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The first closed-door event for 2018 took place at Sephora on Saturday, September 15th from 8:30am – 10am PST. This was a Rouge only event where we got first access to the holiday launches. Most years have at least two closed-door events, so it is still possible we will get one with the VIB sale later this fall. This event was not as grand as some past closed-door events for a season preview, but it was still worth my time. Every event is different. Some stores provide the bare minimum while others go all out, so no two experiences will be the same. I recommend reading Inside a Sephora VIB Rouge Event for those who have never attended who are trying to decide if this event is worth their time.
Closed-Door Events usually run around a theme. This one was a holiday preview. Yes, buying items for new holiday launches more than three months before the holiday seems a little silly. Brands seem to get the launches out earlier each year for those who like to shop early. Those like me, who like to shop late, need to get on it, because everyone else will buy out some of the earlier launches if we wait too long.
All closed-door events have brand representatives (each store had different brand reps) to go over their products. This could mean special GWP opportunities given directly from the brand reps, mini makeovers using products from the represented brands, and more.
Rouge members who spent at least $50 in store got a limited edition beauty bag. No samples are advertised with this bag, but some stores will place samples they have on hand in the bags. Most stores will not. As regular Sephora shoppers know, stores do not carry a lot of prepackaged samples, because employees make samples from testers for customers who are brave. Some samples, like perfumes, are hygienic, so I would consider those. This bag is not available online, but anyone shopping online can use a promo code Sephora advertises or any of the ones I highlight on my Sephora Deals Page.
Inventory for these events always varies. My store had all the items in the preview email with no bonuses that weren’t advertised. That means I knew exactly what to expect. I would not have expected to see a special unicorn not already pictured, but anything is possible.
If your store does not carry a brand you see in these preview photos, it is highly unlikely it will have the item at the event. Some stores will not get their shipments on time or will only get a few products to sell for the event and may run out quickly. In these scenarios, fret not.
Rouge members who were unable to attend the event or attended the event but wanted more items can get access to the products from the online link. In the past, these items were only available on the day of the event. Then, Sephora pulled them back until their official launch date. That did not happen this time. Every item here was still available on the 16th. Eight of the items were still Rouge exclusive, three items were still VIB and Rouge exclusive and the other 12 items were available for everyone to purchase. While I do prefer not pulling the products back the next day, it essentially means Rouge members got to purchase most items only one day before other levels.
Sets with great prices will go particularly fast. The email did not have any of the prices, but they were all posted the day the online link went live.
There are 23 products we can purchase for this event. Most of these were available in-store. They were the ones listed in the email. I do like the Sephora Sheet Masks and typically pick one of these $25 sets up a couple of times a year. Hopefully, the big set comes out next month (as usual), because I’d rather grab that instead. The Becca set has Opal, which I get samples of way too often, but it also has 3 of the more limited shades. That makes it somewhat desirable to me, so I will grab one if there are any left in the 20% off sale in November. As I mentioned in the Sephora Favorites Everyday Must Haves Grab or Pass article, I don’t like paying a lot for samples. If I was not already super stocked on beautyblenders, I would have grabbed that set. I love both the cleanser and the tool, and those colors are striking.
Everything from the Caudalie set down was not included in the email. These items were not at the store today either. The Marc Jacobs items are for VIB and Rouge members, so there are really only 3 online exclusives to this event.
I arrived at the Summerlin store about 15 minutes after the event started. There was a lady standing out front to check everyone in. In all my years attending these events, I’ve never had to wear a name badge with my full name. I either wear my first name or nothing at all. You will notice that while I am fine with everyone knowing that my name is Kimberly, I have never mentioned my full name anywhere on this blog. As such, I edited the sticker with my name on it.
We were given a card and a basket when we checked in.
Everything on the card was superfluous information from the email Sephora already sent. I realize it was probably cheaper for Sephora to print thousands of these for Rouge customers all over, but I would have preferred individualized ones for the store. In the past, I’ve received guides that told me which brand reps were there and other pertinent information about the event that I did not already know. As every store has different reps and offerings that would have been preferable to reiterating information I already knew before I walked in.
