Rant & Rave: Sephora

Share: Tell us what you love and hate about Sephora!

my answer: I love how it can be a total one-stop shop, as they have a lot of brands available, and I like that their online selection is large and frequently updated. Their stores overwhelm me every time, but I go very, very infrequently (like once a year or less). Their reward tiers/system could use a ton of improvement. I think they’ve created a pretty good house range of products, too, and they have also backed some good brands.


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Jules Avatar

Excellent topic. Agreed re: variety and choice. I’m one of their international clients and was incredibly excited that they finally started shipping to us. And in the beginning, it was all unicorns and rainbows. This could be a beauty junkie’s heaven, but they’ve turned it into a hell. I don’t get to their stores but am a VIB Rouge – yet although they ship to us, we can join the program, etc. we do not get any of the perks (outside of the point perks and early access). I understand no free shipping, but no discounts, no promo codes, nothing. Worst yet, we could use the promo codes in the beginning, for months, and then it just suddenly stopped. For no good reason. All this makes it almost useless to buy from them unless I cannot get it elsewhere; we already pay higher prices on the products to begin with. Their customer service is a big fat zero. They really need to get off the porch and understand their clients. If they ship to us, and allow us to join their programs, it makes no sense to be shut out of exactly the perks that make us come there to begin with.

Lilac Avatar

Agree, no discount codes /promo codes (like 10% off etc) working outside the US, even for people who joined the BI / VIB program; I have major sale envy everytime I see the topic discussed in the forums / on twitter. I don’t get it, we pay the same prices as everyone else and due to the amount of people being registered in the program, they can calculate how many people use those sales / discounts, so it is not something unexpected for them.

Also while I can understand the restrictions on alcoholic liquids, i.e. perfume, and spray bottles, it is frustrating that the birthday present for the second year in a row is from a brand that is not shipped to some European countries; first it was MUFE and now it is NARS (probably because they sell it through Sephora France, however, there they are no such birthday gifts). So I can’t get that either 🙁

Also 70% of the promo codes for goodies and the sample selection is out due to brands not being shipped abroad (because the brands do have country restrictions on them and different pricing / products) or again due to them not being shipped because of “hazardous materials”.

I greatly appreciate that Sephora US now ships to more countries, because not everything can be ordered from other stores in Europe, and the shipping process is really reliable and fast; but there are tons of things excluded which lessen the fun. Worst of all really is that the discount codes are not valid when you have an adress abroad, for no particular reason.

anne Avatar

absolutely! i have had to return many items that looked completely different at home. it is impossible to make sure that you’ve got a good match or a good look with the awful lighting. how can you install terrible lighting in a makeup store? additionally, the staff are not at all equally talented nor knowledgable. not every one of them should be applying makeup and/or making suggestions. as a mature woman, i can tell you that many of the staff get it wrong much more often than right. i’m better off choosing my own products than asking for help or advice.

kjh Avatar

yuo… i’ve bitched about that everywhere. Even on a Paula’s Choice review of CFX drops. You gotta go out in the mall + then outside. I think they think I’m barmy, when I put something on + immediately leave the store!

Jen Avatar

Their reward system needs a complete overhaul….I like the way Ulta converts the points to $$. Sephora needs to start doing that as well. I have 4000 points that I refuse to use on little 100 point items….$100 spent for a sample size product, no way!

I do love Sephora. It is my one stop shop for everything!

Pamela Avatar

I agree about the points system. But at least Sephora points don’t expire. Ulta’s expire after a few months. It’s like “I worked hard to earn those points. Why should they go down the toilet?”

Abigail Avatar

I believe if you’re Platinum at Ulta, they do not expire and it doesn’t cost much to be Platinum…$300 per year, I think. I love how Ulta is always emailing 2x and 3x the points offers, too. I have 11,000 points at Sephora and when I think of how many actual dollars that would give me at Ulta, it pisses me off. Last week the manager at my local Sephora said she’d heard that they were introducing a 5000 point perk and I was super excited, trip for two to NY maybe….no, an Urban Decay Naked Palette. I told her that was borderline insulting especially when I think of how much I have to work to earn 5000 in spending money. And furthermore, anyone with 5000 points probably has every Naked palette there is. We need Ulta’s reward system and Sephora’s customer service and shipping.

Laura M Avatar

They expire approximately a year from the day you got them unless you hit Platinum and then they don’t expire. They do not expire after a couple of months.

Delainey Avatar

I love Sephora. Being VIB Rouge, I wish there were more perks for the amount of money that I spend there. I also wish they had better rewards for their point perks, and didn’t sell out so quickly. I go in store quite frequently, and I have to say that lately I have been sorely disappointed with the customer service. I feel like people are getting less and less friendly 🙁 When I’m there, whether I end up buying products or not, I would love to have good makeup chats with those who work there. It just seems like no one is all that interested in talking about products!

Pamela Avatar

There’s a lady in the fragrance section of my Sephora who is great! I wish I could clone her. She knows all about the newest and latest. She seems to also read magazines because when I mention I read about something new she will guess, “Was it Lucky/Marie Claire/Vogue/etc?” and usually be correct. She is so enthusiastic and helpful. Now that I think about it, I should call the store manager and tell him about her. 🙂

YUE Avatar

Oh you should definitely do. That’ll really help her career. I have never really meet a Nordstrom-class Sephora assistant. I certainly have met helpful ones, but they are all like in a hurry.

Alex Avatar

Spot on about the Nordstrom comparison! Their customer service is miles ahead.

Although I love the feeling of walking into a Sephora, I look young so the sales associates stick their nose up at me. Little do they know that I would buy more if I could talk about the product!

Lisa Avatar

You should fill out the online survey (they give you the link on the receipt) and mention her by name — Sephora SA’s get free products when they’re mentioned by name in a survey, plus it makes them look good in front of the managers.

Alice Avatar

Rant: Their rewards are never really exciting, I think exchanging points for discounts, coupons, or products of my choice would be better than deluxe samples. It would be nice if there were more benefits to being a VIB/Rouge. There are some problems with the website since the last update.

