Monday, September 22, 2014

Is Shopping At Sephora Really Worth It?

Photo via Nicole Reviews Beauty

After receiving some "Holiday Sneak Peak" emails this week from the Sephora V.I.B. program, (thanks for making it feel that much colder!) I decided to compile my thoughts on the Sephora experience in general. I've been a part of their Very Important Beauty Insider program for 3-4 years now, so I've definitely had time to experience lots of highs and lows.

Everyone is eligible to become a Sephora Beauty Insider, which enables you to receive free birthday gifts and collect points. On a regular purchase, you receive 1pt per dollar, (before tax) and there are deluxe samples available for redeeming 100, 250 or 500 pts. Throughout the year, Sephora runs various events for Beauty Insiders which sometimes involve 2-3X the points on select items.

To qualify for V.I.B. status, you must spend $350+ at Sephora (before tax) in one calendar year. You will then receive 10% off your next Sephora purchase (one time use coupon) and one free 45 minute makeover in-store. Makeovers are typically free with any purchase of $50+ and I believe an appointment is necessary.

VIB Rouge is the next level of perks, achieved when you spend $1000+ at Sephora, before tax, in one calendar year. I haven't heard anything extraordinary about the Rouge program, aside from a few extra samples/discounts, so I'll refrain from spending copious amounts of money on more trinkets and potions for the time being.

To sufficiently show you what kind of Sephora perks I've received in the past, I've gone through my email archives and noted down the offers from Spring 2013 

Note: Deluxe samples are miniature bottles and pots of product, good for 5-15 uses. Regular samples are the flat, plastic, tear-open packages, suitable for 1-2 uses. Every order from Sephora online entitles you to 3 regular samples, chosen from a list of around 10 options. VIB only perks in this list are marked in purple, otherwise it's all BI's. 

Mar 13-18 2013: 5 regular samples and a free small makeup bag with any purchase of $35+ (online only)

Mar 17 2013: Free deluxe sample of Josie Maran Argan Infinity cream (online only)

Mar 29 2013: Receive a full-sized Origins Plantscription Anti-aging eye cream ($59 value) with any purchase of $35 (online and in store)

April 1 2013: Free deluxe sample of Clarins Body Lift Cellulite Control cream with any purchase of $35+ (online only)

April 11-22 2013: 15% off all items and free tote bag (April 11 only) filled with 8 samples (deluxe and regular) (in store only)

April 24 2013: Choose 1 of 5 deluxe fragrance samples, free with a $35+ purchase (online only)

May 3-5 2013: Receive a deluxe sample of Clinique High Impact mascara when you trade in any old full sized mascara (recycling incentive) - no purchase necessary (in store only)

May 1-19 3013: Enjoy a free 45 minute makeover with an expert artist, no purchase necessary. (in store only) Receive 3X the points with any fragrance purchase for Mother's Day (online and in store)


May 5-12 2013: Receive five regular samples with any order (online only) Enjoy a free fragrance consultation and any regular fragrance samples- no purchase necessary (in store only)

May 24 2013: Store Event- experience the new Nars collection and take home a mini gold lipgloss- no purchase necessary. (in store only)

May 24 2013: Receive a small pink pouch filled with fragrance samples free with any $30+ purchase, while supplies last (in store and online)

May 30 2013: Receive a free full-sized Bare Minerals eyeshadow duo in the shade storm, no purchase necessary. (online and in store)

June 6 2013: Choose 3 deluxe samples for him (father's day special) with any online purchase of $35+, while supplies last. (online only)

June 14 2013: Receive a deluxe sample of Bare Mineral's prime time primer and pressed foundation with any purchase of $35+ (in store only)

June 20 2013: Receive a deluxe mini of Too Faced mascara, free with any $35+ purchase (online only)

June 28 2013: Receive a free deluxe sample trio from Benefit, including a mascara, lipgloss and highlighter, free with any $45+ purchase (in store and online)

*Mid-November Receive 15-20% off your purchase (higher discount for V.I.B. and Rouge)
*Beginning of December - Receive $15-$20 of your purchase $50 or more (the discount amount also corresponds to your Beauty Insider level) - this is usually a one-time use coupon


Over the years, I've taken advantage of various 100-500 point "perks", some examples being mini Nars blushes, eyeliners and lip products, a Bobbi Brown palette, mini perfumes, 10-day skincare samples, etc. Have I saved money shopping at Sephora vs. The Bay or Shoppers Drug Mart? Not necessarily, but Sephora has stocked some of my favourite items like the Clarisonic and St. Tropez products years before any other Canadian retailer. The only competition I can see for the company now is Murale, which is a cosmetics store owned by Shoppers Drug Mart. The Optimum point system is better than Sephora's points, since they can be redeemed for dollars off your purchase year-round.

To wrap up, here are a few general highs & lows.

HIGHS:
I rarely experience bad service when shopping at Sephora. Yes, I've been recommended some crappy products before, but their return policy is very forgiving (full refund within 60 days, store credit after 60). Also, each shopper is entitled to 3 free samples during their visit. I find that Sephora employees are very dedicated and are rarely biased- department store employees are always biased because they are working for a specific brand!

LOWS:
The Sephora sale section usually (always) sucks. Seeing as how cosmetics are some of the most heavily marked-up commodities in the world, it's a bit of a shame that there are only two opportunities to receive discounts all year. Also, gift cards are not accepted for online purchases in Canada, only in the US.

Being the beauty-crazed blogger that I am, I will probably stay faithful to my Sephora V.I.B. status for a few more years. Although, I am keeping up with the news now that Loblaw Companies Ltd. has closed its $12.4-billion deal to buy Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. There could be some interesting things in-store for the beauty department of our local grocery stores, drugstores and beauty boutiques... so stay tuned!

xx
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