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Sephora Play! Date Experience For Subscribers – Is it Worth Your Time?

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Sephora Play Dates happen once a month. It is an event for Sephora Play subscribers. When Sephora started the Play Dates, they were only in an extremely limited number of cities. April 2018 was the first time it was open in my city so I decided to attend. The concept sounds cool. You (and a guest if you choose to bring someone) go, get freebies and 50 bonus Insider points if you purchase anything, learn how to use the items in your box, and more. I’ve been to open door events and closed-door events and am happy to report this falls between the two but closer to a closed-door event. With an open door event, you pretty much get freebies (as long as you qualify) for shopping, but everything else is essentially the same as a regular shopping experience. A closed-door event also gives you freebies (as long as you qualify), but it usually comes with brand reps, snacks, and semi-private shopping time. Some closed-door events are more packed than shopping during regular hours in the store so I dislike calling it a private shopping event.

The event ran from 6-8pm on Wednesday, April 4th. Subscribers could arrive whenever they wanted within that window. Sephora does ask you to RSVP so staff can plan accordingly. An email about the event goes out and another once you confirm a spot.

Like most open door events, there was no sign advertising it outside.

There was a sign advertising the Weekly Wow. Though the Weekly Wow took a 2-week hiatus during the spring bonus, it has returned. Though, I hope it returns to its former glory next week. This week is a little lackluster. That blow dryer is still on sale long after the week ended so that’s cool. I considered buying that blow dryer, but I will wait for a bigger one with the 20% off this November.

Once inside, a Play! Date looks like a closed-door experience. There was a sign inside advertising the event. It was the first open door event I’ve seen with a sign letting people know what was going on. What is cool about that is subscribers who did not RSVP but happened to pop in could probably take part (as long as they were not fully booked). It also lets other shoppers know what is going on, because open door events can confuse other shoppers and make them wonder why they are not getting “special treatment.”

You check in at the door and get immediate free gifts. This means anyone who chooses not to buy anything can still walk away with something for free.

In this case, the free gifts were a pen and a hair tie. The pen is encased in cheap plastic branded with the Play! logo.

The hair ties are also branded. Those familiar with Sephora brand hair ties will notice this is one of those. They start off very tight and loosen over time. Eventually they get too loose and you have to toss them.

I selected the black hair tie, because it is the most versatile. You cannot really see the logo when it is in your hair, but you can see it when it is on your wrist.

My six-year-old, who was my guest of choice, received those free gifts even though he is not a subscriber. He selected the red hair tie and calls it his bracelet. I told him I always wear it as bracelet until I need it in my hair. As someone who does not really like to wear jewelry, it is the only “bracelet” that does not really bother me.

There is a worksheet for the different boxes. Subscribers who want to go over their items can find the sheet for their box and take notes.

The associate, Yanira, who checked me in offered us snacks and beverages, which are usually absent from an open door event. Though the setup was not as impressive as a closed-door event, it is clear the staff wanted to differentiate this from other open door events. My son took a water and a brownie. I did not want anything, but I ended up eating his brownie after he changed his mind about eating anything. We did eat dinner just before the event, and the brownie was okay.

This event was for the March 2018 boxes. The events always fall early in the following month to give everyone time to receive their boxes. March 2018 was the only time I received two boxes (explained here if you care to read about why). My first box had seven items (of which four were new to me). There were six items in my second box. Only two were new to me, but I am keeping three of the duplicate items.

Though I added six items to my collection, I did not really feel the need to discuss any of them. Those who wanted to go over anything could talk with a Sephora associate about the products. All the products sampled in the boxes were on display. Other than presentation, I am unsure these samples served any purpose. It is possible associates could have used them on people who had questions or concerns. This could be helpful for those products when you just aren’t sure what to do with them or how to apply them. It never hurts to talk about products (even if none were actually opened), because you could always learn something new. Granted, if someone really wanted to s/he could bring the products out of his/her own box for that purpose.

Have you ever looked at someone else’s subscription and gotten box envy? I know it is silly, but I can see six items in this group I would have loved a lot more than either of the boxes I received. It would have been awesome if I could have selected the six I wanted or could have just magically received them.

After telling Yanira that I did not need to discuss any of the products, she informed me they had brand reps. I have never seen brand reps at an open door event. Closed-door events usually have four to seven. The main difference is closed-door events have signs and tables. There were brand reps from: First Aid Beauty, boscia, Murad, Perricone MD, It Cosmetics, and Stila. At six, this is on par with a closed-door event. Yanira continued to check on me throughout the night. She knew who was there to attend the event and made sure each person was getting the assistance they desired.