Rave: The website is generally great. The stores are nice, clean, and well lit. I almost always have a positive experience with the staff. Awesome returns policy (in the US anyways). Fast shipping, and the Flash offer is nice. They carry so many great brands. Also their Sephora Collection products are pretty top-notch, especially the makeup.

Joan Avatar

I love their house brand lip and nail products. I love their wide selection but am sometimes baffled by the brands that are missing. Or who they choose to forge forward with when exploring new realms of beauty. Like Chosungah for Korean beauty? Doesn’t seem to be the most logical choice. Their rewards program is nice, and I prefer it to a points for cash system but the department stores give you more value with their gift with purchases. In terms of their sales cycles, I think it’s pretty abysmal. I understand that they’re not a discount retail model but twice a year at such low discounts for loyal customers is poor form. I’ve taken to buying directly from the brand websites lately because they offer discounts more often.

Sarah Avatar

Rave: Their website and mobile site are so fantastic and easy to use. They have great shipping too, my orders always arrive in under a week, which is great for Canada! I’ve always received amazing customer service in their stores. And I love the 3 little samples with each order, I usually pick fragrances so I have a whole wardrobe of fragrance minis at no cost! Sephora brand is also awesome quality for the price in general… Many a time I’ve skipped over high end brands in favour of it and have always been satisfied with the price/quality ratio. Their brushes have always been hits for me too.

Rant: Wish Canadian shipping was lower than ‘free over $75’. They sell some way overpriced tools and knick knacks in their house brand that are poor quality. I also avoid their associates unless I need a sample or to try something on because all they really seem to say in terms of product knowledge is the marketing spiel they are told (not their fault, but it makes me uncomfortable because half of the things they say are untrue. ie. Them telling me that the REN products I was returning broke me out because I was allergic to one of the natural ingredients, when it was actually the alcohol denat/other irritating stuff in it).

Olivia Avatar

I LOVE Sephora!!!! But it does overwhelm me. Not just by all of the products but also by the staff. I almost feel like they are on top of me. I do enjoy going in though. Also, every time I ask them to color match me, they get it so wrong. Like 3 or more shades off wrong :-/ I love that I can try the products before I buy them. I would rather pay more for something that I know I love than pay much less but end up hating it. They have most of the brands I like so it’s pretty much a one stop shop for me!

Karen Avatar

I have a like/hate relationship with Sephora. I think that they move brands out of stores too quickly. Brands that I like often disappear with little or no notice. Store experience varies widely. Some stores are a mess…testers are testubes for infection. Staff is uneven. Often find staff have little product knowledge. Most surprising when asking about MUFE products and the MUFE staff don’t know about new products recently introduced. The rewards program is terrible. Too little is offered, the tier system promotes resentment. I do prefer shopping on-line with Sephora, although resent the dried out samples that they send to me. Birthday gifts are a sort of nice touch. (I’m trying to say something nice)

Deborah Avatar

I really enjoyed your comment and felt it is spot on! I agree that the tier system promotes resentment. I don’t like to shop exclusively at Sephora! I get the distinct feeling that a few people get together in order to get to the VIB Rouge level — Maybe. I think the store is great fun but I actually like shopping online at the Chanel site, MAC site, etc. (Oh, I thought it pretty unfair to be someone my age who has shopped Clinique here and there over all of these years and then an unable to purchase the “pop” blushes until now. Clinique has never been a favorite brand of mine but I have used their products.)

xamyx Avatar

I agree, too! I *would* be VIB Rouge if a) more brands were offered in-store, and b) the brands they do offer in-store are either limited in selection, or sold-out; because of this, I’m actually forced to buy elsewhere. I am in Los Angeles, so I have access to several locations, and while I can find the same items as I can easily get in any given department store, there are otjers that are HTF that are only offered online. Since their “tier-system”/rewards program isn’t so great, if given the choice of buying online or shopping elsewhere, I’ll do the latter. I’m not “resentful”, but I think Sephora could do better if they switched some of their priorities.

Pamela Avatar

Love everything about Sephora except the fact that they dropped the discount for Beauty Insiders from 15% to 10% this year. I finally got upgraded to VIB so I am at 15% again but wished it was still 20% for VIB. Sephora also has nice trial size gifts and bonuses for members like a choice of mini fragrance bottles. I also like their in house cosmetics especially the foundations that come in a range of skin tones from light to extra dark.

miekogirlie99 Avatar

I love that you can test out products in store & their return policy is good too. what i don’t like about the store is that its so busy that the employees are always in a rush to answer your questions & move on or they’re just not that friendly, approachable and sometimes not that knowledgeable. I always browse in store then buy online (especially if i can use ebates!). I usually try to support the brick & mortars but because of these reasons i buy online 🙁

Kristin Avatar

Online CS is usually quite good & responsive, and sales associates are more knowledgeable than Ulta. Good variety of brands. The value sets (i.e. mascaras) are a great deal. Generous return policy. But…I wish some of the more unusual brands were readily available. (Does EVERY store need Stila & Tarte??) Very rare to get any samples buying in person; it makes more sense to order online. As someone else mentioned, lighting is awful! And the rewards system…ugh. I’m a VIB and I see zero incentive to spend up for VIB Rouge.

Michele Avatar

My only incentive to spend at Sephora to Rouge was the ability to buy on a whim and get free shipping even if I only order a travel sized or inexpensive product. Having free shipping on an $8 purchase is a nice perk. Although it’s also true that many department stores (like Neiman Marcus, Barney’s, and Nordstrom) offer free shipping all the time.

xamyx Avatar

I agree on more “unusual” brands. I don’t mind seeing tarte & Stila in every store, but Lancome & Bobbi Brown are 2 brands I can find in just about any department store!

Erin Avatar

1/2 of the SA’s seem amazing and the there 1/2 always seem rude. This has been true of all the ones I’ve been to except in France. They are always a mess and the products are always messy at my current local one. It makes me not want to try anything.

