I’m back from Americaaa!
Yes, I’m completely jetlagged and wishing uni wasn’t already starting this week, but I had such a wonderful time visiting my family and shopping like yet another crazy British person unleashed into the money-suckers that are the American shopping malls! But everything is pretty so it’s okay, right?
My favourite shop of all was undoubtedly Sephora, the holy grail of beauty and makeup. I spent a heck of a lot of money here, since we don’t have one in the UK and most of the US-exclusive products (Tarte and Kat Von D products as well as the fantastic value packs) were all very reasonably priced. It’s just a shame they won’t even accept UK credit cards online, let alone ship internationally, so I can’t get hold of some of their loveliest products at home.
(Photo from here) Not the same store I visited, but how wonderful does this store look? It’s like a playground for adults, but instead of crappily built & rusted play equipment it’s full of wonderful & (mostly) affordable beauty products!
For anyone who doesn’t know, Sephora offer a unique rewards system in a fairly similar way to Boots and Superdrug. Like you collect points on your Boots card every time you stop in for cotton pads/face wipes and collect enough for a lovely perfume or expensive mascara, Sephora’s Beauty Insider program gives you points on your store card which you can save up for a pre-selected free gift (or ‘perk’) – redeem 100 points for one of several deluxe samples or save up 500 points for an exclusive set or product that would cost significantly more. Personally I think the products to choose from are a little stingy, since after spending $100 all I got as a reward was a tiny perfume sample, but free things are always a bonus. I think it does depend on what’s available at the time of redemption, and since the Florida Mall location is so incredibly busy all the best perks go first! Although Sephora’s system has 3 tiers of membership, the latter two with more excellent perks such as birthday gifts, frequent discount codes, exclusive freebies, etc: Beauty Insider (basic membership), VIB (middle tier) and VIB Rouge (the ultimate level). To rank up to VIB I believe you have to spend over $300 in a calendar year: I reached this point after a few visits so I automatically got a few lovely freebies with my new status: free online shipping (gifted to my cousin), 10% online discount (used by purchasing a giftcard to then buy products online during my visit!) and finally my favourite: the free in-store makeover!
I almost didn’t go for the makeover at all since in-store makeovers in other stores, both in the UK and US, had been quite disappointing for me in the past. But I was encouraged by my cousin to go for it before I had to leave, so I did!
I was a bit nervous when I walked in to enquire about the free makeover service, so I approached a smiling staff member and hesitantly flashed my silver coupon. She fetched another member with a schedule and asked what day and time I was available – luckily they had a free space on the spot, but it seems the appointments do fill up quickly so it’s worth calling or visiting in advance to avoid disappointment.
I was directed to meet Krissy who quickly made me feel at ease: very down-to-earth, friendly and easy to talk to. She was wearing a natural face with a perfectly executed bold lip, so I was happy for her to perform my makeover – from experience it’s much better if you like the artist’s own makeup, as, for example, anyone who’s into very overdone makeup may not give you the best results if you prefer a natural look! We spent a good few minutes discussing what kind of look I was after: an evening look? Casual look? Summer/winter/smoky eyes/bold lips? Were there any particular products I wanted to have used on me? My main aim of the makeover was to discover some new products that worked well for me, new colours to try (as much as I love neutrals) and also a look that would stay on my face despite the crazy humidity – as much as I like my BB cream for summer, the Florida humidity will make that slide right off your face!
I have also added in some links where you can easily check out and buy any of these products from the UK where available: I definitely don’t receive compensation or sponsorship from brands and I was told that artists at Sephora don’t work on commission, so these are all 100% unbiased reviews and recommendations!
The makeover began with using Ole Henriksen ‘Truth To Go’ Wipes to remove all product from my face. Yes, these are the really expensive wipes you might have already heard about! For $15/nearly £15 per 30 wipes, they do a satisfactory job at taking off most of my makeup and didn’t dry out my face at all like my cheap Boots face wipes seem to do. They were fully soaked in product and had a lovely citrus smell, but I can’t currently justify spending quite that much for face wipes! We used Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover (a favourite of mine) to completely dissolve my stubborn Benefit mascara that the wipes couldn’t quite get rid of.
With a clear face, Krissy began by using the Sephora Color IQ machine to perfectly colour match a foundation shade for my skin. Color IQ is a completely free and absolutely ingenious service! Using a handheld machine to scan several areas of skin on your face and neck, you are given a colour code within less than a minute which you can enter into Sephora’s website to access a huge list of foundations, all of which should perfectly suit your skin tone. I could even have the list emailed to me straight away (which I did of course!) and here are a few of my matches:
Amazing, right? I’ve always thought of myself as a fair cool-toned (pink) skinned person, but Color IQ recommended I use a slightly darker and warmer-toned (yellow) foundation instead. I’m curious to know how accurate this system really is, but it definitely eliminates endless awkward neck swatches and the frustration of paying £20 or more to go home with the wrong foundation.
