I LOVE Sephora. Even before I was an esthetician or had any interest in skin care, even before I was as obsessed with makeup as I am now, I loved Sephora. And I know that automatically makes a lot of estheticians hate me. Because I know when I was working in the school’s spa and making their product recommendations, a lot of clients would say, “what can I find that’s comparable at Sephora?” And most estheticians argue that for the same price you can buy their products that are professional, have a higher concentration of active ingredients (which is NOT always true), etc. But I have to ask these other estheticians: would you hate Sephora so much if you didn’t retail a skincare line you were recommending? Probably not. Although I am a practicing esthetician, I do not retail any product line, so I can remain a bit more objective. I make non-professional skincare recommendations much like a parent giving their teenager a condom: if you’re gonna do it, do it safely. Once again, I’ve left out Clinique and others whose ingredients are not listed online. So with that, let’s get into it!
Goals for oily skin: to keep everything hydrated and balanced without drying out the skin and causing even more oil.
What to avoid:
- drying, stripping ingredients
- heavy, occlusive ingredients that will lead to breakouts
- Cleanser: I personally don’t find pricey cleansers necessary, but if you’re wanting to one-stop-shop Sephora, here are my recommendations. Fresh Soy Face Cleanser ($38); Philosophy Purity Made Simple ($24); Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash ($22); Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel ($38); boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser ($28) are just a few that I liked. There was a full page I didn’t even get to, for the sake of brevity (me? Concerned about brevity? I know, I know.)
- Toner: Fresh Rose Floral Toner ($40); Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Soothing Lotion ($33); and Algenist Hydrating Essence Toner ($25) are the few that did not contain ambiguous alcohol, denatured alcohol, or SD alcohol.
- Exfoliant: Philosophy Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash ($28); Skin Inc. Pure Revival Peel ($55); Tatcha Polished Classic Rice Enzyme Powder ($65); boscia Exfoliating Peel Gel ($34); Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser ($40); Origins Modern Friction Nature’s Gentle Dermabrasion ($39.50); Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Face Exfoliant ($33); or Glamglow Youthcleanse Exfoliating Cleanser ($39).
- Moisturizer: Tatcha Balanced Pore Perfecting Water Gel ($68); Boscia Oil-Free Daily Hydration SPF 15 ($36); Origins Planscription SPF 25 ($59); Origins Zero Oil Oil-Free Moisturizer ($29); or NUDE Skincare Purify Balancing Moisturizer ($33.60).
- Masks: Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment ($69); Farmacy Honey Potion Mask ($56); REN Invisible Pores Detox Mask ($34).
- Serums/treatments: Even in the high-end world, it’s SO hard to find serums that don’t contain alcohol/denatured alcohol. The few that I found: Ole Henrikson Invigorating Night Treatment ($48); Ole Henriksen Roll On Acne Clearing Solution ($20-not an all-over serum but a good acne treatment); Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil ($57-I know putting oil on your oily skin seems crazy, but it’s all to balance it out); Skin INC Vitamin C Serum Rebalance & Tackle Pores ($45); Boscia Clear Complexion Treatment ($35); or Skin INC B3 + Niacinamide Serum ($45).
Goals for dry skin: to hydrate and treat signs of aging while avoiding drying ingredients.
What to avoid:
- drying alcohols commonly found in moisturizers
- anything TOO occlusive, as breakouts and troubled skin are issues
- Cleanser: Tatch Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil ($48-one of the last two ingredients is that ambiguous alcohol, which I don’t like, but it IS in low concentration); Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser ($40); Caudalie Micellar Cleansing Water ($28); Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil ($32); Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cleanser ($26) are all good suggestions on the first page alone.
- Toner: Fresh Rose Floral Toner ($40); Origins Mega Mushroom Soothing Treatment Lotion ($33); Fresh Black Tea Toner ($49); boscia Cool Blue Hydration Essence ($34); bosica Sake Treatment Water ($46); and L’Occitane Skin Perfecting Mist ($24).
- Exfoliant: Tatcha Polished Classic Rice Enzyme Powder ($65); Sugar Face Polish ($62); bosica Exfoliating Peel Gel ($34); Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Buffing Beads ($38); and Farmacy New Day Gentle Exfoliating Grains ($30).
- Moisturizer: Yall there were six pages of moisturizers for dry skin…six. So this is not a comprehensive list, just what I got through. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream ($30); Glamglow Glowstarter Mega Illuminating Moisturizer ($49); belif True Cream Moisturizing Bomb ($38); Fresh Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil ($52); Origins A Perfect World SPF 25 Moisturizer ($44); Ole Henriksen Nurture Me ($40); Ole Henriksen Truth Creme ($48); Origins Starting Over Moisturizer ($52).
- Masks: Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask ($56); Glamglow Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment ($69); First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask ($24); Origins Mega Mushroom Skin Relief Mask ($38); and boscia Tsubaki Deep Hydration Sleeping Mask ($34) are just a few good ones. There were lots, good job Sephora!
- Serums/treatments: Again, lots of pages, lots of options. These are just the ones I got to. Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment ($45); Ole Henriksen Truth Serum ($48); Drunk Elephant Glycolic Night Serum ($90-a bit steep but I love elephants so it gets a pass); Josie Maran Pure Argan Milk Intensive Hydrating Treatment ($56); Origins Youth-Renewing Face Oil ($51); or Skin INC Hyaluronic Serum ($45).