Faeriellyn Avatar

I have almost stopped shopping in Sephora completely. I went in with my email stating if I spent $150 more by this date I’d be rouge. I did and was issued a rouge card. Online, parties etc. I am not recognized as rouge. I had over 1000 points on my account so I emailed and explained I should be rouge and I had the points to prove I’d purchased and had the rouge card. It’s like they didn’t even read my lengthy explanation and just emailed a “canned” reply that I had to spend $1000 in a year to be rouge. I did use the $15 off promo to get the round Tarte palette and the Khaki Sephora palette. Love both. But, I still feel resentful and bitter I’m not in the elite rouge after spending so much. Ulta gets my money now. They carry Lorac and Drugstore and NYX brands. I miss Kat Von D though.

Kecia S. Avatar

Did you try calling Sephora customer service? I had the same issue when I received my VIB Rouge card last year. I had two accounts in their system & my earned points were still attached to my VIB card. I called the Rouge customer service number, explained the problem & the rep was able to fix it immediately. I’ve never had a problem with my account since then.

Now for my rant/rave: As others have said, the rewards program is a JOKE. Sephora needs to take careful notes from Nordstrom & ULTA. I agree that the lighting in the stores is usually abysmal & the Color IQ, while helpful in theory, isn’t so spot on in actuality. I’ve tried almost every recommended foundation for my number and only one definitely matches me (I’d been using it long before Color IQ arrived). The others are just a hair too dark or they oxidize, sending me into Oompa-Loompaville. Also, many of the testers look horrendous. I don’t necessarily fault the store for that (some customers just don’t give a damn), but I think they should check them regularly and sanitize/replace them when necessary.

What I love about Sephora is the fast, free shipping & the fact that it’s a beauty junkie’s playground. I can wander around the store, swatching to my heart’s content, without being pressured to buy something. The free samples are awesome, too, especially when you have a generous consultant who gives you more than a drop of product.

Carrie Avatar

Rant: I just want to echo everything said about VIB needing an overhaul. I made VIB not long before the VIB Rouge add on and as a result have never felt like it’s worth being VIB, I’ll likely drop to BI tjis year as the loyalty system as it sits does nothing to make you want to stay loyal.

Their foundation matcher is a joke. I got checked once and it picked up my freckles thereby recommending a mid tone yellow foundation. I have porcelain toned skIn. The SA didn’t even think to question it instead asking if I wanted to add the result to my profile.

Rave: I love their in house eyeliners and like their nailpolish. They are one stop shopping for me and I have like 5 in an hour’s radius of me.

Sarah Avatar

I love that you can play with anything there on your own, allowing you to instantly compare products. I love that you can get samples before you commit. I hate their customer service, their limited sales and free shipping minimums, their “stage” vocabulary, their lighting in the stores (trying on makeup in there is HORRENDOUS), and the fact that over 85% of their brands carried are owned by LVMH, the parent company to Sephora. Their reward system is a gimmick- they need to do something more meaningful to their regulars than offer some cast-off freebie sample size. I also hate how dirty most of those stores are. Testers are almost never sanitized. Extra gross.

I really try to avoid shopping there. I usually get makeup from department counters just because the service and cleanliness are miles above what Sephora offers. Too bad for Sephora, too, because if I shopped exclusively with them, I would be a VIB Rouge.

Nicole Avatar

I for the most part am a Sephora fan. I have been a VIB member since it started and a Rouge since it started. I think that system could use improving as you mentioned. I don’t feel like I get any special treatment in the store. The whole email system totally peeves me. If I sat down and calculated it, the percentage of my income that went to Sephora, would probably be frightful..so I am not going to do that. I think the stores need to bring some of the brands into the actual stores. I know their return policy is extremely generous. But, it’s very hard to buy a cream based on other customer reviews only. Either that or they need to incorporate some sort of way to let customers request samples if their store does not carry it or purchase small sized,inexpensive samples (maybe something like Paula’s Choice does). I am really happy to see them bringing in more brands and many are not main stream. Another rant for me is that they are offering these classes in the stores. All of them are at like 930 on weekdays and a few on Sunday. First of all, who can go on a 930 on a weekday that can buy makeup? Should I quit my job to go and Sun. at 930 a.m.-forget it..I need some beauty sleep. I will watch a youtube video. Oh, one other issue popped up.There are some associates that are so undertrained in the store I feel like they should go to Ulta,lol. I love Ulta too. but, I know to expect that the associated don’t know the product. At Sephora, I expect more. I went in yesterday to try to find a primer. I asked a SA about the MUFE new primers. There was maybe 5 other customers in the store. She said,”I really don’t know about these. I’ll give you a sample. Which one do you want?” . I went to the greeter and asked for another SA who actually pointed me towards another product. I understand when they are new and usually they are being trained. But, she has been there a while. I think she should have said” let me get someone else to help you”. Otherwise, if I could sit in my own house and do my own research.

Telesilla Avatar

Rant: I do think that the rewards system needs work. The latest sale for example, VIB Rouge should have gotten at least 20% off. And their rewards can be pretty meh. Free shipping sounds like a big deal until you realize everyone gets free shipping at $50, which you can reach pretty quickly while shopping online.

Rave: The SAs, at least in my local Sephora, are very helpful. If you’re already a makeup expert, I suspect they can’t help much, but for someone who doesn’t always know what they’re looking for, they’re good. This is cute: we ended up in the store after school during the sale and it was crowded and pretty warm. One of the SAs who was helping us told us to go over to the Kat Von D display because it’s right under a vent. More seriously, I like their return policy and they’re generous with actual samples. I don’t buy much perfume from them, but their selection is good and the SA’s I’ve talked to or watched in action really know their stuff. And I’ve liked everything I’ve ever tried from their house brand.

Rachel B Avatar

The Sephora X nail polish is an improvement with better formulas, colors, and textures. The other house-brand products are pretty good for the price. If it’s a brand I can get at Nordstrom, I’ll wait and get it with my Nordstrom notes (plus higher points on my Nord credit card). I wish Sephora had more of the less well-known brands (Illamasqua, OCC, etc). The 100 point reward items usually disappoint me.

YoKasta Martinez Avatar

They used to carry Illamasqua and they dropped it. However, they do carry some of the OCC line (Lip Tars only, none of the other color cosmetics.)

I wish they would bring all of the Illamasqua line back!

