Is Sephora a Dream or Our National Nightmare?

I asked many intelligent women and a few men about their experiences at Sephora, one of the most polarizing and overwhelming and magical shopping experiences one can find in these United States. 

Meghan Nesmith:

How do they make it so shiny? What I really wish is that someone would build a Sephora that is entirely bereft of other human beings. There really has never been a moment in my life where I wanted a stranger to start touching my face or to really even look at it for an extended period of time. All the salespeople have this hawk-eyed fever. That being said, I keep going. The Sephora brand stuff is pretty cheap and everything is so colourful and recently I decided I could budget like one or two Nars lipsticks a year and so sometimes I do that. It feels thrillingly indulgent. Also I went through a blue eyeshadow revival and Sephora was my enabler. Or sometimes I’ll go to Sephora just to try stuff on so I can figure out what colour might work and then try and match it to something super cheap at a Duane Reade. Also I’ve been known to go in before a date to “freshen up” except I would never actually call it that.

Those are my Sephora feelings. For now, at least.

Miranda Popkey:

I own one thing from Sephora: lipstick. It is perfect. It also cost me like $20. Most of the time I think Sephora is a waste of money because, like, my face is my face. Even if you make it look fancier, it’s still going to be MY FACE. Better to save the money for clothes / drinks. But then I see people who have legit makeup on, and they look great and profesh and I think: Maybe this is what’s standing between me and grownup life. Sephora.

Bennett Madison:

I think Sephora is amazing and it always made me jealous I don’t get to wear make up. It seems designed for shoplifting, I guess.

LS: You wrote a book about shoplifting. Did the girls in the book shoplift at Sephora?

I’m 90% sure they did. But it’s been awhile since I read it. Actually I think there’s a scene where they get busted for the first time, at Sephora.

LS: I have your book on my phone, I’m going to look it up. Yep: “I was alone in the Stila aisle with a fistful of lip liner when Francie found me.” Page 283.

Whoa my hard copy doesn’t have that many pages.

LS: Yes on the phone your book is a 633 page Tome.


Jill Johnson:

Well, you know I LOVE Sephora. I think it’s kind of overwhelming though and if I don’t walk in with something specific in mind to buy there’s just too many options and I don’t buy anything. I also don’t like to try any makeup on there because of germs.

Sephora does make me want to buy lots of skin products (to stop aging!) but they are so expensive. However, sometimes I justify $$$ purchases by thinking it’s my face and it’s worth it.

Nozlee Samadzadeh:

I bought an impulse lipstick there once, just once, the day I gave notice at my last job, and even as I stood in line to pay my hard-earned $22 for it, the fun of the moment started to fade — I’m not a makeup person and it felt like I was enacting an impulse I’d been taught to feel, not one that I necessarily felt. (I still have it, but the truth is that it’s just a little too orange-red for my coloring.)

However, I have never, ever regretted spending $22 on an impulse food purchase.

Amy Merrick:

I’ve been there twice. I went through a phase feeling like, if I’m going to be a grownup and have my own business, I want to look like a grownup and not look like I just rolled out of bed, which is what I did. The first time I went, I was dragged there by one of my good friends, and she said, okay, you need to buy this, and you need to buy this, and you need to buy this, and she did all the shopping for me.

LS: Oh that’s my dream.

And it was something crazy like $100, but I swallowed my pride and did it. And then the next day I got a call from the bank, saying, “We have a fraud alert on your account, did you spend $100 at Sephora?”


Elaine Chase:

1. I avoid Sephora as MUCH AS POSSIBLE. I only go if I absolutely need to (see below). It’s better than, like, MAC, which is totally unpenetrable unless you know EXACTLY what you’re doing and are wearing stilettos and a pencil skirt, but in general the second I walk into Sephora, I immediately feel two things: (a) that I should be wearing like 5 layers more makeup and a dress, probably, and (b) fuck, I’m about to spend $100 on makeup.

2. I go to Sephora when I need to buy things I absolutely need, like foundation or bronzer or shit like that. Or if I have a giftcard. (Most drugstore mascara is better, for me, than a $40 bottle of Dior.) Of course, I usually end up getting a tube of lipstick I’ll only wear once every three months and like 5 bottles of chic new nail polish, too, which is the main reason I hatelove Sephora so much.

Side note: Sephora is one of the only places I’ve ever felt bold enough to shoplift. $7 or whatever for a thing of Rosebud Salve? Fuck you. I’ve taken a travel-sized thing or two a couple times while in line to buy like $70 worth of other stuff. If we’re gonna be gouged…

Emma Carmichael:

I’ve been into a single Sephora for about 5 minutes. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of choice and the amount of makeup I’ve never considered or encountered before. (I don’t wear much at all and what I do wear is laughable drug store quality.) But I’ve been meaning to go back and get a proper tutorial from a Sephora lady. It just seems like such a… commitment. LOL, “I run a ladyblog.”

