If you have to buy it, get the best deal!
How do you get the best deal at Sephora? Sephora is DisneyWorld for makeup lovers. As someone who probably loves Disney more than makeup, I do not say that lightly. Although I love a lot of beauty and makeup stores, I experience pure joy when visiting Sephora. My son calls it my store. He’s not wrong, because I love shopping there. Deal stacking at Sephora is not always possible, but there are times when it is. There are always new things to learn, so I will edit this if I discover something new. I’ve seen guides to getting the best deal at Sephora before, but they’re not usually comprehensive and miss many important tips. Details scare some people. If you’re scared of detail, click that little X and back out now. Do not say I did not warn you!
The most important tip for getting the best deal at Sephora is to sign up for a Beauty Insider account. Beauty insiders get rewarded for their shopping activity, but they also receive early access to certain products and exclusive deals. Most deals get emailed to Beauty Insiders, but occasional promotions get mailed. I do not recommend opting out of either. If you are one of the unlucky people who randomly stop receiving emails at some point, I have four suggestions. Create a second account. Sephora will send all the general Beauty Insider offers to your secondary email. For VIB and Rouge exclusive offers, find an online community or blog you like that posts deals. I post the ones I receive to my Sephora Page. Check the Beauty Deals link before placing an online order. While Beauty Deals link does not list everything, it lists a lot more options than the view promo code link in the checkout screen. Follow Sephora on Facebook to see what promotion they offer for Fan Fridays.
Most promotions are only available online, and you can only redeem one promo code per order. Read the fine print of the promotion, because there are occasional promotions available in store as well. Some promotions available in store do not require a purchase. There is a current promotion available online or in store. Online, use code LOCKITUP to select a 0.065oz Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer with a $25 purchase. The concealer does not require a purchase in store, but the wording is confusing. Luckily, Sephora changed the wording for future promotions, so it should be a lot easier to redeem free promotions in store.
During special events (some get advertised and others do not), there sometimes are gifts with purchase in store. If you are a Sephora Play Subscriber, remember to turn in your Play Pass for 50 points with any in-store purchase. You do not need to consult with any employee buy a product featured in the box. It is valid through the end of the following month you receive the box. Carrying it in your purse is a great way to make sure you redeem it if you happen to make a trip to a store you did not plan ahead of time.
If you are shopping in store, you can request free samples. Sephora keeps very few pre-packaged samples in the store and almost hides the one it keeps. Even when they’re in your sights (behind the register), some employees will tell you they do not have any, so I stopped asking. They use the testers to make samples you request, so only ask for items you are not grossed out to try. In all of my time of shopping Sephora, I only asked them to make me a sample of one item. It was an item that comes in a tube. They sometimes insist of making you sample, as they did at the recent Rouge event. When they really want to make me a sample, I will accept it. The original sample rule was three samples per category. Sephora divides into worlds. Color and skincare have dedicated employees, but I am unsure fragrance does. This means you can get 3 samples from: skincare, makeup, and fragrance. Some employees change the rule to say you can only have 3 total samples.
When you shop online, you can always add three (of 12) free samples to your cart. There are times when Sephora increases the number to 5, but that is always temporary. If you spend a minimum of $25, you can always add a promotion code. Some promo codes require a $35 or even a $50 purchase. Select promo codes are only available for Beauty Insiders, VIB, or even Rouge Clients. Limitations on who can redeem a promo code (or whether it can also be redeemed in store) will always be listed in the fine print.
The shipping minimum at Sephora is $50. You can bypass the shipping fee with a purchase below $50 with Flash Shipping. With Flash shipping, members get two-day shipping from when the order processes. Processing can take less than a day or multiple days depending on the order. Flash shipping is $15 a year, so it pays for itself after two orders below $50. Rouge members get flash shipping for free (as long as they enroll or they get free Rouge shipping, which is a day slower). Unless you enroll in flash shipping or get free Rouge shipping, I suggest purchasing in store to avoid the $5.95 shipping charge. Paying for shipping negates some of the deal, but paying once a year softens the blow a little. If your store is out of the item you want, they will give you a unique promo code for free online shipping. Ask for it if they do not offer it.
I always recommend looking at the sale section online. It is especially useful when you are close to reaching a promotion or shipping minimum, but there are occasionally some gems in this section. Some Sephora stores have in store sales section, and it never hurts to ask where it is if you cannot find it. At one store, I was unable to find it and the employee I asked could not find it either. While it is possible they did not have anything on sale at the time, I do not believe the store never has an in store sale section. Resist the urge to grab small items from the checkout line. Many of these items are very expensive per ounce travel sizes. They are usually the opposite of a good deal. There are times when the price per ounce is cheaper on the travel size as with GlamGlow and a few others. If you must buy the travel sizes, carry a calculator to compare it to the full-size.