YUE Avatar

I think the staffs are unfriendly, and I can never get in-store swatches right (the lighting). To fix this, I choose to shop online for multiple shades, swatch at home and return the ones I dislike. They do have a good return policy, but they’d better train their staffs. I honestly think I’m wasting makeup by ordering a lot and returning a lot, it’s also time consuming, but look I didn’t choose to be in this way!

xamyx Avatar

Why not swatch in a store, and step outside with a mirror? Yes, that takes time, but I’m sure it’d be easier & quicker than having to make a trip back to a store or post office. Better yet, why not get a few samples? You can still order online, but not have to return…

Lacey Avatar

I think my only real rant with Sephora pertains to their points system. When I was new to the store, it seemed like a great idea, getting deluxe products for points earned. But then I realized that they will give you samples of pretty much whatever you want to try, no points required. And then my area got an Ulta, and getting cash for my points is just more of a reward now. I’ve also noticed a lot of complaints about the VIB/Rouge perks, especially when it comes to having sneak-peek items in stock and getting notices for early sales out in time. I actually had a friend who didn’t get her spring sale e-mail or paper mailer until the evening of the last day of the sale.

Most everything else about the store, I’ve loved, though!

Lulle Avatar

Rave: wide selection of beauty brands and products.

Rant: oh dear, if you get me started I’ll be spending the night ranting! To make it short, let’s just say that they have horrendous customer service and that being treated so badly made me decide to boycott them about a year ago. I “broke” my boycott for the last VIB/BI sale, and ironically, they sent me a product that had already been tested! There was a fingerprint imprinted deep into the cream product, absolutely gross. This time at least they did the right thing and sent me a new one without any further annoyance (I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that I posted a picture of it on Instagram), but this disaster just reinforced my decision to stay away from them.

Kristin Avatar

IN STORE??? Lol the SA’s must be pocketing them cause I’m lucky when I get one! (And frankly I think it’s insulting when I spend hundreds of $$ and there’s *nothing.* They should at least have a policy if you spend x amount you get a few of whatever samples they have on hand.)

Kerstin Avatar

When making an in store purchase you have the ability to ask the associate for samples. I work there and typically we dont have a surplus of samples in store to throw into your bag at checkout. We would much rather give you a sample of something you would want/use than throw foil packets of no interest to you into your bag. I assure you we don’t keep samples for ourselves. Next time you stop by ask for a sample of something you would like to try. We are always more than happy to make you a custom sample. Same concept applies 3 samples, but these ones can be customized to your liking!

Maggie Avatar

Rave: Overall, I really like Sephora. I only go in-store once or twice a year. I love how I can get samples if I’m not sure about something and like people say, a one stop shop. I also like how I’m not pushed into buying anything. SA’s seem to understand that I just want to swatch and gush over products for hours. The website is clean, professional and easy to navigate.

Rant: Weekends at Sephora are CRAZY–I never go then bc it’s so crowded and displays naturally get messier bc of that. I also think SA’s should be more careful about introducing and advising about skincare and how to use it–I messed up my facial skin due to using a recommended scrub. I ended up having to change up my entire regimen and when a few other SA’s found out what happened, I learned that she apparently didn’t know what she was doing bc that particular scrub would not have suited my original skin type. My skin went from slightly sensitive to super sensitive and even after a decade it hasn’t quite recovered. That’s when I started counting on blogs and did my own research on skincare ingredients.

kellly Avatar

Love, Love, LOVE the samples.
HATE the horrible lighting around their mirrors. It’s like trying to put on makeup with a couple of the light bulbs burnt out. I wish they had better lighting!

Lori Avatar

their point system is weak. They truly don’t know skin care.
They tell u to use natural. Avoid chemicals and parabens
When in fact chemical based products can be safer than natural
Plant ingredients and parabens are safe. Many of the staff have way overdrawn eyebrows

Rachel R. Avatar

Rant: The points systems could be better, for sure. VIBRouge doesn’t really bring any real tangible benefits over VIB; you get free makeovers, but I don’t really do those very often. VIBRouge members don’t get notice of all the VIBRouge sales. The online and telephone customer service is a joke. Totally useless. When you order online and your order is canceled for some reason, you get no notice, so you can’t fix it. Plus you have to track down why your order never arrived. The Pantone colormatch scanning for foundation is terribly inaccurate. It reads me at 3-4 shades too dark and warm. Popular shades seem to stay out of stock a really long time, both online and in-store.

Rave: My local Sephora is clean, well-lit, fun and inviting. The SAs are knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and not at all pushy. They’re great about giving samples. There is a great selection of brands. It’s easy to make returns.

Meghan Avatar

Try connecting with them on Twitter! I’ve had the most success reaching them there & getting real answers.

That’s great your local Sephora is awesome! You’re lucky to be near one! 🙂

Queen Shanine Avatar

I love the variety of brands Sephora carries. I love their in house brand. Sephora brand brushes are some of the best brushes that I own. I like the Sephora flash program. I wish Sephora stores had much better lighting though. It’s hard to see how colors look on you in store. The rewards programs could be better though.

MizLottie Avatar

I’d rather shop at Nordstrom where they have fantastic customer service. I used to work for Estee Lauder at a large department store and the lines really train their salespeople to know their products. I don’t think that’s really so at Sephora, they’re all really young so they can’t possibly have extensive knowledge for ALL the different product lines they carry, esp. for slightly more mature women (I’m esp. talking skincare). Plus I don’t like that they stock all the fragrances (actually pretty much everything) in front of those hot lights, the constant heat causes the scents and formulations to change, not good. I was thrilled when Sephora first arrived, joined the rewards program, now not so much. I used to get those teeny samples for free and the ones at Sephora are not necessarily ones that I am interested in, more what they are trying to promote. Nordstrom will make up a sample of anything you want.

Emily Avatar

I work at a Sephora and we are always happy to make a sample of whatever our clients are interested in! We are actually well trained. We receive brand training regularly to keep us up to date on the brand basics and new products. It’s our job to be able to help all our clients, regardless of age. I’m only 24, but that certainly doesn’t mean I couldn’t assess a more mature client and make recommendations for them. I do it every day.