Jia Tolentino:

I think of Sephora the way I think of a lot of women’s magazines: gorgeous, glittery arenas that I deeply enjoy immersing myself in once every four months or so, but can’t handle more often than that because of my aversion to acquiring new needs. I like makeup a lot but never have the urge to buy anything I wouldn’t wear often; what gets me are the products that are marketed as essential steps to a normal-looking face but are actually pretty superfluous, like primer or highlighter or whatever the kids are messing with these days!

Megan Frost:

A few weeks ago, I went into Sephora for the first time in what felt like years. I had been running around all day, didn’t have time to go back home before going out to a play. But I had a few minutes to fill so I rushed into the Sephora in Times Square to freshen up. I felt guilty and like I needed to sneak around because I knew I wasn’t going to buy anything. I was only there for the samples—I really needed to powder my face.

I have no idea why I felt guilty—does anyone ever buy anything? Everyone in there, which felt like thousands of people, was there using the free products.

Also because I buy all my makeup at Target—Neutrogena and Boots all the way—I had no idea what brand, color, to rush to quickly. There is way more stuff in there than anyone needs. I have a friend who loves all that stuff. The more stuff the better. But I get overwhelmed and don’t really have any interest in trying lime green eye shadow, purple mascara or $200 perfume. It also reminds me of the duty free section in the airport.

Christian Brown:

LS: Have you ever been to a Sephora?

I’ve been to the mall with a girl, Logan.

LS: What’d you think?

It feels like a TRAP. Like a boiled down condensed consumption paradise
where it’s very hard to escape without buying stuff.

Edith Zimmerman:

Hmmm. I guess I like Sephora, except that I hate it and so much of what it stands for. I’ve loved their flexible policies and their variety, but also I hate how shamelessly they’re designed to make you spend so much fucking money on garbage no one needs. I guess if I wanted makeup I’d go there, but I’ve been trying to throw everything out, so I’m basically down to an eyeliner, a mascara, an eyebrow pencil, and a lipstick. And an eyelash curler. Four of which I got at Sephora. I don’t know. I like trying to look prettier than I am, but I also hate it.

Basically I think Sephora’s fine and useful, and everyone I’ve ever spoken with there has been warm and helpful, but I also hate it, and if I owned it, I’d go through different phases of satisfaction and distress throughout the day (bringing women happiness / bleeding them of money). I think I have a huge number of points on my Sephora frequent buyer card, for what it’s worth. I’m also most drawn to the same kind of sheer-ish berry lip stain tube tub pot-type things. Having written this out I now feel a little worse. Sephoraaaaaaa. Also I make a big to-do of using all the little cleanliness & safety tools at those trying-on stations, in case anyone looks over at me, although left alone I’d probably be a lot grosser.

I guess just overall makeup makes me feel better and prettier in the short run, but in the long run, once it becomes a part of my everyday routine, it eats away at the idea that I’m fine without it, and throwing makeup away has helped with that.


Lauren Rodrigue and I went on a field trip to the Sephora in Union Square to see all of this in action.

LS: Everywhere you look, there’s something to buy.

LR: That’s what a store is, Logan.

LS: Is that Parker Posey?

LR: Where?

LS: That picture.

LR: Oh I thought you mean like actually here. No that’s not her.

LS: Do you think Parker Posey shops at Sephora? Also do you think my hair could look like this?

LR: Everyone shops at Sephora, so yes. And yes I think you could get your hair to look like that. Probably with some products in this retail establishment.

LS: Okay. We are at the nail bar, which is a bar for doing your nails. There are five million nail polishes, and you can use them and buy them I guess that’s also an option. Ooh look at this one! It’s called a “Blogger Kit.” Curated by nail bloggers. Blogger kit. They are just so good at making things you want to buy.

LR: How is this a thing in America right now. Blogger kit nails. I feel like we’re in a Mary Kate and Ashley movie and this is a montage.

LS: I didn’t think I was into nail art, but now I’m thinking I kind of like nail art.

LR: Yes I’m into this.

LS: Studs on your nails. You can glue studs on your nails.

LR: I might buy this. Twenty-four dollars though.

LS: Because it’s called a kit does that make you want it more?

LR: Kind of. I’ve always liked the word “kit,” and then suddenly I like the word “blogger,” like in the past couple of years.

LS: Because you are a blogger.

LR: I’m not the blogger they’re talking about though. God all of these color combos are so good.

LS: Yeah they’re pretty good. Do these bottles with the bows on them do anything for you?

LR: Yeah they do a lot for me. They do a lot for me. I’m feeling like I’m in a music video about being a girl. And look at this — “Bespoke Lacquer!” “Missus Patmore! Bespoke lacquer.” Ohmygod look at this, rock and roll blogger.

LS: Okay we have to keep moving. This section is good. Anything that has a drawing on it makes me want it.

LR: Benefit has the best packaging.

LS: Yes, Benefit does have the best packaging.

LR: Look at this package. Take a picture of it.

LS: Will we get kicked out?

