Open-Thread Thursday, A Biologist Goes to Sephora, Q of the W, SALES

By Voxy  

Hooray for LOLcats by mherzber.Three cheers and hip hip hooray! Recently, A Biologist made her first trip to Sephora! (I am SO EXCITED!) I asked her to share her experience and she was kind enough to do so. So for all of you who are a little intimidated by the bright lights and eau-de-chic that they spritz into the air over there, take heart! If A Biologist can do it, so can you!

Here is her story:

My First Trip to Sephora (by A Biologist)

It’s been a week since my first trip to Sephora. I kept putting it off because I was afraid of getting the hard sell and coming out with $150 of stuff that I wouldn’t wear and didn’t know how to use. I didn’t want to get scolded for not wearing makeup or for improper skin care. I was also nervous because it is the one store in the mall where all the women going in and out look chic and polished and put together. I feel decidedly frumpy when I pass the store. My daily makeup routine pre-Sephora was usually just chapstick. After discussion here, and some—okay, a lot—of online browsing, I chose two products from the Laura Mercier line to try, a tinted moisturizer and an undereye concealer. I planned to go after work on a weekday so the store wouldn’t be as crowded.

The big day arrived. What to wear? Should I wear makeup? Will I get the stink eye from the salesclerks for being hopelessly un-beautified? Finally I chose a crisp white button down shirt, but skipped makeup for ease of product testing. I felt better if I thought of it as a research experience. I have done much scarier things for Science than walk into a store full of glamazons. My white shirt was a stealth lab coat.

As I entered I was immediately overwhelmed. Dazzling lights were reflected from mirrors on seemingly every surface, but the lighting was somehow also a little dim. The store was three times bigger than I thought it would be, and there were rows and rows of products organized by brand. I tried to quickly find the Laura Mercier section, but I walked through the store twice and couldn’t find it. Green and purple Urban Decay eye shadows screamed for my attention. Sparkly makeup boxes and posters of models with elaborate makeup distracted my eye from the shelf labels. There were also rows of “All Natural” products with Body Shop-esque packaging. Several shoppers were being made up by saleswomen, with a girlfriend or two watching intently. Maybe I should have brought a friend. I was the frumpy one with no friends who couldn’t find Laura Mercier even though every shelf was clearly labeled at eye level. Quelling rising panic, I asked one of the women with tool belts full of makeup brushes if they have Laura Mercier. She smiled pleasantly and walked me over to the shelf, which was right next to the entrance. She said she was “with someone” but if I could wait a few minutes she would send someone over to help me. I sagged with relief.

I looked over the products to identify the moisturizer and concealer I’d chosen.   I usually wear the very palest shade of a product, and I had just had enough time to notice that the concealer came in both a light yellowish and a light pinkish shade.  A young woman with dyed dark hair, dramatic eyeliner, and a French manicure with black tips arrived to help me.  Quirky.  I felt more comfortable.  She radiated calm, unhurried helpfulness, and I began to feel calm myself.  I told her I was looking for an undereye concealer.  She took a close look at my face, tipping her head to the side, and picked the more yellow concealer.  She applied a dab of the tester to the back of her hand then used a q-tip to apply it under my eyes and her fingertips to blend.  “Are my nails making you nervous?” she asked.  I must have been blinking a lot.  We surveyed the results in one of the mirrors.  The lighting was surprisingly unhelpful, so I couldn’t tell much, but I do know my skin is cool, not warm.  I suggested we try the pinker base as well.

The saleswoman applied it to my other eye and carefully considered.  “Which is which again?”

“Pink on the right, yellow on the left.”

“You’re right, you do need the cooler one,” she said as she bent down to choose the correct box for me.  She then asked if there was anything else I’d like to see, and I replied that I’d like to try the tinted moisturizer.  After determining I didn’t want the oil-free version, she quickly chose shade “pasty”—I mean “porcelain.”   She brought over a brush with a long, flat head to apply it.  While she brushed it on I pointed out the poster of the model demonstrating Laura Mercier’s version of smoky eyes and commented that the model looks great, but I don’t wear makeup very often and I’m not that advanced yet.  “Then this is a great line for you,” she said, “Laura Mercier is all about natural.”  I was pleased.   The makeup felt very cool and light going on, so I decided to purchase it as well.  She again carefully checked the box to be sure the shade is the correct one before handing it to me.  I took a look in the mirror.  The pinker undereye concealer was almost invisible, and the moisturizer left my face smooth and feeling very soft. The saleswoman was very unhurried, despite the other customers, and I felt comfortable that I’d had time to assess the products before purchasing.  At the checkout, my sleek little gray boxes went into a cute little black and white bag.  I am a secret sucker for pretty packaging.  I was asked if I would like to join the Beauty Insiders.  I would get a present on my birthday and special offers. Who can say no to that?  Leaving the store I happily swung my little Sephora bag a bit.  The boots on sale in the shoe store window, for once, didn’t attract me. I wanted to go home and play with my new makeup.

