The Sephora holiday savings event is arguably one of the best annual occurrences for both beauty fanatics and “dabblers” alike. With up to 20% off store-wide, depending on your Beauty Insider status, it feels like Christmas has come early.
Here’s how the sale is broken down:
Rouge-level members get early access to the sale starting Nov. 5, and can enjoy 20% off through Nov. 8.
Starting Nov. 9, VIB members get 15% up until Nov. 15.
Insiders receive 10% off starting Nov. 11 until the sale’s end on Nov. 15 (it’s free to join and receive instant Insider-level status).
Plus, all sale long, Sephora brand products are 30% off regardless of your membership status. To check your status or to become a member, click here.
Now, if you have ever perused Sephora’s site or walked down those black and white aisles, you know how overwhelming their product selection can be. We reached out to beauty experts to help you determine which products are worth scooping up, so you can take advantage of most beautiful time of the year.
HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.
Picks for congested skin
Targeted acne-fighting products that will have blemishes quaking in their boots
Azadeh Shirazi, a board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist in San Diego, said, "We’re all guilty of picking or trying to pop our pimples. I find hydrocolloid patches a great option to help heal deep red pimples and avoid the temptation of trying to pop them. These acne healing dots are also medicated with salicylic acid to help spot treat new breakouts."
The clarifying and herbaceous properties of the anti-acne serum from Mario Badescu is what D.C. based board-certified facial plastic surgeon Michael Somenek called "a cult-favorite, and for good reason." He said what sets this serum apart is the "non-drying gel formula that is absorbed into the skin easily. It is also lightweight and contains a soothing mix of botanicals like aloe vera, chamomile and thyme. The salicylic acid formula also helps dissolve dead skin cells and excess oil to improve the clarity of your skin."
The most tenacious of bumps and textured skin can be minimized by this highly concentrated shot of niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, by Paula's Choice. New York board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman said it's good for "all skin types, whether it's oily, dry or combination."
Shirazi recommends the gentle yet effective 2% BHA liquid exfoliant by Paula's Choice for salicylic acid's ability to "smooth skin texture by sloughing off dead skin cells, unclogging pores and preventing breakouts." This leave-on treatment alcontains antioxidant-dense green tea extract to reduce redness and sensitivity. "It's also a great price point," Shirazi said.
Using micro-current technology, this toning device by NuFace can help define facial contours, reduce puffiness and renew skin's elasticity. Erum Ilyas, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology in Philadelphia, said a sale is the perfect time to scoop something like this up. "I have patients that really love this device. [It] can improve the textural appearance of the skin and it tones nicely," she said.
When asked what single product is worth the splurge, Somenek recommended Drunk Elephant's C-firma serum because of its potent ingredient list. "The nutrients, antioxidants and fruit enzymes serve to noticeably brighten, firm and improve the effects of photo aging. When used consistently, the product will aid in the reduction of dullness and uneven texture, fine lines and wrinkles, and loss of elasticity and firmness," Somenek said.
Both Jaliman and Annie Gonzalez, the medical director of Bowes Dermatology in Miami, swear by the Kiehl's Micro-Dose retinol serum for its powerhouse lineup of active ingredients. "Tolerability is often the issue with retinol. That's why I like Kiehl's micro-dose anti-aging retinol serum with ceramides and peptides because it is very gentle for even the most sensitive skin types, but it is also packed with essential ingredients to support the skin barrier and promote elasticity and firmness," Gonzalez said.
When New York-based board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick spoke about the wonders of Sunday Riley's Good Genes lactic acid treatment, she said, "This exfoliating serum uses lactic acid to improve dark spots and discoloration, as well as fine lines and wrinkles. Because lactic acid is a larger molecule than glycolic acid, it is a particularly good option for those with sensitive skin."
Peter Thomas Roth's hydra gel patches are infused with 24K colloidal gold, caffeine and hydrolyzed collagen which may deliver a more lifted and youthful appearance under the eye. Ilyas recommended these luxurious daily doses because "they are great to deliver superficial hydration to the skin and minimize the appearance of fine lines and dark circles."
Candace Marino is a medical aesthetician better known to her clientele as the L.A. Facialist. She loves the antioxidant-filled Berry Bright cream from Kora Organics "for [its] texture, benefits and packaging. The rich consistency is excellent for dry under-eyes and it features vitamin C, a known brightening ingredient to combat dark circles. The antioxidants in this product protect the skin from free radicals that can break down collagen and cause discoloration. The sustainable packaging allows for you to keep the container and refill the product with a pod of the cream, so you're reducing waste."