LR: Just say you’re a beauty blogger. “See those Blogger Kits over there? Thats my kit.” Ohmygod look at this you have to look at this. It’s the magnetic kind. Ohmygod. Yes. yes.

LS: I don’t understand.

LR: Let me show you. It’s the best thing. The best thing. Okay step one, apply one coat. Oh I think I did it wrong. I did it wrong. I didn’t put the base coat. Fuck this. Wait what, Dry five minutes, I don’t have time for that.

LS: “Hold cap over nail for 1 second.” That’s confusing.

LR: I love this. I love this. I love kits. I love being a girl. I love little things that come in a plastic package.

LS: This wall of lip color stresses me out. It’s too much.

LR: This is too much lip color.

LS: That’s why it’s so smart, and I think they know this, that they have that, and then they have these little sections, of specially picked products—”Sephora Favorties,” “What’s Hot Now”—I can totally pick something from this little section.

LR: Look at all these people doing their nails. Do think they’re going to buy something? I don’t. I don’t. Oh no now we’re in hair. This is stressful because I know I need all of this.

LS: Bumble and Bumble packaging is really attractive. I just want all of it. What would happen if I put this hair powder in my hair?

LR: I think it would look bigger.

LS: Am I doing it right?

LR: I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know. No. You’re not. It’s white. It turned your hair white.

LS: But in a good way?

LR: No. Not in a good way. 

~ Later~

LS: So we got out of Sephora alive and with our dollars intact. You wanted some lipstick, I wanted new foundation, but we both managed to get out. Do you remember the last thing you bought at Sephora?

LR: Yes because I hardly ever buy stuff there. It was a Clinique brush-on gel eyeliner. $15. AND I’m sporting some killer office appropriate eyeliner wings today, thx clinique ~air kiss~.

LS: How often do you go to Sephora?

LR: Once or twice a month. You?

LS: Same. I mostly go there if I’m out in the world, and feeling really ugly. So I’ll go in there and think, maybe I can go there and someone will give me a makeover.

LR: I’ve never gotten one of the makeovers. I’m too scared + totally incredulous that it’s free.

LS: Yes. Well, I usually just go and am like, help me, help me with THIS (waves hand in front of face). It’s my dream to have someone be like, “Yes, let me paint you with potions and make you prettier than you ever dreamed and all you have to buy are these three reasonably-priced things.” But usually it doesn’t really work like that. I also have a dream of someone looking at my face and saying, “You could have perfect porcelain skin if you used this 1 product.” And then giving me an extremely large sample of that product. It brings out my magical thinking, I guess is what I’m saying.

LR: Well that’s what they want. They want you to think they have the magic.

LS: I just want to find that 1 product that is going to be my secret favorite best beauty secret fix-all. And I believe it is in there! I just have to find it, and for me, I feel like it’s just a matter of finding that right person, or even another customer, who knows the secret, and is willing to share it with me.

LR: BB cream.

LS: New invention. Didn’t exist, and now it does.

LR: I much prefer to be on my own solo mission of discovery at Sephora. I don’t like engaging with others while there. I like to try things and be really surreptitious. Like not even there. Like a whackamole. Because I don’t want people to think I’m a lil girl. I feel like a child in Sephora,
and I just don’t want these adult women being like, “Hi little girl, where’s your mommy, no mascara doesn’t go on your lips.”

LS: And I always say, “Help me.”

LR: Wow we are opposite. I say opposite. I say nothing. I just act really mild and invisible and put things on and leave. Would you say u go there because they’ve established themselves as experts and you want to learn?

LS: Yes but I know they aren’t all. I just want to find a magical fairy godmother to tell me what to wear and buy.

LR: But they don’t want you to find that one product, because if you do, you’ll only buy that. So there will never be that 1 thing, sadly. There will be a constantly growing and evolving kit of things. KITS.

LS: You’re right. You’re right. But maybe I’ll find someone who wants to subvert the system and tell me a secret. There has to be 1 thing, 2 things, 3 things max. Or at least in each category, 1 perfect thing. Tell me, are you open to buying when you go there? Are you hoping to find something to buy?

LR: No, no the opposite. I’m hoping I’ll want nothing. But surprise, I want everything. Things I didn’t even know I wanted.

LS: We really should just never go there again. Literally no good will come of it.

LR: Except I’m going today after work. I need falsies for my Fourth of July picnic.



62 Comments / Post A Comment

OllyOlly (#669)

I cannot go into Sephora since it smells and then my eyes are just red and tearing and make up is useless to try and also it is just terrifying. BUT, my brother wanted nail polish for Christmas and I told myself I could buy ONE THING, so I spent forever researching and bought Benefit’s Watt’s Up and it is fine. It was probably not worth the time spent on in hindsight.

dotcommie (#662)

Sigh! I love Sephora with the power of a thousand suns. I never crave/impulse buy clothes, but fancy makeup is my weakness (yes, I am a VIB…NO SHAME). Esp. red Nars lipsticks.

