Buy a full-size 50 ml version for $42.00)

Yay!! Another favorite brand. I love anything by fresh. Their formulas always make my skin really happy, and they always feel luxurious. This gel-cream rose mask was a dream! It is a nice medium weight while still packing tons of moisture, making it great for day or night. I loved wearing this under my makeup because my skin looked somehow extra dewy. It has time-release “hydropatches” which really did work to keep my skin supple all day. This is another item I have added to my cart. Thank goodness for a little extra holiday cash.


amika 3D Volume Thickening Shampoo, 10 ml – Estimated Value $0.85 (Buy a full-size 236 ml for $20.00)

amika 3D Volume Thickening Conditioner, 10 ml – Estimated Value $0.85 (Buy a full-size 236 ml for $20.00)

When I saw this I knew I wouldn’t even get to use it because this is Will’s favorite hair brand. He goes to an old fashioned barber who complimented his hair’s health after he started using this amika conditioner regularly, so now he is an amika lifer. He also has thinning hair, so I thought he might like the 3D volume aspect. Truth be told I didn’t notice a huge difference in volume, but his hair felt clean and looked glossy and healthy. He seemed to love it, but I expected as much.

Verdict: This month’s PLAY! by Sephora box has an estimated value of $27.65 without calculating in the Smashbox mascara, since I couldn’t figure out what size was actually sent in our box. This is actually on the lower end for this sub, but I am over the moon with nearly everything included so I don’t even care. I wanted that OUAI cream so bad and I am obsessed with anything from fresh. The Wander lip oil was another hit, as was the Smashbox mascara. amika is always welcome in my shower. What’s not to love? The beauty of Play! is that I always seem to get samples of the newest products from brands I already know and love. I feel like that is the trade-off for the sometimes smaller sample sizes, but I will take it since I never have repeats and there is always some hype-worthy product inside this totally affordable box. 

To Wrap Up:

Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, you will receive next month’s samples, curated based on your PLAY! PROFILE. Get email alerts for monthly spoilers!

Value Breakdown: At $10 for this box, each of the 6 samples has an average cost of $1.67.

Check out all of our PLAY! by Sephora reviews, our best beauty boxes, 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!

What do you think about my PLAY! by Sephora box? Which variation did you get?

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Written by Megan


I love natural/vegan beauty products, Korean skincare, unique jewelry, and weird candies from far away places. When I am not waiting for my next exciting box you can find me painting or taking photographs of interesting people. I never leave home without pug hair somewhere on my shirt and a bold lipstick on my smile.

Posted in Beauty Subscription Boxes, Cheap Subscription Boxes, Makeup Subscription Boxes, Subscription Box Reviews, Subscription Boxes for Women| Tags: play by sephora | 23 comments

Comments (23)

  1. Ugh. The January box is so boring, so unimpressive and so unwanted, I’m cancelling. Spoiler alert: yet another black eyeliner, another brow mascara, another tube of ‘face paste’ (some mud mask because isn’t skin dry enough in winter) and still another tube of “primer.” (Seriously? Dry primer, liquid primer, how much primer does one woman need?) The only useful item is a teeny tiny sample of moisturizer. When you compare the amount of actual product to the packaging, the waste is unsettling. If you’re going to give me half-a-teaspoon, just put it in a squeeze bag and save the plastic. It’s like these are all samples too dumpy to give away in the stores. Anyway, I’m cancelling; Sephora, you’re played out.

  2. I received a basically empty Wander lip product and dr Brandt eye product. Looking at the forums, looks like this happened to a lot of folks. I’m sure they will refund the cost, but I’m getting frustrated having this happen multiple times a year — and always with the new products I want to try. Red Lipstick or black mascara — always seems to be fine!

    I think it’s time to swap now that the play passes are gone. The reasoning was that the product sample value would go up, but if anything the values are going down.

  3. I’ve only tried a leave in conditioner by Ouai but I adore it! It does smell soooo good and there is something masculine about it, yet it’s light enough that it doesn’t give me a headache lol

    Also! I ordered those Girlactik gloss pencils after your glowing review Meagan and OMG you were right! I literally never thought a glitter lip product could look and feel so good 😂 and my lips are super moisturized after wearing them!

