11 Things to Know About Shopping at Sephora

There’s no doubt that Sephora’s a great store for stocking up on beauty and cosmetics products. Is that also the case for fragrances, though? We answer your questions to help you decide.

Published Categorized as Shopping
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There’s more than one reason to love Sephora. From the vast product selection in-store to the Beauty Insider program and samples that you get with every purchase, it’s undoubtedly one of our favorite locations to shop for beauty and cosmetics from. But what about fragrances?

After all, great scents don’t come cheap. And it’s not like you have no other options when shopping for one, whether that’s heading out to the luxury department store or buying from a major online retailer.

When on the fence about buying perfumes and colognes from Sephora, we’re here to help you decide by answering all of your shopper questions.

So keep on reading if that sounds like what you came here to find out.

Does Sephora Sell Real Perfume?

Shopping for perfume on the Internet can often be, to say it lightly, a hit or a miss. Especially on Amazon and eBay, where third-party sellers who don’t always have the most respectable business practices can trick you into buying fakes.

Should you be as vigilant on Sephora.com? Or when you’re there at one of Sephora’s brick-and-mortar stores?

Sephora is one of the biggest beauty and fragrance retailers out there, and an authorized reseller of numerous designer and niche brands. As far as product authenticity goes, you can count on getting real—not counterfeited—perfumes from any Sephora store.

In other words, you can expect to get the same quality of perfume from Sephora that you’d get from Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, or any other reputable store.

Ultimately, who you shop from comes down to whose customer service, prices, and returns policy you like the most.

A few members of the Sterlish editorial team recall having personal experiences in which Sephora provided a better customer service than the perfume houses themselves on their direct stores.

How Much Is Sephora Shipping?

Shipping is one of those things no one wants to pay for. Does Sephora offer it for free and, if so, then does it apply to all purchases?

If you live in the United States, Sephora offers free, standard 1-3 day shipping on all orders $50 and over. Standard shipping for orders under $50 costs $6.50 per order.

In case you need a product shipped to you faster than that, Sephora offers guaranteed two-business-day shipping for $10.95 per order and guaranteed one-business-day shipping for $16.95 per order.

Depending on your location (and which shipper your package gets picked up by at the warehouse where it was processed), Sephora typically ships with USPS, UPS, FedEx, Lasership, or Ontrac.

There’s also Sephora’s FLASH shipping subscription, which you can sign up to for $15/year, which gives you unlimited 1-2 day shipping for a period of one year. We think this a great deal for frequent shoppers who don’t fancy waiting three days to get their orders delivered to them (and, let’s be honest with ourselves, who does?!).

For more information on Sephora’s shipping costs and policies, we encourage you to go to the U.S. shipping information section on the retailer’s website.

International readers should refer to the information section on their country’s Sephora website, as different rates and terms apply.

Does Sephora Ship to Store?

Is it just me, or is there something stressful about having to plan your entire day around having an order shipped to your door?

Happily, Sephora has an in-store pick-up program in the United States for those of us who prefer picking up our orders at our own pace.

When you shop from the Sephora app, you can choose to pick up your goods at a store near you. You’ll get a notification in the app when your order is ready, and you have 5 days to pick it up. When you get to the store, let a Beauty Advisor know why you’re there.

Payment happens in the app itself, before you can collect the order, so there’s no need to carry cash or a credit or debit card with you. In case something came up and you can no longer make it to the store, you can always cancel your order and get refunded.

The above applies only to stores that participate in Sephora’s in-store pick-up program. To find out if your nearest location is on that list, look for it here.

Will Sephora Price Match?

If you bought a product at Sephora.com or a Sephora store, and you saw that the regular price for this product at Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue was lower, you may be eligible for a price-match refund within 5 days of your purchase.

To check if you’re eligible for a price-match refund on Sephora.com purchases, call 1-877-SEPHORA. If you bought your product at a store, then go to that store and consult with a Beauty Advisor.

According to a thread in the retailer’s online community, at this stage, Sephora does not price match with Amazon.com. If you ask us, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll do in the future, as few traditional retailers (dare we say none) can compete on price with Amazon.

How Do You Get Freebies and Discounts at Sephora?