I wish you’d interviewed more people who like makeup. I wouldn’t interview makeup geeks about, like, Gamestop. Makeup doesn’t have to be about shame or insecurity or feeling less than…it can be about fun, and experimenting, and art (not that I’m dismissing people who are baffled/upset by makeup, I’m just acknowledging that there’s a variety of perspectives). I actually look forward to putting on makeup every day, even if it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

But yeah, keep me and my wallet out of Sephora. I’m out of shampoo and am gonna go get some there today. Hopefully I won’t stray into the Nars Satin Lip Pencil section.

lrodrigue (#1,315)

@dotcommie hey friend i love makeup! i just can’t afford to buy as much as i’d like. I try things out at Sephora and then head to Duane Reade like Meghan to buy more affordable brands.

@dotcommie I, too, have a weakness for Nars red lip anything. (I prefer Terre de Feu in cooler months; right now, it’s all about Red Square.) And I vastly prefer buying them at Sephora, rather than at a department store Nars counter, because the Nars people are always trying to put blush on me. I’m just here to look at your red lip thingies. Uh, yes I am very pale, thanks for noticing. No, I don’t want your stinking blush. A pox upon you and your blusher-brush wielding kind.

Anyway. I like the hands off sales staff at Sephora.

chic noir (#713)

*grabs Login, picks her up and spins her around*

OMG you finally wrote it. You have no idea how happy this post makes me.Yipee!

*calms down to read post*

antheridia (#2,995)

I went there before my wedding and this wonderful, beautiful gay man spent an hour showing me how to do my makeup. Then I did my own makeup on my wedding day and I felt wonderful and beautiful. The end.

nell (#4,295)

“I just don’t want these adult women being like, “Hi little girl, where’s your mommy, no mascara doesn’t go on your lips.” … exactly how I feel about Sephora. Also why I get anxious about getting haircuts/eyebrow waxes or anything of that ilk … like all of these perfectly groomed, professionally feminine women are secretly thinking ugh, what are you even doing. (And Sephora girls are so nice! definitely my own private hangup)

Panamanda (#2,713)

@nell “professionally feminine women” adlfajdklasjdf I love this so much. I too suffer from those anxieties and leave hair appointments feeling like a complete caveman because I’m not using four different products. Sephora makes me feel the same way. Maybe thinking of them as professionally feminine women will make me feel better about the situation; I’m just an amateur feminine woman!

Faintly Macabre (#1,043)

@nell Exactly this. I only own mascara, eyeliner, and very old foundation, but I rarely even wear those because eye products end up all over my face and face products end up all over my hands. On the rare occasions I go into Sephora, I just creep around avoiding eye contact and staring helplessly at displays of beautiful expensive makeup that I don’t know how to use.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

I go in Sephora to buy the few products I use, because I have their membership card and points/free samples/etc. But I don’t go in unless I need to buy a new bottle of something! All my makeup except my pencil eyeliner is like, fancy brands, but I make it last forever. Two bottles of tinted moisturizer a year! A year with a single eyeshadow pallet!

I want to add a decent liquid or gel eyeliner to my stash, as an occasional alternative to pencil, so I guess there will be a Sephora trip in my near future…

salomeforever (#4,361)

This may sound crazy, and maybe I’m just trying to justify expensive taste, but I feel like Sephora has helped me learn how to better budget and prioritize and save for things of better quality than I used to, at least in the skincare/makeup arena. Instead of having a bunch of drugstore products that I don’t love and don’t really sit on my skin well or break me out, now I have like, 4 products or so I actually budget. I know a bottle of tinted moisturizer lasts me about 6-9 months, and if I love it and can put that on and go and not have a gross face feeling by the afternoon, i feel like $40 is well spent. Plus, drugstore makeup is also expensive, I feel like I’d rather get a $20 lipstick I love than two $8 ones I’m not crazy about.

I also think, as a store, Sephora does a lot for its customers. I like being able to ask anyone in there for recommendations for my skin type and come away with something that works. Their return policy is fantastic, and their points system thing doesn’t suck.

@salomeforever I feel the same way! I may also be justifying my expensive taste, though. But I just really like the ready availability of samples, the fact that all of their brands are mixed together (rather than the department store, where I feel kind of like I’m tomcatting when I stop at the Clinique counter for foundation, and the Benefit counter for cheek tint, etc etc), the return policy, and the wonderful displays of brushes. Oh my word, and the samples/points. The only time I’ll go to Nordie’s or Bloomie’s instead is if I need something and the manufacturer has some kind of awesome gift promotion going on.

I think it does depend on your attitude toward makeup though – my “casual” face includes a very specific combination of at least five fairly pricy products that I have curated over time, and I break out the deep NARS lipstick and gel eyeliner and Urban Decay shadows for anything fancier than a day at the office. But for someone who doesn’t regularly wear stuff like foundation/blush/eyebrow pencil, I can see how Sephora might seem silly/pointless/daunting. For me, it’s been a godsend in learning how to work with my skin and look more polished and find precisely what I like in my daily routine. I have spent a small fortune on this stuff, but having really good makeup and equipment to work with feels the same way as having really good knives in the kitchen, and I use it every damn day.

