We all know the feeling of walking into Sephora and being mesmerized by the thousands of products: hair, skin care, nails, makeup, fragrance—it has everything. Even if you’ve never stepped into an actual store, perusing the site’s both high- and low-end products leads to a never-ending beauty black hole.
But the cosmetics store can do more for you than make your eyes glaze over at the too-many product prospects. It offers features, from online quizzes to in-store beauty classes, that make finding products and learning how to use them a whole lot easier. If you’ve only been using Sephora for the products, it’s time to see what else you can get out of the company. Ahead are the seven features every beauty lover should not only know but fervently use at Sephora.
Going into Sephora with clear intentions on what you’re going to get is a tougher scenario than it seems; there’s a profusion of products, selections, and price ranges. That’s where their IQs come in handy. These online “quizzes” determine what product will work best for you, so you won’t be stuck roaming the isles.
The IQs have two categories: either skin care or color. The skin-care IQ is separated into whether you want to recommendations based on skin concern, product type, or brand. If you want a group of products tailored to exactly what you want, go with concern. From there you answer a series of questions about skin type, problems, and type of product wanted, ensuring you’re getting exactly the recommendations you want and need.
The color IQ, on the other hand, offers a unique opportunity to find your exact shade in the products and brands Sephora carries. You start by determining your IQ color by choosing a brand you already wear and what product you use (i.e, I first chose Nars, then Sheer Glow Foundation, then my shade Deauville). At this point, it assigns you a color IQ number (mine is 1R05) and features every other brand that carries a foundation or concealer in that shade. If the shade looks too light or dark, there’s an easy switch option, or you can start over with the thre- question quiz. The color IQ quiz is not only for foundation and concealer; it works with lipstick, too.
Much like the IQs, Sephora’s online quizzes help you find what you’re looking for. While it does offer a foundation and skin-care quiz, it’s the fragrance and brush quizzes that make this feature different and useful. The fragrance quiz asks about preferences such as floral versus woodsy or who you want to be smelling you in an elevator, among others, and then gives you multiple perfumes and/or colognes that match your wants. And to make things easy, you can check and see if a store near you carries it so you don’t blindly buy. The brush quiz is especially handy because it helps you learn what kind of brushes do what. You choose where on your face you’ll be using your brush, for what, and how heavy you want the application. That means if you know nothing about brushes, but you know how you want your makeup applied, this will work for you.
Although you might have known about this feature before, there’s a lot more you can get out of it than having someone do your makeup. Sephora offers three different types of makeovers: mini, custom, and personal one-on-one.
Let’s start small with the mini, which is 15 minutes and f-r-e-e. Free! You can choose the Fenty Beauty makeover or one of the store’s other signature makeovers: Smoky Eye, Contour & Highlighting, Polished Brows, Everyday Eye, Essential Eyeliner, Flawless Foundation, Treat & Conceal, Blush & Bronze, Perfect Lips, or False Lash Application. You have the option to book a day and time directly online so you know you’re going to get a seat. However, this is currently offered only in Los Angeles, New York, and Las Vegas, except for the Fenty Beauty makeover happening in all stores till June 27.
The next step up the rung is the custom 45-minute full-face makeover by a beauty advisor. It will cost you a minimum of $50 through a purchase or $50 gift card redemption, but it’s worth it. There’s one person focusing solely on you and your entire face who not only tells you key products to have but new ways to cater to your face. This feature is available in all stores, and you can book online.
Lastly, the personal one-on-one makeover is with a senior beauty expert. It’s a 90-minute customized skin-care, fragrance, and beauty makeover, complimentary with $125 minimum purchase. Go big or go home, right? As with the custom, this is available for booking across the country.
Free Beauty Classes
If you’d rather know how to do the makeup yourself instead of getting a makeover, Sephora offers tons of free (yes, again—really!) beauty classes. Classes include topics like age-defying skin care, no-makeup makeup, winged eyeliner, and two classes for confidence: bold beauty for the transgender community and brave beauty in the face of cancer. They’re offered at every store in the United States, and you can sign up online. However, you have to be over 13 to attend a class and be a Beauty Insider. What’s that, you ask? Keep on reading.
Beauty Insider Program
It’s all about the rewards. In 2007, Sephora started this free loyalty program to offer rewards and special promotions. But it didn’t stop there. In 2009, Sephora launched VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider), and in 2013 added Rouge. The latter two require you to spend $350 and $1,000 a year respectively to be a part of the club. The process works the same for all three though; when you spend money at Sephora you get points, and with those points, you can get free stuff at the Bazaar. There are also birthday gifts, beauty classes, and access to the community. The community is a forum where you can ask for recommendations, get inspiration, and talk to other beauty lovers about tips and tricks. For VIB and Rouge you can also get things like free makeovers, two-day shipping, and for Rouge only, invitations to private events. See here for a full list of benefits. Looks like it pays to be a member.
The Sephora App
Usually having an app in addition to the online and brick-and-mortar store wouldn’t be necessary, but this app provides access to events happening in stores, a virtual try-on feature, and exclusive information on previews and promotions. The try-on feature, called virtual artist, might be the best part of the app (besides exclusive information, duh). You can try on any makeup the store sells online; mix and match; completely do your eye with cut-crease, lid, and outer corner; literally everything you would need. There are also tutorials, recommended products, and access to everything that’s online on the go. It’s free on iTunes and Google Play, so there are no excuses.
PLAY! Subscription Box
We love a good subscription box, and who knew Sephora had one? It’s $10 a month, you get five samples, and a collectible makeup bag, plus a beauty bonus. It’s the standard process of filling out a survey highlighting what kind of products you use/want, and then each month the store curates a box specifically for you. The service can be canceled any time and is available for any address in the United States. It’s a great way to see what kinds of things Sephora has to offer that you normally wouldn’t go for and at a much lower price. Plus, if you don’t like a product, there’s essentially no harm done. There’s bound to be something you fall in love with.