While I can’t speak for every Sephora, I know at my location we’re not all young. I have co-workers who are more mature women, co-workers who are in their early twenties and everything in between. But like I was saying, age is not relevant. A good skincare, colour or fragrance specialist can help anyone 🙂 If you had a bad experience at your store, I would maybe try another store just to see if it is any different for you.

Mystonique Avatar

Well they only came to Australia in December and they blew it completely from day 1.

First off make up here is generally twice the price or more than it is anywhere else. Before they opened Sephora gave us an iron clad guarantee that they would price match with the US on every brand exclusive in Australia: Tarte, Marc Jacobs, Anastasia, Urban Decay to name a few. So the anticipation to opening was HUGE. They repeated this in every media release on the opening.

Suffice it to say they charge at least 40% more on EVERY product in every brand. They haven’t even tried to explain the broken promise.

They have no on line shopping. They don’t mail order. You have to go in store. One location only.

We get one sample, no choice, if we are lucky.

They don’t appear to have restocked since they opened so there are virtually no testers and even less stock.

The displays are filthy.

The staff have limited knowledge and whilst they were nice they’ve become dismissive and uninterested. The store is short staffed and with the aforementioned issues it’s little wonder they’re not nice.

Finally it’s a small store that promoted loud and proud that it would be bringing access to popular brands we didn’t have here … and yet at least half the floor space is taken up by brands we already have in every chemist and department store. We still don’t have most of the brands readily available overseas.

So I don’t and won’t shop there. It’s still cheaper to import myself.

Lynne Avatar

Great topic and THANKS for letting me know that my Ulta points expire (never knew that!). Sephora used to be terrific: interesting unique brands, talented SAs, service-oriented. I was there probably once every two weeks and inevitably bought something.

I haven’t been back in at least 9 months and have little interest in going. Their brands are now common and, as someone noted, many are owned by their parent company so Sephora’s simply a vehicle for sell-through to them; customers are irrelevant. Stock is often low or missing on even basic stuff, SAs are disinterested or lacking knowledge (I no longer ask for help there) and lighting remains awful. I’ve got over 3000 points and there hasn’t been anything rewards of interest to me in at least 18 months.

But my real problem is with their online service. Ever try to get a real answer? If you email, the staff look at 1-2 keywords and send canned responses that never say anything. It takes 3-4 replies to get something from a human. And the free online samples are little more than bait and switch – they throw in whatever’s sitting around. The final straw for me was when I’d placed an online order and chosen 3 skincare samples. Instead, I got two cheap celebrity perfume samples (one for men) and a foundation sample only Tilda Swinton could carry off. I was incensed. I emailed them that a) I’ve got perfume allergies so my order had to air out for a week, b) I’m single and c) sending some white foundation was an insult. I got a nasty response, basically that they weren’t obligated to send me any samples. Only because I pushed back and replied that my lesbian friends and friends of color would find their sample selection process offensive, I suddenly got a note that they were sending me a “special skincare samples gift package.” By fedex.

They’ve become too much effort for too little payoff. I’ll buy the same products elsewhere, either online or at brick and mortar stores.

Rachel R. Avatar

Yes! Totally agree about their online CS. By telephone is nearly as bad. Online CS almost always just tells you to call telephone CS, anyway.

Lulle Avatar

I’ve had the same kind of experience with their customer service. They were basically insulting and every single sentence they wrote were showing that they couldn’t care less about my business. It was the worst CS experience I’ve ever had, although they could very easily have made me happy if they had wanted to.

annie Avatar

I had a horrible experience when i received my eyeshadow palette damaged they said they would refund but i got no refund and after they cleared everything up the palettei wanted to reorder sold out

Stacey Avatar

Rave: bought my Surratt there for 10% off.
Rant: monitor reviews, staff watch you as if you will steal, poor selection, items can be found as dept. stores…nothing special….delivery is slow for free shipping, poor customer response
I have so many other places to get my stash….I don’t buy there on a normal basis.

Raeanne Avatar

The rewards system is the worst! The little samples are NOT worth all the $$ and support we provide Sephora… I at least wish there was more variety and choice in what was offered, or, cash value or discounts like Ulta. I’m always bummed out that certain popular products sell out so quickly and never get restocked, in stores or online. That being said, I love their house brushes, cream lip stains, Formula X polishes, and some of the other house brand products. I do love the return system as well.

Meghan Avatar

I love the range of products Sephora carries, and that they’ve added Kevyn Aucoin, Armani & Surratt Beauty. I’m far away from an actual store, so I really appreciate the variety of brands & free shipping over $75/ for VIB Rouges. Sephora Collection has some great finds (brushes, nail polish and eye liners come to mind). I think the rewards system could be significantly improved since it takes forever to get a few dinky ‘deluxe’ sized samples; it’s definitely one of the worst rewards programs. I also wish the ‘flash’ shipping applied to Canada.

Meghan Avatar

Another thing, they’ve acknowledged that Canadians only get credit for USD$ spent, which works out worse for us because we spend more, and are credited as spending less money. Additionally the points are only given based on USD$ spent, wah wah.

Ayesha Avatar

Hi Meghan!

I also live in Canada and noticed that whenever I shopped online, I was rewarded points based on the USD amount that I spent. So I called them and asked them if it was possible for them to credit me for the CAD amount and the customer service representative did 🙂

Erica Avatar

Rave: like most commenters I like having the variety of different brands in one location. The flash free shipping is good as well.