I knew I wanted the gift with purchase for attending the event, even though I had no idea what it would be. My plan was to talk with all the brand reps and purchase something from one of them to get the free gift. There are times when the brand reps carry free gifts of their own, which would be the deciding factor in which brand I purchased from. With the 15% off discount at Sephora and 20% off discount at Ulta on the way (they’ve passed now), I did not want to spend too much at the event.

I talked to boscia first. She was already talking to the First Aid Beauty rep so I talked to her at the same time. They were both lovely, but the boscia rep seemed to push a little harder to make a sale. She asked me what my beauty routine is. My routine is still close to what it was when I discussed it here. Convinced that I am doing the right thing for my skin but still get hormonal breakouts on my chin, she suggested I try the $34 Luminizing Black Charcoal Mask, and the $28 boscia Charcoal Spot Corrector. The black mask is something I never thought I would try again, because it literally rips the baby hair out of my face. It is extremely painful as it does. After telling me I should only use it where I get acne and have larger pores (places where I do not have a lot of facial hair), she convinced me to give it another try. 

Granted, I am not willing to purchase something I disliked, but I vowed to try it again if I could get it in a kit or as a free sample. That was actually today. Earlier today, I saw a promo code for a product I really wanted and noticed that this mask is a 100-point perk. I purchased something I wanted, redeemed the promo code, and ordered this as a perk. I killed* three birds with one stone. *No birds were actually harmed. The item I purchased in store the day of the event was the $28 boscia Charcoal Spot Corrector.

Kate Somerville Eradikate is a product I already love that is cheaper and has more product. She had a generous GWP with three deluxe items so I decided to give it a try. Like Eradikate, the product is submerged in alcohol. This keeps the product from drying out and keeps it at the bottom of the bottle. I am a picker so I only use Eradikate when I get to the pimple before I pick at it. Otherwise, the product just burns. For some reason, the boscia does not burn as much when I have an open wound. That means I am able to use this more often than I can use Eradikate. Boscia uses charcoal and Kate Somerville uses sulfur to treat acne. The biggest difference in application is Kate Somerville almost blends into my skin, because it is pink. With the boscia, it looks like I have bruises, because the product goes on black. No big deal when I am lounging at home, but keep that in mind if you want to look cute.

I have not tried the boscia on cystic acne yet, because I have not had any in the less than a month that I’ve owned this product. Kate Somerville has about a 75% success rate with cystic acne, but it usually takes a few days. On regular acne, I do see a reduction in size and pain when I use the boscia. It is hard to say which works better on regular acne, because they both work. What I like about having both is I can switch between the two products if one is not working on stubborn acne. There are times when Kate Somerville will zap a pimple quickly and other times where I can apply it multiple times and it does not seem to reduce anything faster than time would have done alone. More often than not, both treatments work better than doing nothing.

The free items I received for purchasing the boscia Charcoal Spot Corrector were: a pair of Sake Brightening Hydrogel Eye Masks ($5), a 0.5oz Revitalizing Black Charcoal Hydration Gel ($11.76), and a 1oz Detoxifying Black Charcoal Cleanser ($5.88). I have dry skin so I already gave the gel moisturizer away to my nephew. Whether I will keep the cleanser is unclear. Even if I don’t, I like receiving deluxe items to gift to other people. As long as I want at least one item in a gift (in this case the eye patches), it is worth it.

I talked to Murad next. One of the questions was whether the full-size Murad Skin Perfecting Lotion I received in the Spring FabFitFun box was even worth trying with dry skin. His opinion is an oil free moisturizer is probably not the best type for someone with dry skin. As such, I might gift it. When I have full-size products am unsure about, I usually prefer to pass them on while they are still new. They just make better gifts that way. If I do decide to keep this, I will only use it in warm weather.

Perricone MD was my next stop. Once again, I have a full-size moisturizer I wanted to talk about. I received a full-size Perricone MD H2 Elemental Energy Hydrating Cloud Cream as a free gift from Ulta earlier this year. The rep thinks this is a great moisturizer for dry skin with uneven tones. That makes me even more excited to try it. She also talked to me about the makeup. I purchased the No Foundation Foundation Serum SPF 30 from Ulta last year when it went on sale. Even though I have not tried it yet, I am more excited to after talking to her about how they have skincare in their makeup. There is only one other brand I know of that does, and that is the rep I talked to next.

It Cosmetics was my next stop. There were three items I wanted that I did not already own so I talked to her about them. Those items are: the Bye Bye Breakout™ Full-Coverage Concealer, the Miracle Water 3-in-1 Micellar Cleanser, and the Bye Bye Makeup™ 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm. She had a foil sample of the cleansing balm and gave it to me for chatting with her. Anyone who made an It Comsetics purchase got a deluxe sample of their choice. I saw her give a brow sample (which I really like) to someone else. All the deluxe samples she had were products I already owned so I decided not to make a purchase that day. My plan was to get the Sephora exclusive for 15% off and the other item at Ulta for 20% off.

