A Sephora VP Reveals the Top 5 Shopping Mistakes Women Make

Hallie Gould
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Hallie Gould

The beauty industry can feel like the Wild West—each new product more confusing than the last. How do we know if what we’re purchasing is right for us? Well, it turns out that a lot of us are making mistakes that we didn’t even know existed. 

I spoke with Artemis Patrick, the senior vice president of merchandising at Sephora, about the most common blunders that happen during the process of deciding on a beauty regimen—as well as the ways to make sure you never make the same mistake twice.

Keep scrolling to find out what you’ve been doing wrong all along.

Colour-Matching

“The most common beauty blunder we see at Sephora is our clients shopping for complexion products that aren’t suited for their skintone. With so many brands, formulations, and shade names to choose from, we understand that complexion, in particular, can be a tough landscape to navigate! It’s important that clients take into consideration their skin surface and undertones to best find shades that work for their own colouring.”

Formulation 

“Knowing your skin type and being attuned to your formulation preferences is a very important skill when shopping for beauty—whether it’s skincare (cream or serum?), fragrance (spray or rollerball?), or colour cosmetics like foundation, eyeliner, lip colour, blush, and more (liquid, powder, cream, gel?). Frequently we’ll see clients purchase formulations that aren’t suited for the skin type (i.e. those with dry skin purchasing powder formulations, which then cling to the skin’s dry patches for uneven application) and then aren’t happy with the results. We offer a wide variety of formulations within each category at Sephora to ensure that there are enough options to fit everyone’s skin type and personal preferences. Plus, we encourage clients to try the products with our open testers and employ the help of our cast members and digital services to help discover what’s right for them.”

Brand Bias

“While we appreciate loyalty, we always try to encourage our clients to be open-minded about different products from different brands, as each company has a unique point of view, formulation, and offerings. What works for one person may not suit another, and the best part about shopping for beauty is that you can take advantage of exploring the best products from a multitude of brands all under one house.”

Tools

“Often, people invest in makeup products but skimp on application tools. Whether it’s a sponge or a specific type of brush, having the right tools is just as essential as the colour cosmetics you buy; if they’re not applied correctly, you’ll never see their full efficacy.”

Prep Step

“Often, shoppers forget to invest in proper primers and prep steps to ensure that their colour cosmetics are applied smoothly and have staying power. After all, great makeup starts with great skin! Your number one prep step should always be taking care of your skin with the proper hydration, nourishment, and treatments. Without the right steps, results don’t reach their maximum payoff or longevity.”

Ask a Sales Associate

“We all love beauty and are here to help you—just ask! Let our experts help to guide you based on what makes you feel great. After all, they are familiar with all of the offerings from all of the brands available, so they are a great resource and sounding board.”

Make Use of In-Store Technology

“We provide a variety of in-store technologies like Sephora + Pantone Colour IQ to scientifically match your skintone to your perfect matches of foundation, lip colour, and concealer across all brands. This imaging device takes into consideration your surface and undertones in your skin, is not dependent upon ambient light, and allows you to filter based on preferences like formulation type, price, SPF and more. With these types of technologies, you no longer need to rely on blind faith and trial and error to find your best products—we have scientific proof that they are right for you!

“We also offer in-store digital services like Skincare iQ and Fragrance iQ to help you better navigate those cluttered arenas by answering a multitude of questions about your concerns, lifestyle, preferences, and more, to help narrow down the selection of products that you’re looking for. You can use these in-store screen displays on your own or with the assistance of a cast member.”

Get an Education

“Beauty education is a very important way to avoid making mistakes when shopping for beauty products. Whether it’s through word of mouth or reading reviews online, there are tonnes of ways to learn more about beauty. Sephora offers elevated services featuring a completely interactive setup to teach new techniques and trends. Through these services and classes, clients learn how to use the products they purchase and have the confidence of knowing they can create whatever look they want, while mitigating expensive and time-consuming trial-and-error. You can also have an unbiased, honest conversation about all things beauty in community forums.”

Don’t Give in to Unnecessary Pressure

“I would look for a place where you feel comfortable exploring without feeling pressure to buy something you don't want or like. Look for unbiased recommendations for beauty products that are right for you.”

Find Out What Doesn’t Work for You

“Everyone is unique, but if you're concerned about an ingredient causing sensitivity for you, just ask for a sample! Most stores are able to give samples of all their products, so you can try it before investing in a full size. Often it's a matter of thinking about how your hair or skin behaves during certain times of the day, in certain weather, or during different seasons, but if you're truly stumped, most sales associates are trained to help ‘diagnose’ the right products for you. Stop in for a consultation!”

Want more skincare tips? Here are 25 expert-recommended beauty rules.

Opening Image: Annie Atkinson/She's in the Glow

Explore: Skin, Hair

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