I Went To SEPHORiA, Sephora's Huge Beauty Festival, & I've Never Experienced Anything Like It

by Stephanie Montes
Presley Ann/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

As a beauty editor, I'm inundated with beauty products, event invites, and Insta-worthy photo opps to an overwhelming degree. But before I became a writer, I would've killed to try products before they hit stores and rub elbows with the industry elite. However, these days, there are so many consumer-facing events (with BeautyCon being the most notable) that allow everyone to feel like true insiders. SEPHORiA House of Beauty 2019 is the latest weekend-long event that encourages consumers to live like their favorite beauty influencers. And lucky for me, I got the opportunity to experience this event in all its glory.

SEPHORiA is essentially a two-day beauty bender complete with samples galore, product previews, free beauty services, endless photo booths, and master classes with some of your favorite experts. This year, it was held on Sept. 7 and 8 at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles. In a nutshell, SEPHORiA transported consumers to a beauty wonderland. Think: Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory, but for beauty. Allow me to paint you a picture.

From the moment I walked in, the energy was infectious. The music was blasting. My eyes didn't know where to look, and my feet didn't know which direction to walk in first. I took a hard left and decided to make a loop around before making my way up to the second (I know!!) floor.

I first found myself in the luxurious La Mer room, decorated to resemble an under-the-sea experience. Behind a giant coral reef, the walls were lined with a double-sided sequin design that revealed the brand's logo on one side. Perhaps the most impressive part was the wall made up of half-of-a-million dollars' worth of La Mer product. Naturally, on the way out, every guest scored a free La Mer face cream sample.

Stephanie Montes

Next up, I hit the Fenty Beauty booth. At 2018's SEPHORiA, the brand unveiled their then-new Fairy Bomb Shimmer Powder, so I strutted over to their spot with high hopes — and I was not disappointed. On display, I saw a five-piece Glossy Posse Mini Gloss Bomb Collection — a preview for their holiday 2019 drop. The set included my OG go-to shade, Fu$$y, plus four new shades: Pretty Please, Confetti, Hot Chocolate, and Cheeky. Hot Chocolate, a transparent dark brown, is now my new favorite.

Stephanie Montes

Afterward, I hopped on the brand's merry-go-round and snapped a boomerang. You know, gotta do it for the 'Gram.

After cruising through Fenty's newness, I hit up the extra Instagrammable Drunk Elephant setup. In there, I took a skin test that was meant to suggest my perfect pairing of products to balance my pH levels and leave me with clear, youthful skin. And because samples are a must at SEPHORiA, my visit to the Drunk Elephant ended with samples of my personalized pH-balancing duo.

After I scoped out the entire first floor (at this point, my feet were dying!), I made my way up to Sephora Collection's activation on the second floor. For me, this one took the cake in the interesting experiences category. With the purchase of an $8 lipstick, you could sync your phone to a printer in the booth and have your favorite photo printed onto the lipstick cap. I printed one with a photo of myself on vacation in Italy (duh!) and another of me and my mom at Rockefeller Center in New York. (This is her favorite picture and made for a great gift.)

Stephanie Montes

The rest of my time at SEPHORiA was spent testing a new Hourglass eyebrow product, posing in a '70s-themed booth by NARS, snapping photos of shirtless men at Patrick Ta's booth, and playing beauty-versioned arcade games with Kaja, NUDESTIX, and Summer Fridays. Meanwhile, Urban Decay casually unveiled the new Naked Honey Palette, and OUAI previewed its new Super Dry Shampoo, well before either product hit stores. As for the masterclasses, SEPHORiA essentially solidified itself as the Coachella of beauty, with discussions led by beauty "celebs," such as NikkiTutorials, Sophia Amoruso, Natasha Denona, and so many more.


If you weren't able to make it to SEPHORiA this time around, but you're basically drooling from all the hype, don't worry. Judging from the incredible turnout both this year and last year, there will surely be more to come, with next year's event likely falling around September or October. As a little inside scoop for next year, remember that Sephora Rouge members get pre-sale tickets. (So start stocking up at your local Sephora to hit that Rouge status ASAP.) General Admission tickets for the event are $80, but you leave with a massive gift bag filled with $250 worth of products, and VIP tickets are $350 and include a $900 gift bag. Truthfully, it's a small price to pay to upgrade your Insta feed, your beauty cabinet, and for an experience you'll never forget.