Monday, January 15, 2018

Sephora's Personal One-On-One Experience - A Review

Before we started
I cannot believe that my Personal One-On-One experience at Sephora was only last week. Since then, I posted one related blog post, got really sick, saw my daughter get really sick and got to take my first (overnight!) trip to Sick Kids. But now everyone is feeling better and I can finally share my thoughts on where or not this $125 session is worth it.

Quick verdict: Yes! Sephora offers three different "makeover"-type packages at three price points: $50, $75 and $125. If you have the time, are near a Sephora and plan on spending a bit of cash at the store, you might as well get more for your money and book one of these experiences. In addition to getting custom advice that should steer you towards products that will actually work for you, you'll get a professional facial or makeup job and I suspect that you'll also always get a few great freebies (I certainly did).
I booked my Personal One-On-One at Sephora's Bloor St. location, a space that is much calmer and more civilized than the Eaton Centre or Yorkdale ones. Bloor St. is home to three Personal Beauty Advisors, employees who have additional training and experience when it comes to makeup, skincare and how to make it all work for you. While some Sephora employees can be a bit intimidating (you know what I mean), my PBA was warm, friendly and very approachable. Alex had years worth of experience as a working makeup artist and was able to explain, as well as show me, what to do in a way that didn't make me feel stupid (full disclosure: I didn't tell her I was writing this review or that I know a lot about skincare and beauty products; I mostly kept quiet and nodded). Also, because I know some people are wondering, no, she didn't work on commission.

When you book your One-On-One online, you're asked several questions such as what you want to get out of the session, whose makeup look you admire and if you have any allergies or sensitivities. Alex repeated some of these questions at the start of our meeting, asked a few more and carefully examined my skin (surprise, it's dehydrated). Then she went off to grab what she needed.

Almost done!
While some Sephoras have private or semi-private spaces for their makeovers, at the Bloor St. location they are done in the middle of the floor. However, unlike the makeup-only sessions, the One-On-One station is located between a large support pole and a rather wide, quiet aisle, giving a bit of privacy. Personally, I didn't mind being out in the open though it could maybe do with a bit more space for all the gear you have to wear to survive a Canadian winter.

My station came with a free bottle of water and easy access to Kleenex, hand sanitizer and a bizillion single-use makeup applicators. These sessions take sanitation very seriously, which means you're never going to be able to truly test out a mascara. However, I think we can all agree that this approach is the way to go (though I did feel for Alex's hands, which she seemed to sanitized between every step).

My main focus of my session was finding some new skincare products that could fight (and even better prevent) fine lines and blemishes. Because of this, Alex and I spent more time talking about skincare then on makeup, which is what interests most people. Still, she found time to show me how she does contouring and walk me through how to do a halo cat eye. She also had me fill in one of my eyebrows, which thankfully I could confidently do since we were using a Benefit brow product that I'm familiar with.

She showed me every product she was using and explained why she picked that one. I had questions about why that product over another, she had reasonable answers and I never felt like I was being led towards more expensive items. She definitely knew her stuff and understood exactly what I was looking for.

I had chosen last Saturday for my One-On-One because I had a birthday party to attend that night and I figured that was a great reason for a professional makeup job. Since Alex, like most Sephora employees, was wearing a lot of makeup, I really stressed that I wanted a look that wasn't too heavy or flashy but that also wasn't natural or "no makeup"-looking. I told her that some shimmer was fine and tried to really emphasis the "some." While Alex clearly understood my skincare concerns, I was a bit worried about the makeup side of things, especially when I saw the eye colour palette that she picked.

Excuse the poor store lighting
She'd gone with Anastasia's Modern Renaissance Eye Shadow Palette, which has a lot of berry colours in it, along with some neutrals. And while I could see those neutrals working for a daytime look, I just couldn't picture this palette giving me the look I wanted. But Alex was the professional so I trusted her and let her do her thing.

It was the right move because I loved how my eyes turned out. While I've done a halo eye before, I've never used the colours she used because I didn't think they would work on me. But Alex was able to combine them so that they worked perfectly. She also respected my wishes to have minimal contouring.

Each One-On-One is booked for 90 minutes. Mine went long, which surprised me as the time just bounced by. Before I knew it she was applying my lip colour. My lone specific product request was Bite new's Prismatic Pearl Multistick and she decided to use it on my lips. The results were pretty but didn't last; I can't recommend that product for lips (though I still want to try it on my lids).

Before she grabbed the finishing spray, Alex asked if I wanted anything changed and I had one request: Hide my blemishes better. I was a bit surprised that I had to make that request, doesn't everyone want to look like they have perfect skin? But with the help of some concealer, the unflattering spots were gone and I was left with a makeup job that was perfect for attending a birthday party that evening.

Then all that was left to do was for me to pick the products I wanted to buy. Technically, I didn't have to buy any of them. For $125, you can buy a session and leave Sephora empty-handed. And if you're a VIB, you get one of these sessions free each year. But since I'm just a lowly Insider, I had to either pay for my session or buy at least $125 worth of stuff. I went with the later option and picked up the: FRESH Soy Face Cleanser, Peter Thomas Roth 8% Glycolic Solutions Toner and Peter Thomas Roth Hungarian Thermal Water Mineral-Rich Moisturizer. Alex never pressured me to buy anything and overall, this part of the experience was significantly less awkward than I had anticipated.

Before I walked out of the store, Alex gave me a separate bag full of goodies, which I detail over here. I probably walked away with almost an additional $100 worth of stuff.

I definitely plan on trying out Sephora's other makeover services and will likely do another One-On-One next year. Though by then I should be a VIB member and can get one for free.
Let's look at my freebies again

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