Am I An Adult Woman If I Can’t Handle Sephora?

So, news alert: I went into the gaping maw that is Sephora last night, for maybe the second time in my life, and I offer this as a follow-up, albeit inconclusive, to the question Logan posed this summer, “Is Sephora a Dream or Our National Nightmare?”

I was having one of those moments where you’re walking down the street on your way to somewhere and you glance into Sephora and think, “Is tonight the night I start wearing lipstick and instantly become a more attractive version of myself for the mere price of $36, or should I keep walking?” Well I don’t know what came over me, but last night I shifted from foot to foot, took a swig of my water bottle, then dashed in.

I’d just returned every single item of clothing I’d bought on a winter clothes shopping trip a few weekends ago, so I figured why not spend all the money I’d just gotten back? It’s basically free money. It’s not like I don’t have to buy a $500 plane ticket and Christmas presents for everyone I know in the next month, not to mention make Thanksgiving dinner in five days for the most awkward group of people imaginable (okay, not really, but it’s going to be me, my fiance, his dad, and my mom).

So I put all thoughts of budgeting out of my mind and soldiered on, remembering all at once the problem of shopping in a winter coat: you’re either sweating in it or holding it under your arm and dropping it on the ground every three minutes. I chose the former, so the neon lights and the toxic perfume smells were particularly potent. Instead of driving me back out onto 18th street, they just pulled me in deeper. I would persevere! I would look back on this night as the night everything changed, it all fell into place, beauty routine-wise for me — and to think, I almost didn’t go in!


First I saw the hair care section. Theirs is not normal hair care selection so much as it is, “a few shelves of the most expensive hair care products we could find, presented to you without price tags.” Perfect. A sales associate handed me a basket, which I took in my vulnerable state, and started filling with $30 mousse. I paced, I read labels, I weaved between other customers also trying to change their lives via Bumble and Bumble.

See I have perfectly straight, flat, fine, crappy ass hair, and whenever I get a haircut I tell the guy, Oh I just want it to be wavy and tousled. Of course this is impossible, but I still haven’t given up the dream. I figured if I bought $60 worth of mousse and “shaping cream” things would really come together for me.

Then I went to the lipsticks — NARS because it seems fancy and what the hip moms on Mormon mom blogs wear. I stood there for maybe 10 minutes in a lipstick daze, half-tempted to buy a lipstick based solely on the name (Roman Holiday, seems fun), but decided I should try them out. But what does this mean? I walked over to the mirror and tried to jab at the lipstick with a Q-tip then put it on my mouth, which is not, I should point out, an effective way to put on lipstick. so I gave up and started putting them on my hand, which told me nothing. Then a sales associate started butting in front of me to give someone else a tour of the lipsticks so I scoffed audibly, told myself that rather than take any $40 chances I would go home and Google exactly what shade of lipstick the Mormon moms wear, then skittered over to the nail polish.

Nail polish is a thing I know how to do, so I started putting the testers on my nails. I thought about standing there and painting my nails with it, but then chickened out and put two nail polishes in my bag. I haven’t painted my nails in probably a year and have never gotten a manicure in my life, but hey, you never know. I couldn’t find a price tag anywhere. I held them in my hand, told myself maybe I would give them as a gift. But what if I wanted them? But a gift would be good! Should I go buy more, and just give everyone I know nail polish? But it could be $20? Ahhhhh.

I looked down at my little bag and saw the $60 worth of hair products that I knew would not magically give me curly, voluminous hair, and was tempted to place the whole thing down on the ground and run out. I was really feeling faint by then. But what if someone saw me? The place was crawling with employees who had nothing else to do but ask if you needed help. I would be caught. So I persevered.

I dragged myself over to the cashier line in a sweat, then stopped at all the tiny travel-size, point-of-sale gift things. They are all so adorable and would fit in your purse and then you could be a person who has fancy hand cream in their purse, even though you don’t need hand cream and have never used it in your life! But the package is cute, and kind of grandma-ish looking in a comforting way, and you’d feel so prepared. Or a box full of tiny lipsticks! Which I could buy to discover what kind of lipstick works on me in the privacy of my own home, even though the answer is no lipstick works on me and no matter what it is I feel uncomfortable and self-conscious and slowly bite all of it off anyway.

At this point people were lining up behind me but I was paralyzed staring at a case of miniature nail polishes that still cost $30. Someone looked at me with a really concerned face, “Are you in line?” I looked at my hair products and nail polish and panicked. “Um, no, I mean, yes, but only halfway, so uh, just go.” She shook her head and went around me and I stood there frozen, half in line for a few minutes as people passed behind me, debating what I should do.

Suddenly doing anything but running back out into the cold air seemed impossible, so I returned the nail polish, put the hair shit back where I found it, and dropped the Sephora basket onto the ground.

I got on a bus ($2.50) went to where I was going (happy hour with old co-workers, free) with three painted nails, flat hair, and no lipstick. Then I went home, had a slice of pizza for dinner ($4 plus $1 tip) and went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night after a bad dream that I was, honest to God, at the ER and debating with the intake nurse about whether I could afford treatment.

Today, I am looking at my thumb and kind of wishing I got one of the nail polishes, and already re-convincing myself that “curling mousse” (is this a thing?) will solve all of my hair problems, but I will try to look for it at the drug store first.

Photo: br1dotcom


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