There are few things in today’s world that don’t give me anxiety (thank goodness for therapy), and unfortunately, shopping is not one of them. Most of my retail needs are delegated to the interwebs simply because my threshold for patience remains at an all-time low—and I despise crowds. So when Sephora’s personal shopping holiday experience flew across my radar, I was understandably skeptical.
For one, this would require me stepping into a Sephora store, which is rarely free of shoulder-to-shoulder traffic during the holiday season. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a complete hermit, but people…products flying everywhere…long lines. It just doesn’t sound like a good time, no matter how many reward points I have racked up on my account. But the minute my family group chat exploded with wish lists of beauty products that would require ample time to track down, buy and wrap, I decided it was time to temporarily step outside my comfort zone and give personal shopping the good ‘ol college try.
How It Works
Like me, you’re probably thinking “personal shopping for free? What?!” To that I say, yes girl! It’s been sitting here all month, just waiting for you and I to take full advantage. To be honest, if I could personal shop every time I stepped into a Sephora, my bank account would probably be in the negatives by now. So I won’t complain about its limited availability.
Overall, Sephora boasts lot of perks that we tend to overlook, such as in-store facials and group classes, but this one has that “free of charge” edge to it, so passing it up would be ill-advised; especially if you’re on a time crunch. Unless you go directly to a store and request an appointment from a Beauty Advisor, you can delay your in-store interaction even more by simply booking an appointment online. On the site’s Happening at Sephora page, a calendar pops up and based on your location, presents the next available time slot you can snag as a guest or while logged into your account.
If you have the Sephora app on your phone, there’s also a Happening at Sephora tab on the left-side menu. My only recommendation at this stage is to book your appointment for first thing in the morning, like say 8 a.m. There are virtually no people in sight, except Beauty Advisors who are off helping others while you have one-on-one time with your personal shopper.
Once you check in with the Beauty Advisor, the 20 minute appointment begins. Be sure to have a list on hand that you and he/she can reference so you can get right to work. And if you want to save even more time, you can also add your wish list to the notes section of your booking. Since there was much ground to cover, this step saved me. We were able to skip the small talk and back-and-forth decision making that tends to happen when you’re shopping without a clear focus.
Though it’s best to get as specific as possible with your asks—like asking for Fenty Beauty’s Mattemoiselle Lipstick in “Spanked” as opposed to “a good matte lipstick,” you don’t have to have all of the answers. For instance, whereas my sisters’ wish lists included deets down to the shade name, my mom was a little more ‘lax with her requests, instead asking for a “good BB or CC cream” and “moisturizer with SPF.” And while I thought that might set my advisor Noelle back a bit, she swiftly walked me to a couple different brand displays before we settled on the It Cosmetics CC Cream SPF50 and a Shiseido Day Cream.
She also took the leg work out of finding the correct foundation shade for my little sister. Since she’s the same complexion as me, Noelle simply color-matched me and we were able to land on the “Syracuse” of her go-to NARS Sheer Glow Foundation and “Biscuit” Radiant Creamy Concealer. In the process, I was also able to try a few formulas for myself, so now I’ve got a handful of screenshots to revisit when I need a refill for my own routine.
When everything is this organized, a personal shopper experience actually zooms by. In fact, I’ll go as far to say that I got a taste of the good life: someone did the work for me, and I was able to chime in with a yes or no when needed. And in the midst of our shuffling around different brand displays, Noelle seamlessly alerted me to two other perks that are especially helping during the holiday season. Game. Changer.
First, she suggested buying gift sets instead of full-size products when I couldn’t pick just one thing. For instance, my little sister requested a “good pumpkin enzyme mask,” which seems pretty straightforward. I already know a handful worth trying, like Too Cool for School’s Sleeping Pack and Peter Thomas Roth’s Pumpkin Enzyme Mask. The only issue is my sister’s skin concerns are vastly different from mine, so I didn’t want to waste money on something that may ultimately go to waste.
When Noelle saw that I was struggling to make a decision, she stepped in to recommend a mini mask set. That way, my sister can test each one and buy the full-size version herself. I know that seems pretty logical and easy to remember, but when you’re on a 20-minute clock and have to be at work immediately after, those little reminders make all the difference.
Also, if you keep at least five perfumes in rotation like me, then you’ll go gaga over the engraving service. Depending on the store you’re in, you may be able to have a full-sized perfume bottle engraved the same day, thus adding a personal touch to something everyone else may have. I can’t imagine how many giftees would swoon over their initials on a bottle of Gucci Bloom.
Finally, a personal shopping experience will also remind you of the gargantuan amount of other services available, including but not limited to: a deluxe skin care facial, mini skin care or makeup sessions, deluxe makeovers and group classes. There’s actually so many ways Sephora works with you instead of against you. It’s like a beautiful symphony.
The only risk you take with this experience is getting carried away like me, and spending way more then you anticipated. I literally gasped upon realizing I had picked out $700 worth of products (my bad), before narrowing down my picks to just under $300, with free, easy-to-fold boxes to match.
My Sephora personal shopping experience couldn’t have been better for my crowd-averse soul, and I’ve now got stellar gifts for everyone on my list. Whether you’re like me, a clueless boyfriend or simply late to the holiday shopping game, stop stressing and let the pros take care of you, too.