Sephora’s iconic black and white striped design has come to represent a beauty mecca of sorts. The store has more than 1,700 locations in 30 countries, each full of more than 200 beauty brands that will make you smell sweeter and look better. But many of the items come with a heavy price tag, which can scare away budget shoppers. However, there are hidden deals throughout Sephora and a surprising number of ways to save. After all, Sephora is a store that prides itself on customer loyalty and brand advocacy.
Here are several tips for saving money and looking your best at Sephora.
Sephora’s popular rewards program is consistently rated one of the best among beauty stores, and it’s not hard to see why. The Beauty Insider rewards program is available online and in store and is a tierbased system that offers rewards and personalized offers. For every dollar you spend at Sephora, you’ll earn one rewards point. Points are redeemed on beauty items, rather than on product discounts, because discounts and coupons don’t match with most premium beauty brands, so it is more effective to give free products.
When you sign up for the Beauty Insider program you create an online beauty profile with your preferences, skin type, physical color tones, and beauty concerns. Combined with your shopping history, the profile fuels customized recommendations. To stay at the top-tier membership, you must spend $350 each year, which means it is important to show you card with every purchase. Every purchase except gift cards, taxes, and shipping costs count towards your total. Membership points expire each January.
But don’t worry, not all your points expire. Non-membership points are help in a “Beauty Bank” account that doesn’t expire. After you earn 100 points, you can select one Beauty Insider deluxe sample to get free with your purchase. You can also save up your points until you reach 500. When this happens, you can get an exclusive sample set handpicked by Beauty Insiders.
Sephora also gives out a special birthday gift to all members of the rewards program. No purchase is necessary, and the gift is available for two weeks before and after your birthday and during your entire birthday month.
You can earn even better rewards when you hit the Very Important Beauty and Very Important Beauty Rogue status. To do so, you must spend at least $350 a year (for Very Important Beauty status) or $1,000 a year (for Very Important Beauty Rogue status). At the VIB level, you will receive special invitations to store events, email savings, and exclusive coupon codes for free samples and sales. Rogue members get free shipping and access to a beauty concierge for advice. Upper-level status also gets you unlimited free full makeovers for any occasion of just for everyday wear. Once you hit a certain level, that status is good for the rest of the qualifying year and for the entire following year.
Sephora offers a very generous return policy that makes it easy to shop with confidence knowing you can return anything that isn’t the right shade or color. You can return merchandise for any reason within 60 days of your purchase to get a full cash or credit card refund. Items purchased online can be returned easily using the free return shipping label that is included with every order. You can also return online orders at any Sephora store. Gift items can be returned for store credit by calling 1-877SEPHORA (1-877-737-4672).
You may also be able to return an item without a receipt by online using your ID, but many customers have reported that Sephora is cracking down on the practice and no longer allows these returns.
Sephora doesn’t have regular sales like other stores, but discounted items are frequently available in the bins on the end of product displays. If you are looking for a sale, you may have better luck at Sephora.com. The website also occasionally offers free shipping on any order, compared to the usual $50 requirement to qualify for free shipping. Online orders are also eligible for three free samples with every order, which can be chosen from the Sephora Offers page. If your total reaches more than $25, you can also choose a fourth “deluxe” sample. Check the website for current coupon codes and promotions.
There are also lots of freebies you can take advantage of in store—each customer can leave with samples of products they want to try, so make sure you have an idea of what you want. Customers can also get a free 15-minute mini-makeover for a glam eye or perfect pout. If you time your visit right, you can get a free makeup look for a lunch date or fancy date. The nail bar also makes it easy to give yourself a fun free manicure.
Although most people associate gift cards with gift giving, they can also be valuable tools for saving money and getting great deals. Savvy shoppers use discounted gift cards from specialty websites to save even more money. One such site is Raise.com, which sells discounted gift cards for thousands of retailers. Currently, you can buy Sephora gift cards on Raise.com for 8.2% off. Use a discounted gift card as your form of payment at Sephora, and it will be like getting an extra 8.2% off everything you buy. Plus, gift cards can be combined with almost all other savings methods, like clearance and sale items, plus promo codes and coupons.
Start your online search by finding the Sephora gift cards. The full value of the card is shown with each listing. Each seller can put a different discount on the card, so the listing will also show the discounted price and how much you’ll save. Egift cards can be used immediately after purchase, but you can also buy physical gift cards that are sent to you in the mail with free shipping.
Raise.com also has a great rewards program for referring friends—you’ll get $5 for every friend you refer who makes a purchase.