The lady who checked me in told me there was water to the right. This is the first closed-door event I’ve attended without any snacks. Funny enough, I always eat something light before I head over to these events and usually pass on the snacks. Of course there was nothing on the morning I assumed I would just grab a muffin or banana there. My son is allergic to bananas, so I cannot bring them into my house at all. When Sephora (or any other place I go) has a banana, I will usually grab one. That’s a special treat for me. It’s not a big deal that there weren’t snacks, but I won’t rely on them anymore.
I like to lap the store after entering to see which brand reps are there and get photos of their stations. As I walked around the store, people were approaching me left and right offering help. The store was nowhere near as crowded as it usually is for an event like this, and the employees who were working made a point to keep checking in with everyone. After completing two laps, I only noticed one official station. It was for Kate Somerville. Initially, I assumed this was the only brand there, because I did not see any other set-ups displayed. At every other event I’ve attended, they have multiple set-ups for brands just like the one here for Kate Somerville.
When the event is to launch next season’s products early, I like to see what they are offering. As I mentioned above, my store only offered items in the email, nothing more, nothing less. If none of the items in the email interested you, this display would have disappointed.
The irony that it is still technically summer and I just went to a preview of holiday launches does not escape me. As a deal lover, the holiday launches are almost always my favorites. It is not unusual to see brands putting out kits where you pay for the full-size product and get a lot of samples for free or you pay for the full-size product and a negligible amount for the samples. This is especially great when the samples are extremely valuable. There were multiple kits like that out, and I almost purchased one.
This $88 Drunk Elephant Agent Ellie Day Kit includes a 1oz C-Firma™ Day Serum, which retails for $80 by itself. I enjoy that serum and was ready to purchase this set (until a different sales rep talked me into buying something else instead; more on that later). It also includes: a 0.17oz Shaba Complex™ Eye Serum, a 0.5oz Umbra Tinte™ Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, 0.27oz B-Hydra™ Intensive Hydration Serum, and a 0.5oz Protini™ Polypeptide Cream. Those are generous samples for $2 each. That is the same price of a deluxe sample in a Sephora Play Box.
There are always two products sandwiched between the launches for the new season. I am always curious to see what they are, because one is usually a hot, new release. In this case, it was the MAKE UP FOR EVER Matte Velvet Skin. My skin is dry, so this foundation does not really interest me at all.
The second is always a product that is not selling well. By putting it front and center, people attending the event would have to see it. In this case, it is the Marc Jacobs Shameless Foundation. This was panned by so many people, but I will withhold judgement until I try it. Thanks to the lovely Marc Jacobs rep at Neiman Marcus, I have a small sample of this to try (at some point). Sephora could get some sales it might not have at an event where there is a minimum purchase to get the gift. Yes, the new season launches are always at the front and center of the store. It is completely possible these two items were already there before the event, because front and center is bound to grab more attention to a product, whether there is an event or not. If you attended this event, I would love to know which two products were between the Holiday launches for you.
I noticed Sephora makeup artists were giving makeovers. Sephora employees almost always wear the black and red smocks.
When you spot someone in black, it is usually a brand rep or a makeup artist hired by a brand for the event. Either way, they represent the brand. I’ve seen people in black on random days, so I assume they can sometimes be Sephora employees.
Then, I went to take a photo of the bag from the promo for this event at the makeup station, and I noticed a sign that said Too Faced. It hit me that they did have more brand reps than just Kate Somerville. I approached an employee who had already offered to help me twice, because I finally needed help. She said there were 9 brands there. That is the most I’ve ever heard of for an event like this. Each store usually has 5-6. Before this, the most I had seen or heard of at an event was 7. Since there was no list, people could only know about the ones they happened upon organically or asked about. Given how small the Too Faced sign was, it would have been very easy to miss.
The brands that sent reps were: Drunk Elephant, Philosophy, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Living Proof, Milk, Too Faced, Sunday Riley, Kate Somerville, and Algenist. I love some products from every brand there, so I would have talked to anyone. Then, it hit me. Without even realizing it, I had already talked with the Drunk Elephant rep. She was talking to me about their lip balm, and I would have purchased it if it did not have avocado in it. My massive lip balm article where I compare dozens of lip balms is still in the works. If I can stop buying lip balms to compare them to the ones I’ve tried, I will eventually publish it. She was wearing all black, but I did not even notice when we talked. Of course, she was a brand rep.
