Style + Ask the Edit

Ask the Edit: What to Buy at Sephora

Hi Belle –

I pretty consistently a drugstore make up girl, but my dad just gave me a $50 gift card to Sephora. What items (hair or face) would you spend this on?

– emily 

What you buy depends on which products are essential to you.  But some words of caution:

  1. Don’t spend your money on mascara.  It goes bad so quickly, you’ll be in need of a new tube in no time at all.
  2. Don’t buy anything without trying a sample first.  This isn’t the time to guess.
  3. Don’t splurge on anything that gets washed down the drain – cleanser, shampoo, conditioner, etc.
  4. Don’t get addicted to any product that you can’t afford to replace.

The best skincare splurges are serums and masks.  The best makeup splurges are foundation and concealer.  If you like perfume, that’s a worthwhile option as well.

My face mask of choice is the Origins charcoal mask to treat acne and decongest pores.  If dryness is your issue, Kiehl’s overnight hydrating mask is a good choice.  My favorite serums are the affordable Ordinary Buffet serum and the pricier Ole Henriksen Night Transformation Gel.

For foundation, my Sephora favorite is the Kevyn Aucoin Etherealist Foundation.  I also like Clinique Superbalanced makeup.  For concealer, the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage is the best.

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  1. Margaret says:

    I’m not really a makeup girl, but I have found that a quality lip color is a quick and easy way to really amp up any look. I hate worrying about reapplying and smudging, so I am in love with the NARS matte lip pencil ( They have a ton of shades, stay on really well, and are super easy to apply. I HIGHLY recommend.

    January 2, 2018/Reply
    • Laurel says:

      Co-sign this. First got the lip pencil as a birthday freebie from Sephora and now buy it at full-price. And a stick of it lasts forever. Also really like Marc Jacobs lipstick. Wears really well.

      January 2, 2018/Reply
      • SM says:

        Yes to both. Nars matte lip pencils and marc Jacobs lip stick. I may disagree about the mascara though. Sephora has a Givenchy mascara that is so good that I don’t mind the splurge.

        January 2, 2018/Reply
    • TheLOOP says:

      Do you have any thoughts on the Laura Geller lip crayon?

      January 2, 2018/Reply
  2. EAB says:

    Exception to the mascara rule: several times a year, Sephora sells mascara samplers. For about $30, you get five or six trial-size mascaras plus a coupon for a full-size version of your favorite. I love those because the smaller size is perfect to use up, so I really get mileage out of them. I’ve only had a couple that I’ve hated, and the others range from okay to great, so it’s a bargain.

    Sephora also carries travel-size versions of Benefit mascara for about $15, which I really like. Again, the smaller size is easy to use up before it dries out, and I do see the difference compared to drugstore versions.

    January 2, 2018/Reply
  3. Susan says:

    Yeah I hate to dissent but I see a pretty substantial difference between drugstore vs higher end mascaras re: clumping, spearing, flaking etc.

    January 3, 2018/Reply
  4. Keilexandra says:

    I’m not really a makeup person–just a small lipstick addiction and upkeep for my luckily good skin–but I recently started dyeing my coarse black Asian hair a funky non-natural color. And suddenly fancy shampoo/conditioner has become worth the splurge. My current obsession is IGK, after my stylist’s recommendation; their Prenup conditioner/in-shower treatment is amazing for softening bleached hair while washing away less color (funky colors are always semi-permanent, so they fade much faster).

    Also: how did it take me until age 25 to discover leave-in conditioner?! When I remember to use it, I really notice a difference.

    January 4, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Prenup is amazing. I just wish the can lasted longer.

      January 4, 2018/Reply