Not all of us have that healthy natural glow, you know? Some of us prefer to fake it.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@bowtiesarecool I don’t do sephora. I do clinique, but for the exact same reason – lasts way longer. The money is worth it. From the department store. One day I will begin with their skincare. And then I will have no more money.

readyornot (#816)

As an update to an extended comment thread on a previous Logan post, I have now successfully worn that lipstick I bought. No primer, no liner, so it didn’t last all day without reapplication, but it went on smoothly and looked respectable.

@dotcommie what’s your fave red Nars shade?

And YES, I do feel like a total child in Sephora and like I’m wearing approximately 1/1000th the makeup I need to belong there.

dotcommie (#662)

@readyornot hurrah! my favorite topic. for reference, i am pretty pale and pink, with dark hair. my favorite in-your-face reds are red lizard and heat wave (both semi-matte). red lizard is a pretty classic blue-undertoned red, very siren-y. heat wave is really bright orangey red. i thought it would look terrible on me until i tried it on, and i love it! it’s my summer red. i also love that their semi matte colors last forever. i only have to reapply after eating, and even then it doesn’t really look too faded. stands up to drinking like a champ. jungle red is popular with a lot of people but i don’t have it.

their new satin lip pencils are p cool. i have hyde park, which is more of a daytime/sheerer berry red (but still pretty bright).

EM (#1,012)

@dotcommie Can I weigh in on this and say I love Vesuvio (super rich red, matte lipstick) and also the Dragon Girl lip pencil.


Kate (#1,408)

I drop a fair bit of money on Sephora for a couple of reasons, one, my skin is shit and they have products that make it look better (all basically skincare items, no actual makeup) and two, I’m in Canada so my retail options are much more limited than they would be in the US. ETA that salomeforever reminded me that the return policy is AMAZING and I appreciate that.

My eyebrows went ALL OVER my face at “$7 or whatever for a thing of Rosebud Salve? Fuck you. I’ve taken a travel-sized thing or two a couple times while in line to buy like $70 worth of other stuff. If we’re gonna be gouged…” because that’s….not how society works. The Rosebud Salve is seven bucks so either buy it for seven dollars or don’t?

honey cowl (#1,510)

@Kate I KNOWWWW. What?

shannowhamo (#845)

@Kate On one hand I was also shocked because petty thievery has always boggled my mind but on the other hand I was kind of impressed they straight up admitted it. The closest to that kind of logic I have is that sometimes at the store something will accidently not get rung up or something and I get out to my car and realize it but also feel like “I’ve given this comapny alot of my money, I will take my reward!” But never out and out stoled anything!

olivia (#1,618)

@Kate yeah that was…yikes. I mean that’s presumably her full name and now the interwebz knows she’s a thief!

chic noir (#713)

@olivia – I was thinking the same thing. How weird.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

I…I don’t understand this? Because I go to Sephora all the time, but only to get the things I use/need, because believe it or not you can find that one thing (or things) that work for you, and wear makeup every day and not make it a big deal (because makeup is super fun and it is a much easier way of transforming your look on a daily basis than, say, dying your hair or getting a tattoo) so I’m not sure why everyone you interviewed is so anxious about it? I agree with the person who commented above that it would have been nice if you had interviewed people who like makeup.

In case you were wondering, the things I use and love that I always get at Sephora are Laura Mercier oil-free tinted moisturizer in nude (with SPF in it of course), and Bare Minerals Buxom black waterproof mascara. If you play your cards right you can frequently score free samples that are useful when you need to do “special” makeup. I have several small tubes of primer that I use when I am doing a formal face for, say, a wedding or something similar. I do not use these things every day, but they are useful for when you want a particularly clean look. If you are lucky you will score a free sample of Smashbox Primer (it is the best and one day when I can afford big things of primer I will get it) but I’ve tried lots of other brands and they work just fine. I also get benetint cheek stain because it rocks.

Okay so for the FUN MAKEUP–which, believe me, I can walk into Sephora and just buy what I need and walk out without getting any of these, so these fun makeups only happen when they are on sale–I am *obsessed* with Urban Decay’s eyeliner in every single color, and also most of their shadows. Eye makeup is my jam. The more like a drag queen I look (for evening events–I’ll rock green eyeliner for work but not a full green shadow look) the happier I am. I’m not big on lipsticks, I find a Burt’s Bees tinted color stick works just fine.

But seriously, though, Sephora isn’t evil. Just figure out the products that work for you that you use every day (see above) and you’ll be fine guys. No need to be anxious. Just stick to the assignment (run in, buy new Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, etc.) and get. out.

dotcommie (#662)

@TheDilettantista to be fair, the “finding what works” part can be stressful. but sephora wins on that score, too. they are super generous with samples and returns.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@TheDilettantista I appreciate your perspective, and makeup is one of the (few) things I am not personally anxious about, but telling an anxious person “no need to be anxious!” doesn’t exactly work.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

@TheDilettantista Yes to the finding specific products that work for you! For me that’s Clinique face stuff (toner, the yellow moisturizer that everyone knows, and their tinted moisturizer in the second lightest shade), and Urban Decay’s Naked Basics palate for eyeshadow. My eyeliner and tinted Burts Bees lip balm are drug store purchases.