Time for the makeup! We started with Benefit Stay Flawless 15 Hour Primer to prevent the products sliding off my face soon as I stepped out into the humidity. This is the slightly bizarre new stick primer from Benefit that many bloggers seem to either love or hate. Applied straight from the stick to the forehead and nose, the solid product seem to melt slightly on contact with my skin so it could then be spread thinly all over my face. For foundation, Krissy chose Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation in Light to Medium since I wanted something light to wear in the humid weather. I’d love to sample it at home – it seems to ‘blur’ imperfections in the skin rather than cover them up, not 100% sure how that works! It’s super-lightweight and really didn’t feel like I was wearing foundation at all, which is a bonus in extremely hot weather.
Krissy spent by far the most time on my eye area. She used Anastasia Beverley Hills Brow Powder Duo in Medium Brown and a small angled brush to enhance and shape my eyebrows. Brow powder usually goes wrong for me so I stick to a pencil at home, but my brows looked fantastic afterwards. Since I specified I wanted to try different colours on my face, she used the beautiful Too Faced’s ‘The Return Of Sexy’ eyeshadow palette – full of a range of gorgeous colours. She focused on the purples (very popular this season), the gunmetal grey and gold for the lids to create a beautiful flash of metallic gold when I blinked or shut my eyes. I’ve always stayed away from purples, but mixed with grey they suddenly became very wearable. She really took my time making sure my eyeshadow was blended just perfectly, and I was so happy with the result! My eye makeup was finished off with Josie Maran’s Argan Creamy Concealer Crayon (QVC US link but is also available in the UK via QVC) to lightly cover up under-eye circles whilst nourishing the skin, Urban Decay Eyeliner in Zero (black) and Givenchy’s Phenomen’Eyes mascara. The concealer was a gorgeous creamy texture in an easy-to-use chubby pencil format which is meant to be infused with vitamins for healthy skin – ideal for my under-eyes. The Givenchy mascara features a novel round wand which is ideal for reaching even the tiniest lashes, but it did feel a little too thick and sticky for me since I much prefer the look of long natural lashes.
Ta-dah! A good few hours post-makeover and my eye makeup is still hanging in there. Wish I could blend eyeshadow this well! Notice the eyelashes look so long with this mascara, but it’s a little too thick & spidery for my liking!
To set my foundation, Krissy used Laura Mercier’s Loose Setting Powder, which was also super-light like my foundation to avoid caking or heaviness. For highlighter she used the very subtle and lovely Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed on my cheekbones and a touch on the inner corners of my eyes, followed by the new Benefit Rockateur blush. I avoided this blush at first thinking the combination of pink and shimmer wasn’t for me, but being a muted pink with barely any shimmer in person it suited me much better than I’d thought and lasted for hours and hours. I rarely use bronzer as it can look orange or dirty, but a light brush of Benefit Hoola over my temples and under my blush using a large soft stippling brush gave a very subtle ‘sunkissed’ look without being orange in the slightest.
Finally, the lips! I asked for a wearable pink lipstick to complement my colouring and Krissy found Givenchy’s Le Rouge Beige Plume, a gorgeous everyday creamy pink with a touch of both coral and beige to stop it from being overly pink. I liked this so much I ended up buying it despite the steep price and because I loved both the unique colour and creamy texture – full review to come soon! My lips were lined with Urban Decay’s Glide-On Lip Pencil in Native and finished off with the beautiful Nars Larger Than Life Lip Gloss in Piree. I normally avoid lip gloss as one gust of wind means my hair is coated in the impossibly sticky stuff, but this gloss was hardly sticky at all and the colour was gorgeous. I didn’t want to spend too much in one go but the gloss is on my wish list for sure!
The whole process took over an hour and a half but the time really flew by! Krissy was so sweet and funny, I didn’t feel the least bit awkward at all. I’d highly recommend her for your own makeover if you ever visit the Sephora at the Florida Mall.
Final face (when I got back):
Great brows & blending!
The makeover was by far my favourite VIB perk! It introduced me to a selection of hand-picked products just for me and I got to spend time asking a Sephora makeup artist a whole bunch of questions about products and working at the store. If you ever get the opportunity to stop by for a complimentary makeover I’d highly recommend doing so!
Have you ever had a Sephora makeover before? Best/worst makeover experiences? And shouldn’t there really be a Sephora in the UK by now?!