I’ve been waiting to publish until all the results were in—that is, until I’ve used my new products for several days.   The Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer makes my skin look and feel soft and smooth.  It is very light coverage, but my skin tone appears more even and it is invisible in the brightest sunlight or fluorescent lights.  It is very dry here now, so I have been applying my regular moisturizer beneath it.  The sun protection seems adequate for winter, but I apply it thinly enough it may not be enough for summer.  I’m very pleased with it for a daily routine.  The Undercover Pot concealer is amazing.   No yellowish reverse-raccoon eyes.  My coworkers agreed they couldn’t tell I was wearing undereye concealer.  I still need a little practice to determine exactly how much to apply so I don’t have to blot some off or make a second pass, but it takes almost no time using a concealer brush as recommended by Voxy.  This is my biggest epiphany so far—I am amazed at how perfectly the stiff, rounded brush works.  I just need to pat the edges a little bit with my fingertip and swipe on the translucent powder and it is ready to go.  The Pot has a second color to cover blemishes, and I had a bad moment when I got home and couldn’t remember which side was which.  Luckily, someone on the Sephora web page had the same question.  I haven’t had to use the blemish side yet, as the moisturizer appears to agree with my skin.

I’m looking forward to my return trip.  It was such a pleasant experience.  I decided that I would wait one month and see if keep up my new routine, which also includes mascara and eyeliner.  If I do, I’m thinking very strongly about eyeshadow primer and a neutral eyeshadow.  Or black nail tips.  I can’t decide.

A Biologist, you are AWESOME. Bold, brave, and appropriately assertive. I agree with you about the bad lighting in Sephora (if you are more on your own next time, remember the trick of going over to the perfume wall, which is usually mirrored, and looking at your face in those lights, which are brighter and cooler) — and the difficulty of finding the right Laura Mercier shade for us pale-skinned girls. (I’m between “Porcelain” and “Nude” myself.)

Will she go back? Stay tuned!

So, related, here is the Q of the W: are you nervous about or intimidated by shopping at stores like Sephora? Share your retail anxieties here!

As for me, I am totally at home in Sephora (there’s a reason I call it “the mothership”), but I intensely dislike shopping at department store counters where there are pushy sales associates who always think they know more than I do. (Again, I’m thinking about my horrible Estee Lauder experience.) I don’t like being pressured to buy something. However, today, if the roads are passible, I’m planning to head up to a mall with a MAC store (and MAC counters in the department store) to take a look at those MAC Spring Colour Forecast products I’ve been lemming. I would prefer not to, but I need to swatch them to see if they’re really worth buying, so I have to bite the bullet and go to a store or counter. Le sigh.

Speaking of MAC, the two new Viva Glam lipsticks are out as of yesterday — one, designed by Cyndi Lauper, is a light coral-red lustre, and the other, designed by Lady Gaga, is a very light pink that I can’t imagine will look good on anyone, but that has not stopped it from being wildly popular among people who love Lady Gaga. Which is pretty much par for the course. All proceeds (not a portion of the profits, but ALL the money from the sale) goes to the MAC AIDS Fund, which sponsors AIDS research.


Er, uh, not much new.

Previously announced sales still going on:

SkinStore: 20% off sitewide (some exclusions) through 2/15; use code LUV20 • BeautyTicket: 20% off through 2/28 with code INSTYLE20 • TheCosmeticMarket: 20% off through 2/28 with code ALLURE

Photo: / CC BY-SA 2.0
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  1. avatar Grasshopper
    Posted February 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I agree: A Biologist kicks ass!

    I hate that sinking feeling of walking into a store, and not knowing what you need or why you need it or how to use it or anything.

    It’s like a first date, but worse, since the store doesn’t even know you’re coming!

    I think A Biologist is definitely a contender for Bravest Voxier. Voxifier? Voxer?

    What are we, anyway, Vox?


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted February 13, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Er, I dunno! I was kind of hoping that “Vixens” would take off, what with the whole “foxy” thing, but it hasn’t gathered critical mass yet.

      I love, LOVE the first date analogy. How funny!


      • avatar a biologist
        Posted February 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Grasshopper!

        I love “Vixens.” May I be said to have “moxy”? A Vixen with moxy–sounds like someone sought after by search committees.


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