Beauty on a budget: The art of sampling

Illustration by Cara Seccafien

How to use Sephora samples to make your life easier

By Lauren Kelly, Graphics Manager


For beauty hunters watching their wallets, samples are a must. While some other makeup stores offer samples as well, I’m going to be focusing on Sephora. You can get a sample of nearly anything at the store: skincare items such as moisturizers, serums, masks, and face wash; makeup such as foundation, primers, powders, and even eyeshadows; hair products such as shampoos, conditioners, styling crème, and hair masks; and even perfume.

With a range like this, the store is your oyster! There’s no reason not to try out a variety of products before you buy.

The most important time to get a sample is when you’re interested in trying something you’ve never used before, no matter how expensive. You never know how your skin will react to it or whether it’ll actually suit you. Particularly with foundation, it’s impossible to know how something will wear and oxidize until you actually wear it. Most of the samples will get you at least two to three uses, so you’ll be able to properly test a product. Yes, Sephora has a great return policy, but it’s a waste to buy something and test it out just to find out you don’t like it when you could have sampled it first.

Sometimes you need a product for a short time or in a really small amount. Sudden, unexpected breakout and need a spot treatment? Fancy night out and want to wear a perfume that’s not really your regular taste? Christmas party that you want red and gold eyeshadow for? The perfect time to snag a sample. Who knows—once the product runs out, maybe you will want more! Or maybe you just conveniently avoided it as it spoiled in your makeup bag. Either way, you just saved yourself a bunch of money while still getting what you need.

Lastly, when you’re a couple of days away from pay day and you’re scraping the bottom of a daily-use product, snag a sample. You’re going to be purchasing the product very soon, so don’t feel bad about getting the extra you need to get by in the meantime. Along this line, when you’re low on money, you still need to take care of yourself—and Sephora is surprisingly the perfect resource for some self-care.

Before you set out to your local Sephora to go shopping for samples, please remember to be kind to the employees who are helping you and to not be too demanding. You shouldn’t get more than three or four samples in a trip. Use these to your advantage, of course. Get a few foundation shades to compare them; grab a sample of a scrub, mask, and moisturizer to have a spa day; or grab a few wintery perfume samples to test out over the season. However, above all, be kind and be grateful. With that in mind, happy sampling!