Sephora Play! January 2019: The Dreaded Mushroom Latte Box

A recent NY Times article scolds “Your Hoarding of Sephora Samples is Out of Control.”

Their promotional Tweet asks “Are you buried in samples of cosmetics, lotions, hair products or perfumes?” to which I’d respond, “Yes, yes I am. And I like it.

Sure, samples take up space. Sometimes they cause you to fall in love with the product so hard that you purchase the full size. But here’s why samples are so great:

They’re cheap, if not free. They’re easy to stretch – e.g. I made a tiny Kiehl’s serum last two months. You can try before you buy. If something doesn’t work, share it with a friend. Samples are fun and they bring me joy.

Also, I don’t feel bad about accumulating samples because I use my gd samples.

I subscribed to Sephora Play! after Christmas. It costs $10 a month and includes about five samples from brands the store sells.

Years ago I subscribed to Ipsy. While it was fun, many of the products were terrible; waxy lipgloss, random foundation colors, BeABombshell crap. What good is a full-sized product when it’s terrible?

The January Box

My box  was the dreaded “261” box. It shipped January 11th and arrived January 30th. Not only did this variation arrive later than the others,  but contained one of the supplements, vitamins or mushroom tea.

We don’t subscribe to this box to receive supplements. Including them seems irresponsible considering the products’ beauty claims, prices, and fact that Sephora is not a health care professional.  For example, Sephora sells a $20 bottle of Vitamin D and $30 Four Sigmatic Mushroom lemonade mix with chaga and charcoal.

Here are my thoughts on the products:

BeautyBlender blendercleanser solid pro
Approx. Sample Value: $4.50 / Full Size: $45

How does a full-size bar soap cost $45? I gave it to my coworker. She seemed more excited about using it. I use gentle soap or shampoo to clean my brushes and don’t use sponges. This isn’t a bad box item, but I’m here for the expensive skin care samples.

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum
Approx. Sample Value: $14.40 / Full Size: $85

This sample is really, really tiny. Even I can’t stretch it very far. The instructions recommend applying a dime-sized amount on your face. Because the texture of this serum doesn’t spread easily and absorbs quickly, you’ll need to use more than you’d like. It didn’t irritate my skin or increase redness, but I can’t determine its effectiveness with a few uses. I think my skin looks better? But I’m not $85 sure.

Update: I really like this serum. I think it actually does decrease the redness on my cheeks but I can’t swallow the $85 price tag now. 

LANEIGE Water Sleeping Mask
Approx. Sample Value: $3.25 / Full Size: $25

This mask feels like a gel that you apply to your face at night and rinse off in the morning. It does not have a strong scent. I used it a couple of times this week. It’s fine. My skin felt hydrated in the morning, but not more than the other products I’ve been using. As you can see, the container is deeply indented making the sample smaller.

I received Clinique samples with a purchase from Nordstrom’s. I’ve really been enjoying their Moisture Surge 72-hour 72-hour hydrator and Overnight Mask. They feel more hydrating and I would purchase full-sized versions.

Bite Beauty Agave Sugar Lip Balm & Scrub
Approx. Sample Value for Balm: $2.16 / Full Size: $18
Approx. Sample Value for Scrub: $1.24 / Full Size: $18

These samples are tiny little blister packs. The lip scrub’s sugar particles are sparse and uncomfortably large and rough. I felt like I was pushing a few boulders around each lip. The little pack wasn’t completely filled. You’re better off making your own lip scrub. I would not purchase.

The lip balm has a hard texture that coats the skin like a sticky wax seal. I could probably get a few weeks use of this. Without looking at the ingredients, I could tell it contains lanolin, a sheep secretion. When I used to play the french horn, I was instructed to grease the valves with Lanisoh, a nipple balm.

What I will say about this balm is that it works. It got my lips through second half of the polar vortez with no cracking or peeling. This is a balm you use for survival, not for pleasure.

Four Sigmatic Golden Latte Mushroom Mix With Shiitake & Turmeric
Approx. Sample Value per tea bag: $2 / Box of 10 sold on Sephora: $20 ($3-4 less on other sites)

So the ingredient list isn’t that bad. The packaging says “beautify” a lot. “Beautify from within with shiitake & turmeric.” “Mix. Sip. Beautify.”

Jake has purchased mushroom coffee from this brand and had no complaints.

I knew I wouldn’t like the stevia taste and I was right. Some people in the Reddit Beauty Box board mentioned it tasted salty. Others liked it enough to purchase. It doesn’t taste salty, but very sweet. The most offensive aspect to this tea is the gross stevia sweetness.

A coconut turmeric milk recipe (minus the mushrooms) I actually like: Soothing Turmeric Milk by Heartbeet Kitchen

Bite Beauty Matte Creme Lip Crayon in Glace
Approx. Sample Value: $13 / Full Size: $24

The complaints about this lip crayon had to do with it being included in previous boxes and as last year’s birthday gift. This is my first one so I’m happy to receive it. I’ll get many uses from this sample and like the creamy texture. I would purchase a full size in a different color.

Other products used (besides skin care samples in this box): Clarins Skin Illusion Broad Spectrum 15 Naturally Hydrating Foundation, Glamglow Glowstarter Mega Illuminating Moisturizer, Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer and blush, Wet & Wild Reserve Your Cabana Bronzer (functions like a highlight), Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer, Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette, Mario Bedescu Facial Spray

Final Thoughts: Worth $10? Sure. Did I like the overall mix of products? Meh. We’ll see what next month brings!


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    The tea does not sound appealing to me at all but maybe I would be surprised. Your face looks fabulous so I guess the other items worked great!!!

  2. Katey

    What’s a 261 box?

    • Jeni

      It’s the box variation I got this month – you can find the product # for the box that will coorspond with your particular variation

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