If you have to buy it, get the best deal!
On 05/04/18, a Beauty Insider Community moderator at Sephora reached out to me to see if I wanted some free products. The answer to that question is always yes. Who does not love free products? Everything is always better when it is free. In exchange for the free products, Sephora and the brands want honest reviews. It still surprises me when Sephora reaches out to me, because I have not been active on the community in some time, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. I decided to wait until I tried everything for a while before I typed the review, which is why I am just now getting to it. This is my I’ve used these products a lot review instead of the typical first impressions. As a reviewer, I know I need to do better and turn things around faster for my readers and the brands. My goal for 2019 is to get reviews turned around faster and to wear makeup more often than I did in 2018.
Everything always comes beautifully wrapped. It really feels like a friend has sent you a gift, and in many ways, that is exactly what happened. Many of us on the community have developed deep friendships, and I really like the moderator who reached out to me. Hopefully, she feels the same way. After all, she selected me to receive the gift. All joking aside, there are so many people who contribute to the community boards, so I always feel grateful someone selects me to receive anything.
A letter usually accompanies the gift explaining what you have received and the expectations for the gift. See my last review to see what the letter looks like. As it has been five months since I received this, I cannot remember if I did not receive one this time or if I accidentally recycled it before I photographed it. Either are possible. That letter would have briefly described the six items I received and asked that I share my experience with other Sephora customers via the community and the review section. Thus far, I have not done the latter at all, but I have briefly discussed this in the former.
The six items I received were all festival themed. One was limited edition, and it is no longer available at Sephora. This is the main reason I am well aware that I need to get reviews up sooner. Whether I love or hate the things that are gone, my opinion cannot help anyone make purchase decisions when it comes after the product is no longer available. I apologize for that. My gratis items were: hush Prism Airbrush Spray in Malibu Pink, Too Faced Life’s a Festival Eyeshadow Palette, Juliette Has a Gun Moscow Mule, Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bod Buff Smoothing Scrub ‘N’ Mask, Maison Margiela REPLICA’ Memory Box, and the Ouai Desert OUAIsis Festival Kit.
The hush Prism Airbrush Spray in Malibu Pink retails for $24. I love the idea of having temporary hair color, so trying this excited me. As a kid, I loved the hair colors you got around Halloween. Those always left hair feeling coarse, straw-like, and smelling to high heavens. Surely a $24 version would perform better, right? Technically, it does. Instead of coarse, straw-like hair, I get straw-like hair that looks like pubes. This stuff frizzes out all the baby hairs on the top of my head to the point where I legitimately thought it looked like I was growing pubic hair on top of my head. That’s graphic and gross, but I could not think of a way to sugar-coat it to soften the illusion. My apologies.
Of course it’s not the products fault that I have a lot of baby hairs it can frizz out and curl up, but most people have those. I can see this happening to anyone with baby hairs who uses the product. As a side note, I have less of these when I am using nicer shampoo and conditioner. As I have used drugstore of both for the past few months, I am getting more breakage in my hair. That causes more regrowth presented in the form of baby hair.
My hair never gets fully crunchy no matter how many times I spray this, but it does soften if I brush it through my hair. The problem is brushing it through also removes some of the color, so you have to choose between high color saturation and hair that looks brushed. For those who love texture and messy looking hair, this is an easy decision.
Because this is a spray, it is difficult to get it to distribute evenly. The good news is it still looks nice with uneven distribution. It adds a pop of color. Those with long hair could easily go through the entire can with one use in trying to get even distribution, so I would suggest going with the uneven look. Besides, there are other temporary colors (not in spray form) that can give an even look for a better price tag.
From some angles, this pink shade even looks purple. Hair color varies based on your starting color. My hair is naturally a very dark blonde or a very light brown depending on how you perceive it. My guess is only someone with super platinum blonde hair would see this as pink. Most of us with darker hair will get some variation of purple. Keep that in mind if your goal is pink hair. Even the pink shirt could not change the purple appearance this gave off. Other than the price tag, the biggest con to this is the smell. It smells like burning plastic. My son disliked the scent so much that he did not even want me near him while I was wearing this. Thankfully, the color and the scent all come right out with a single hair wash.
