I Spent $200 on Makeup at Sephora: Read My Honest Reviews

Updated 09/05/18

I'm not big on switching up my makeup look. I'm a creature of habit, and when I know what I like, I stick to it. So I've also been pretty loyal to a few product favorites for years. This summer, though, I decided enough was enough. I was going to try new products and brands and never look back. It's time to be experimental, spontaneous, and less restrictive on myself (and my look). Can you tell I'm a Taurus? Change is not exactly one of my strong suits.

I headed over to Sephora (it's across the street from our office, which is dangerous for my wallet) and perused the shelves. I even talked to a salesperson or two and let them know what I was doing. I had a budget of $200 (I ended up spending $209—don't tell anyone) and had to be out in an hour. I picked out some staples (foundation, highlighter, mascara, etc.) and bought them all without trying them on. Once I was back at the office, the testing began. Below, find my honest reviews of each product. Spoiler: They all rule.

1. Eye Shadow

RMS Eye Polish
RMS Eye Polish $28
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I had been looking for a blue eye shadow for what seemed like forever when I stumbled upon RMS's version. Dubbed "eye polish" the formula offers a sheer, metallic glow with a coconut-oil base (so it's good for your skin too). At first, the color payoff was really subtle and didn't look exactly as I wanted it to. But after building and layering, it was the pastel, cotton-candy shade of my dreams. It stayed put pretty well, only creasing slightly throughout the day and fading to a less opaque wash. But I love it anyway. I got so many compliments when I had it on. 

@gouldhallie

2. Mascara

Nars Climax Mascara
Nars Climax Mascara $24
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I’m always skeptical about new mascaras. I’m not exactly easy to please. See, my eyes are more watery than most, and even the highest-reviewed mascaras often leave me with below-the-lashline smudges. I swiped on Nars’s new offering, called Climax (pun intended), and was immediately taken with the large, thick-bristle brush. After a few brush strokes, my lashes looked so long. Then after a few more, they looked insanely thick. I couldn’t believe the difference, but the real test came later. Would the mascara stay in place without a smudge? I examined my face after coming home from dinner and was pleasantly surprised. No terrible smudges, no flakes. They don’t call Nars iconic for nothing.

@gouldhallie

3. Foundation

Beautyblender Bounce Liquid Whip Long Wear Foundation $40
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This is Beautyblender's first-ever foundation, Bounce, and man, it doesn't disappoint. I take my foundation very seriously. My skin is my thing and unless I'm going to look glowy and bright, I'm not having it. This one's a full-coverage formula (which isn't my usual go-to, but just wait) that feels light, whipped, and pretty much like bare skin once it's applied. It blends like a dream. It's so silky and melts into your skin once you hit it with a damp Beautyblender and offers a velveteen-matte finish (healthy, dewy, but not shiny). It’s infused with hydrating hyaluronic acid which boosts moisture and plumps your skin, so I applied it without primer and didn't dust powder over top. It stayed perfectly on my face all day and into the night.

@gouldhallie

4. Brows

Benefit Brow Contour Pro
Benefit Brow Contour Pro $34
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Originally, I thought this product was sort of gimmicky. Why would I need more than one shade? Wrong. According to most makeup artists (and I've talked to a fair share), the most natural-looking brows offer dimension because our hairs aren't all alike. This four-in-one brow tool was specially designed to fill, define, and highlight your eyebrows in one fell swoop. It's a click pen with four settings: two personalized shades, an edge-definer shade, and an arch highlighter. One click is all it takes to switch between them. It's fun to use, first of all, and it made my brows look amazing. The strokes are tiny enough to look like real hairs and various shades blended together to create a bold, yet entirely natural, look.

@gouldhallie

5. Lip Gloss

Kopari Coconut Lip Glossy
Kopari Coconut Lip Glossy $12
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Kopari's balm offers a glossy, melty shine that isn't sticky in the slightest. It's a blend of coconut oil, vitamin E, and shea butter to keep dryness at bay (no matter the season). I reapply a few times during the day haven't experienced that dry, chapped feeling since I bought it. It feels like a balm but looks like a gloss, the best type of low-key hybrid product I can think of. Plus, it smells like vacation.

@gouldhallie

6. Highlighter

Stila Heaven's Dew All Over Glimmer Silverlake
Stila Heaven's Dew All Over Glimmer $25
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I kid you not, the second I rubbed my finger on this soft, cream-powder hybrid gem, I let out a scream. It's so good. It feels bouncy to the touch and allows for a hyper-lustrous, glistening effect, without a wet texture. You can apply it to your cheeks, Cupid's bow, brow bone, the inner corners of your eyes, and even your collarbone and shoulders. It's a heavenly, pearlescent glimmer that looks bold or subtle depending on your mood (and how much you layer it on). I like to dot it on to my cheekbones for that ever-coveted glass skin look. It works like a charm.

@gouldhallie

7. Blush

Urban Decay Backtalk Eye & Face Palette
Urban Decay Backtalk Eye & Face Palette $46
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I have been obsessed with draping ever since Adam Selman featured the blush-heavy look on his spring 2017 runway. It's both bold and architectural in equal measure. It's everything makeup is supposed to be—beautiful, fun, and experimental. But I hadn't ever tried it. I didn't even own blush because I never entirely understood how to apply it. I decided to go for Urban Decay's palette because the blush tones were slightly neutral and less intimidating. What I realized after trying it out myself (i.e. having our managing editor Lindsey brush it on because she might as well be a professional makeup artist) is that it's shockingly versatile. I've always been wary of blush, especially in such bright colors because my cheeks get pretty red on their own. But I am so enthralled with the way this turned out. I picture wearing it with a neutral palette for a special event or even adding some shimmer to feel more like an '80s video girl.

@gouldhallie

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