Analysis of a Beauty Box: Sephora Play

This is a post I’ve wanted to write for a long time and I’m so excited to finally do it! I mentioned in my most recent (and final, for now) review post of Sephora Play that I had unsubscribed from the box for the time being. I cancelled my subscription because I felt like I was getting more samples than I could use in a reasonable amount of time, and I could have been using my money toward things I actually wanted instead. I have also mentioned in the past that I love spreadsheets and keep them for pretty much everything – and my beauty boxes are no exception! I thought it would be interesting to share some of the stuff I found out when tracking my Sephora boxes.


First of all, if you haven’t before checked out my Sephora Play reviews – be sure to do that here! You can also sign up for Sephora Play here.

Product Type

During my year of Sephora Play, one of the main things I wanted to track was how many of each item type I received in my boxes. One of the biggest complaints I see about beauty boxes is the lack of actual makeup items in the boxes rather than body/skincare items. Most people seemed to like that Sephora included more makeup than other similar boxes – here’s what I found:

In 12 months, I received a total of 72 items.

  • 32 makeup products
  • 7 hair products
  • 20 skincare products
  • 12 fragrances – one per month, as advertised
  • and 1 “other” (the beauty blender blotterazzi!)

Here’s a graph showing that information:

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 11.56.31 PM

I was really impressed by this – nearly half of all items included in the box were makeup items! And, if you subtract the 12 fragrance samples that are marketed by Sephora as a “bonus” item in each box – it maths out to OVER half of the items being makeup products. Pretty impressive imo!

From there I also broke it down further within the makeup category just because I was curious – how many each of eye, lip, and face products were in each box? Out of 32 makeup products, I received:

  • 12 eye products
  • 9 lip products
  • 11 face products

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 11.54.52 PM

I’m really surprised how almost-evenly split it was! I had to fudge a few of these categories a little bit – some of the products marketed themselves as multi-use, like the Bite Beauty Multistick, so I categorized them according to what I would personally use them as. Here’s how it broke down by specific products, also!

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 11.53.48 PM

Some things I noticed – Sephora loves giving out lipsticks, mascaras, and facial primers. This seems to make sense as those are pretty “universal” products that could theoretically work for anyone. I found it interesting that they didn’t send out very many powder products – no setting powders, blushes, or powder bronzers/highlighters. All the bronzing and highlight products I received were actually creams or liquids. I can definitely see a lean towards products that are one-size-fits-all – makes sense for a beauty box!

Average Value

The other big thing I was curious about was the average value of each box. I figured this out by doing a simple proportion comparing the price and size of each full-size product with the size of each sample product – thanks 4th grade math for teaching me proportions! Then I add all the values together to get the total value of the box. Here’s a graph showing the value of each month’s items – as you can see, it varied a lot from month to month:

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 11.16.19 PM.png

The average value across all 12 months was $41.77 per box. Each box is $10.65 including tax, so the average value is just under 4x the cost of the box. Again, I think that’s pretty impressive!!

I was kind of surprised by these results though…I would have expected the box to steadily increase in value over time while Sephora figured things out and improved the box, but it was very much a back-and-forth between very high and very low values. It seems really strange to me to see such big jumps there, like from August to September or February to March.

It’s also important to remember though that monetary value doesn’t necessarily equal personal value. For example, I absolutely loved February’s box, but it was on the lower end of the spectrum as far as monetary value. May’s box was the second highest valued box I got, but was kind of a dud overall for me in terms of the products. It just goes to show that the highest price items aren’t always the best – but we knew that already 🙂

Other Interesting Tidbits

Finally, I thought I’d finish up with some random other little facts and things I found interesting in my weird research haha

  • The highest valued item I received overall was in May’s box, the Nudestix Magnetic Matte Lip Color, at $21.42. Which I actually hated hahaha. Just goes back to that personal vs. monetary value thing I guess!
  • Other high value items include Caudalie’s Resveratrol Eye Lifting Balm at $19.84 from August, Laura Mercier’s Caviar Stick Eye Color from November’s box at $17.40, GlamGlow’s SuperMud Clearing Treatment also from November at $17.25, and Living Proof’s Full Dry Volume Blast from March at $15.00.
  • The lowest valued item was a fragrance, Clean’s Reserve Blonde Rose from the August box at just $1.33. The fragrances are often very low value because the samples are so small, usually between 0.03-0.05 oz.
  • The lowest non-fragrance samples were the Estee Edit Dissolve the Drama Makeup Remover from November at $2.39, and the Bumble & Bumble Don’t Blow It Hair Styling Cream from June 2016 at $3.10.
  • During my year of samples, I only received one product twice, and that was the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, which I received in July 2016 and April 2017. I do like this primer, and it admittedly was a relatively long time between getting it twice…but I still think it’s a little unacceptable. You’re telling me that in a store like Sephora, that carries hundreds of brands…you couldn’t find another product you wanted to showcase without repeating one?! Even if they insisted on doing another face primer, a simple search on Sephora’s site reveals 150+ other primers they could have chosen. Not really any excuse for repeating a product, imo!
  • On the flip side, Sephora rarely repeats brands. I don’t have a problem with getting multiple products from one brand, but they do have a lot of good variety for the most part. Over the course of the year I received items from 54 brands. The brand that has the most product representation in the box is no surprise – the in-house Sephora Collection. After that, Smashbox, Make Up For Ever, and Benefit each appeared three times. Eight brands appeared twice: Christophe Robin, Clinique, GlamGlow, Lancome, Living Proof, Ouai, Tarte, and Urban Decay.

And that’s pretty much all I uncovered from my ~research~ if you will! I really find this kind of stuff interesting (clearly…as I’m sitting here with my beauty box spreadsheet lol) and I thought it would be cool to share my findings. I hope you found this post interesting! I might turn it into a kind of series, I definitely wanna do one for Target boxes too since I’ve gotten a lot of those (edit from the future: I did one about Target boxes here!) Thanks for reading as always! 🙂

❤ , Kaela


  1. This is a great post! I appreciate your efforts to really analyze the value and content of these boxes. I’m a PLAY subscriber and I’ve been enjoying it, but I’m still impressed by these numbers. I didn’t realize the overall value of each box or how much of each product type I was receiving. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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