How To Shop At Sephora & Not Lose Every Penny You Have To Your Name

by Brianna Arps
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Whenever I imagine Sephora, a brightly lit beauty wonderland with designer fragrances wafting and energetic employees pulsating, I feel uneasy. To clarify, I actually feel like Rabbit at the beginning of 8 Mile, excited but anxious at the prospect of potentially seizing everything I ever wanted in one moment. How to shop at Sephora without needing to sell your family members is a serious issue for everyone, even the most casual of beauty consumers.

Think about it. Sephora’s pulse is simply electrifying. Once I step inside, my palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. I'm nervous, but on the surface I look calm and ready. As I try to remember my own name (and my budget), upbeat music serves as an idyllic soundtrack to what’s bound to be a wanton shopping adventure.

Strolling through the aisles and resisting the urge to buy everything that catches your eye can pose quite the challenge. Especially when you take in Sephora's mammoth array of almost 300 brands in-store and online, in addition to what seems like an infinite amount of products. But while it may not seem like it — especially now that holiday season is rapidly approaching — it is possible to enjoy Sephora's offerings and leave with your wallet intact.

Elite Daily spoke with Sephora PRO Artist, Eliza Davila, to learn how to lose yourself in the moment without going for broke. Here’s how to capture it —and not let it slip.

Remember, employees are your best resource.
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Knowing exactly what beauty product you need — but not what brand — is a common phenomenon for Sephora shoppers. Chatting with an expert employee, however, will lead you towards making a well-suited choice (within your budget) in little to no time.

“Talking to a Sephora Cast Member is like talking to your cool best friend,” Davila tells me, which is great because I'm always in the market for cool best friends. “They will give you expert, unbiased advice that is personal to what you want, while incorporating the newest and coolest technology.”

You should consider making a stop at the skincare section first.
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“When walking into a Sephora, I always suggest heading to the wonderful world of skincare,” Davila says. “Skincare is the base for any makeup look, so getting the right products for you is so important.”

In recent years, Sephora has upped the ante by introducing fans to high-tech beauty technology that helps take the guesswork out of finding these products. A custom experience at the store could very well be one of the easiest ways to prevent spending more than necessary. Asking for a “Skincare IQ” consultation is the first step, according to Davila.

“This quick in-store quiz makes finding the products for your unique skin super easy,” she says. Referring to the mounted, touch-screen monitor found in Sephora’s skin care department, the makeup artist explained that shoppers are initially encouraged to tap to identify their skin concerns and preferred product types. Upon answering all of the system’s questions, Skincare IQ then reveals a personalized list of recommended items.

Ask about Sephora’s F-R-E-E services.
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SCORE! The retailer offers a wide variety of services that don’t require making a purchase at all. So when your economics professor said, "there's no such thing as a free lunch," they were totally lying! According to Davila, these gratis services range from complimentary 15-minute “Mini Makeovers” as well as skincare and makeup classes.

She also mentioned that you can receive personalized Fragrance IQ and Color IQ consultations, which are both similar to Sephora’s Skincare IQ technology. Each session introduces shoppers to fragrances and makeup products that cater to their preferences and skin tones, according to Davila.

For those who prefer to shop online, she recommends downloading the Sephora App to figure out what beauty products work best.

Using the Sephora Visual Artist tool, “you can even try on makeup without touching a single product,” Davila says. “Simply take a selfie to see what colors and looks excite you the most. Each look has a product linked to it, so in a way it’s a guide.”

Take advantage of complimentary samples.
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At one point, we’ve all stopped by our local Sephora store on a whim and without an agenda. If you’re not necessarily looking to tackle a specific concern or re-up on your favorite K-beauty sheet mask, that’s OK too. And don't feel bad about it — the employees will not hate you for coming to explore.

You can still head home with something for absolutely nothing because Sephora loves to give out free samples. Yep, that's right! Shoppers can nab up to three complimentary samples of practically anything they want to try, Davila says. That means one for you, and another for you, and a third one for you!

Sephora’s “Beauty on The Fly” section is where you’ll stretch your dollar the furthest.
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According to Davila, Sephora’s “Beauty on The Fly” area is a hot spot for deals. Located near the cash register, the section features adorable minis of best-selling products starting at $10 and under.

“It’s the perfect place to shop because there are tons of options to choose from,” she says. For those who don’t have the time to visit a Sephora store, Davila suggests checking out what’s available in “Mini Size” online.

“Head over to and click on the SHOP tab and then Mini Size,” she says. “This is a great way to quickly navigate minis by brand, best-selling, exclusive, price, new and top rated.” Plus, you get to try something you may want but not necessarily need without purchasing the full-size.

Value sets offer the best beauty products at the lowest prices.
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“The top steals are our exclusive holiday value sets,” she says. “There are tons of limited time offer sets that include some of our most best-selling products at great price points.”

For starters, check out the “Sephora Favorites” samplers. Each box contains a hefty mix of both full-size and deluxe-sized products for a fraction of what you’d normally spend in total. The best part is that you’re also able to test out multiple brands, which makes shopping for what you like in the future a breeze.

Sign up to become a Beauty Insider loyalty program member.
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With each dollar spent at Sephora, shoppers are rewarded with points that they can eventually redeem for perks. These range all the way from beauty product samples to coveted Master Class makeup sessions with industry leaders. Cool, right? But to reap the benefits of being a longtime Sephora fan, you must also be what the retailer calls a “Beauty Insider.”

“If you aren’t already a Beauty Insider, VIB Rouge, or Rouge [member],” Davila warns that “you miss out on points every time you shop at Sephora.” D'uh oh.

It doesn’t cost anything to be a Beauty Insider, but the two remaining membership tiers — VIB and VIB Rouge — require you to spend a certain quota per calendar year to remain active. While VIB members must spend at least $350 every year, VIB Rouge members have to spend $1,000 or more, according to Sephora. So consider me a VIB Rouge.