Goals for combo skin: to balance and treat the face as needed-dry spots as dry, oily as oily.
What to avoid:
- anything drying
- one size fits all skincare
- Cleanser: This one was difficult, mainly because there were several pages and lots of overlap. Here are the ones I recommend from the pages I looked at. REN Rosa Centifolia Hot Cloth Cleanser ($28); Caolion Pore Tightening Cooling Foam Cleanser ($22); First Aid Beauty Milk Oil Conditioning Cleanser ($26); belif Cleansing Herb Water ($26); REN ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser ($32-I REALLY like the REN line); Neogen Dermalogy Green Tea Real Fresh Foam Cleanser ($19); REN Micro Polish Cleanser ($30-I’ve actually used this one myself and HIGHLY recommend it, for all skin types); or Jurlique Balancing Foaming Cleanser ($34).
- Toner: Fresh Rose Floral Toner ($40); Origins Mega Mushroom Soothing Treatment Lotion ($33); or boscia Clear Complexion Tonic ($24).
- Exfoliant: There weren’t any stand-out suggestions here, so choose from the oily or dry categories.
- Moisturizer: My best recommendation is to choose from the oily or dry suggestions. Combo moisturizers are generally lacking, so choose based on if your skin feels more dry or more oily after cleansing and toning!
- Masks: Glamglow Supermud ($69); Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask ($56); Fresh Vitamin Nectar Vibrance ($62); REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask ($55); or Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask ($52).
- Serums/treatments: Once again, I suggest choosing a serum based on whether your skin is more dry or oily!
Goals for acneic skin: to clear up breakouts while keeping the skin hydrated and healthy.
What to avoid:
- drying ingredients
- harsh ingredients
- Cleanser: Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser ($40); Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser ($28); Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser ($62); Origins Zero Oil Deep Pore Cleanser ($22); belif Problem Solution Cleanser ($24); or REN ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser ($32). This isn’t a comprehensive list, there were several other good ones!
- Toner: I suggest choosing from the oily recommendations. Most acne-specific toners are going to be too astringent and high in denatured alcohol, so to keep the healthy skin under your breakouts…healthy, go with an oily toner.
- Exfoliant: It was very hard to find good exfoliants for anceic skin, because you need something gentle enough not to irritate any pustules, but strong enough to do its job. Some of these are repeats, but I recommend Tatcha Polished Deep Rice Enzyme Powder ($65); Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Face Exfoliant ($33); or Cane + Austin Face and Body Retexture Scrub ($42).
- Moisturizer: Origins Zero Oil Moisturizer ($29); REN ClearCalm 3 Replenishing Gel Cream ($30); Ole Henriksen Vitamin Plus ($45); Nude Skincare Purify Balancing Moisturizer ($33.60); or any of the oily suggestions.
- Masks: Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment ($69; the concentration of sodium hydroxide might be irritating, so please request a sample of this from Sephora before shelling out the money for it); Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Mask ($47); DERMAdoctor Ain’t Misbehavin’ Sulfur Acne Mask ($48); Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask ($58); or REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask ($55-not specifically for acneic skin, but beneficial).
- Serums/treatment: Origins Super Spot Remover ($16); Ole Henriksen Roll On Acne Clearing Solution ($20); Boscia Clear Complexion Willow Bark Spot Treatment ($18); or Skin Inc Rescue Troubled Skin Serum ($45).
Goals for anti-aging: to keep things hydrated, and utilize collagen.
Things to avoid:
- drying ingredients
- miracle-in-a-bottle products
- anything harsh
- Cleanser: Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil ($32); Fresh Soy Face Cleanser ($38); Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser ($45); Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel ($38-this is my absolute favorite anti-aging cleanser and my top recommendation); Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 3% Cleanser ($38); Origins Antioxidant Cleanser with White Tea ($24); Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser ($68); REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk ($28); or Radical Skincare Hydrating Cleanser ($45).
- Toner: Any of the dry skin suggestions would be great for anti-aging.
- Exfoliant: Tatcha Polished Classic Rice Enzyme Powder ($65); boscia Exfoliating Peel Gel ($34); Origins Modern Friction Gentle Dermabrasion ($39.50); or any of the dry skin suggestions.
- Moisturizer: 333 suggested products…all pretty much the same as the dry skin search modifier.
- Masks: Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask ($56); Fresh Rose Face Mask ($62); Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask ($92-a bit too expensive given the ingredients, in my opinion, but it’s a good mask, so it’s an option); Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask ($58); REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask ($55); or any of the dry masks.
- Serums/treatments: Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment ($105); Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Anti-Aging Collagen Booster ($48); Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90); Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Treatment ($48); or Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum ($98). There were several other pages, so lots of good options.
Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum ($85); Origins Eye Doctor Moisture Care ($38); Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel ($42); Clarins Extra-Firming Eye Wrinkle Soothing Cream ($63); Tata Harper Restorative Eye Creme ($95); Fresh Lotus Eye Gel ($48); or Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Eye Treatment ($45). That’s just half of the first page. The main thing to look for in a good eye cream is hyaluronic acid, arnica extract, vitamins A, C, E, and K; and collagen. Always avoid alcohols.
What have been your best Sephora scores? Let me know in the comments below!