The makeup brands were given chairs in the beauty studio. It seemed like all the skincare brand reps, other than Kate Somerville, just hung out around their displays. I assume Living Proof did the same, but I never saw anyone or a label, so I am unsure where the rep was. Although I did not catch her name, I wish I had because she was lovely, the lady who offered help twice and told me which reps were there came back to me and asked if I wanted a facial. Services at these events are always free and always mini. She said the Kate Somerville rep was giving them. All the sudden, the larger space made sense. Kate Somerville was offering a specialized service. Facials are not usually my thing, because my skin is super sensitive. When I used to get regular facials, I would almost always react to one of the products. It is hard to pinpoint which one you are reacting to when you try multiple new products.
Nevertheless, I agreed. I went without any makeup on. From past events, I know there are usually skincare and makeup brands who want to test products on you. Besides, I want as much sleep as possible and going without makeup assists me in getting more sleep. When I go to an event like this without makeup, I still get offered a lot of help. If I go without makeup on a regular day, I get a lot less help. As someone who prefers to navigate things on her own and only ask for help when needed, I do not mind, but it is just an observation. It makes sense, because those wearing makeup are probably more into beauty products. You never know though, because I go sans makeup a lot and own a lot more than friends who won’t leave the house without any.
As soon as she walked away to order my facial, someone with a super boisterous personality approached me. She asked what I was looking for, and I answered her the same way I answered everyone else. My mind was not made up yet. At that point, the Drunk Elephant set was the only thing I had considered. This lady was in all black, and I realized I was with the philosophy rep as soon as she walked me over to that section. After noticing the hormonal breakout on my chin, she suggested their new, lightweight moisturizer. I told her it is too thin for me, and she had me sample a few other products on my arms. The Miraculous Anti-wrinkle Miracle Worker was rich without being heavy, but I am just so stocked on moisturizers. It is one I will seriously consider in the future though. There was a GWP she would have given me if I chose this product, and you know how I am with a GWP. However, I already own all the samples in the GWP and so many full-sized moisturizers waiting for their turn on my face.
I went around looking at and swatching more products hoping I would find something to purchase while I waited for my turn for my mini Kate Somerville facial. At this point, I had been there about an hour without finding anything I was 100% sure on. In my defense, I went to the store without a clue of what I wanted. When I know what I want, I can get out quickly. It was finally my turn for a facial. There was no one with me, so I took a photo of someone else getting the service before I did. This is not me.
I told her about my sensitive skin, because she had some Kate Somerville products on the table I’ve used before. My original plan was to have her use the ones I’ve used before, so I would limit this facial to one or two new products. That would give me a better chance of knowing what, if anything, caused a reaction. When I told her which ones I’ve used before, she assumed I wanted her to use different ones to try new things. Instead of correcting her, I went with it and hoped I would be okay.
That was many hours ago and my skin still looks and feels great, so the gamble paid off. She started with the Cold Cream Moisturizing Cleanser + Makeup Remover. My skin was freshly washed before the event. I was not wearing makeup or sunscreen, so that was somewhat pointless. Again, I rolled with it. It felt very nice. Thankfully, I got a sample of this when it was first launched. At some point, I will use my sample. Now that I know it feels great, I want to see how it actually does to remove makeup or sunscreen. With multiple removers open, it may still take a while before I open this. Cold cream on dry skin feels great though.
Next, she used ExfoliKate® Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash. This one is new to me as well. I have foil samples of this, but I had not tried them yet. It is a lot more gentle than ExfoliKate, which is a FabuFind. She used a machine that blew really cold air before applying this DermalQuench Liquid Lift™ Advanced Wrinkle Treatment.
It dawned on me that when I filled out the form for the waitlist, I accidentally entered my old email address. I changed it with Sephora when my original got compromised. It is still the email address I use at most places, so I occasionally forget I don’t use it at Sephora. When I got home from the event, I noticed they opened a new insider account with my old email address.