If I were to rate this on Sephora.com, I would give it two stars. It does provide color, but it is not the color I expected. My hair gets too frizzy, and the smell is overwhelming. Considering cheaper products give me the same results with only slightly more crunchiness, I would opt for a cheaper one before I pulled the trigger on purchasing this. I suggest the same to anyone reading this.
The Too Faced Life’s a Festival Eyeshadow Palette retails for $42. That link is to the Nordstrom site, because Sephora has sadly run out of this limited edition palette. When it comes to these limited edition cutesy palettes, I typically pass. My experience is that they are not always the best quality. They are typically cute and lack the substance I want in a palette.
This one is themed around unicorns, rainbows, and festivals. The colors are a lot of fun, but I was still planning on passing based on my idea that these types of palettes are usually sub par.
Even the packaging says this belongs to a 13-year-old girl, so as a 38-year-old woman, I figured it was not for me. When it comes to makeup, I am extremely comfortable wearing nothing, wearing a natural look, wearing bold looks, wearing lots of color, etc. In other words, these bright palettes do not scare me. I can use these on a random Tuesday afternoon just as I would with my Too Faced Chocolate Bar.
I am happy to admit that my perception that this palette would lack quality was off. In fact, I adore this palette. From the first swatch to the last, I knew I was in for a treat.
There was not a single swatch from the mattes to the shimmers that did not look stunning. Nothing was patchy or chalky. Some will tell you that swatches do not tell the story and while I agree to some degree, if something is chalky or patchy in the swatch, it definitely will not work well on the eyes even if the opposite is not always true. The colors are also vibrant and many are different from a lot of the shades that already exist in my collection. This was unique and worthy of sticking around just for some of these colors.
The duo chromes in this palette are what makes this truly special. I have applied these to boring palettes to spruce them up a bit, and they never disappoint. They also transform any shade in this palette. There are actually enough shades in here to get a somewhat neutral look, but that is not what I am in the mood for when I grab this palette.
I seriously could not put this palette down. Though I did not wear makeup much this summer, I reached for this palette almost every time I did. That means I have used this more than enough times to offer a comprehensive review. My favorite look was to use a transforming shade with the bright colors. It gave me serious rainbow vibes.
Even when I opted for more natural looks, I usually used a transforming shade to add a little life to the lash line.
Sometimes I used the shades with or without eyeliner, but I find the transforming shades pop even more when paired with a cream based eyeliner.
I did not get photographs every time I wore this, so I cannot find any of my completely neutral look. It was the one time I was able to use the neutral shades and fought the urge to use a transforming shade on top. That has not happened since, but again, that is not what this palette is best for anyway.
Where the pink spray (above and in this picture) fell short, the pinks in this palette did not. Those looking for great pink shades would probably be very happy with the pinks in here. I paired mine with some orange shades and loved the way the look turned out.
I think these shadows blended very well and had beautiful pigment. A pigmented palette that blends well is not something I find often. They did crease slightly on me. As I age and my eyes get even more hooded, everything creases on me though. Even my beloved NARS Pro Prime and the best palettes available can no longer stop my creasing, and believe me, it hurts. Creasing is the worst. Despite the slight creasing, these did not fade throughout the day. When I washed it off at night, it was almost as vibrant as it was when I put it on.
If I were to rate this on Sephora.com, I would give it five stars. This ties with the Too Faced Chocolate Gold palette for my favorite palette so far this year. I grab that when I want darker colors and this when I want brighter colors. Who would have thought a limited edition cutesy palette would have a place in my heart as much as a solid piece in my collection! Had Sephora never sent this to me, I never would have known. It is the best thing I received in this gift, and the thing I am the most happy about.
The Juliette Has a Gun Moscow Mule retails for $28. I am not a huge fragrance fan, but I like Juliette Has a Gun Not a Perfume. It describes its scent as woody or earthy, but it just smells fresh. This is a great scent for someone who does not like strong scents. Naturally, I assumed I would love this scent as well.
