The Verdict: Sephora Play vs. Birchbox

I’ve wanted to do a compare and contrast post featuring Sephora Play and Birchbox for a while now. And given that it’s currently pouring rain outside, I figured today would be the day when I finally sit down and do it.

I’ve done detailed posts about both my experience with Birchbox and my experience with Sephora Play, so you might want to check those out before you read any further if you want a little background information.

I decided to divide the services into four categories: boxes, products, favorites, and extras.

Let’s get into it!

The boxes

Birchbox: These boxes are fun and cute. I love using them to wrap up tiny gifts around the holidays or to store dainty things like jewelry when I go on trips. The only problem with them is that they take up quite a bit of space. They aren’t super big or anything, but after a while, they add up. And obviously you can’t fold down boxes like these.

Sephora Play: Each Sephora Play comes in a small cloth makeup bag. I like these bags because you can make use of them in a lot of different ways. Whenever I need to bring makeup with me somewhere, I throw my products into one of these Sephora Play bags and put it in my purse. They’re versatile and easy to carry.

Winner: Sephora Play

While Birchbox boxes are handy for gift wrapping and storing delicate items, the ones that don’t get used take up a lot of space. They can’t be folded down, and there really isn’t anything you can do with them besides give them away as gifts. With Sephora Play, on the other hand, I’ve found many different ways to use the bags. I’ve used them to store makeup brushes, writing utensils, hair products, etc. Also, the ones that don’t immediately get put to use are easy to fold up and store away. They don’t take up a lot of space like cardboard boxes.

sephora play march
From: “March 2017 Play Box Review”

The products

Birchbox: When I first started getting Birchbox, I felt like I was receiving the perfect mix of products, ranging from skincare to haircare to makeup. However, as the months progressed, it seemed as though the products were becoming super repetitive. Especially the haircare. At one point, I’m pretty sure I got dry shampoo for three months straight. And since I was mainly subscribed to Birchbox for the makeup and the skincare, this felt like a waste to me.

Sephora Play: Overall, I’ve felt like Sephora Play has done a good job of keeping the products different. There have been a few months that felt either a little skincare or a little haircare heavy. But for the most part, things have been pretty diverse.

Winner: Sephora Play

Although both services have had their off months, I’m giving Sephora Play the edge in this one because of the brands. While I might not enjoy getting multiple haircare products in one month, all the items that Sephora Play sends are from high-end brands, so at least I’m getting my money’s worth. Birchbox sends drugstore products in addition to high-end products. And while I’ve got nothing against the drugstore, Sephora Play obviously has more financial value.

The favorites

Birchbox: The best product I ever received through Birchbox was without a doubt the IPKN Radiant Cream Primer (a.k.a. the one face primer I actually like). This stuff feels more like moisturizer than primer, and it doesn’t make your face gross or greasy.

Sephora Play: Sephora Play once sent me a sample of my all-time favorite eyeliner, but since I was already using it before I started getting Sephora Play, I figure I should take about a product that was introduced to me through the service. And if I had to pick one, it would probably be the IGK Mistress Hair Balm. In general, I’m not a big hair person. But this product makes my hair smell and feel great. It’s definitely something I never would have thought of buying had it not been for Sephora Play.

Winner: Birchbox

While I adore both of these products, this primer was a daily essential for me all last spring and summer. Given that I tend to dislike primer, I have to give this category to Birchbox.

The extras

Birchbox: I haven’t been subscribed to Birchbox in a while, but when I was, I would occasionally get emails about deals they had on certain brands and products. I never really used any of these deals, but I thought it was cool that they sent them. In the earliest months of my subscription to Birchbox, they had a rewards program that allowed you to get points for reviewing products, which you could then use towards full-size products. They ended up changing this rewards system while I was still subscribed, but it was neat while it lasted.

Sephora Play: Sephora Play offers a few different rewards for being subscribed. Firstly, they give you a card worth 50 beauty insider points, which you can add to any purchases you make at Sephora during the month. Secondly, they host a monthly event at your local  Sephora for subscribers where they show you how to use your products. I’ve never actually attended one of these events, but it’s a nice perk.

Winner: Sephora Play (though if that original Birchbox rewards system still existed, it would be a tie)

What really puts Sephora Play above Birchbox for me in this category is the beauty insider points. These extra points are such a great incentive because I already do a lot of shopping at Sephora, so it’s great to get something for it. If Birchbox still had the original points system, this would definitely be a tie.

As you can see, I ultimately prefer Sephora Play to Birchbox. I’ve felt like my experience with Sephora Play has been more worthwhile in terms of both product and value.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these services (or any for that matter)! Thank you so much for reading!

Have you ever tried a beauty subscription box? 

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4 thoughts on “The Verdict: Sephora Play vs. Birchbox

  1. I’ve recently switched from birch box to GlossyBox, even though the boxes are bigger (and there for take up more room) I find the variety varies a lot more as well as more full size products.
    I highly recommend them 😊 xx


  2. Not yet. I want to try Sephora Play but I don’t understand why they won’t make it available in Canada. Judging by the many comments I’ve seen for it, the demand is pretty high.


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