Sephora and our team go together like bread and butter. We're practically conditioned to ask, "Do you have this in my shade?" anytime we see a set of black-and-white stripes. It's our mecca, our promised land, and when we're there, we're home. So what if we told you that there are some products we avoid buying from the beauty giant? We surprised ourselves with this news, too, but when you live on a budget, there are certain products you can't justify spending a big chunk of your direct deposit on—even if it works like a charm—if you can buy it at the drugstore.
Below take a look at the products we pass by in the sacred aisles of Sephora (as well as the products we have to add to our black shopping totes).
Hallie Gould, Senior Editor
Don'ts: "While there are a ton of lovely, gentle, delightfully scented, and prestige makeup wipes, I can't help but stay loyal to Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes ($5). They're inexpensive, they remove mascara in a few easy swipes, and they leave my skin fresh—never sticky or tight like most others do.
"Mascara is another product I won't spend a ton of money on—drugstore mascaras do it best. I have super-oily lids and watery eyes (genetics, I guess?), and I need a formula that dries easily and won't budge. I've found Maybelline and Covergirl have the best options, and trust me, I've tried them all."
Dos: "Eve Lom Cleansing Balm ($80) (and now its new and even easier Gel Balm Cleanser, $60) is one of the true loves of my life. The scent (eucalyptus and clove oil) makes every cleansing experience spa-like, and the thick, balm-to-foam texture decongests, exfoliates, tones, soothes, and cleanses at the same time. I tried giving it up once (I have commitment issues), and I went crawling back a few weeks later.
"I'm partial to a no-makeup makeup look (yes, I want to look like I haven't tried at all when I'm actually trying so hard), and having bright, even, and glossy skin is important to me. As such, I don't mess around when it comes to concealer—I need it to do a lot of heavy lifting. Recently, I've been blessed with Benefit's new Boi-ing Collection (I'm keen on the Hydrating Concealer, $20, and the Airbrush Concealer, $20), but I still use Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Concealer ($28) on special occasions."
Audrey Noble, Associate Editor
Don'ts: "I'm loyal to my Bioré Deep Cleansing Pore Nose Strips ($6). I haven't found anything that gets deep enough inside my pores to extract the dirt that causes blackheads. My favorite cleansers just happen to be wallet-friendly as well."
Dos: "The Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Trans-Foam Clay in Refreshing Green ($15) does wonders for when I'm already breaking out. Plus, it becomes a foaming cleanser when you wash it off to give you extra exfoliation.
"My oily skin makes it so that lots of eyeliners end up running down my face after a few hours. My all-time favorite liner is the Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner in Black ($25)—it does not move."
Lindsey Metrus, Managing Editor
Don'ts: "I love my La Mer Lip Balm ($60) more than any other lip balm I've ever tried, but it's the equivalent of six Seamless orders, so I'm perfectly fine using a budget-friendly drugstore brand like Nivea Smoothness Lip Balm ($3.50), which still works extremely well while leaving me enough to gorge on vodka sauce pizza a few times over (priorities)."
Dos: "Cheap fragrance is a huge turnoff for me. You get more notes of alcohol than anything else, and it reminds me of the body sprays I used to wear in high school. That's why I opt for pricier blends that are rich in sexy, heady ingredients. Currently, I love spritzing Chloé Eau de Parfum ($105) and Gucci Bamboo ($94), which are two fragrances I constantly get asked about."
Maya Allen, Assistant Editor
Don'ts: "I rarely buy bath and body products at Sephora, but that's because I'm devoted to my drugstore favorites. I have hypersensitive skin, so sadly I can't indulge in all the fragrant lotions and yummy-smelling bodywashes."
Dos: "It felt like I was trying to master the perfect cat eye my whole life. Okay, I'm probably being dramatic, but my search for the perfect eyeliner felt like forever until a Sephora consultant introduced my 16-year-old self to Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner ($22). It's been a permanent fixture in my beauty routine ever since, and my winged liner skills have improved dramatically because of its precise tip. I'm also a fan of Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara ($23). I like my lashes to look like falsies, and this is the only mascara that gives me the extra drama I want in just a few swipes. It's embarrassing how fast I go through one tube, so I can never walk out of Sephora without copping an extra."
Dacy Knight, Weekend Editor
Don'ts: "Though I'm certainly not against any of the offerings available, I never buy body lotion from Sephora. I've been using the same drugstore lotion since my freshman year of college, and I've never looked back. Alba Hawaiian Hand & Body Lotion ($6) has been my OG go-to since I first learned the importance of moisturizing every day. Whenever I've tried to switch it up, I've always gone back (and I recently picked up a 24-ounce iteration, so I'm not even in the market for an alternative). Another regular purchase that I skip at Sephora in favor of the drugstore is makeup wipes. They're a travel and post-workout essential for me, and I go through them too frequently to justify dropping $15 on one carried at Sephora when I've been content with my Burt's Bees version (Cleansing Towelettes with Cucumber and Sage, $5) for years."
Dos: "Beyond those two categories, I almost exclusively rely on Sephora for everything else I need (and many things I don't) from makeup to skincare to sun protection."
Erin Jahns, Assistant Editor
Don'ts: "Anything that's personal hygiene–related—deodorant, cotton pads, and even makeup remover—I'll reserve for my drugstore run, not Sephora."
Dos: "Whenever I walk out of Sephora, my haul is usually 50% skincare and 50% whatever is in the checkout aisle. The sample sizes are brilliant, and I've discovered some of my favorite products (usually lip treatments and masks) while waiting to pay for some of my bigger-ticket items. I know there are great skincare options at the drugstore, but I can never resist leaving Sephora without something new in my arsenal."
Next, check out the products that editors at Who What Wear, our sister site, will never buy from Zara.