I don’t know about you, but I love going into my local Sephora. For me, even walking in the door is an experience. I feel welcomed, empowered, and I’m instantly in the mood to buy products that make me feel and look fantastic. Many of you are probably the same: Sephora is currently the #1 specialty beauty retailer in the world. Make no mistake, this isn’t a discount experience, but that doesn’t mean you have to break your budget when you need a fresh, new look. I’ll share my favorite Sephora shopping hacks with you so you can get free makeup and always look your best!
1.) Sign Up For The Beauty Insider Program
Okay, so maybe this isn’t really a Sephora shopping hack because everyone knows about this amazing benefit. The Beauty Insider Program is Sephora’s totally free loyalty program. Just by signing up, you are instantly rewarded with Beauty Insider Cash, seasonal savings events, free standard shipping after a minimum order, an end of year reward, points for discount events, and a program that allows you to swap points for money off your purchase. You can sign up for the Beauty Insider Program here.
You also get a free gift on your birthday (because who doesn’t like presents?). And honestly, it’s not a little rinky-dink gift. This is an excellent product gift set, and best of all, YOU get to choose your gift! It’s not pre-decided that you will get a product that is a color or scent you aren’t in love with.
Being a Beauty Insider allows you to earn points for dollars, so the more you spend, the more points you get. As you hit different milestones like 100 points, 500 points, and so on, you can choose additional gifts. I love to save my points for the products 500 points and above because these products are larger, and I have found some of my favorite beauty products this way.
The Beauty Insider program also entitles you to sweepstakes entries, meet and greet trips, the opportunity to see how products are made, and all kinds of cool things.
2.) Splurge on Samples
Sephora has built its empire on the try-before-you-buy model, so you can ask for samples of anything you are interested in. Gone are the days of grabbing something from the pharmacy or grocery store shelf and hoping you like the color or consistency.
The product manufacturers make the samples for this purpose. Be sure to ask because they are behind the register or underneath the display drawers many times. If they don’t have something you wanted to try, ask if they have a comparable product for you to sample.
Taking advantage of samples has allowed me to save so much money that I’ve previously wasted buying full-size products. With samples, I can bring it home, try it out, see how it feels or smells for a couple of days.
3.) Grab a Scent Sampler
If you are interested in a new signature fragrance, I want to suggest the Sephora Favorites Sampler Sets. There are a few varieties of these available.
Kind of bumping off the idea of samplers, I love that Sephora offers a scent sampler. This kit has ten scents in it and costs around $55. If you are thinking, “Well, Lauren, that may be great, but I don’t need 10 scents.” I want to assure you; these are small bottles. If you like even one of the scents inside, the box also comes with a gift certificate for $65 off a full-size bottle of perfume.
This is a great way to save money on scents.
4.) Save on Shipping
One of Sephora’s excellent customer service attributes is they offer free shipping when you order in store. So if you are shopping and are interested in a product, but it happens to be out of stock in-store, you can order it at the retail location, and they will ship it to your home absolutely free.
This is so convenient compared to remembering to go home, log in to the app or website, and then remember what product I wanted, pull out all my payment details, and hope I am eligible for free shipping based on my Beauty Insider. Ordering in-store means I know I’m covered!
5.) Shop the Sales
Sephora has AMAZING annual sales. Twice a year, April and November, they give you certificates with your purchase. Recently I earned 15% off my entire order. The Beauty Insider program I mentioned earlier REALLY helps with this.
Sephora lets you stack coupons and discount codes. This has to be one of my favorite Sephora shopping hacks. I love it because it means you can use your rewards points and free gift promotions and coupons along with the sale prices at checkout. It’s no longer the highest discount applies; you can apply everything for maximum savings!!
6.) Refund for Price Drops
Did you ever purchase something only to see it advertised on sale the next week? Ugh! I hate it when that happens! If you go into Sephora within a reasonable time (say a week or two) with the receipt, and they will refund the price adjustment. If you buy a $100 makeup palette and it goes on sale for $55, the $45 refund will be a nice return!
