It was 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning in New York City, and a gaggle of women were flooding into Sephora's Meatpacking store. Wearing tight party dresses and sky-high heels, they floated through the aisles, generously sweeping on lipsticks and eyeshadows from the sample stations. They all had somewhere to be: Bagatelle, New York's clubbiest brunch, which is conveniently situated right across the street.
"They'd come in and get their glitter, and you could feel the energy of them getting ready because that’s the best part of going out," says Jeffrey English, who worked at the store two years before becoming a beauty director at Sephora. One time, a girl came back after eight hours at Bagatelle to show English that her makeup was still on.
The scenario wasn't unique to Meatpacking. Across the city, cast members also saw people doing the "Sephora Pit Stop" — from high-powered execs touching up their makeup before a client dinner to party girls doing a full face after not going home the night before. "I used to work at 34th street [in New York City], and every morning clients would come in with their Starbucks and no makeup on and get their face ready," says David Razzano, who's now also a beauty director at Sephora. "You could tell it was a routine for them. They sat their cups down and tried new products every day."
And it's not just women. "If you work in a Sephora in a mall, the people who work in the mall come in every day," Myiesha Sewell, who worked in Sephora stores in California and is now also one of the brand's beauty directors, says. "The security guards would come in and get their Chanel Bleu cologne every day. It’s either about going out or a necessary thing before work."
Every morning clients would come in with their Starbucks and no makeup on and get their face ready. You could tell it was a routine for them.
While the bolder types sweep and blend with abandon, the larger majority of people think they're doing something wrong, and try to sneak around the aisles and avoid eye contact. But Sephora beauty directors are quick to challenge that assumption. They actually love helping these kinds of people out, but there are some rules to being in the Sephora Pit Stop Club. Here's how to do it right — straight from the pros.
"It’s either about going out or a necessary thing before work, and it's totally fine."
Be Up-Front With The Staff
There's no need to sneak around the store like you're doing something wrong — which, if anything, will draw more attention from the security guard. "Be honest!" Razzano says. "If we come up to you, literally just be like, I just want to play around! If you want to do it on your own, you’re more than welcome. It’s a playground. But if you want a little help, we've got so many people in store."
Do Keep it Clean
You know those white bottles of rubbing alcohol at the stations? They're not just for cleaning makeup tools. "[Squeeze some] on the little pad, and sweep it over any eyeshadows or powders or eyeliners or anything like that and it’ll disinfect [them]," Razzano says. And if you want to try a shadow or blush, but don't want to use your fingers or a cotton ball, cast members are happy to fetch you a clean brush.
If putting samples on your face still skeeves you out, there are a couple other hot tips to steal from repeat pit stoppers: You can twist a lipstick all the way up and scrape from the bottom, or you can stick to formulas that squeeze out so you know someone hasn't touched the actual foundation before you.
Get A Sample
Don't be shy about requesting a sample. "Another neat thing is you can get a sample to-go," English says. "If these girls are going to Bagatelle and they’re going to be out for their whole birthday extravaganza, we’ll package them a little sample of their lipstick, and some concealer to touch up with."
Honestly, there's no shame to be had here. Everybody does it — even, as Sewell told us, Captain Jack Sparrow. "On Hollywood Boulevard, there are celebrity impersonators," Sewell says. "There was this guy who dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow who had a particular Make Up For Ever pencil eyeliner that he absolutely loved. Every morning he'd go right for it. And I’m like, Dude, buy the eyeliner, you use it every day!"