Shopping at Sephora without wrecking your wallet
If Sephoraddiction were a real condition, I probably would’ve been diagnosed with it a long time ago. For my sweet sixteenth, I thought buying myself a $72 eyeshadow palette there was justifiable – and after that, I got sucked straight into the black hole of exorbitant cosmetics.
These days, “self-restraint” barely exists in my dictionary when I’m there. But once home from my shopping spree, I’d proceed to question my sanity and swear never to go back – yet somehow I still end up there a few weeks later.
To make sure you don’t waste precious dollars on products that you may end up disliking, here’s what you need to know before splurge.
1. Ask for free tubs of samples
We all know that testing cosmetics on our hands isn’t the most accurate way to analyse if a shade matches our skin tones. But when you’re already out with a full armour of makeup, you don’t really want to risk messing that flawlessness up by testing samples on your face.
Don’t be shy – just ask, and Sephora’s Beauty Advisors will put testers into small tubs for you to take home. As long as a product can be squeezed out, you’ll be able to get a free sample without obligation to purchase – tried and tested by yours truly.
2. Wax your brows for free during your birthday month
If you’re a Beauty Pass member, you’ll get one complimentary brow waxing service during your birthday month at outlets offering the Benefit Brow Bar Service. Considering that it usually costs $22, I’m completely down for it. Just drop Sephora an email, book your slot early to avoid disappointment, and get your eyebrows on fleek.
Psst, it’s not just for the ladies. Hinting at all you boys out there who haven’t realised the amazing effect of well groomed brows.
3. Speaking of birthdays, go get a free gift too
A mini palette from Sephora’s house brand – one of the past birthday goodies from Sephora Source
You don’t even need to purchase anything to get a one-time freebie during your birthday month if you’re a Beauty Pass member – just strut to the counter, announce your birthday to the world, and claim your gift. Products range from body lotions, skincare products and makeup samples!
4. Use this app to detect ingredients you may be allergic to
Those with easily aggravated skin problems can heave a sigh of relief – the Think Dirty app (iOS, Android) checks for harmful chemicals in cosmetic products and rates their safeness, so you can easily prevent yourself from buying goods with ingredients that’ll make your eczema act up or give you breakouts. Simply search the product up on the app or scan its barcode, and its full list of ingredients will pop up on your phone.
5. Bring your own foundations to the store as a foolproof guide
You’re sold into the promise of picture-perfect skin with a $75 foundation at Sephora, and you have no doubt that you’ve made the right choice after comparing various bottles of product against your skin. That is, until you realise your new foundation gives you a fake-tan-gone-wrong look. RIP, money.
Don’t let history repeat itself: if you’ve bought a foundation that didn’t match before, bring it with you or find the same one in-store, and swatch it on your hand before comparing it with other foundations.
Should you already have one that matches your skin perfectly, but wish to switch brands, bring that too so you can make a proper comparison as well.
6. Order online and get free samples with your purchase
If you’ve been using makeup for a long time, you must have a few tried-and-tested beauty staples that you’ll die die always go back to. Since you don’t need to test them in-store before purchasing, buy them online to receive free samples of Sephora’s other beloved products!
These samples can be from popular labels like IT Cosmetics, Benefit, or Marc Jacobs – basically, any participating brands at Sephora. The options will appear upon checkout, and you can also make use of membership points to get bigger goodies like full-sized makeup removers and body lotions. Being lazy and shopping at home has its perks.
7. Check testers away from the store’s fluorescent lighting
Don’t be fooled by the magical fluorescent lighting of Sephora, or any other cosmetic store, for that matter – it can be quite deceiving when it comes to showing how a product looks on your skin in normal lighting.
That Urban Decay foundation might seem on point in store, but when you enter the grounds of brutally honest natural light, you might realise that it’s not the case. The difference can be up to 2 shades darker!
Believe it or not, it’s the same product, in the same shade Source
Many foundation products also tend to oxidise over time, so they may darken as you go about your day. Test a product on your hand and leave the store for at least an hour to see how it fares afterwards.
8. Buy cheaper alternatives for high-end products from their house brand
Sephora’s house brand mimics high-end products at a fraction of their original prices. Its Smoothing Primer ($22) is an alternative for the Smashbox’s Photofinish Foundation Primer ($65), and the Retractable Waterproof Eyeliner ($18) can compete against expensive gel eyeliners from brands like Urban Decay and Marc Jacobs!
So spare some love to the Made In Sephora aisles the next time you visit – you’ll be taken by surprise.
9. The hottest makeup palettes are not for everyone
The ever-popular NAKED palettes ($83) from Urban Decay are indeed worth a splurge. But you might be surprised to know that some versions of it look better on some people than others – because they cater to different skin undertones. If you’re warm toned, the original NAKED palette with its warm, yellowish bases will be perfect for you.
On the other hand, if your skin tone is largely on the cooler side, the NAKED 3 palette will look better on you with its rosy, pinkish bases.
Unsure whether your skin is warm or cool toned? If you get tanned easily, you’re likely warm-toned. Conversely, if you get red after hours under the sun but your skin shade remains largely unchanged, you are cool-toned. Take note of this before dropping hard-earned cash on the latest palettes that everyone’s scrambling to buy.
10. You can combine two person’s memberships into one
You can combine two membership accounts into a single account – thus combining the points too. This might come in handy if a less makeup-crazy friend of yours has neglected her membership, leaving the points she’s chalked up unused. Since Sephora is pretty much your second home, you might as well take over her account and put it under your name. If she eventually does have a change of heart, she can always sign up again and start over.
Note: when combined, membership accounts can only go under one name.
Unleash the Sephora maniac in you
With these shopping tricks up your sleeve, you’ll never fall back into the repeated cycle of splurging on makeup, regretting it later, and hating yourself for it. It’s time to gather the gals for another much-needed Sephora outing, and put this newfound knowledge to good use!