    • I am so glad you liked those lip pencils too! So weird that they totally work. I guess there is a glitter out there for everyone. I have been skipping actual conditioner in the shower and using my OUAI leave in instead and I love it! My hair smells so good and it retains enough of the wave and shine that it looks great (most) days.

  4. I wish they would do away with the cheap plastic bags. What a killer on the environment. With the bags you get in Ipsy you can at least use those a bunch.. these rip so fast.

  5. When I first ready the spoilers I read the Ouai product as being a body wash like a body butter. When I got it I immediately washed normally then put it on my loofah like a body wash. I did this a couple times until I figured out it was lotion. 🤷‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️

    • Haha this made me giggle. I mean, how did it work on a loofa? Have you discovered a secret second way to use it?

  6. I hated the smell of the Ouai body cream. The product itself worked great, but I hated that smell. Like a cheap spicy men’s cologne, kind of Old Spice-ish, and even Old Spice has improved their fragrance since the days of my dad wearing it.

  7. Slightly off topic, but I thought I’d share the Sephora has come out with a new skincare kit!

    Haute Hyrdrators Kit – $25

    – 0.33 oz/ 10 mL belif’s the true cream aqua bomb
    – 2 oz/ 56.7 g First Aid Beauty’s® Ultra Repair® Cream
    – 0.23 oz/ 7 mL fresh’s Lotus Youth Preserve Face Moisturizer
    – 0.3 oz/ 10 mL Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask
    – 0.28 oz/ 7.9 g HUM® Nutrition’s Glow Sweet Glow Skin Hydration – Vegan Gummies
    – 0.17 oz/ 5 mL La Mer’s The Treatment Lotion
    – 1 oz/ 30 mL Skinfix’s® Barrier+ Foaming Oil Cleanser
    – 0.25 oz/ 7.4 mL Youth To The People’s Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream

    Looks pretty good to me! 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing this, Luna! Totally going to buy this!

      • I picked it up too! 🙂

  8. Megan, have you smelled Ouai’s perfumes yet? They smell sooo pretty. Fairly similar to one another, but with slight differences. I actually got both for Christmas (along with the shower gel & body cream), and I’m in heaven! I think I’m more of a fan of their body products than their hair products! 😀

    • I think you were the one who first mentioned them to me, Luna! I now own both Melrose Place and the discontinued Rue St Honore which I snagged on Poshmark. Of course, Ruse is my favorite.. it is always the one I can’t replace!! Do you like the shower gel? I always have a hard time allocating extra $$$ to body washes when I can spend them on skincare of fragrances/creams.

      • I haven’t tried the shower gel yet, but I’m loving how it smells. I totally hear you though when it comes to spending $$$ on body washes. The scent never stays on me (it gets covered up by whatever body oil/lotion/butter I apply afterward), but sometimes the formulas can stand out. Sometimes an expensive body wash can be worth it for the sensorial experience alone. I think I need to be in the “right” (i.e. splurgey) mood to plunk down $28 for a body wash though. 😉

        I ended up receiving the North Bondi perfume instead of the discontinued Rue St. Honore you mentioned. It actually smells fairly similar to Melrose to me, but I’m not complaining! lol Is the Rue St. Honore a lot different than Melrose?

      • Rue St. Honore was way different to me. It is a really pure and over the top girly white floral. Loads of gardenia and ylang-ylang, but it is also somehow warm? It reminds me a little of TOCCA Florence, but more buttery. I am so sad it isnt currently in production.

  9. I had issues at first with this Dr. Brandt product, too. I noticed that if I put it on first and let it dry then apply my moisturizer it works a lot better!

    • Noted! I will have to give this a try. Thanks for the tip Sarah! <3

  10. MSA/Megan – I think you need to update your standard box description for this. They don’t do PLAY! PASSes anymore. 🙁

    • Eeep! Thanks for the reminder Sherri! I know we will all miss them. Updated!

  11. I received this exact box and actually loved everything — the dr Brandt product made my eye wrinkles completely disappear (temporarily). There’s a learning curve with applying it so it’s best to Google how to apply it correctly. I loved the body cream and lip gloss as well.

  12. Yeees the Ouai has a familiar scent. Maybe Ck One from back in the day? Lol smells good

    • OMG, it’s so funny you said that. I just tried some Avene moisturizer last night and my boyfriend said my face smells like CK One.

      • Lol! It brought back 90s memories

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