I did not read the fine print on the form I signed for the facial, so I guess I now have another account. It says I will get rewards and a birthday gift, but I do not even have a pass code to sign in. Sephora only allows one account per person, so I will never use this. Besides, I would not want to shop with an email address where someone else already attempted to use my account.
I even received a thank you email for that service on the new account. Someone is going to view that one day and wonder how someone got a free service without a purchase on account with no history.
She applied the EradiKate Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment next. I know she meant well, but she lectured me as she applied this. After noticing that I’ve picked at the hormonal acne on my chin, she told me to stop doing that. Like my husband, she told me I am wasting money on skincare when I pick, and I know that is technically true. However, I have dermatillomania. When I told her this, she said I can overpower it and stop. Many people do not realize this is a mental disorder caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Knowing she was not buying my disorder, I just thanked her for suggesting this product. It is very difficult to stop picking, but I can sometimes stop myself when I realize I am doing it. Other times, I cannot think of anything else if I do not remove the skin hanging off. Writing this makes me want to pick, but I will do my best to carry on.
This has salicylic acid, like my beloved EradiKate, which is a FabuFind. This also has retinol. It is a lightweight treatment for use all over the face to prevent acne. A lot of acne treatments dry out my face. I could tell the moment she put this on that it was rich, almost sticky. My skin felt instantly more moisturized, which is not something that usually happens with an acne treatment. There was also no burning at all even though my picked acne was not completely healed. As much as I love EradiKate, it burns (lots of alcohol in it) when I apply it to open skin. That usually causes me to skip it.
As someone with dry skin, who gets hormonal acne, I appreciate a treatment that adds moisture into my skin instead of stripping it away. Like EradiKate, it is pink. This is a much more muted pink. I worked the amount I applied to my hand in and it felt great. If this treatment ends up helping my acne, I can see it as a staple in my routine.
The EradiKate Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment retails for $58. Since that is over the $50 minimum to get the bag, I decided not to grab anything else.
I am probably going to use this in place on one of the serums in my routine, because I do not need another step. As such, I decided to forgo the Drunk Elephant set after all. With multiple serums already waiting for use and purchasing this one, I could not justify grabbing another serum. There comes a point where you just accumulate more than you can use.
After she thoroughly sold me on the treatment, she applied Goat Milk Moisturizing Cream to lock everything in. My skin felt amazing afterward. It was so plump and moisturized. For a second, I thought about throwing everything I use away and starting fresh with the items she used, but I realized my skin usually feels that great when I do my entire winter routine. I skip at least 1-2 steps in the summer when it does not need as much moisture.
As if I had not been indecisive enough at this point (taking over an hour to decide what to buy), I could not decide which bag I wanted more. The funny thing is I give away so many of these bags that this one might not stay with me. I asked the lady checking me out which one she would get. She said she liked the gold. That is the one I was initially drawn to. Gold suits my skin tone better, but I really do like both colors. My only reason for leaning toward silver is it looks more like a holiday bag. Ultimately, I decided she was right.
She told me the bag already had samples in it, but she wanted to give me some extras. That was so nice of her, but I could tell from the moment I walked up that she was kind. I love getting greeted with a smile, because I know it increases the odds that the encounter will be pleasant. This is your reminder that this bag did not come with samples. Only stores that added samples from their own stash gave out samples. Since stores do not get a lot of pre-packaged samples, a lot of bags probably came without them. The only thing Sephora promised was the bag.
The foils she gave me were a 0.03oz AMOREPACIFIC Intensive Vitalizing Eye Essence, a 0.03oz AMOREPACIFIC Vintage Single Extract Essence, a 0.05oz Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream, and a Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream. Those were the same samples that were in the bag, so I ended up with two of each.
She also gave me a calendar of the events. I am sure she gave this to everyone, but I have never received one of these before. It makes me feel like they want me to come back. Granted, I know it is a store so coming back likely means I spend more money, but it still feels like an invitation to come back (and soon). Overall, I enjoyed the event. I’ve been to ones I felt were better and ones I felt were worse. My mood stayed positive even though I really wanted a banana. If you went, I’d love to read about yours. For those who also blogged about it, please let me know.
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