Things I am still seeking out, and I should go to Sephora and hunt around for: liquid/gel eyeliner, and some kind of cheek tint. How’s the benetint stuff? I’m not into anything that feels too heavy or makes me feel like I know I have makeup on.

joyballz (#2,000)

@RachelG8489 I’ve had success with Ulta’s BountiFULL eyeliner. It frequently sells out and sometimes they hide it with the mascara because it’s supposed to make your lashes grow or something dumb. But it’s the closest thing to the fancy eyeliners with the least smudge (sometimes less smudge than fancy ones). And it’s like $6-12 depending on which sale you find.

chic noir (#713)

@TheDilettantista – Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer is so wonderful. Agreed about interviewing people who really love makeup.

P.S. On the Sephora website. UD vintage eyeliners are on sale for nine bucks.

chic noir (#713)

@RachelG8489 wet&wild’s and Black Radiance liquid eyeliners works well for me.

Kclaw (#1,021)

@TheDilettantista the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer is THE BEST. I am a super pale Canadian, so I don’t have a metric-ton of options when it comes to foundation (either at sephora or anywhere else). Sephora’s sample/return policy has saved me the untold dollars/agony that would be been required to find a drugstore foundation that didn’t make me look George Hamilton orange.

editrickster (#279)

@RachelG8489 Hey, that Benetint stuff is FUCKING AWESOME. I bought some a month or so ago and I love it. I say this as a pasty lady who likes to buy makeup but never gets around to actually wearing it, usually, because I am lazy and don’t always like heavy things on my face. Or feeling hot because there is stuff on my face.

I have carried the little pot of posie tint in my purse and any time I needed a perk-me-up or had to do something professional I put it right on my cheeks and wore it the rest of the day with no bothered skin or hot-feeling at all.

I just bought (at Sephora…this article is timely) a sample pack of the posie tint + sun beam + something else because I wanted a smaller bottle for my purse. They always get you right at the check out with all of the cute packaging!

editrickster (#279)

@RachelG8489 I should say — you do have to work quickly once you apply it. Do one cheek at a time instead of both at once.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

@honey cowl Understood–I have a sister with clinical anxiety issues–but I mostly meant “makeup isn’t scary it is fun!” not, you know, turn off the anxiety issues that you can’t control.

@RachelG8489 I have Naked 2, I use it every day, the Naked palettes are blessings from the eyeliner deities. I like the Benetint, it is really light and comes in two shades–a sort of deep blush, and a pinkish color. It is liquid, you paint some on your cheekbone line and rub it in and it gives you a lovely, natural flush. My cheeks to eat color so it does wear off on me, but I have never found a blush or cheek product that I haven’t had to reapply at some point during the day (or I just do the Scarlett O’Hara pinch if I am feeling lazy). It is super light and lovely and a great staple item. You can also use it on your lips if you need.

@chic noir: already hit that up!!!! They had discontinued Lucky (a copper shade that is one of my FAVORITES and I wear it for work on the regular, so I was super bummed) and I totally bought two of them, as well as a neat turquoise color that I was really digging. They came in the mail last week. Super happy to be stocked up on Lucky for a few years. But thanks for the tip–EVERYONE GO GET 9 DOLLAR EYELINER WHILE IT LASTS, IT IS THE BEST.

@RachelG8489 I just switched to Benetint from NARS Orgasm (which everyone had also raved about; and to be fair I used that thing all the way down and felt it looked good, but it was just too fade-y) and like it a lot. The only trick is, yes, follow the directions in the package, one cheek at a time, blend quickly before it sets, and I like to use a sponge rather than my fingers because otherwise I have strangely red hands all day. I think it looks lovely and natural, and it’s easy to layer it depending on how much color you want. It also doesn’t preclude you from adding a sweep of normal blush on top if you want a little traditional shimmer.

chic noir (#713)

@TheDilettantista – LOL I brought Eldarado and blueish color. So happy because I did not want to buy them at full price.

heavyrotation (#4,261)

I used to live in LA and in hs or during the first two years of summer in college, it would always be a meet up point, being conveniently right next to the movies.

Now that I live in Brooklyn, I never want to go. But once I did when I took a bus to Virginia and it was close to the pick up point and this amazing salesperson helped me find a replacement red stain and applied it and everything and it was wondrous so I bought it. It was around $19 for the stain + a liner which I never use but fact: this combo has been replicated by just me countless times since. Me on my own prior to learning the process was a messy chin and a smeary trail of wine glasses…… Since I rarely wear make-up the $19 felt okay to me.

honey cowl (#1,510)

This has made me kind of want to go to Sephora after work.