While I cannot name too many scents I love, I can name even less that I hate. This new scent from the brand has to join my hate list though. I was only able to tolerate it twice. The notes are Ginger, Lime, Sandalwood. Only the Sandalwood is varies from the one I like where that one uses lavender instead. Woodsy scents are usually my preference over florals. Nothing in there gave me cause for concern, but I just felt I smelled awful when I wore this. It is possible that it does not go well with my body chemistry, because it has decent reviews. Like Not a Perfume, this has a powdery fragrance when it is first applied that lessens throughout the day. Powder scents do not bother me, but there is something almost artificial about this one. Between the powder and the mismatch to my body chemistry, it made me think it was what a mannequin would wear.
This has a sprayer, so I can give this to someone who might like it more than I do. The funny thing is on paper it seemed like a perfect match for me. In reality, I couldn’t get past the artificial scent that gave me a mild headache and light dizziness. Fragrances typically only do that when I cannot tolerate them. Thus far, I cannot pinpoint what makes them intolerable.
If I were to rate this on Sephora.com, I would give it one star. Scent is just very personal, and there is nothing redeeming about this one. I did not like the scent before I put it on and hated it even more on me. It lingers, which is a good thing if you like the scent.
The Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bod Buff Smoothing Scrub ‘N’ Mask retails for $25. Paying $25 for a body mask and/or scrub is a little pricy, so I would really only repurchase something like this if I loved it or if it was greatly discounted. FabFitFun frequently sells products from this brand at discounts, so I could see myself grabbing one of these then.
The main reason I would not pay $25 is it takes too much product to use as a mask. My guess is the average person would get about three uses as a mask, which makes each application over $8. I am cheaper when it comes to body products than I am when it comes to skincare products. As a scrub, it requires a lot less product, so it would probably come out to a little over $2 an application that way. That makes it much more affordable. When I use this as a mask, my skin does feel slightly softer afterward than when I use this as a scrub, so I understand why some people might prefer it that way.
Some reviewers mention using this on their face. I highly recommend no one use this that way. This is a harsh scrub. It can cause micro tears in the skin, especially on the sensitive skin on a face. Harsh scrubs are not my favorite, even on my body, but I know my body can tolerate it more than my face can. When I apply this as a mask on dry skin, I notice it is even more harsh. Those who really dislike harshness might prefer this as a scrub where the water softens that application ever so slightly.
This stains my skin yellow no matter how long I rinse it off. It is worse when I use it as a mask and very noticeable even to the naked eye. My skin still looks yellow tinted until I wash it again. To reduce some of the yellow, you could double cleanse your skin after rinsing this off. That would take away some of the softness you gain from applying this. The reason skin feels softer is even after washing, it does not rinse all the effects away. I did not realize until I applied a chemical peel on my chest (I always take those down my face and neck as well but I have not used this scrub on my face or neck) after using this as a scrub that is also leaves yellow behind that way as well. It is less noticeable to the naked eye, but you can see it if you really look.
Pro tip when applying this as a mask. Do it in the shower. I did it out of the shower the first time and the little beads went all over my floor. Cleaning nearly invisible beads off the floor is not fun and made me feel like I was in a cartoon and could slip at any moment. This will stain your shower as well. If you have a removable shower head run it over the any place on the wall it hits before exiting. It is a lot easier to clean while it is still wet than it is after it dries. Those without a removable head should probably not use this as a mask or a scrub. The added time you will spend cleaning your shower after using this is not worth the effort.
If I were to rate this on Sephora.com, I would give it three stars. It leaves my skin unbelievably soft as a mask and still pretty soft as a scrub. It also does a great job exfoliating, which is its number one job. Since it is a little more rough than I prefer and stains my skin, I cannot rate it any higher. This is fun as a mask, but it is way too expensive for me to do that often. Turning myself yellow is a lot of fun, although it would be more fun if all the yellow disappeared after the shower. As a scrub, it is not too expensive.
The Maison Margiela REPLICA’ Memory Box retails for $35. If you are a fragrance lover, I can see paying for this set. For someone like me who prefers to get free vials of these when possible, I could not see paying $3.50 per sample. These are 0.06oz vials, so they are the regular free sample size. Well, most free samples range from 0.04oz to 0.06oz, so they are on the larger side of the free sample vials.