According to Lindsay Kastuk, a New York-based makeup artist, Augustinus Bader's renowned moisturizer -- simply called "The Cream" -- is "a makeup artist's holy grail luxury moisturizer." This premature aging-preventative and replenishing emollient uses a patented formula to support cellular renewal and improve moisture retention and skin barrier function.
Patrick Zito, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Miami, told HuffPost that "damage to the skin barrier can lead to increased sensitivity to irritants, allergens and inflammation. Most skin moisturizers focus on maintaining hydration, but a barrier cream is developed to aid in the repair of the skin. The SkinFix Triple Lipid Barrier is a cruelty-free lipid and protein complex barrier cream. For those prone to barrier disruption and dry skin, this is a product worth trying."
Shirazi called the intense moisturizing capabilities of the Ultra Repair Cream from First Aid Beauty "a must have for winter! It's a rich cream formulated with colloidal oatmeal which relieves irritation and shea butter, which protects and maintains our skin barrier. Allantoin also helps calm and soothe the skin. I recommend applying this to damp clean skin for the ultimate hydration."
The nourishing and plumping that the Kora Organics Turmeric moisturizer leaves behind is just one of the reasons why it's Marino's top pick, especially for people who experience dull or pigmented skin: "Turmeric is a potent antioxidant that can visibly brighten, calm, and protect the skin while the marine micro-algae provides a powerful source of proteins to the skin."
Marino said that cleansing oils, like the nourishing seaberry offering from Fresh, is her favorite way to remove makeup or sunscreen. In fact, "I am so in love with this oil cleanser that I begin all of my facials with it. The omega rich formula gently removes makeup, dirt and debris while nourishing the skin," she said.
Shirazi suggested the Farmacy Clearly Clean cleansing balm for its nourishing properties, natural source of enzymes and its ability to be used safely around the eyes. "The new formulation is fragrance-free and doesn't contain any sensitizing essential oils or polyethylene glycols, so it's a great option for all skin types," Shirazi said.
Thanks to its generous concentrations of both AHAs and BHAs, the Dewtopia night treatment by Ole Henriksen is a targeted product, meant to treat any number of skin concerns. "[It] can smooth skin texture, improve elasticity and firmness, reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, dark spots, wrinkles and fine lines," Somenek said.
Marino said she’s been using the Ren renewal mask “for over a decade whenever I’m in a pinch and my skin needs an extra boost of radiance. This is great to use two or three times a week to exfoliate dead cells and improve texture and tone.” The fruit derived acids such as glycolic and lactic along with a papaya-based enzyme are said to help increase the firmness and tightness of the skin.
Drunk Elephant's Babyfacial resurfacing mask made its way on both Garshick's and Gonzalez’s lists for its reputation for leaving behind a noticeable glow. "[It] offers a combination of exfoliating acids to help brighten the skin, while smoothing out the skin surface and texture. It incorporates 25% AHA and 2% BHA, including glycolic acid, tartaric acid, lactic acid, citric acid and salicylic acid, together helping with discoloration as well as fine lines and wrinkles. Because it packs a punch, it should only be used once per week," Garshick told HuffPost.
Garshick also touted the dark-spot-treating benefits of the Glow Recipe guava serum, which contains five different kinds of vitamin C to ward off free-radical damage. "Guava extract and seed oil deliver powerful antioxidant benefits and brightens the skin, while tranexamic acid is known to improve discoloration and reduce dark spots. This blend works to improve hyperpigmentation, while also reducing dullness and improving overall appearance of the skin," said Garshick.
Don't let the mouthwatering scents fool you: The lip masks from Laneige give your pout some serious hydration, according to Garshick. "I always tell my patients 'Don’t forget about your lips,' and this sleeping mask is a great option to give the lips the boost of hydration they need, especially this time of year. It combines a moisture wrap technology and a berry mix complex to boost moisture and deliver antioxidant benefits, so your lips are softer, smoother and healthier when you wake up," Garshick said.
Marino called the lip recovery mask by Fresh "a game-changer for dry or dehydrated lips. [This] lip mask's texture is rich and nourishing feeling, and not sticky at all. When applied at night, it repairs and heals the skin as you sleep so you wake up with plump and supple lips."
The Glowscreen by Supergoop is the most luminous way to shield your skin from the sun and prevent premature aging. It's even in Marino's daily product lineup. "I wear this SPF every single day as my last step of skincare and first step of makeup.The formula is hydrating and contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to keep the skin hydrated and balanced. SPF 40 is obviously protective enough for the sun and environmental stressors, however it also helps prevent blue light damage to the skin," Marino said.