Rant: Store inventory and presentation is erratic. Some Sephora stores have the latest products and some have only the basics. I usually go to Sephora only to see new products in person and to determine if the product fits my complexion. I don’t even swatch in store anymore because the sample products look they maybe hazardous to my health. Unfortunately that’s not unique only to Sephora. There should be a reward system like Nordstrom. Meanwhile I prefer to order online via ebates. I have been VIB Rouge since its introduction and frankly, it serves no incentive to continue except early access to products.

kjh Avatar

When S got to Boston, they featured many niche brands that you could not get elsewhere. Some European, some Asian, most quite unique to them, most without internet overexposure. At CH, they used to try not to overlap/cannibalize Barney’s. Now, they duplicate all the standard dept store brands, now even Lauder family offerings. Do we really need 4 clinique displays in a small suburban mall? Who would not prefer to see RBR to Lancome, when Lancome is at the end of the hall…in all 4 directions? S has lost its cachet. They carry the wide selections in the urban store + the outposts are narrowly targeted. CH customers must have deselected them, because the store was downgraded….now it’s tiny and has an abysmally small selection of brands. SS is now bigger than CH, but SS is downmarket from CH. Nordie’s is newish to SS; SS has no Neiman’s, no Saks, no Bloomie’s. So S has to be the magnet. Agree with all the points made about dreadful lighting (I look like swamp thing + I’m coolish) and the rewards. I think I have > 2000 points and I have been borderline unemployed for 5 years. They try to hard to seem chi chi + exclusive, when they are really mass market. The local got a makeover + it no longer looks as if the seagulls got loose in there, but the testers are by no means clean. They do not cycle count or forecast well to predict what will be popular + tend to be overstocked in some things, out of stock forever in others. Much as I love the Pantone COTY collab, product should be available longer + there should still be multiple offerings per year. Also agree on poor training. When I asked the SA what she was going to mix the CFX color drops in, she applied a primer, then painted on the drops. Didn’t quite have the intended effect! I have not taken advantage of any of the rouge perks, like parties or color match (since i look like Shrek in there + I don’t think they have green foundation….) The rouge bags are fair at best. The SAs, while generally pleasant, have become much more aggressive over the years. I do like that they have quite a few men + women of color: it’s become nicely diversified. My shipping is never quick (haven’t gone for the express hoo-hah) but things have arrived intact. There was a period in which i opened everything in-store, because at least 2 of my purchases tended to be broken or defective..and they didn’t like that! But they accepted it, when I told them why. I hate return trips for used or broken stuff. The phone service has been excellent: with Ulta you cannot order by phone. House brand eyeliners are super. Lipsticks quite good, too. Their exclusive sets seem to be better than Ulta’s. But it is a shadow of the Wonderland that first opened in Boston.

Nicole Avatar

Rave: Their house brand actually has very good products, I just started using their foundation and so far I really like it. I’ve also been buying their lipsticks & lipliners for years and they’re fantastic. For the most part, I’ve had good experiences with the sales associates. I like how vast their online selection is and how many brands they offer (especially having Kat von D as an exclusive). I have the rewards card, I’m the lowest tier (surprisingly lol) and for my birthday the gift was a set of two travel sized NARS lip crayons, which I thought was pretty darn nice!
Rant: How on earth can the lighting in a makeup store be terrible? How am I supposed to match things to my skin if the lighting is dim? Their color matching device thing is extremely inaccurate, it matched me with foundations 3 shades darker than my skin tone and with the wrong undertones. At the stores, I see people putting the sampler lip glosses directly on their lips and eyeliners directly on their eyes (have they never heard of germs or…). I don’t know if there’s much that Sephora can do about that honestly since the sales associates can’t babysit, especially when it’s busy, but it’s a turn off. I’ve never had any problems ordering online. And I agree, the rewards system needs an overhaul.

Ellie Avatar

Not a fan of their reward system either. I never care for the gifts. I wish I could earn a discount instead (like they do in Europe).

Lisa Avatar

It’s hard to find anything to rant about with Sephora. I wish they had sales more frequently, and their store lighting is terrible. One thing I am annoyed by is that if you buy something during one of their sales and then need to exchange it for another shade, you will have to pay the price difference for the regular price. I get why they can’t just let you exchange and extend the promotion indefinitely, but if you just get another shade of the same item, I think they should call it even.
I do think they need to have way more perks for VIB Rouge. It’s a huge jump in spending from VIB to VIB Rouge, and with the new shipping program (which makes the Rouge free shipping not much of a perk) the exclusive perks for VIB Rouge (unlimited makeovers and early access to products) are not very exciting.

RAVES – The best brands in one place. I struggle to find products I’m interested in at ULTA, since all the brands I really want — Kat von D, NARS, Make Up For Ever — aren’t carried there.
The best return policy.
Samples of anything!!
Fast shipping.
I like the points system. Cashback is good in theory, but I only buy high end makeup on sale, so I never end up getting the extra points from Ulta (since the extra points events don’t usually overlap with their sales) — plus it’s irritating that sometimes they make you activate them, so often you don’t get the points you should have coming. Bottom line, even though I am platinum at Ulta, I only ever end up getting about $30 back each year at most. Whereas with the deluxe samples from Sephora I can usually get a couple of hundred dollars worth of product each year, and I get to try small sizes of everything instead of having to buy full sizes that I’ll never use up.

Gem Avatar

I don’t think Sephora will ever make it so people can get money off from their BI points. They’re owned by LVMH and they’re a luxury brand so from a branding standpoint, it just doesn’t make any sense for them. When you lower prices like that it changes how a customer views the value of a product. It would be so nice if that did happen, but realistically it’s not going to. I’ll be so surprised if it ever does!

Mariella Avatar

I absolutely ADORE Sephora! Yes, it is overwhelming but so is the myriad of individual cosmetics counters in a department store. At least at Sephora, the SA’s aren’t pressuring you to buy one specific brand and can direct you to products from several companies that might be what you’re looking for. The 2 Sephoras near me were always really good on customer service and I knew several of the SA quite well (not a good sign, surely!) but lately, they have a lot of new staff who seem (a) less knowledgeable and (b) less willing to put themselves out, but this could be because they don’t know me and don’t know that I drop a bundle there…. Sephora is also the only place in my area (and for some brands, the only place in Canada) when I can purchase certain brands like Hourglass, Too Faced and many others…

Kas Avatar

Rave: Only place I can get my hands on certain products. I have never in my life been attacked by a giant Chimera while in the store.

Rant: The Sephora that I frequent has some of the worst staff. They seem to either ignore you are treat you like some common peasant who knows nothing about make-up. I once went in looking for foundation. I was pretty sure I knew what colour was right for me, but she pretty much barked at me and told me I needed to get colour ID’d and that it was correct 99% of the time. Fast forward half an hour. The foundation I TOLD HER would probably be the best match for me was PERFECT. Colour ID gave me a bunch of colours that did not work. And in addition to that she was giving me skin facts. Not just any skin facts, but incorrect facts. She was trying to act as if she was well versed in the science of the products and I just wanted to tell her to shut her face hole and correct her. I never said anything at the time, but looking back I wish I had complained.

