Sephora is possibly one of the most popular beauty stores, has far surpassed Ulta, and is a major addiction for lots of women everywhere, myself included. So what if you could get more value for your money spent at Sephora, and learn how to get more free stuff?
A few years ago, I had an “unfortunate event” happen that ended up as me becoming somewhat of a Sephora expert. I left my car parked on the street in Uptown overnight and someone broke into it. They stole some valuable stuff, including my makeup bag with over $300 worth of makeup. That was a lesson well learned for me. As I replenished my makeup stock, I decided to stick with Sephora for everything. I already knew about their point system and liked the lines they carry. I didn’t have the money to buy everything back all at once, so it was a long process of many online orders, lots of time getting advice from the employees in the store, trying new products, and returning ones I didn’t like.
Since I started learning the ins-and-outs of shopping at Sephora, I’ve gotten to know some pretty cool hacks that help me get lots of free stuff. Enjoy 🙂
7 Thrifty Sephora Hacks
1. Get a Beauty Insider card ASAP.
Beauty Insider cards are Sephora’s loyalty membership. They don’t cost a dime and all you do is rack up points and spend the points on free stuff. You get 1 point for every dollar you spend, and you can spend your points on product minis of all sorts when you get to 100, 250, or 500 points. It’s pretty great. It comes with some perks like a free birthday gift, free beauty classes, and $10/yr for flash 2-day shipping on all of your online orders. But there’s two more levels.
Once you spend $350 a year, you become a V.I.B. This gives you everything a Beauty Insider gets plus extra perks like seasonal savings, hand picked gifts, and 1 free custom makeover. You’ll also get extra deals by email with promo codes for free mini’s (which I will explain later).
The top level is a V.I.B. Rouge, which I have hit once because of the story I mentioned earlier, and maintained for two years (goodbye paychecks). You have to spend $1,000 a year to be a V.I.B. Rouge and it’s seriously amazing. Like pretty much a dream world. Okay maybe not but it still rocks. You get all the perks of Beauty Insiders and V.I.B’s, but you also get UNLIMITED free custom makeovers, free flash 2-day shipping on all of your online orders, a private hotline, and invitations to exclusive events.
I went to a “Rouge only” event once and it was awesome. They have the event before the store opens, so you’ve got the whole thing to yourself. And all the other Rouge members. First, they hand you a goody bag with some free products in it when you enter the door. Then you see a table filled with breakfast pastries and fruit. There are reps from the makeup brands all over the store to help you and put makeup on you to make you look amazing. They also usually have something where you earn 2x or 3x the points when you make a purchase at those events. They’re awesome. If you get an invite, go.
2. Give them your birth date, and get your free birthday gift.
Sephora has some sweet birthday gifts. All you have to do is sign up for the Beauty Insider card and enter your birthday. Then anytime during the month of your birthday go into a store to get your free birthday gift!! It’s usually a little kit with a few product travel sizes/minis. I’ve gotten lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, face masks, moisturizer, and lots more that I can’t remember. If you don’t take advantage of your b-day gift you’re just missing out on more free stuff 🙂
3. Order online and get 3 free samples with every order.
I love product samples. I bring them on vacation so I don’t have to pack full size or even travel sized bottles of everything. It’s so much easier to just throw 3 little packets of moisturizer or shampoo and conditioner in my travel bag instead of the whole jar if I’m only going to be gone for a few days. Plus, that way I get to try so many more products!! Shopping in store and bringing your products home right away can be a more convenient for some, but if you pay $10 for flash 2-day shipping for the whole year, or if you have Rouge status and already get that for free, then it’s pretty easy to shop online.
I have a whole container full of sample packets I’ve gotten from Sephora; organize them by function – skin, hair, makeup – and then just grab some every time I’m going to travel.
4. Ask for samples in store.
In my experience, Sephora employees are almost always more than happy to give you a sample of something if you ask for it. Masks, moisturizer, perfumes, primers, liquid makeup, etc are all things that are super easy to get samples of. If you want to try something that isn’t so easy for them to put in a sample container for you, such as most makeup, ask them if they have time to apply it on your face so you can see what it looks like as well as be shown how to use it before buying. Pretty much anytime I’m trying a new foundation I will have them apply it for me in the store so I can get a perfect color match and make sure I love it before buying it.
5. Use email promo codes for free minis!
Sephora is constantly sending out emails (don’t unsubscribe!) with promo codes for free mini’s, or as they call them, “deluxe samples.” They are basically just a tiny bit smaller than most travel size products. I usually get an email with a promo code from them every couple of days. So I just watch for promo codes with products I want, and then put in an online order! Most of the promo codes are only valid with a $25 purchase and you can only use one per order. Which leads to my next hack…
6. Separate online purchases to get more free minis.
As I mentioned in hack #5, most of their deluxe sample promo codes have a 1 per order limit and your order has to be over $25. So as I was putting in a pretty big online order one day, searching through my promo codes deciding which one to use, I realized something. Why not just separate my orders so I can use more? If I’m buying a $30 eye shadow palette and a $30 foundation, I will just separate them into 2 different purchases. That way, with each purchase I can use a promo code to get a deluxe mini AND get 3 free samples with each purchase. If you do something like this a lot, it definitely pays off to have the free 2-day shipping.
7. Return it if you’re not absolutely in love with it.
One of my favorite things about Sephora is their amazing return policy. Trying a new makeup line can be scary if you’ve used the same product for years, and you’re spending a decent amount of money on it. They get that. Even though you can try on the makeup in the store, they understand that once you get home and have been using it for a few days or even sometimes weeks, it can be a different story. Whether it looks completely different on you at home, or it starts making you break out after a week, or if you accidentally dropped it and the container broke, or if you just don’t like it.
I have never had an issue returning something in store at Sephora. They genuinely want you to love what you are getting! No receipt? No worries, you can just use your Beauty Insider/V.I.B./Rouge account 🙂 Also a little disclaimer: if you made the purchase online, you can’t return it at a Sephora inside of a JC Penny.