I don’t know about you, but I have never left a Sephora empty-handed. After a rendezvous of swatching and prodding, I always end up with my hands full and wallet empty. It’s therapeutic, and honestly, I can’t/won’t stop. My ultimate happy place is the On-The-Go section, the bins next to the register that are filled to the brim with small sample-size products that are all under fifty dollars. I’ll confess that I have spent half a paycheck on these teeny products — so when I finally did the math, I was taken aback that I really wasn’t saving any money.
Brokenhearted (and frankly just broke), I figured that there must be a formula to this deceptive heaven on earth. After years of hard-hitting research and careful calculation, here is my guide to the Sephora On-The-Go section.
1. Do the math (Trust me, it’s not too hard!).
Arm yourself with your phone’s calculator and divide out how much you are paying per ounce/gram. For example, the Urban Decay All Nigher Setting Spray retails for $31. The full size is 4 ounces, so that comes down to $7.75 per ounce. The On-The-Go version is $15 for an ounce (double the price!). In my opinion, totally not worth it. Find yourself a drugstore dupe, or invest in the full size. Your wallet will thank you in the long run.
2. Know yourself, and know your skin.
Are you really going to use that lip balm in the dinosaur packaging? How often are going to be reaching for that teeny tiny beauty blender? Doesn’t lavender oil break you out? Ask yourself the hard hitting questions, and answer them honestly. The worst case scenario is that your impulse buy turns into a full blown allergic reaction (Been there, done that!). If you can imagine yourself using the product 4 times a week, take it to the cashier. If not, please put it down and take three big steps back.
3. Free samples are a thing ya know…
I’ve used this excuse 2o trillion times. “I just want to try it out! Why would I pay (insert obscene price here) for something I might hate?!” This reasoning is incredibly flawed and possibly the reason why I’ve had to re-watch Confessions Of A Shopoholic (an Oscar-worthy film in my humble opinion). If you want to try something, ask the nicest Sephora employee you can spot. Start the conversation about how your skin is as delicate as a newborn baby and how you MUST sample the product before you make the purchase. He/She will will fill a trial vial with enough product for a few uses (maybe even more if they like you). Thank them profusely, and come back if you truly fall in love with the product.
4. Picture the product in your collection.
You are your greatest asset. You know how much you are going to use the product in question. You know if its going to end up at the bottom of your purse with the old Metro cards and mints, or if it is going to sit right next to you at work because you reapply so often. Once, I bought a facial oil that I found in the On-The-Go section, lost it, and found it years later after it stained and destroyed a silk scarf. Your spidey sense is your best friend when it comes to these products. My spidey sense should have warned me that I probably shouldn’t wrap an expensive face oil with a silk scarf. Too bad I didn’t listen to it.
5. Online Reviews are EVERYTHING.
I have faith in humanity for one sole reason: honest online reviews. People just like you and me take precious time out of their days just to write about beauty products. These people are wonderful human beings. Adjust your filter settings on the Sephora website to match your needs and read all about the product minutes before you purchase it. The future is here.
6. Take a shelfie.
I’m guilty of buying 20 lipsticks that all fall under the same color family (I just really love that color!). To stop feeding this atrocity, I took a picture of my lipstick organizer and refer to it constantly when I am walking through Sephora. Take pictures of your makeup drawer, bathroom shelf, and medicine cabinet. Before you buy anything, look through these pictures to make sure you don’t own anything similar. Also, think of me if you ever buy a nude-y pink lipstick. I’ve officially banned myself.
7. Resist the urge.
This takes good ol’ fashioned resistance. Walk through the section with your eyes glued to your phone. Don’t sift through the bins. Don’t side eye the girl behind you rummaging through the travel section. Leave Sephora victorious and proud with the concealer you came to buy. Clap for yourself.
8. Treat yo’ self.
Sometimes, the math will work in your favor. You will find a treasure in those bins that you don’t already own. Everyone will rave about it in the reviews. You will go back and forth and decide to get the teeny product. And it will change your makeup game. Channel your inner Tom Haverford and treat yo’ self. You deserve it girl.