Tova J Avatar

I believe Sephora in Sweden is different to the US. The best thing is definitly that they carry some exclusive brands, like MUFE, Benefit, Youngblood, Too Faced, NARS, Marc Jacobs.. And it’s cheaper than in most webshops! The sales assistants in my “closest” (4 hours away) store are very helpful and nice.
Since it’s still pretty “small” here, there’s no reward system, webshop, and only I think 4 stores in the whole country. There’s a lot of brands “missing” too, we don’t have Urban Decay, Kat Von D, Bite, hourglass, Becca, tarte… You would think there would be more brands available in Europe since Sephora is french, but nope!

Diana Avatar

One thing I don’t like–and this is true of almost any sales situation–is that they explain things to you like you are starting from a base of zero knowledge.

Kristina Avatar

-In Canada many of the products are higher than other retailers. If you walk a few shoppes down to a good dept store, a quick little price comparison doesn’t hurt.
-I agree with others about the poor lighting, which seems counterintuitive for a beauty retail environment.
-I feel as though I have outgrown the demographic of an establishment that houses the screaming tweens, who infect and destroy all the testers of the high end brands and then walk out with their purchased Sephora brand glitter polish. Though, I remember those days fondly 25 years ago, at my local pharmacy:) I prefer an environment to really enjoy my makeup buying time, without loud music et al.

Jessica Avatar

Rave: Pretty good range of product selection all in one place! The stores are generally well stocked, and I have 3 sephoras near me (2 stand-alone, 1 SiJCP), so its easy to get to. I prefer the in-person shopping experience to Ulta, because the Ultas near me are generally quite messy. It’s also less intimidating than going into somewhere like Nordstrom and having a SA constantly trying to press you into buying products when you’re just browsing at a counter. It’s fun shopping inside of sephora with a basket and being able to walk around and try out a bunch of things!

Rant: The rewards system is so TERRIBLE. I don’t understand how it hasn’t been completely revamped yet, or at least NOTICEABLY improved. Ulta really does have a much better rewards system- if they carried the same breadth of products that Sephora does, I would do all my shopping with Ulta. For the amount of money I spend for points, all I can get are some deluxe samples. The 500 point rewards are pretty terrible, and there was a massive debacle this morning with the new ‘1000, 2000, and 5000’ point rewards. They released them unannounced at 4am EST and had very very few in stock. So now I still have 2k+ points just rotting in my account. It was handled so poorly. There’s no point in me trying to reach rouge again, because the ‘perks’ (20% off once a year and a gift card) are just not worth it. It feels like they really don’t appreciate their loyal customers.

I’m going to try and switch over to buying from Nordstrom now.

Rosemar Avatar

Honestly, this was A Day to post this cause as a VIB Rouge member I’m pretty upset with them right now. I like them because they carry so many brands, obviously, and it’s easiest to just get everything I need from one place. I never intend to hit VIB Rouge because of the rewards, it just happens because of how much I get my supply from them. However, their rewards system is in need of a lot of work. I’m sure most people have seen about the Extraordinary Rewards mess that happened this morning and how nobody was even notified. I don’t have time to stalk their website at 4am so now I have way too many points sitting on my account that will probably go unused. There is no point for me to continue buying from them and being a loyal customer when I get barely anyhting in return. I’d be switching to Nordstrom if it wasn’t for the 2-day Flash Shipping. At least I can say that much…. I love their fast shipping.

Tiffanie Avatar

I think people are expecting way too much! Sephora is a business! They do no have to “give” you anything. It is nice to have incentive points and all, but for people to feel entitled to extras simply because they buy a lot is kind of bratty. Is the makeup purchase itself not good enough?? Sephora does not owe us anything beyond what they are in business for…to sell makeup. I never hear anyone angry at MAC and they NEVER have a sale, let alone incentive points.
I appreciate Sephora for being able to try out different brands, in person. Granted, the testers do get tainted after a while, but at least you have a tester to avoid buying something that doesn’t work for you. Which brings me to the best part about Sephora… the awesome return policy. I don’t even get questioned when I try to return a product. All in all, I think the benefits of Sephora far outweigh the cons. (No, I do not work there lol!)

Ruthless Avatar

Actually, if they want to sell me brands available in almost every other store they certainly do have to give me stuff, especially since they never have GWP or sales. Like Lancome, Clinique, Dior, MUFE, NARS, Bobbi Brown, Benefit, Smashbox, Stila etc etc. Those are all widely available from other retailers. Not even including Becca, Tarte, etc

I can get over half of those brands at retailers that reward me far better than Sephora does, and so I shop there instead.

Michele Avatar

Follow-up Rant: Being VIB Rouge with a ton of points and not ever receiving notification from Sephora about the Extraordinary Rewards! Only found out about it from reading it on social media (and by then it was too late – everything was gone!) I feel unbelievably disrespected.

ceebee_eebee Avatar

I love my local Sephora. The SA’s are always friendly, informative, and very helpful. And they are CRAZY generous with their samples. I’ll sometimes walk out with 3 or 4 little containers of masks or moisturizers I’ve picked myself with a handy instruction sheet. All you have to do is ask and they pack them in. I think the problem a lot of people have with Sephora is that some of the stores are just INSANELY busy. I can’t deal with the super busy ones. I have one really close to me that is never particularly filled and I get great service.

The points system doesn’t bother me either since I usually use my points to stock up on travel sizes of products I already use. Once in a while I might test something new. But I haven’t made any concerted effort to reach Rouge status (it just…happened) so I’m not fussed about rewards. I know people love the Ulta $ rewards but Ulta carries very few brands I use, so I can’t compare. I rarely buy anything there. All in all I find my Sephora experiences to be positive and the 20% sale in the fall is a time for complete shopping insanity. Being able to save 20% on all my high-end products is like an early xmas present. 😉

Emilie Avatar

Their house brand definitely has some hidden treasures. I’ve had great experiences with their lip products especially. As for the stores themselves, I don’t like how stock varies so much depending on where you go and how they never have sales. I also rarely find things I like in the Rewards Boutique. All that being said, though, it’s hard for me to walk past one without going in! I feel like it’d be a fun place to work.