The best deal available at Sephora is in the Favorites section. No one puts favorites kits together like Sephora, and I love collecting these. From makeup, to skincare, to perfume, these kits cover popular items you can purchase in every category imaginable. Many sets, like the mascara and fragrance ones, have a certificate to redeem for a free full-size product. The idea is to sample all the items and redeem for a full-size of the one you like most. Sometimes, the cost of the item you’re redeeming is more than the set, so you get a discount and all the samples for free once you redeem your certificate. If you already love an item that is in one of these sets and cheaper or the same price as the set, get it and redeem your certificate right away. That is deal stacking 101!
All favorites sets are exclusive and some repeat (with a different line up) every year. The Sun Safety Kit comes out every year in May to June. It donates $20 to the Skin Cancer Foundation and provides me with all the facial sunscreen I need for the average year. Soko To Tokyo is a customizable skincare set that releases in the summer, usually June. Bronze Bares All is a set that releases in Spring. Give Me More Lip is a large lip kit that releases mid to late September. These are just a few examples. There are also sets that do not repeat, like Give Me Some Nude Lip and Paint it Pink. As long as you want most of the items in this set, they are an incredible deal. Most have a value that is way more than double the cost.
If there are any items you want to purchase later, add them to your love list. This is especially helpful for items that are out of stock. Some items allow you to sign up for an in stock email, but you may spot it in stock from your loves list before the email arrives. Popular items can sell out again before an in stock email ever arrives. There are times when items are completely removed from the site but stay in your loves list. On the rare occasion those items come back in stock, you can only add them from your loves list (unless you happen to have the link available).
This only applies to a small percentage of the population, but the Sephora in DownTown Disney at Disneyland has select events where they offer 20% discounts for Disney Employees. I only bring this one up, because I love Disney and Sephora. It was exciting to see this. Because I happened upon this discount a couple of times, I am not a good source of details for all upcoming events. Check with Sephora and/or Disney with questions.
Anyone who joins the Beauty Insider Program earns 1 point for every dollar spent. Members who reach VIB level get 1.25 points per dollar spent, and VIB Rouge members get 1.5 points per dollar spent. Points will only expire if your account remains untouched for 18 months. Since even redeeming the free birthday gift makes a transaction to the account, most people should have some activity to keep points active. Redeem points at any time for deluxe perks in the Rewards Bazaar or bank them for select full-size items, trips, and more. Popular items in this event run out of stock very quickly, so I’ve never been encouraged to save points. I like to redeem 100 point perks, because a lot of the 500 point perks offer less than 5 items. If I can get 5 100 point perks for 500, I want at least 5 items in a 500 point perk. An exception would be if the 500 point perk or larger has full-sized items, I would accept less than 5. Those lucky enough to get anything in Epic Rewards do get wonderful full-sized items and gift sets starting at 1000 points.
All Beauty Insiders receive point multipliers for 2x-4x points that run throughout the year: skin care in January, fragrance in February, fragrance in May, everything in August, and fragrance in December. Some offers are the same for everyone. When there is a difference, beauty insiders get 2x, VIB clients get 3x, and Rouge clients get 4x.
All Beauty Insiders get a free birthday gift. The offer to redeem your gift should appear in your account two weeks before your birthday and lasts for two weeks afterward. Just add either the Fresh Gift or the Marc Jacobs Gift to your cart within the allotted time frame. A purchase is required to redeem it online, but you can pick it up for free in store.
All Beauty Insiders have access to special Beauty Insider events, free beauty classes with select purchases, a $15 off $50 promo code for Christmas, special promotion codes for Beauty Insider clients, access to certain items before the public, a 10% discount on anything during Chic Week, and more.
A Beauty Insider who spends $350-$999.99 a year gets upgraded to VIB, Very Important Beauty Insider. When you qualify, you get the following benefits for the rest of that year and the following year. VIB members get all the perks Beauty Insiders get. They also get: 1.25 points per dollar (instead of 1 point per dollar), 20% off during the November VIB sale, increased point multipliers over BI clients (during select promotions), the opportunity to save 10% once a year (after it resets in January OR within 60 days of qualifying) using a code Sephora emails you (the VIB discount), one free shipping code (after qualifying), a free makeover (if you order a VIB welcome kit upon qualifying), special VIB events, an extra $5 off ($20 total) the BI Christmas promo amount, special promotion codes for VIB clients, an extra 5% discount (15% total) for Chic Week, access to certain items before BI clients, and more.