I did only own four of these ten scents before receiving this set, so I can see the benefit in purchasing it from someone who really wants to try them at a reasonable price. As a beauty product collector who tries to order as many unique samples as I can when I place orders, I know that getting complete sets like this from free samples is hard. You just know how I am when it comes to paying for samples. If this came with a certificate for the free rollerball of your choice from the set, like some Sephora Favorites sets do, then I would say it was an easy purchase decision.
This set includes Eau de Toilette dabbers in: Lazy Sunday Morning, Jazz Club, Beach Walk, At the Barber’s, By the Fireplace, Music Festival, Flower Market, Promenade in the Garden, and Lipstick On. Most of us have Beach Walk, because that is commonly sampled. It is a scent that combines fresh and radiant notes of bergamot, coconut milk, lemon, pink pepper. Together, they really give me beach vibes. My types of fragrances are fresh and different. When they are fruity and musky without being overly floral, I am more likely to love them. As I really enjoy Beach Walk, I did not mind receiving another vial. Being someone who has yet to even finish a vial of perfume, I know each new vial of a scent I love will prevent me from having to purchase a bigger size.
One that I thankfully owned before I got this set was Lazy Sunday Morning. Before I ever used the one from the set, I lost it. Are there times when you feel like things just disappear? That happened with this sometime after I took the photo. The photo clearly shows 10 vials yet when I placed them safely to the side there were only nine when I returned. I grabbed the Lazy Sunday morning that already existed in my collection to review it. This fragrance combines notes of lily of the valley, patchouli, iris, and white musk. Florals and patchouli are some of my least favorite scents, so I expected to hate this. While it is far from my favorite scent, it is far from my least favorite scent. There is an obvious floral, but it is not overpowering. Unlike most florals, it does not make me light-headed or give me any headaches.
Another that I owned before receiving this set was By the Fireplace. It is one of the many scents in my collection that I had a vial of but never tried. I just do not wear fragrance often. When I do, it is usually to go someplace nice and I prefer to wear something I’ve already tried. To offer a thoughtful review of every scent in this collection (or as thoughtful as someone who is terrible at explaining why I like or dislike a scent), I finally buckled down and tried this. There is no better way to describe this than to say it smells like Cinderella was cleaning fireplaces all day and went out without showering. Thus, she smells like smoke. That’s right. All I can smell when I wear this is smoke. That makes this my least favorite in the set, and I can truly say I hate it. This is probably even worse to me than Moscow Mule (review above), because I cannot stand smelling “dirty.”
Lipstick On was the other fragrance I owned before receiving this set. Like By the Fireplace, I had not tried it yet. This combines airy and powdery notes of solid iris with sensual galbanum, vanilla bourbon, and absolute tonka bean. Unlike Moscow Mule, which smells overly powdery and artificial, this has a powdery smell that is more natural. I’m not even sure what tonka bean is, but I can smell the vanilla and the bourbon. Vanilla is one of my all-time favorite scents, so I assumed this would be my favorite it the bunch. Though I did really like this, it falls short of love. There is another fragrance in this set that gets my favorite distinction.
My favorite in the set goes to Sailing Day. That is a sample I’ve ordered before, but it was substituted. Had I never received this set, I would not know how much I adore this fragrance. It is the only one in the entire set I can see myself purchasing once my vial runs out. That says a lot from someone who does not really purchase fragrance outside of a kit. This has a fresh scent, which is my favorite type. The notes are Aquatic Accord, Coriander, and Red Seaweed Essence About. I have no idea what any of those things are, but it smells like the fresh open air in the middle of the ocean. Those who sail (or cruise in my case) know the scent I am referring to, and whoever put this together nailed it. If you’ve ever heard the expression, heaven in the bottle, that is what this is to me. Scent is so personal, so I can only hope others love this as much as I do. Dare I say this might be my new all-time favorite.
