Shopping at Sephora…A Beginners Guide

Previously, I posted about how to shop at MAC. So I figured now I would do the same and talk about Sephora.

Sephora for someone who has never been or has limited beauty knowledge can be completely overwhelming. Good thing you have a seasoned expert like me to guide you along!


Sephora Basics


The first thing to know about Sephora is there are about about 5 distinct areas: makeup (the majority of the store, hallelujah!), skin care, fragrances, nail polish & hair care. I will mostly be talking about the makeup because that’s what I know best.

Staff IE Cast Members…that’s their official title, I don’t make this stuff up

One of the things I love about Sephora is there is always an abundance of helpful staff members. If you walk into Sephora and don’t get asked if you need help about 10 times while you’re there, that’s truly an anomaly. Sephora differs from MAC in that you do not need to be a makeup artist to work there. Now, many staff members are makeup artists or at the very least have a very strong interest in makeup. I only mention this because I stated at MAC you can really trust that the person there knows what they are talking about. In most cases this is true about Sephora employees but not always. However, in the many, many times I have been to Sephora I think I have only had about 2 experiences where I thought the staff member didn’t know what they were talking about. They are usually incredibly knowledgeable about the products.


Another great thing about Sephora is the samples! Lets say you are wanting to buy a foundation. It’s great to have someone try it on quickly in store but really you don’t know if you will like a foundation until you give it a test run for a few days. Sephora gives clients samples of their products upon request (whenever they can), just ask an associate. The same goes for fragrances which is great because after testing about 10 different fragrances in store you can’t really tell what you like anymore and the smell changes as you wear throughout the day.

Return Policy

The return policy at Sephora is excellent. Any product that you do not like you can bring back to return or exchange – used or not, no questions asked.

Beauty Insider Card

When you get to the till – after you’ve walked by the hoards of “sample size” products that cost $20 each (warning these are overpriced compared to the full size items), you will be asked if you have a beauty insider card. If you do not, sign up! This is a free program in which you collect points. There are sample size products that you get to choose from once you have reached enough points – the points levels are 100, 250 & 500. You can get some really great products from the points. 1 dollar = 1 point, so yes, you need to spend $100 before you receive your first free gift but believe me it doesn’t take that long to get there so it’s worth signing up the first time you go there.

There are also 3 different categories of Beauty Insiders, dependent on how much you spend in a year. There is the regular Beauty Insider, VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider), or the VIB Rouge. Can you guess which one I am?


The differences in the levels gives you a few advantages – option to buy new items first, access to the free makeovers, special gifts, free shipping, etc.


Sephora has a 15% off everything in store sale twice a year for beauty insiders. This is going on right now (today is the last day). Also, there is clearance items to be found. They are usually on the ends of displays where people generally don’t look. They also have a clearance section on their website, I have found some great scores in the clearance section before!

How to Shop

When you walk into Sephora and see rows and rows of makeup it is completely overwhelming. But it can become very simple if you know how to navigate it.

In the makeup section the makeup is split into different brands. Really, this is very similar to how you find a drugstore set up – maybelline has their section, then cover girl, then revlon, etc. The difference here is there is way more makeup, there are brands you have probably never heard of and the prices are slighty way higher.

The makeup is all set up with samples available to test every product. This really is what makes shopping at Sephora so much fun! Even if you don’t end up buying anything, you can spend hours just testing out products on your hand and yourself. Though who am I kiddding…I have never walked out of Sephora empty handed. When you are ready to buy a product you can just grab the product off the shelf, you do not have to wait to ask an associate like you do at MAC.

When I first started shopping at Sephora and had no idea how to to pick a product I would use one of two approaches:

1. Use the staff

Like I mentoned almost all of the staff at Sephora are super knowledgable. If you are looking for a new mascara tell a staff member that. Tell them what you like and don’t like in a mascara and a price point. They can help point you in the right direction of a few products they think you might like. Also, just like MAC the staff can try products on you. So if you want to try out the blush on your skin or get matched for your foundation shade, just ask a staff member to help you out.

2. Research!

Before going into a store I would research the products that I might want to buy. So if I knew I was in the market for a new pink blush, I would search beauty blogs, you tube gurus, magazines, etc and find out what they were recommending. I also look up reviews of products. My favourite website for beauty product reviews is Makeup Alley

If you have done your research you can walk into Sephora feeling like a total expert.

“Do you need some help?”

“No thank you, I know exactly what I’m looking for”


Do you shop at Sephora? Any tips or tricks to making it a less scary experience?


7 thoughts on “Shopping at Sephora…A Beginners Guide

  1. I’ve also found that researching products ahead of time helps a lot! It keeps me focused and less likely to make a bunch of impulse buys. I love Sephora, one of my favorite places!

  2. Woohoo for VIB Rouge! 🙂 haha.
    I had no idea what to do the first time I walked into Sephora. Now I have my tried and true brands and it’s so much easier. Not to say I won’t wander around the store for 25 minutes before buying something 🙂

  3. I am one of those gals who walked into a Sephora and just froze! I actually felt my heart start to race, the panic set in and my face got hot. I was so overwhelmed and totally out of place LOL

    • I know what you mean, so many people feel that way. But it’s not that scary of a place once you get used to it, I promise! But that’s where I found researching ahead of time really gave me the confidence to step into the store. Then over time I’ve got more and more comfortable and now it’s like a second home, ha ha.

I love hearing from my readers! Please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s