Why I Canceled Sephora Play

Several months ago, I signed up for my first beauty subscription box, Sephora Play. Optimistic that retail beauty giant Sephora would have the insight required to kick ass and take names in the sub box arena, I eagerly signed up.

After four boxes, I’ve canceled my subscription. I will receive and review October’s box, but that is the fifth and final Sephora Play box I will receive. Unfortunately, I found that Sephora Play is plagued by the same issues as any other beauty subscription box – for now, at least. My optimism, unfortunately, was unfounded.

Where I Take Issue

To date, it seems as though Sephora concocts two boxes based on the profile you create at sign up. The product selections are made for you; they spin this as a convenience. Personally, I’d rather take five minutes to pick from a pool of samples (like when you place a normal order) than have someone pick for me and make choices that don’t work for me.

They spin the fragrances as a bonus but they aren’t really. Let’s be honest, those vials are included in the $10 per month valuation.

There’s this big hoopla about the box being a surprise, even though manufactured leaks occur – there are several Sephora Play, “spoilers,” sites out there.

Instead of consistently getting exciting content in the boxes, they have people creating Spotify playlists. Seriously? Who is actually jumping at the chance to listen to this stuff? I’m a Sephora customer because I’m interested in beauty products, not because I’m seeking sweet hipster tunes.

Sephora Play List

To give you an idea of why I’m canceling, here are my hits, misses, and OKs.


  • they’re Real! Owned it before
  • Becca Backlight Priming Filter Major win, here
  • Living Proof Perfect Hair day
  • KvD Tattoo Liner Owned it before
  • Anastasia Brow Gel Owned it before


  • All Fragrance
  • Tarteguard Didn’t even try it – too many reports of breakouts.
  • bareSkin Sheer Sun Difficult to use
  • Dew the Hoola So orange!
  • Ouai Wave Spray Did nothing but fragrance my hair
  • Caudalie Reservatrol Sample too small to evaluate
  • Lancome Energie de Vie Sample too small to evaluate
  • Sephora Collection Lipstick Big nope on the shade across the board


  • First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Owned it before
  • Urban Decay Perversion Owned it before
  • Sephora Pencil in Taupe
  • MUFE Artist Shadow
  • Dr Jart+ Water Drop

As you can see, over the course of my subscription (so far, this is exclusive of October because I have not yet received it), I’ve only received FIVE products that were exciting, and I owned three of them before. Two of the products that were OK were ones I owned before, too. I feel like I’m throwing money away – and I’m not into that.

What Sephora Play Could Do Better

Sephora collects a LOT of data on its customers. Don’t get it twisted – Beauty Insider, like every other loyalty program, is a method by which a business collects data on its customers. They use this data to drive product offerings and purchasing, predict trends, determine demographics for specific areas, etc. Those free(ish) store events? They aren’t random!

They could be using this data to create a better Sephora Play customer experience. In fact, I wholeheartedly expected that they would be leveraging that precious data to give themselves an edge, but alas.


ColorIQ can be hit-or-miss, yes. Imagine, though, how powerful a ColorIQ-powered Subscription box could be? Foundation matches can be used to drive samples of not only foundation, but concealer, bronzer, and blush.

I haven’t given the lip-focused ColorIQ a shot yet, but that, too, could help prevent weird offerings like that Sephora Collection Lipstick

Purchase History & Better Questions

By actually looking at the kinds of products people are buying, you can better curate a monthly box. If a customer bought Urban Decay Electric, KvD Mi Vida Loca Remix, and Viseart Editorial Mattes, for example, you can reasonably safely assume that they are comfortable with exciting makeup

Maybe the Sephora Play Profile a customer fills out should include how, “adventurous,” they feel with cosmetics. Are you wearing your makeup primarily to work and have to keep it simple and professional? Beyond makeup- how’s your skincare – 30 minutes each day, or more like 3? Do you even want fragrance or hair products?


In the same box I received two skincare products that were effectively too small to assess. I realize that these products, full-size, are not inexpensive. I’m not expecting full sized anything from a $10/mo box, but while a micro-tiny tube of eye cream is not unreasonable, 1-2 nights of a full-face moisturizer doesn’t really give you a good idea of if it works for you and is worth investing in.

Sizing is also inconsistent – the bottle of Ouai Wave Spray, for instance, is comparably (to anything else I received) massive. If the Ouai product had worked, I could have gotten at least three months out of it. I got five applications out of the Living Proof Perfect Hair Day product.

The Bottom Line

Unfortunately, like most subscription boxes, the value ended up not being there for me with Sephora Play. I’d rather save the $10 subscription fee for a few months to get something I definitely want and will use. If I want to try a specific product, I will visit my local Sephora and request a sample – this prevents me from accumulating beauty clutter. Besides, who wants to pay for clutter?!

Have you tried Sephora Play or any other beauty subscription boxes? What was your experience like?