To the insiders that know it best, Sephora is like the Disney World of the beauty industry. Here's why: The popular beauty haven is chock full of awesome goodies to purchase and high-tech activations to play with, making it so much more than just a shopping destination for those who enter. However, not everyone knows about these hidden gems within each store—ranging from free samples to full on makeovers. Sephora PRO Artist, Myiesha Sewell is going to share her best insider tricks. Not only will you save money and learn some valuable information about the company, but you’ll also be one of the few to know about their under-the-radar perks as well. Talk about a win-win.
1. If you’re browsing for nothing in particular, explore the Hot Now Section first.
“My favorite area in the store to check out if you’re just browsing is the "Hot Now" section which you’ll see as soon as you walk in,” says Sewell. “It has all the latest and greatest from Sephora and features a lot of must-have’s that are trending right now.”
2. If in-store samples gross you out, use their virtual tool to try on new makeup.
One of the best Sephora perks is being able to try out the makeup in-store before you buy, but if the idea of using products open to the public—even with single-use applicators—grosses you out, there’s another way to give the latest and greatest a try. “You can try hundreds of lipsticks, eyeshadows, blushes and lashes available in-store without even touching them through Sephora Virtual Artist on the Sephora app,” explains Sewell. “This feature is not only fun and innovative, but also super easy to use. You can even purchase the products you love directly through the app to save precious shopping time or play with this awesome tool in select stores!”
3. You can take a free beauty class—regardless of skill level.
“There’s an opportunity to learn and play during Sephora’s hands on, free beauty classes where a Cast Member helps you learn everything from skin care basics to the latest makeup trends,” says Sewell. “There are so many different classes to choose from and they’re a great way to learn top techniques and beauty hacks from the pros.”
4. Do not feel weird asking for free samples—seriously.
Even if you only went to Sephora to buy a specific product, you should still grab a few trial items as well. “Asking a Sephora Cast Member for a free sample of any product is a great way to test and try it on your own if you’re not ready to commit just yet,” says Sewell. “The best part is there’s no limit on the amount of samples you’re able to take home—no purchase required!” Don’t worry, this offer isn’t limited to just in-store—you can sang three samples with every purchase online as well.
5. You can get a free mini facial in-store.
“A number of stores also offer a Skincare Studio where clients can receive skin care consultations and enjoy a free, 15 minute mini facial with our Skincare iQ tool that helps determine personalized skin care product recommendations just for you,” says Sewell. “Everyone has different skincare concerns, so this is really the best place to start if you don’t have your skin care routine nailed down.”
6. It’s possible to get a full-face makeover for free.
The rumors are true: A 15 minute, free mini-makeover is available to all customers without having to buy anything in-store. However, if you’re planning on making a few purchases, Sewell recommends a more extensive option: “Whether you only have 15 minutes for a quick touch up via a Mini Makeover, 45 minutes for a one-on-one custom makeover, or 90 minutes for a customized consultation, the Beauty Studio is your destination for helping achieve a look you’ll love. If you’re planning on treating yourself to a few new products, I always suggest booking a custom makeover, so our trained cast can help you learn how to use all of your new goodies.”
7. You can return virtually anything.
Even though it’s been revealed recently that Sephora—along with hundreds of other retailers—is tracking returns, they still have a pretty amazing return policy. According to their website, both opened and unopened returns or exchanges—with or without a receipt—are accepted within 60 days of purchase. However, be sure not to take advantage of their generosity because it could get you banned from making returns altogether.
8. Don’t brush off Sephora employees—they’re highly trained in beauty.
Sometimes it’s better to be left unbothered by store employees when shopping, but when it comes to Sephora, that just isn’t the case. “Sephora Cast are trained several times a week, if not every day,” says Sewell. “I strongly encourage you to speak with Sephora Cast Members whenever you’re shopping in the store because they are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable beauty experts who are always willing and able to help you find the best brands and products that fit your personal beauty style.”
9. Beauty Insider members get the best perks.
“Becoming a Beauty Insider member is the best way to stay in the know when it comes to new products and deals from Sephora,” says Sewell. “Every time you shop, you’ll receive points—the more you shop, the more points you’ll receive and as they start to add up, you can use them for perks offered in-store and on Sephora.com. Some of my favorite rewards that every member gets are the curated Rewards Bazaar program that’s updated every Tuesday and Thursday. These fun offers start at 100 points and let you choose everything from products, sets, and swag to priceless experiences!”
10. Travel size products along the checkout line aren't usually worth it.
According to Reddit beauty experts, the travel sized products found along the checkout aisle don’t hold the same value per ounce compared to when you buy the full-sized product. So, unless you specifically need a TSA-approved product, maybe skip this shopping section.
11. You can exchange beauty tips with other Sephora lovers online.
Not many people know about this, but Sephora has a section on their website called “Community” and it’s essentially a chat room for the beauty obsessed. “Community is a great resource because it allows you to interact with fellow beauty lovers on pretty much any topic,” Sewell clarifies. “You can also look at products applied on members that have similar skin tone, eye color, or hair color, which can be incredibly helpful when choosing the right product shade. You can also learn some great tips from the members in all the different groups or help answer questions in any areas you’ve already mastered.”
12. In-store free shipping is a thing.
Unless you get a discount code or they’re running a special promotion, Sephora doesn’t offer up free shipping all that often—unless you’re in the store, that is. While it might seem irritating to have to be physically present in a Sephora store and not walk out with your desired product immediately, it could save you major cash (shipping is expensive!). So, take that into account the next time you’re annoyed by the shipping cost that's been slapped onto your online order.
Article originally appeared in New Beauty