As with any other beauty, cosmetics, and fragrances retailer, the key to unlocking freebies and discounts at Sephora is join their membership program called Beauty Insider. The program is free to join, and gives you access to Sephora points, rewards, and seasonal sales.

By becoming a Beauty Insider, you can start to collect points for every in-store or Sephora.com purchase. And, by shopping for your favorite products at seasonal sales, you can max out the value for your spend.

Shop at Seasonal Sales

Sephora rarely discounts premium products. When they do, that’s a fantastic time to stock up on your beloved brands and can’t-live-without products.

MarchOh Snap!
AprilSpring Savings Event
NovemberBlack Friday
NovemberCyber Money
Seasonal sales at Sephora

Sephora’s Oh Snap! event, which happens in the spring and fall of every year, lasts for several days and offers a different deal every day, with some products discounted by as much as 50%, for shoppers in the United States.

Typically, Oh Snap! happens in March, and is followed by Sephora’s Spring Savings Event in the end of April and through mid-May. Beauty Insiders get 10% off qualifying purchases, VIB get 15% off, and VIB Rouge get 20% off.

Sephora’s Holiday Savings Event typically takes place in the month of November. Similarly to the Spring Savings Event, every Beauty Insider program member gets a discount (10% off for BI, 15% off for VIB, and 20% off for VIB Rouge) on all qualifying purchases.

On Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving Day, and the Cyber Monday on the Monday that follows, Sephora usually does big sales, discounting premium products by as much as 50%, for U.S. shoppers.

Birthday Gifts for Beauty Insider Members

Every year, Sephora offers birthday gifts to the three tiers of Beauty Insider program members (Insider, VIB, and VIB Rouge). To get one, sign up for the loyalty program before your birthday and shop for products at a store or online in the month of your birthday. At checkout, you will be asked to choose your gifts.

How Often Does Sephora Restock?

That scent you love oh-so-much is out of stock, and you don’t know when to come back to the store (or after how much time to look online again)?

We know; uncertainty can be a b*tch.

The long answer short is that Sephora will restock some products quicker than others, and, most of the time, Beauty Advisors don’t know exactly when it will happen, so they can’t really tell you.

How often Sephora restocks a product that’s sold out depends, to a large extent, on how much hype there is for it and how fast the company behind that product can produce new batches.

Simona S, Editor, Fragrances, at Sterlish, recalls the time when Kilian’s Love, Don’t Be Shy was ousted as Rihanna’s signature scent:

“Suddenly, everyone, and I mean everyone, was out on the hunt for it. It was impossible to find it anywhere,” she says, “and the shortage lasted for a couple of months. And all from one Instagram post!”

Is Sephora in JCPenney the Same?

In 2006, Sephora started opening stores inside JCPenney department stores. According to Sephora.com, today there are Sephora locations in more than 574 JCPenney stores across the United States.

The Sephora stores in JCPenney locations are the same as free-standing Sephora stores, albeit slightly smaller and offering a tighter lineup of brands and products. The upside to these stores is that they’re less busy, and you can shop with JCPenney gift cards.

In these locations, it’s not uncommon to find beauty and cosmetics from Bare Escentuals, Makeup for Ever, NARS, Philosophy, Kat Von D, Shiseido, and Urban Decay, as well as fragrances from Dior, DKNY, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and Marc Jacobs.

In 2020, that fifteen-year partnership became rocky when Sephora announced a partnership with competing department stores Kohl’s, and the two retailers entered into a legal dispute over its legitimacy.

Sephora and JCPenney’s have an agreement till late 2022, and, for the time being, there’s no sign that Sephora locations at JCPenney stores will start to close prematurely before the timeline of that agreement expires.

However, we don’t really know whether these stores will continue to be from 2023 and beyond.

Can You Still Smell Perfumes In-store at Sephora?

When it comes to in-store shopping, the Covid-19 pandemic—and the social distancing rules that countries and businesses had to implement to combat it—definitely feels like a “before and after” event.

It utterly changed the way we live, work, travel, and shop (and not for the better).

Suppose you’re trying to decide between two perfumes for your better half’s birthday and, as any informed perfumista would do, you want to give each of them a whiff before you make a choice.

The question is, can you still smell tester bottles at Sephora, just like we used to do in the good old days?