Jazz Club really smells like a jazz club. One thing about these scents is they are true to form. It has a very masculine overtone, but it meshes well with my chemistry. There are some masculine scents that I enjoy. This one borders on being a little strong, so I would not wear this often nor would I wear this to many places I frequent. A great place to wear this and a place I plan to eventually wear it is a jazz club. I will blend right in with the balmy base scent of musk, vanilla, tonka bean, vetiver, and tobacco leaves. The vanilla and tobacco are strong in this, but the musk is stronger.
At the Barber’s combines fresh, clean notes of basil, lavender, tonka bean, and white musk. It really smells like a barber shop. While I think it is not as masculine as Jazz Club, it can lean that way. The lavender is secondary in this, but the white musk is strong. It is not overpowering, and I find I am comfortably able to wear this all day. This is not an overly dressed up scent, so I think it is a nice scent to wear on a random outing.
Music Festival is a very relaxing scent. It is and unassuming frgrance that combines cannabis and leather accords with addictive notes of patchouli. The ideal is to give Woodstock vibes. I can see how this would be a woodstock fragrance, because that seemed like a fun, wild, and laid back all at the same time concert. This fragrance masters that. The leather stands out more than the patchouli or the cannabis, which I enjoy. Of those three scents, leather is the one I enjoy most.
Flower Market is another true to form scent. No matter how many flowers in a flower market, I always smells the roses over the others. Maybe that is why the expression is stop and smell the roses. The rose scent overshadows other flowers and that is the case here. Cedar and rose are the primary scents coming from this fragrance even though it also has Sambac jasmine, and tuberose. Even those roses have the strongest floral scent, it is not one I particularly hate. When it is not overpowering, I can enjoy a rose scent. This one is not too strong. While it is not a scent I would wear often, it is a rose fragrance I can tolerate and get behind.
Promenade in the Garden is another rose fragrance, but this one lets the patchouli and the sandalwood shine brighter than the rose. It might be because the Turkish rose is less fragrant than a traditional rose. However, this woody vetiver scent does smell more like an English garden than a straight floral bomb. In a garden, roses just add to the overall scent. I like this one more than Flower Market. Even though it has a hint of floral, it is just one aspect of this cleverly created formula. Of all the more formal scents in this set, this is my favorite.
If I were to rate this on Sephora.com, I would give it three stars. Most of these are long-lasting scents, which is impressive for Eau de Toilette. It also gives me a lot of faith in the brand. Body chemistry is different, but there were not any that faded quickly. Most lasted all day. Some of the ones that started off less overpowering were not as strong by the end of the night. All of the ones that started off strong were still going no matter how long the day carried on. These are also very skilful representations. Every single one is formulated extremely well. They all depict exactly what you will receive, so there are no surprises. Paying $35 for samples is a little too much. I also really hate the containers. No matter how careful I am with these dabbers, they spill all over my fingers every time I open them that is annoying.
If the price dropped slightly and they offered these in spray form instead of dabbers, I would have given the set five stars. I also would have given it five stars (even with the dabbers) if you could trade them in for a mini or rollerball at this price. For faulty tubes and $3.50 a sample, I just do not think this is a great deal. Even $2.50 a sample would have been more on par with what I prefer, but $2 a sample would have been perfect.
The Ouai Desert OUAIsis Festival Kit retails for $28. This set includes a limited edition Jen Atkin x Chloe + Isabel Ponytail Piece that retails for $34 on its own, so this is a great deal for anyone who wants the hair piece. You pay less than the price of the hair piece and get some free samples to try.
I am going to start this review by saying I find the hair piece in this set beautiful. However, I never wear my hair in a traditional ponytail, so I knew this piece would just sit in my collection. It is too beautiful to sit around. There was someone (on BIC) who took time out of her international trip to mail me a care package. That was beyond sweet. This woman is also stunningly beautiful, so I thought she would be a better fit for this piece. When I mailed her a thank you package, I included this in it.
If you are not keeping the hair piece, this set is 100% not worth the price. Without the hair piece, it is just samples. As I did not pay for the set, I had no problem gifting the hair piece to a gorgeous woman. I just hope she loves it or re-homes it to someone who will. Even though I never tried it on, I can tell you it is sturdy and well made. Those who will use it probably would not mind paying $28 or even $34 for it.
