Fashion / Beauty

Beauty Box Wars?

Major New Player in Subscription Game Challenges Birchbox With Extras

BY // 08.14.15

One of my favorite things to do is check my mail. USPS mail. After sifting through the pieces that I like to pretend don’t exist (credit card statements, bills, etc.), I’m left with the Holy Grail, all of my subscriptions. I won’t reveal how many things I’m subscribed to (because it’s a bit shameful), but one of my favorites is my Birchbox, a monthly beauty box filled with a variety of product samples (there’s everything from makeup and hairspray to facial cleansers and perfume); and though there’s a vast variety of beauty boxes out there, Birchbox has managed to single-handedly dominate the market.

That, however, may change this year, now that Sephora, one of the world’s leading beauty chains, has announced that it will launch a new monthly subscription box, to be called PLAY! by Sephora. Priced at $10 a month (the same as Birchbox), the service will be available in select markets beginning in September 2015; a national launch is scheduled for early 2016.


Though the service will have a number of similarities to Birchbox, the France-based retailer is setting itself apart with a few extras, starting with the inside. Each Sephora box will contain five popular, deluxe-size products and will be curated around a specific theme. The debut theme will be Uncover the Essentials and will include some of the brand’s best-sellers, such as coveted lip stains and a must-have moisturizer. In true Sephora style, the box will also contain a few bonus samples and a free monthly Spotify PLAY!List filled with songs inspired by the box’s theme.

But wait, there’s more! In addition to your PLAY! products, you will also receive a PLAY! Book containing insider beauty hacks and a guide for how to maximize each product from that month’s box. There’s also an app that connects you to user ratings and reviews and advice from Sephora’s PRO Team. Also included in the PLAY! Book is the PLAY! Pass, an all-access card that gets you one-on-one tutorials at your local Sephora store. Flash your PLAY! Pass at any location, and a team member will personally teach you how to use everything from your PLAY! box. PLAY! Dates are also included in your subscription. Starting in October 2015, subscribers will be able to meet up at monthly PLAY! Dates as well as chat with experts for any needed advice.

I won’t be canceling my Birchbox just yet, but I’m definitely adding PLAY! to my existing subscription list. You can log on to sephora.com/play to sign up and receive updates about availability in your area.

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