Shopping in a Sephora is a bit like letting loose in a beauty playground. You can walk in with a bare face and walk out totally camera-ready with bags of products in tow. In fact, there isn’t much it doesn’t offer, including many of the best cult brands and up-and-comers alike. This, naturally, is both a blessing and a curse.
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For many, large makeup stores can be incredibly overwhelming — especially if you have no clue how to choose among the thousands of products they stock. But fret not, because we have a solution. To help guide you through Sephora’s glossy black shelves, we’ve put together this handy guide.
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Ahead, we’ve rounded up the top products across 12 categories that have garnered our seal of approval, are beloved by celebrity and editorial makeup artists, and are some of the brand’s top sellers. Translation: Definitely play with the products and have the staff weigh in, but also consider this guide, which is basically a foolproof shopping list made up of the best of the best.
Foundation is a tricky category to crack, since you have to consider both the formula and its ability to truly match your skin tone. There are many options at your local Sephora that get our seal of approval, but none quite like this one from Make Up For Ever.
Here’s why: Ultra HD has shades ranging from very fair to very deep, with varying tones within each shade. And since they’re made to perfect skin for the unforgiving lenses of HD cameras, you know they’re going to even your skin with minimal product. (Heavy makeup looks extra obvious when captured with HD cameras.)
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This innovative formula has hyaluronic spheres to keep it comfy on your face, and leaves a natural-looking finish somewhere between matte and dewy, while the pigments provide medium, buildable coverage that looks just like your skin. No shocker here: It’s a Sephora best seller and is R29-editor approved.
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation, $43, available at Sephora.
This concealer is kind of like the blur tool in Photoshop: It’s able to conceal blemishes as well as diffuse imperfections or discoloration with just a touch. The trick is in its luminous formula. Read: It doesn’t leave you shimmery, but instead creates a slightly reflective sheen to trick the light into making you look like you’re glowing.
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A little bit goes a long way with this buildable formula. Of course, it’s also pro- and editor-approved. Makeup artist and Butter London Global Color Ambassador Katie Jane Hughes calls this a top pick. “It’s a great, quick full-face product,“ she says. “Use around the eyes and anywhere else… I use it often when I want to just throw on a quick, clean, and fresh look and run out the door.”
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, $29, available at Sephora.
What’s great foundation and concealer without the primer beneath to let them shine (or leave them extra matte, if that’s your preference)? Hourglass Cosmetics’ pro-approved Veil Mineral Primer is just that — a light veil that works wonders. The super-light liquid magically evens out your skin tone, absorbing excess oil and leaving a smooth, velvety canvas for whatever look you want to create. This is why it’s a cult classic and regularly stocked in celeb makeup artists’ kits.
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The best part? Instead of the pancake-y feeling you may get from heavy-duty primers, this one feels like nothing at all, while holding fast to your makeup all day long.
Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, $52, available at Sephora.
Blush & Bronzer
Not just the queen of brows, Anastasia Soare is edging even further into the complexion market with this Glow Kit. It offers four shimmery shades that you can blend into a subtle contour or a light flush — it’s up to you.
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With these highly versatile shades you really can’t mess up, which is why it’s a best seller. Layer it on for intensity, or wear the hues separately for something softer. Pro tip: You can also use it on the eyes.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit, $40, available at Sephora.
We’ve waxed poetic about YouTuber Jaclyn Hill’s new line with Becca — especially the Champagne Pop highlighter — and we’re not the only ones singing the praises. “It’s really user-friendly, and it gives you a nice sheen for a natural-looking glow,” celebrity and editorial makeup artist Allie Smith tells us.
This shade is a soft gold with peachy undertones. What makes it different? You get a radiant effect thanks to the ultra-fine, luminescent particles, as opposed to a face full of obvious shimmer. Obviously, no one product can flatter every single skin tone, but the light finish and soft tone gets pretty damn close — the perfect excuse to sweep on a little in-store.
Becca Becca x Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Champagne Pop, $38, available at Sephora.
Translucent powder is one of those things you never thought you needed until you try it. The common reaction: How did I live without this?The thin veil of a good sheer powder soaks up oil and makes makeup last way longer, so it’s a win-win.
Of course, not all powders are created equal. This formula from Laura Mercier is a pro staple, a best seller, and works on every skin tone — contrary to what its appearance may make you think. (It’s truly translucent.)
"This is a true cult product,” Hughes says. “It’s in pretty much every makeup artist’s kit — I think that’s saying something!” If it’s good enough for nearly every makeup artist, we think we can agree that it’s worth adding to your basket.
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $38, available at Sephora.
For more Sephora All-Stars, visit Refinery29.
By: Sable Young