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Sephora is the mecca for beauty lovers everywhere. Need a new serum? There are dozens to choose from. Run out of mascara? It has them all. The trouble with having so many shiny new products in front of you, however, is that it’s way too easy to overspend. So we simplified it for you. Here are four things that you should absolutely buy at the mega retailer (gotta get those points, right?) and a few items you could save money on elsewhere.

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FOUNDATIONS
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WHAT TO BUY AT SEPHORA

1. Your color-matched foundation: It’s not that drugstore options aren’t worthy; it’s that it’s harder to get the shade right on your own. Between Sephora’s trained makeup artists and their Color IQ device (which scans the surface of your skin to give you precise matches), you’ll find that elusive foundation shade that looks natural in any light. It’s also completely free. 

2. Any makeup brushes: We were skeptical at first, too, but a nicer brush really does make a visible difference in how your makeup goes on. You get a soft, airbrushed finish with zero streaks and the bristles won’t shed all over your face. Plus, with proper care (so regular cleaning and laying them flat to dry), they’ll last for years.

3. Your skin-care serums: If you’re going to invest in any skin-care product, it should be a serum. They have the most concentrated amounts of active ingredients in them and are better absorbed than thicker skincare products like, say, a night cream.

4. Any hair styling tools: Blow-dryers, flatirons and curling rods can do quite a bit of damage on your strands—especially if you’re a regular user. Investing in higher-quality tools can help minimize the drying effects, as they have certain features like protective ceramic plates and preset temperatures that ensure your hair doesn’t get fried.

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LIPSTICK1
Twenty20

WHAT TO BUY ELSEWHERE

1. Fancy facial cleansers: If you’re a skin-care fanatic who really enjoys pampering yourself, go ahead and get your premium cleansers. But if you’re just trying to get your makeup off at the end of the day, a simple drugstore wash will do the job just fine.

2. New shades of lipstick: We completely understand wanting to splurge on some classics. (Every lady should have the perfect nude and red in her arsenal.) But if you’re experimenting with trendy new shades (or ones that you don’t wear often), there are tons of really good and inexpensive options out there.

3. Nail polish: Similar to lipstick (or most color cosmetics, for that matter), you can afford to save some money on trying new shades. Spend those extra dollars on a quality topcoat instead (which is what will really get you a longer-lasting mani).

4. Travel-sized anything: Those little bins near the checkout line get us every time. Teeny tiny face cream? Why yes, we need that. Shrunken down can of dry shampoo? Give us two, please. Aside from cluttering up your vanity, you might end up spending a small fortune on these pre-packaged minis. If you really need something for an upcoming trip, ask for samples. (You automatically get three with any purchase.)

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