9 Insider Hacks From Former Sephora Employees

As much as we worship everyone's favorite black-and-white striped beauty haven, we know how dangerous Sephora can be to our bank accounts. Every time we walk out, our wallets have taken quite the (chic) hits. The beauty addicts in us may be satisfied, but the responsible adults are shaking their heads profusely. But what if we told you that you could please both parties?

As unreal as it may sound, there are ways to save money at Sephora while racking up some pretty great perks in the process. In order to bring you the best hacks around, we asked a handful of former Sephora employees to share their insider tips and tricks. Click through, beauty devotees, and your bank accounts will thank you.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the number of mini-makeovers available per customer. The article has been updated to reflect the change.


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Illustrated by Eliot Salazar.
This may be a no-brainer, but hear us out. Samples are not only killer for saving money (especially when traveling), but also for testing out products before you make the leap to dish out money on full-sized items — so don't be afraid to ask!

In fact, while you may feel satisfied exiting the store with just one, our sources confirm that employees are allowed to give customers up to three samples each.

Translation: Don't just pop in and pick up your mascara, grab a few things to try at home, too! Not to worry: If you order online, you get three samples with every order as well.

"Samples are a must to try before you buy," a former Sephora employee tells us. And don't limit yourself to just skin-care samples, either. Fragrances are also clutch to stock up on, and they're perfect for your purse.

According to another former Sephora employee, the store also always has free, pre-made samples at the register you can ask for and take home if you're in a hurry.
Illustrated by Eliot Salazar.
If there's an opportunity for you to save a little dough, take it and run for the hills. That means if you're not a Beauty Insider already, get on that! It's free and takes two seconds to sign up.

Here's how it works: You get a point for every dollar you spend, a free birthday treat (think: luxe travel-size samples), and access to the annual (sometimes biannual) sales.

According to a former employee, you should watch your email or mailbox for the store's deals, too, which are often offered in April and November. Beauty Insider coupons are reusable until the end of the sale window, so you have some time, but don't sleep on the discount because it's big.

Naturally, the higher your Insider status, the bigger the discount. Rouge (those who spend more than $1,000 in a calendar year) and VIB (those who spend more than $350) members usually have access to the best deals.
Illustrated by Eliot Salazar.
As a number of Sephora insiders tell us, December has the best deals.
"In December, they usually offer a gift card based on your status of Beauty Insider," one former employee tells us. "VIB Rouge gets $25, VIB $20, and BI $15. You have to spend a certain amount to use the gift card, [but] the last time I got one, I only purchased enough to get to the exact dollar amount needed and I essentially got my products for 50% off." Stock up on holiday gifts for family and friends, or, you know, for yourself.
Illustrated by Eliot Salazar.
The Sephora Favorites sets are swapped out frequently, and the amount of money you're saving is clearly marked on the label. It's an especially great buy when you're in the mood to test out a new brand or in the market for, say, a new mascara.

The brand's perfume sampler is especially clutch. It not only allows you to test out up to 13 different scents, but, once you've determined your favorite, you can use the included voucher to redeem a free full-sized version of your pick.
Illustrated by Eliot Salazar.
To really take advantage of the point system, you've got to save. Avoid cashing in on your points for the smaller gifts, our Sephora sources tell us. "Save them for the big perks. Occasionally, they'll have some for 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 points, and they're major," one of our experts says. "Like the Urban Decay Naked Vaults or flying out to L.A. to meet Tata Harper and tour her gardens." While we can't guarantee these exact perks, we have seen pretty rad things hit the cash wrap for these higher point values — so sit tight until you see one!
Illustrated by Eliot Salazar.
Want something (not urgently) that you can't find in your local Sephora? Not to worry, you can get it shipped to you for free — but only if you order in-store! After all, everyone knows paying for shipping is the most annoying part of online-shopping.
Illustrated by Eliot Salazar.
Those in the know are aware that Sephora offers makeovers perfect for special occasions. However, they don't have to burn a hole in your wallet — just ask for a mini-makeover instead. "One thing people definitely don't realize is that you can request a mini-makeover without having to spend the $50 for a full one," one of our insiders tells us. These mini-makeover services include: smoky eye, contour, false-lash application, correct and conceal, and more (just not all at once).

Another makeover perk Sephora has launched are free classes. "You book it online — the sooner the better, because they fill up very fast," our insider recommends. "It's a great way to learn, and at smaller locations, you get more one-on-one time. They usually [take place] when the store closes, so it goes a bit more smoothly."
Illustrated by Eliot Salazar.
Did you know that you can also get a free mini skin-care service? Because we sure didn't. Our insider tells us: "Don't go to the Beauty Studio, but have a skin-care consultant do it at the skin-care studio. They will do a more thorough job of prepping your skin, and they will pamper you more than at the Beauty Studio."

The services you can choose from are: double-cleanse, mask and moisturize, and peel and perfect. "The double-cleanse basically teaches you which two types of cleansers to use based on skin type," our Sephora expert tells us. "Mask and moisturize is usually recommended for dry skin types, and peel and perfect is for more normal to oily skin types."

Free mini-facial? Yes, please!
Illustrated by Eliot Salazar.
We know how tempting travel-sized products can be — they basically stare you down as you wait in line — but, nine times out of 10, the price-per-ounce is not worth your hard-earned moola. You'd be better off buying the full-sized version and requesting a sample for traveling.
Illustrated by Eliot Salazar.
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