@honey cowl Ditto. I just recently went with my sister for my birthday when I replaced most of my every day makeup but I now I want all the fun pretty things that I’ll wear twice and then forget how to apply.

joyballz (#2,000)

Fact: I stopped going to Sephora so much when JaneMarie left thehairpin and stopped doing how to be a girl videos.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@joyballz “LR: I’m not the blogger they’re talking about though.”
They are talking about Janie, that’s the kind of blogger they are talking about.

EM (#1,012)

I like online shopping through Sephora, at least prospectively, because I love ratings and reviews. I have no idea how I bought makeup before I could check if it had mass approval. Like, I don’t know how mascara works, so I am just going to buy the one with the most five-star ratings.

I usually go online and figure out two or three options for what I want (matte red lipstick, cream eyeliner, concealer for undereye circles, whatever) and then go in with a mission. That’s sort of how I shop for everything though; wandering around aimlessly in stores hoping someone will help me but not pressure me to buy other crap is my nightmare.

joyballz (#2,000)

OH! You guys need to look out for the Sephora Favorites kits. My mom got me one for my birthday two years ago and I’m still using some of the “samples” almost daily. Expiration be damned. It was $78 and I got a Laura Mercier primer foundation thing that everyone loves (now I do too) a Nars blush highlighter, another blush, a lipstick, a rollerball perfume, a mascara, and a few other things I’m forgetting. One of the few Sephora purchases that have felt “worth it.” Perfume tester kit that comes with a coupon for a full sized roller ball, Anastasia brow pencil and brow gel being the others.

joyballz (#2,000)

@joyballz it’s back!!

different (better?) products, same idea. Worth it if you guys want some solid starters. Literally all lasted a 1-2 years.

chic noir (#713)

I love Sephora so much. I’ve been one of those exclusive top tier beauty VIP’s for two years in a row. I’ve always loved makeup but watching those Youtube beauty videos have amped up my urge to try on and purchase makeup.

I have Sephora to thank for my love of NARS lip products and blushes(Taj Mahal blush and easy lover lipgloss will change a Black girl’s life). I went into a Sephora over the weekend and had tried on a Dior BBcreme. Why God why??? the finish was havenly but the price was $56.00. I don’t wear foundation products often so I wasn’t willing to spend that much but when I get my 20% off discount … we shall see.

I do wear some drugstore makeup ex… Maybeline mascaras and lipglosses(comparable with NARS) but on average, drugstore makeup isn’t very long lasting on my skin even with primers.

chic noir (#713)

For the record, I have only one bottle of expensive Chanel nail polish. OPI and Essie work as well as, if not better than most high end brands. Also Essie and OPI polishes seem to last long without the color breaking down. I have a few bottle of Essie polish that are at about five years old and have not “seperated”.

OPI= best reds and darker colors
Essie= best for sheer pinks and other light colors

chic noir (#713)

@chic noir

Christen Brown It feels like a TRAP. Like a boiled down condensed consumption paradise
where it’s very hard to escape without buying stuff.

That what some women say about Best Buy and the Apple store

@chic noir If OPI and Essie aren’t high end, I don’t want to know what you think about my Quick-Dry NYC or Sally Hansen polishes!

chic noir (#713)

@polka dots vs stripes oh I have a quick dry NYC polish in a pale pink color. It dries fast and lasts long. The NYC waterproof eyeliners are my go to for brow pencils now:)

Well IMHO, Essie and OPI are mid priced nail polish brands eight to nine dollars respectively. Chanel, Dior and Debra Lipman at 20-25 dollars a bottle are high end.

editrickster (#279)

@chic noir But what color Chanel polish do you have? Is it the night sky one?

loren smith (#2,300)

@chic noir Does Chanel seem really chip prone to you? My MIL gives them to me all the time, and they chip and chip and chip

chic noir (#713)

@editrickster – I have the dark Copper color. It looks gorgeous in the bottle but on my skin it pretty much blends in. I feel like a fool for spending $25 on it because I don’t wear it. I should’ve brought “Ballerina” instead since I love light pink nail polish.

chic noir (#713)

@loren smith – I don’t think so but I use the world’s best topcoat. I use Essie’s “super duper” topcoat.

Put it on after two coats and again the very next morning before you start touching anything around the house. It makes my polish last like gel without drying my nails out.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

I love to go to Sephora and paint my whole face in eyeshadow so I come out looking like a parrot. For real. And then I put a different color of nail polish on each nail. And if there is something glittery that I haven’t tried, and there’s no room left on my face, I’ll start in on my arms. But I don’t go all that often, because it’s in the mall, and the mall gives me the heebie-jeebies, plus takes all my money and gives me weird clothes that don’t fit. But the little bottles of Sephora brand nail polish are great! I am actually not that into makeup / beauty things, but it gives me a great deal of comfort to have nail polish in every color that exists.

chic noir (#713)

@lemonadefish Those little bottles are on sale on the Sephora website and have you seen the Youtube nail polish collection videos??? Unbelievabl!. I felt gluttonous at 20 bottles.

jlee (#3,792)

I love Sephora so much! I also love makeup, so that probably explains it. I’ve been a VIB for several years in a row, which is fun because you get free gifts for earning points. I wear makeup every day to work, and I know exactly what products I like so I pretty much just restock when I run out. I am boring and I only experiment in lip stuff, everything else stays the same.