7.) Shop Online for Free Samples
Anytime you shop online with Sephora, your order is shipped with free samples. This is a great way to get free makeup and try out some new products you might not have picked up otherwise.
8.) Free Foundation
I know I talked about Sephora’s great sampling program and their try-before-you-buy retail experience, but this is perfect when shopping for foundations. They have a Foundation Share Finder in-store and online, but it can still be scary to invest in a new brand and color.
If you ask for a foundation tester, the sample usually has enough coverage for 2 or 3 applications. This is perfect for trying it with your lifestyle to see how you like the color, coverage, and wear. For example, if you work in a restaurant, maybe you need to see if a foundation will hold up all day in the heat without sliding off your face (because that would be embarrassing!). This foundation tester is perfect for that.
9.) Enjoy a Mini-Makeup Session
While it’s not necessarily how to get free makeup, the 15-minute mini-makeup session at Sephora is completely free, and there is no obligation to purchase. It’s a great way to try a new look and ask any questions you might have.
Book one of these sessions if you have a date or need to get your makeup done for a special occasion. You can enjoy 15 minutes with a professional makeup artist giving you expert advice on coloring, shading, and blending techniques.
There is also an option to upgrade to a free makeover. With the free makeover, you have to purchase a $50 gift card to Sephora, but there are so many products available to choose from for your beauty and personal care routines or even gift-giving. I think it still works out as a win-win, right?
10.) Return Policy
Sephora has a very generous return policy. Many people are unaware of this, but if you purchase something and after some time you find it stops working for you or that you no longer like it, you can return it to the store. Obviously, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t abuse this policy. I don’t advocate using most of a bottle of foundation and then returning it or anything.
But definitely keep this in mind that if you should, for any reason, make a purchase and have a reaction or decide it doesn’t work with your lifestyle, you can return the product without a receipt and get your money back with no questions asked.
11.) Get Social
I recommend following Sephora on Facebook. They share free coupons for free items with purchase. Often they do this around the holidays, but sometimes just surprise sales too. So it’s great to follow them and be alerted to these freebies when they come out.
12.) How to Get Sephora for Free with Swagbucks
The big reveal of my favorite Sephora shopping hack: I have been getting Sephora for free for years by shopping online through a website called Swagbucks.com. Every time I shop, whether it’s through Amazon or another website, I earn points. As the points accumulate, I can redeem them for different things. Once or twice per year, I choose to use my Swagbucks points for a free Sephora gift card. I use my gift card along with any coupons and freebies (remember they are all stackable!) to get free Sephora all year long!
If you don’t have a Swagbucks account, you can sign up here. If you aren’t familiar with Swagbucks, I share all about the ins and outs of how it works in this post. Suppose you don’t have a gift card available to you through Swagbucks right now because your points value hasn’t accumulated to the redemption total yet. In that case, you might be eligible to buy a JC Penney gift card and purchase your Sephora through one of the pop-ups within a JC Penney department store.
Also, Raise.com or GiftCardGranny.com will offer big discounted cards for sites like JC Penney which carry Sephora. Use this as an option to purchase a discounted JC Penney gift card for 20% off and then save even more by using coupons in addition to that. You will end up with 35% off your Sephora purchase.
Another recommendation I have is researching promotions through other stores. For example, my gas station awards gas points if you buy gift cards there. Certain times a year, usually around Black Friday, you can receive four times your gas points when you buy gift cards. I plan to purchase a $100 Sephora gift card at my gas station and earn $0.40 off a gallon of gas.
All of these little Sephora Shopping hacks can add up to save you lots of money on your personal care and beauty products at Sephora. You can feel and look like a million bucks without spending it!
If you are looking for other ways to save within your day to day budget, I have a free budgeting pack full of helpful tips. It’s how I changed my spending habits, paid off thousands in credit cards, and can live a life I enjoy debt-free. The budget back walks you through everything and includes helpful videos and an eBook.