I wanted the two items I talked to her about even more after our conversation. It is her job to sell products and of everyone I spoke with that night, the It Cosmetics rep was the most passionate about the brand she worked for. She really loves It and a lot of Its products. Before I made a purchase at either retailer, I got an email that It Cosmetics was offering 25% off. I ended up purchasing both items directly from It Cosmetics for 25% off. The funny thing is she knew all about which products were going on sale and was even talking to me about promotions in the 21 Days of Beauty. However, she never mentioned that an It Cosmetics Friends and Family sale was days away.

I looked for the Stila rep, but I never found him or her. My son was ready to go anyway so I did not devote much time to locating this person. Talking to five out of six and each one for a decent amount of time was pretty good. By the time I left, I had been there over an hour and fifteen minutes.

At checkout, I mentioned that I was there for the Play! Date to make sure I got the general GWP for attending the event. I also remembered to give her the card for 50 beauty insider points with a purchase. That is something I almost always forget to give! While I am not sure how it happened, it even gave me the 50 points twice. It makes up for one of the at least 4-5 times I’ve shopped in store since subscribing and forgot to get my points. This also shows that you can redeem the offer for 50 points more than once per month if you make multiple purchases. She did take my Play pass and rip it, but a general Play pass is in the app (for those who forget it or shop at Sephora more than once a month).

When I got home and looked at the GWP, it floored me. Sephora gave me some great items. It makes me wonder if they are always this great or if I just went at a lucky time. I plan on going at least once more to find out. I liked the freebies I got for making a purchase at the event (not even including the brand specific ones, which just make it better) more than either box I received. This event is possibly the best part of being a subscriber. For $10 a month, I get Sephora brands of samples so I still see value even without the event.

I received a total of seven items in my goodie bag. Four were deluxe, one was full-size, and two were foils. Five of the items were from Drunk Elephant. That is a brand everyone seems to rave about, but I have mostly avoided due to a lack of samples. Hopefully, these samples do not kick-start an addiction. The Drunk Elephant items were: a 0.05oz T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum, a 0.17oz T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum (yes, it is the same product as the foil),  a 0.17oz Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil, a 0.17oz Shaba Complex™ Eye Serum, and a 0.05oz C-Tango™ Multivitamin Eye Cream. I also got a 0.17oz sample of that eye cream with a recent Sephora order.

As someone who layers an eye cream over an eye serum, I really like the chance to try the two products together. In a weird way, I even like that I got a foil of the serum. If I do not like it, I can still gift the deluxe one unused. Many people rave about the Marula Oil from this line, and I am a fan of Marula Oil. Even if I love it, I cannot see myself paying the price it charges when there are cheaper options for the same product elsewhere. Getting a chance to try it is nice though.

The bag the GWP came in is like a large eyeglass bag. If you wanted to hold or clean your eyeglasses, this could do both. I also received a 1oz First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair® Cream Intense Hydration. This is a moisturizer I already know and love. It is something I can always use more of so I was happy to see it.

There was also a selfie light with the Play! logo on it. It works nicely to light a selfie. After getting one of these at a Rouge event (that I did not blog about so no review) and one in a limited edition Birchbox, I think I have my selfie lighting covered for a while.

If you’ve never been to an event, I think going at least once is worth your time. This is the closest open door event to a closed-door event I’ve ever been to.

Your experience could vary, especially if you choose to go over the products from your box. Have you attended an event? Did you get amazing samples as well? I hope I do not feel the need to attend one of these events every month, but I might if the freebies are always this incredible. It was the very first time my store offered an event so it is completely possible they went all out for the inaugural. Until I attend a second event, I cannot say., Inc.

What are your thoughts on the Sephora Play Dates? Let me know below. Sephora does not inform any Beauty Insider of all promotions. It does list a great deal of them on its Beauty Offers page, but I list some it does not on my Sephora Deals Page. Between the ones it lists and the ones I list, you can catch most of them. Subscribe to emails to get targeted offers. If you’re spending over $25 online, there is always a promo code that you can apply. Most major events run on a set schedule, which is why I track them. See all Sephora articles. Read Tips For Getting the Best Deal When Shopping Sephora. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

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I'm Kimberly. Shopping is always more fun when I've found the best deal available, so I am always on the hunt. My father instilled that in me, and I love that I carry a piece of him. Sometimes, my husband and sons (12 and 7) let me shop for them, too. They do not use as many beauty products as I do. We can all benefit from nice products, even though their routine ends with moisturizer. That is when I can convince my 12-year-old to apply it.

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