A VIB who spends $1000 or more a year gets upgraded to VIB Rouge. When you qualify, you get the following benefits for the rest of that year and the following year. Rouge members get all the perks Beauty Insiders get, and all perks VIB clients get. They also get: 1.5 points per dollar (instead of 1.25 points per dollar), access to Rouge Only products, a free gift when they qualify, free shipping on every order (free Flash if they sign up), free makeovers, special Rouge events, increased point multipliers over VIB clients (during select promotions), an extra $5 off ($25 total) the VIB Christmas promo amount, special promotion codes for Rouge clients, access to certain items before VIB clients, and more. It is important to note a few things regarding the Rouge level. VIB Rouge private events did return in June 2016, so I hope they have returned for good. Rouge only promo codes were common in 2014, but they were almost non-existent in 2015 and 2016.
The major promotions offer your best chance to stack deals. During point promotions, points multiply automatically, so you can still use a promo code to redeem something else. That is technically stacking, although nowhere near as grand as Ulta. There is no deal stacking for online orders during the Love Note Sale (which usually takes place in early April). If you choose to use the discount promo code, you cannot add a promo code that offers a free product. This is a flaw with Sephora’s system that I wish it would correct. Beauty Insiders get 10% off during this sale while VIB and Rouge members get 15% off. Rouge members get an extra day to shop this sale, but we used to get more. When there is a private VIB Rouge event for the Love Note Sale (it got canceled in 2016), Rouge clients who shop in person can stack the discount with a GWP item. It is usually a bag, and the bag has samples (at times).
Beauty Insider Appreciation Week usually takes place in August, but it moved to September for 2016. This week-long event gives Beauty Insiders 2x points, VIB clients 3x points, and VIB Rouge Clients 4x points. VIB and Rouge clients can also redeem a 7-8 VIB Appreciation Bag with an online $25 purchase. When this event coincides with a private Rouge event, Rouge clients can pick up the same bag or a very similar bag in store.
The VIB sale is an event around the beginning to middle of November. It is available to all levels since 2017. Everything gets discounted by 20% for VIB and Rouge and 15% for Beauty Insider members. Short of gift cards, there are no exclusions. This is my absolute favorite time to shop Sephora, because there is no limit to how many times you can shop the sale. Many stores with 20% discounts on prestige items have restrictions or limits on how many times you can shop. Sephora does not! If something is out of stock when you place your order and comes in stock later (during the sale), you can grab it. When there is a private VIB Rouge event for the VIB Sale (it got canceled in 2015), Rouge clients who shop in person can stack the discount with a GWP item. It is usually a bag, and the bag has samples (at times). Sometimes, it even allows you to add the free VIB Rouge tote with the discount online. In 2015, there was an open event (different from a private/closed event), and the bag was only available during the event.
The best deal stacking comes from the Christmas gift cards. As mentioned above, all Beauty Insiders get a gift card. Although these gift cards have purchase minimums and expiration dates, they are actual gift cards. That means you can redeem them with a separate promo code. It also means you pay tax on the full amount, so there is one caveat to the silver lining. Discount codes (like those for the Love Note and VIB sale) remove their amount before tax calculates.
Customer appreciation bags release at the beginning of November. While there are other times throughout the year where a Beauty Insider can redeem promotion codes with multiple deluxe samples, this is probably the biggest offering each year. It is usually a bag with around 8 deluxe items in it. Black Friday offers include a lot of cute sets. Many retail for as little as $10 and some are even specially curated for the event. Cyber Monday has another deluxe gift bag. It is not as grand as the customer appreciation bags, but it is more fun. These bags are a mystery and some bags are better than others.
The Employee Appreciation Sale, which takes place in mid to late October is the only time a Sephora employee can offer a discount to someone who gets to use their own Beauty Insider account to purchase it. This is a 20% off single use discount code intended for friends and family. While some people may ask an employee who is not a friend and successfully get a code, most employees will only offer discounts to people they actually know (outside of work). We all want to believe Sephora employees are our friends, and if we believe that, they are doing a very good job.
I love the Sale on Sale promotion. It is the last major promotion (and technically the first since it carries over into New Year’s Day) of the year. Everything in the sale section gets an extra 20% off. This does require a promo code, so there is no technical deal stacking. Some of the items they try to clear out at the end of the year are real gems, so it almost feels like stacking. The awful items that have been there for years usually survive the sale. Another reason to check the sale section when you shop is to familiarize yourself with old options. Even with an extra 20% off, do you really want to purchase makeup that has been on sale for over 2 years!
Now, that I’ve covered everything I can think of, this is a reminder to become an Beauty Insider. Certain offers are targeted and others have different purchase minimums based on the code. Remember to check New Offers and/or Recycled Offers before placing an online order. If you’re spending over $25, you can add a promo code to any order. Follow the steps I’ve mentioned, and you should get great deals at Sephora. This article is not going anywhere, so you can always refer back to it to freshen up on any topic that gets fuzzy. See all Sephora articles and articles on getting the best deal. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.
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