Next time you’re at Sephora®, take a little bit of time to get to know your store’s friendly employees. Like so many Sephora shoppers, they live and breathe beauty, but sales associates have a major advantage: they’re often first to learn about the latest innovations (and, thanks to gratis, often test them) as they hit the market. Thus, they’ve formed some serious opinions on the newest, most exciting new launches before you’ve even gotten to pick them up in store.
Because they have exposure to so many products at work, it says a lot about an item’s quality when they choose to use some of their hard-earned money on it. (To be fair, they also get a store discount of often 20 percent or more.) From the lactic acid treatment that will give new meaning to #SelfCareSunday to what could (finally!) be the eye cream you’ve been looking for, read on for eight products that Sephora store employees nationwide have declared worthy of your investment.
Sunday Riley® Good GenesTM All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment
Lactic acid, hailed for its ability to improve skin texture and even complexion, is the hero ingredient in the Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment ($105). It’s also what’s made the product a worthy splurge for employee Naowshaba of Virginia.
“The quick results you see are so worth it,” she says. “It really is an all-in-one treatment as it helps with dark spots, lines, wrinkles, texture, and more. Because of this little treasure, I consistently wake up with smooth, bright, and perfect skin every time.” She recommends it to anyone who’s in need of a serious skin overhaul.
Drunk Elephant® T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial®
New York employee Anna has tried tons of products, but considers the award-winning Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial ($80), which contains a cocktail of acids such as glycolic and salicylic, the holy grail.
“It has actually completely cleared my skin. I've tried other AHA masks, toners, scrubs, cleansers, moisturizers, serums — so much, and that mask is the strongest and the best on the market!” she enthuses.
She’s not the only one living for this glow-getter. “The Babyfacial makes my skin feel brand new,” gushes North Carolina-based employee Brittany. “I follow it with the brand’s marula oil and my glycolic night serum (I mix them together because they are a power pair!), and finally whipped cream moisturizer that is perfect for my dry skin.” She notes that she recently started adding the Drunk Elephant Retinol Cream to her rotation and has seen her acne disappear.
For best results, the brand recommends leaving the mask on for 20 minutes before washing it off with warm water (once a week is all you need to reveal radiance).
[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by those who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.]
Caudalie® Beauty Elixir
The cult-favorite Caudalie Beauty Elixir ($49), which uses rosemary to tone skin and organic rose essential oil for added nourishment, has become another one of Naowshaba’s top picks for its multi-tasking capabilities.
“I use it as a mist to hydrate, as a toner post-cleansing, and a makeup setting spray for a dewy look,” she says. “The natural fragrance is fantastic, but more importantly it helps keep my skin supple and my pores small.” You can scoop it up in Sephora’s clean beauty section.
Algenist® Purifying & Replenishing Cleanser
The Algenist Purifying & Replenishing Cleanser ($28) isn’t just a favorite of Sephora shoppers. The paraben-, sulfate-, and phthalate-free formula is also beloved by its employees.
“It foams and removes any makeup or oils off of your face without over-drying and makes my skin feel so clean,” says Mackenzie of Illinois. “Another reason I love it is because it removes all eye makeup easily (without harsh chemicals).” We also love the formula’s soothing scent of chamomile and cucumber extract.
Fresh® Lotus Eye Gel
Chioma of California has only been using the Fresh Lotus Eye Gel ($48) for about a month, but she has no intention of letting it go any time soon.
“I have tried nearly everything when it comes to undereye products since I’m prone to severe under eye puffiness and this product has given me the best results thus far,” she says. “It makes my undereyes feel so hydrated and plump right after applying it.” She also notes that it smells like roses.
Kate Somerville® ExfoliKate® Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
If you’re looking for a product that packs a serious punch, Naowshaba recommends this Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment ($85), which uses lactic acid and fruit enzymes to deep-clean pores.
“Those powerhouse ingredients all come together to slough off dead skin cells and bring fresh skin to the surface,” she explains. “I like to leave it on for a couple minutes as a mask and then scrub it off. It never fails to make me feel like a glowing goddess.” Reviewers also appreciate the treatment’s ability to make blackheads disappear.
PeterThomasRoth® FIRMx® Peeling Gel
In-office chemical peels can do wonders for the skin, but if you’re tight on time and money, it’s worth DIYing it with PeterThomasRoth FIRMx Peeling Gel ($48) instead. It’s formulated with pineapple, pomegranate, and keratinase enzymes for combatting dullness and uneven texture.
“There are so many options to choose from, but this gel exfoliant from PeterThomasRoth has to be my favorite facial peel for home,” says Jennifer of New Jersey. “It removes all that dead skin buildup and it’s relatively gentle.” Fans of the product on Sephora.com also recommend it for sensitive and acne-prone skin.
Mario Badescu® Facial Spray
Another one of Jennifer’s go-tos, especially when it comes to her evening routine, is Mario Badescu Facial Spray ($12). “It contains aloe, chamomile, and lavender,” she explains. “I usually use it at the end of my skincare routine right before bed. Any sort of inflammation on my face (such as pimples) disappears by morning.”
We also like using it throughout the day — try popping a small bottle into your purse for times you need a little mid-day hydration boost (not to mention zen).