Zoe Avatar

Rant: their rewards system is a joke, offering so little for such a high cost of investment. Poor lighting (in a place where color accuracy is key). Gross testers that apparently aren’t sanitized. The way they package your purchase- I would much prefer a simple biodegradable bag to the fussy tissue paper and bag.

Rave: Brand selection is great, as well as the layout of most stores (despite being overwhelming). Free samples. The house brand is solid. The website and some of the customer service. I like the employee uniforms, oddly enough. Their branding and corporate identity. Sometimes I can find bargains.

Neither here nor there: employees are retail so it’s a mixed bag.

mel Avatar

rant – the Sephora near me is kind of a mess. The lighting is terrible – brights that cast shadows over unlit shelves so you can’t see any colors. The music is usually really loud near the check out counter to the point that it’s hard to communicate with the SAs about your VIB info. I’ve been a VIB for awhile and have never been voluntarily offered any kind of sample in store. My friend who is VIB rouge says the same happens to her. Also they tried to give me the old birthday item last year and I had to ask for the new one that was mentioned in the email. It’s annoying to feel like I have to fight for the few “benefits” they claim to provide.

rave – it’s nearby though once I hit VIB status I’ll likely buy my other cosmetics from Bloomingdales.

mel Avatar

I forgot 2 on the rants – it’s impossible to find anything even when I know what I want and it’s in stock. The Bite products are on tiny displays in 3 different places. The nail polish is half if one spot and half in another. The other is that when I go in looking for a thing that was in an email they have no idea what I am talking about.

Ruthless Avatar

Sephora’s reward system SUCKS. I spend over a grand and I get free samples? Puh leeze. I deserve a full sized product, Sephora. Here in Canada we have shoppers drug mart, which has a decent cosmetic department and better rewards-I shop there before Sephora.

kristen @ glambunctious Avatar

I love Sephora! Their website is fantastic, the app is easily to use for browsing and purchases, and as a VIB Rouge, I get free 2-day shipping which is AMAZING. I feel like Sephora really rewards me for spending my money there with early access, free 2-day shipping, birthday gifts, and special GWPs/samples. Also, I commend them for having testers of every product! I wish drugstores would do this as well. It’s so hard to find foundation matches just by looking at a bottle. Sephora is also amazing for returns. They never make me feel like an assclown for returning anything that caused a reaction or didn’t suit my skin tone! I have a really great store nearby (Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta) and have always been treated very well there. The store is jarring on weekends because it’s PACKED with people, but during the week if I go during my lunch break, it’s not overly populated and is a much more casual experience.

Angie Avatar

I used to LOVE me some Sephora. I started shopping there in 2009 and spent a TON OF MONEY in there. I can’ t tell you how many 500 point rewards I redeemed. (Not even worth it really!!) My mom and I used my membership, she didn’t care about the points so I spent thousands and thousands of dollars with them.

The Sephora closest to me (in a JCPenney) was staffed by totally worthless, hapless, and rude young ladies….the one I loved (with a great SA who was a GUY!!!!) was so far away I rarely was able to get there. So I would order online as much as possible and save the trip to the very very far away store for when I needed to talk to my favorite helpful SA.

After being a customer for YEARS, I was suddenly unable to place any online orders through Sephora.com I thought it was a fluke and I tried ordering several times and each time they’d cancel my order. In frustration I’d go to the mall store (MAYBE) and buy it but mostly I’d say to hell with it. I became a HUGE Ulta shopper—-I’ve redeemed an uncountable number of 1000 point bonuses.
A few months ago I ran out of my KVD Trooper liner that I’d purchased years ago and tried to order at Sephora again–bam it’s canceled. This kept happening. My card worked in the store—what the heck? So I called Sephora’s online customer service to ask what was up. A guy with an attitude got my call and he was so rude I couldn’t believe he was answering their phone!! He informed me that my Sephora membership was suspended to online ordering because of CC fraud! I was like what? “You did chargebacks so you can only shop in our stores now.” WHAT?? No what I did was return some foundations that looked fine online but were bright orange in person. I told the guy no there had to be a mistake, I returned them using the return form in my box per Sephora’s return policy. He argued with me that I did a chargeback and wouldn’t be allowed to order from them any more but then bitchily informed me, “You are welcome to make your purchases in person!” I asked him how did that make sense, I could still return what I bought in person? He snapped a rude response and I was just flabbergasted. Oh but wait it gets better.

Since I couldn’t order the KVD I wanted (the foundation is ONLY AVAILABLE ONLINE in the shade I wanted how ironic) I went to the mall Sephora that I loathe. A very pretty vampiress with blue hair and I were the only people in the store—she truly was gorgeous, with porcelain skin and great makeup. If I hadn’t had an acid peel the night before I would be the same coloring as she was so I thought this was great in helping me find foundation. I asked her about the KVD foundation I wanted and she scoffed, “Oh no that’s way too light for you, that’s the color I wear!” I told her yes I am her coloring but I’d had an acid peel that’s why my face was so red. She kept saying no, very few people are pale enough to wear that KVD color and she didn’t think that was my color and recommended several foundations that were WAY TOO DARK. I’m sorry honey but I’m old enough to be your mom and I’ve tried every flipping brand of foundation in your store—I know what works and what doesn’t for me, thanks. UGH!!! To make it worse I went to the far far away Sephora to see my favorite guy SA and he no longer works there. He’s been replaced by overtanned girls who stand around talking and are very loathe to help me when I ask for samples of foundations I hadn’t tried yet (the mall Sephora doesn’t carry all these brands) I am sorry but you do not give a customer with rosacea a pink based foundation when her neck is normal and porcelain—-her face is going to be a mess sitting on top of that neck!!! I KNOW WHAT I NEED. So frustrating.

SO NO. Unless it’s a KVD I can’t get anywhere else I avoid Sephora like the plague that it is. You won’t let me order because you mistakenly tagged me for a chargeback AND you hire some PMSing man to be rude to me?!?! Ulta loves me and rewards me generously!!! Bite me Sephora. You have so much to fix.

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