Sephora had to change its store policy due to the Covid -19 pandemic. Nowadays, customers are no longer allowed to touch testers (as, when that happens, the tester bottles need to be disinfected). You can still smell perfumes, but you need to ask a Beauty Advisor to assist you.

As society slowly but surely goes back to normal, we anticipate that this will change. Exactly when that happens, no one can predict (if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that our crystal balls seem to be broken).

Of course, we’re talking only about perfumes, colognes, or any other concentration of perfume that can be spritzed. For the time being, it’s not possible to smell roll-ons and stick deodorants, so, to try them, you’d have to buy them.

Which brings us to our next question that perfume shoppers tend to ask the most…

Can You Return Perfumes at Sephora?

You became enamored with a scent at the store. But, after you bought it, you realized that it doesn’t smell as alluring on you as it did on the test strip, isn’t as long-lasting as you expected it to be, or is so strong, it makes you dizzy and gives you a headache?

The good news is that Sephora has an excellent returns policy that’s more or less got you covered (as long as you comply with the rules), no matter the situation.

Sephora’s U.S. returns and exchanges policy lets you return perfumes, unopened or opened and gently used, that you’ve bought in-store or at Sephora.com, up to 60 days after purchase. Perfumes returned within 30 days are eligible for a full refund, and those returned within 31-60 days for store credits.

While we recommend that you get familiar with the policy itself, here are a few highlights that, as a Sephora shopper, you need to know:

Returns Within 30 Days of Your Purchase

If you return the perfume within 30 days, you will get a full refund to the credit or debit card that you purchased it with (or, if you paid with PayPal, to your PayPal account).

Keep in mind that, if you paid with PayPal, you will only get your money credited to your PayPal account if you return the perfume by mail. Returning the perfume in store will get you a Sephora gift card.

If you paid with Klarna, the refund will not be applied to your Klarna account and you must continue to make payments to Klarna, Sephora’s returns and exchanges policy states. Instead, Sephora will credit the refund to any credit or debit card of your choice.

If you paid with JCPenney card, the refund will be credited back to your JCPenney card.

Returns Within 31-60 Days of Your Purchase

If you return the perfume within 31-60 days, you will get Sephora credits for the full amount of your purchase. Returns by mail give you online (Sephora.com) credits that you can’t use in-store. Conversely, returns in-store give you store credits that you can’t use online.

Returns for International Readers

All of the above applies to Sephora.com and Sephora’s locations in the United States. For the retailer’s returns and exchanges policy for their country, we recommend that international readers turn to Sephora’s local website or customer service line, as different conditions apply.

Can You Return Perfumes Without a Receipt?

You changed your mind about a perfume but you buried the receipt somewhere. After turning the entire house over, you just couldn’t find it. Can you still return it to Sephora without a receipt?

While it’s always a good idea to keep receipts where you can find them when you need them, you should be able to return a product without the receipt because Sephora has a couple of ways of looking up your purchase.

For example, they can trace back your purchase to the credit or debit card that you use, or look for it in your Beauty Insider account.

More often than not, you have to have some sort of proof of purchase, as the store staff has no way of telling whether you’re trying to trick them into getting credits for a scent you bought somewhere else.

Frugal blogger Mom Deals claims that, if Sephora can’t tie the transaction back to your credit/debit card or membership account, they will nevertheless give you store credit, but we haven’t been able to verify that.

When in doubt, the best thing to do is to turn to Sephora’s customer service or go to your local Sephora store and speak to the staff about your case. Remember that, when exceptions like this are at hand, all in-store returns are at the store’s discretion.

Can You Return a Gift at Sephora?

Well, this is awkward! Your boyfriend or workmates gifted you a fragrance you don’t like at all, and there’s absolutely no way you can convince yourself into wearing it. Can you at least return it?

Sephora’s U.S. returns and exchanges policy states that if you want to return a gift that’s been sent to you by mail—and you don’t want the refund to go to the buyer—you should first call 1-877-SEPHORA to have the gift credited to your account instead.

Didn’t Find Your Question? Ask Away!

If you came here with a specific question, but you didn’t see it on our list, scroll down to the comments section below this post and ask away. Our editorial team will take it into account as we periodically update this article.

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