The samples in this set are a 1.7oz Wave Spray, a 1.4oz Dry Shampoo, and a 0.85oz Rose Hair & Body Oil. Two of them will give you the after picture, and the other will give you the before picture.
I saw this picture and had to grab a screenshot. We all have different wants and needs with our hair. For me, I would rather look like the before picture than the after picture. If you agree with me, neither the dry shampoo nor the wave spray will give you the result of the before picture. They both add a lot of texture, but they also add frizz and a slightly messy appearance. Some people like that, so I am not knocking it at all. It is just not what I prefer. My perfect wave spray still eludes me and only the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray gives me the texture I want without making my hair look messy or frizzy. There have to be others out there that will suit my needs, but I am still on the hunt. Both the dry shampoo and the wave spray will take your hair from the before to the after picture though, so this is correct to its claims.
The Rose Hair & Body Oil has a subtle rose scent that I enjoy. This is a lightweight oil, so I expected it to provide foolproof de-frizzing. Though it is not as heavy as thicker oils, it is possible to apply too much and end up with a greasy feeling. Trial and error will get you to the point where your hair looks like the before picture above. I prefer this oil on my body to my hair. It seeps right into the skin quickly, which is great for days when you are on-the-go. Despite the fast absorption, the moisture lasts until the next wash. As this is too expensive for my body (I’ve mentioned many times that I am cheaper with body products), I would not repurchase it. There are products I like better in my hair, so I would purchase them over this. However, this is nice enough to use on my hair or body when samples make it to me.
The main reason I am not a huge fan of this wave spray is the main reason I dislike most wave sprays I’ve tried. It adds stickiness to my hair while it adds the texture. My already fine hair tangles more easily and running a brush through my hair when this is in it is a lot harder. Though it softens a little on second day hair (as long as you do not reapply), it still makes my second day hair harder to brush through than it is when I am not using a wave spray. That said, it does everything a wave spray should. Thus, my negative review is more a review on the type of product than the product itself. I am just not a fan of wave sprays but will continue to try them to see if I can find the one that changes my mind.
There are five things I want in a dry shampoo. I want a dry shampoo that: adds volume, removes grease, smells great, makes my hair soft, and does not leave a residue. Thus far, I have yet to find a dry shampoo that does all five. I understand and respect that I may never find it, because most dry shampoos add texture and/or residue. My problem with this one is it does so in spades. It feels so awful in my hair, because it adds too much texture. The smell is okay (a little strong but not bad per se) and it does remove oil, so it is far from the worst I’ve used. After using a lot recently with the white residue, I am happy to report this does not have it.
If I were to rate this on Sephora.com, I would give it four stars. Considering I did not keep the main item in the set and do not love any of the samples, some of you might be confused. My main reason behind the rating is the value of the set. When you can purchase something beautiful in a set for less than the full price and get free samples to try with it, the value is there. Just because I did not keep the piece does not mean I am not in love with its beauty. As I did not keep it or even try it before gifting it, I cannot speak for how well it looks and wears in hair. Thus, I would stop short of a five-star review. Had I kept the hair piece, I would have reviewed this set based solely on that as the samples are bonuses. Assuming I were to rate the samples individually, I would give three stars to everything. Even though I am not overly fond of anything, they all do what they promise to do.
Overall, I was happy with the $182 in products Sephora gifted me. What made them so special is they are all items I never would have purchased with my own money, so this gratis gave me the opportunity to explore new things. Some of them were hits and others were misses, but they were all free. That really made the opportunity to review them amazing and win or lose, it is all a win when you are not out any money. Thanks very much once again to Sephora for selecting me for this opportunity.
Sephora does not inform a single Beauty Insider of all deals. Certain offers are targeted and others have different purchase minimums based on the code. Remember to check New Offers and/or Recycled Offersbefore placing an online order. If you’re spending over $25, you can add a promo code to any order. See all Rewards Bazaarand Sephora articles. Read Tips For Getting the Best Deal When Shopping Sephora. View my main pagefor the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.
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