Everyone’s skin and preferences are different so you really just have to experiment to find stuff you like, which Sephora is excellent for because you can try stuff on in the store and just return what you don’t like. I have returned many, many things and had zero problems, ever.

But I know it can be intimidating because the store is huge and overwhelming, and it can be nice to have a list to work from. Here are my staples, which I wear to work every day: 1) Anastasia brow pencil to fill in the weird sparse patches, 2) some neutral taupe-y eyeshadow (currently I’m using the Urban Decay Naked palette but I use random stuff from Target too, not picky on this), 3) Lancome kohl eyeliner in “black coffee” (very dark brown, not quite as harsh as black), and 4) Benefit “They’re Real” mascara. I curl my lashes with a Shu Umera curler before I put the mascara on. Then on my face I use 5) Stila one-step correct primer (I don’t like the Smashbox primer everyone raves about, the silicone feels weird to me), 6) Makeup Forever HD Foundation, 7) MAC concealer, and then 8) whatever cheap face powder I have on hand (right now it’s Physician’s Formula from Target).

I realize that sounds like a lot but it takes me ten minutes tops. Afterwards I feel so much more polished! I also look very young and the makeup helps mitigate that a bit. I’m a lawyer so it’s important for me to not look like a little girl.

I have a mix of expensive lip stuff (Dior lipgloss, ridiculous but amazing) and cheap lip stuff (CoverGirl LipSlicks are like a perfect glossy balm for $4). But you do not have to shell out lots of cash to wear makeup! If you can only invest in a few higher-quality products I would say foundation all the way, that’s where you’ll see the biggest difference. Then primer, then mascara. The other stuff is all easily purchased at Target/CVS/wherever and there will be no real difference.

toomuchlipgloss (#4,363)

The power of Sephora is such that merely reading this article was sufficient to influence me to remember that I had an unused gift card, go to the site and spend $30 more than the gift card was worth on perfume rollerballs. (Are perfume rollerballs not the most awesome thing ever? Which is why I have like 15 of them. Well, 18 now.)

Logan’s sephora dream is basically what’s happened to me both of the times I’ve gone in there, both times looking for bb cream. I was like *motions helplessly* and then both times the girl was super friendly and helpful and made my skin look amazing and gave me a giant sample that lasted me long enough that it was winter and I no longer needed the same shade bb cream soooo … my sephora experience has been very positive!

I was about to say I’m pretty good at resisting those ridiculous lines where the little boxes and thingies are everywhere to make you spend more money but then I remembered the pinwheel canada flag headband I bought at old navy the other day. but I still feel pretty good about that decision.

I didn’t realize people were so “sephora is evil!” which is weird because it’s a corporation, all corporations are evil are they not, but the people who’ve helped me there have always been incredibly helpful and friendly and skilled at making my face look awesome! What can I say, I’m a sucker.

takaba (#2,936)

Hmm. My mom tried, she did, to teach me about makeup as a teenager, and have a decent amount, given the large amount of Clinique samples I inherited. But as much I keep on trying to remember to wear mascara (which I honestly like how it makes my blue eyes look) I keep forgetting.

I’ve been to Sephora twice and I love the aesthetics of it – rows and rows of colorful shiny stuff, but never a compulsion to buy. Maybe I will understand makeup and enjoy it one day, but the early terror of it in adolescence has melted away into a shrug in my late twenties.

A random aside, perhaps, but I see Parker Posey very frequently in my yoga class. Which is not that far from the Union Square Sephora, so you never know. Maybe she is lurking around. Maybe after yoga?

EM (#1,012)

@angry little raincloud How do you resist the urge to fangirl all over Parker Posey? I would find it nearly impossible.

@EM She has totally mastered Bitchy Resting Face.

Lily_Hudson (#4,334)

Is this a sponsered post? I love going to Sephora when I am downtown and have time to kill – the access to all the little pots and tubes and pigments, without makeup counter ladies putting on the pressure. When I leave my hands are always streaked with 15 different shades of glitter eyeshadow. I rarely buy anything there, although I do get my Korres concealer there. My personal makeup philosophy: 98% of that stuff is toxic garbage that you do not need, and the other 2% will really help you out, guuuurl!

liznieve (#37)

You know why I go to Sephora? For the after-work makeup re-apply. Sure, I’ll grab my basics there. I don’t scrimp on makeup basics, but my budg is low enough that I have developed good self-control, and am not tempted to buy ALL OF THE LIPSTICKS. I have my route, know how many of each kind of applicator i need, and poof, poof, FEEL LIKE A MILLION BUCKS FOR FREE.

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