"I recommend my patients applying sunscreen in two layers," Gonzalez said. For this reason, she recommends Shiseido's oil-free sunscreen because it has a lightweight texture that easily blends in and "protects your skin with broad-spectrum coverage against both UVA and UVB." It also contains peony root extract to help minimize the appearance of pores.
For another layer of added protection, Gonzalez likes It Cosmetic's CC cream, which is a full coverage and hydrating cream with an SPF of 50. It also contains collagen and peptides for increasing elasticity and firmer looking skin, as well as hyaluronic acid to help skin retain moisture throughout the day.
"Finding different formulas that you can mix and match and some that are amenable for reapplication or touch-ups is key," Gonzalez said. For this, she recommended the Supergoop (Re)setting mineral powder, which is ideal for on-the-go sunscreen application throughout the day. This sunscreen powder can help reduce unwanted shine and contains ceramides and olive glycerides to help lock in hydration to the skin.
Cara Lovello, a New York-based celebrity makeup artist, uses the Sephora 55 pro foundation brush because of its all-in-one functionality. "[It's] amazing at blending out foundation, contour [and] concealer and can be used for all your powder products as well. You can literally do your entire face with this one brush and get a flawless airbrush finish," Lovello said.
Los Angeles-based makeup artist Melissa Hurkman described her love for the smaller version of the well-loved Beauty Blender. "Everyone knows how incredible this sponge is. It's a little smaller than the original Beauty Blender sponge which makes it so perfect for blending out blushes [and] under-eye products and works amazingly for baking as well," Hurkman said.
Hurkman called the collection of richly pigmented matte shades from Makeup By Mario "a perfect staple product to have on hand to create any kind of eye look. I use this on every client even if it's just one shade to use as a transition." The universally flattering palette contains shades inspired by all skin tones.
"The Natasha Denona Biba neutral eyeshadow palette is a splurge that's worth the money," Kastuk said. This palette covers a vast shade range and offers different finishes from mattes, metallics and shimmers. Denona's eyeshadows are known for their pigmentation and blendability, so it's a great option for makeup users at all levels.
Micro-fine powder technology, nourishing almond oil and luminous light-reflecting pearls help make the Airbrush Flawless Finish setting powder by Charlotte Tilbury a stand-out product for Hurkman. "This powder is so unique because you can keep reapplying it throughout the day and it will not get cakey or thick-looking on the skin," Hurkman explained.
For a quick complexion boost and a luminous addition to foundation, Hurkman suggested the Hollywood Flawless Filter by Charlotte Tilbury, which uses flower extracts and glossy oils to hydrate and brighten the skin. "I love to use this on people who want their makeup to look radiant and hydrated," she explained. "You can mix a little bit of this with a liquid foundation to enhance the glow without making you look overly shiny throughout the day."
The creamy texture and nearly imperceptible appearance of Makeup Forever's HD Self-Setting concealer is a go-to for Hurkman "because it stays all day and doesn't dry out the under eyes or other places you apply. It is self-setting so technically you don't need to use a powder after." The chlorella in this formula can reduce the appearance of dark circles, and hyaluronic spheres keep the skin looking fresh. "It's a medium- to full-coverage concealer so it's perfect for a natural makeup look and versatile enough to achieve a glam look as well," Hurkman added.
"One/Size truly understood the assignment of creating the longest-wearing pencil liners. These do not move or transfer and that is a hard thing to find with pencil eyeliner," Hurkman said of the Point Made 24-hour gel eyeliner. This eyeliner has a silky texture that can glide on for a precise look or be smudged out for a smoky end result.
Ona Diaz-Santin is an international hair stylist and educator as well as the founder of 5 Salon & Spa in Fort Lee, New Jersey. She recommended the Bumble and Bumble Curl 3-in-1 conditioner because of its healthy and nourishing approach to enhancing and defining curls of all levels of tightness. "I like the versatility of the 3-in-1. It can be left in, rinsed out or you can co-wash with it," Diaz-Santin said.
Diaz-Santin called the fortifying and deeply hydrating capabilities of Briogeo's Don't Despair, Repair deep conditioning mask "worth every penny." Key ingredients include moisturizing rose hip oil, mineral rich algae extract and B vitamins for healthier-feeling hair. "It's not only super moisturizing, but also strengthens your damaged strands, leaving your hair feeling refreshed and new," Diaz-Santin said.
If you are hoping to add a little bounce and fullness to your hair, Diaz-Santin uses the Bumble and Bumble thickening spray because it "allows you to style your hair as usual without leaving your hair feeling stiff or too heavy, which tends to be very common with volumizing products. The formula is also super lightweight and the hold is incredible."