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21 Secrets About Sephora That Every Makeup Addict Should Know

Before you spend your last three paychecks on makeup again, read this first.

Rachel Zarrell / Flickr: shesarii / Creative Commons

1. Anything you buy in the store can be returned without a receipt for store credit, as long as you have an ID. Plus, you can get a full refund with a receipt, even if the product is used.


Though you can return the item if it’s lightly used, they will give you a death stare (and potentially refuse the return) if it’s old. They can also give you a temporary ban if you make too many returns without a receipt. Items that are returned used will sometimes become store testers (though they are technically not supposed to).

Benoit Tessier / Reuters

2. Most regular Sephora shoppers probably know this, but for newbies: Anyone can become a Beauty Insider to rack up points ($1 = 1 point) that can go toward 100-point, 250-point or 500-point gifts of free stuff.


Beauty Insiders also get a little birthday gift, like a mini makeup kit or a body wash.

Steve Jennings / Getty Images For Sephora

3. The sales floor is called the “stage,” and everywhere else is called “backstage.” Employees are called “cast members,” and managers are “directors.” It’s not a uniform, it’s a “costume.”

Craig Barritt / Getty Images for Sephora

4. The more expensive and newer products are kept at eye level, so check lower shelves for products that might be a better deal.


The more brands pay, the better their location in the store is.

5. The colors of certain products’ packaging in the store are supposed to convey a certain feeling for shoppers.


Black: Strong and sexy.

Blue: Calming, clean, clinical.

Gold: Drawing in a more mature customer.

Silver: Modern, Updated.

Purple: Feminine.

6. Customers who spend $350 annually reach VIB status (Very Important Beauty Insider). This mostly gets you a free makeover and invitations to in-store events.


There was once a VIB event where customers could meet Jennifer Aniston for 750 points, but that’s not quite the norm.

7. There’s also a VIB Rouge status for those who spend $1,000 or more a year. VIB Rouge members get free shipping, a beauty concierge for advice, and unlimited free makeovers.


Employees have said there’s talk of expanding the Rouge program benefits, which many frequent shoppers find disappointing. For example, the “free gifts” may only come with a purchase.

8. If an item goes on sale within two weeks of you purchasing it, you can call the store’s customer service line and they’ll refund the difference.

9. One in five makeup testers contains yeast, mold, and — brace yourself – fecal matter.


Makeup brushes, foundations, and eye makeup are the guiltiest for carrying germs. So maybe utilize those alcohol sprays scattered around the store.

Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images for Sephora

10. If you’re looking for a better-matched foundation, “cast members” wield a device called the Color IQ, which can swatch your skin tone and connect it to a Pantone number that corresponds to every foundation they sell.

11. Every shopper is supposed to leave with samples of “something new, something they haven’t used before and want to try,” a former employee told Buzzfeed.


“Keep saying you’d like to try new stuff. Tell the cast member what you’ve never tried before,” she said. “Mention something you’d like to ‘work on,’ like, ‘I’m working on these post-acne marks right now and don’t know what to try’ or ‘I’m working on a good fragrance for summer.’”

12. Each Sephora has three “worlds” — fragrance, skincare, and color. Technically, you can get as many samples as you want from each.


Though you can get a sample from pretty much any product (except eyeliners and mascara), employees recommend you stick to products that are liquid or come in a tube.

Employees are also often experts in one “world,” so if they’re wandering around without helping you, ask them if there’s someone who is an expert in that department.

13. Sephora is meant to be a “teaching store.” Ask a knowledgable employee to do a “half face” on you.


This is when they put makeup on one side of your face while teaching you how to apply everything, and then have you put the other side of your face together.

Rebecca Sapp / Getty Images For Sephora

14. Fifteen-minute makeup services like a smoky eye or lipstick application are complimentary at every location.

15. The companies that sell their products at Sephora are expected to have new products roughly every three months, to keep up with consumer demand.


“We always think something can be better — that the most amazing mascara can get even more amazing, or the lipstick can be even more hydrating,” Ben Bennett, the founder and creative director of Hatch Beauty, a Los Angeles-based branding, packaging, and product development company, told TotalBeauty.com.

16. Cast members aren’t allowed to refer you to one brand exclusively, so if you want a recommendation, ask for the top five performing products in that category.


Basically, which products consumers are purchasing the most and not returning.

17. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, Smashbox, Tarte, Too Faced, and Urban Decay all have makeup options for vegans.


Illamasqua was formerly listed as vegan, but it has since been found to contain beeswax and carmine, a red dye created by crushing the dried body of a female beetle.

Craig Barritt / Getty Images for Sephora

18. The store doesn’t often have sales, but sale items do exist, and can be found on the edges of the store, or in bins at the end of product displays.

19. There are lots of pretty cool samples and codes for free deals on their website.


Besides the three free samples you get with an online order, any order over $25 will get you a fourth “deluxe” sample. Just use the code YOURGIFT at checkout.

20. If you’ve got some time to kill, the Sephora nail bar is a great place to give yourself an excellent free manicure.


Don’t worry, they’re used to it.

21. Beauty Insider points can go into the negative, if you use them and then return something (at the store). Get that free stuff!

Walt Disney Animation / Tumblr

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