Inside the Sephora Employee Sample Sale

There are definite perks to working at an international beauty company, one of them being the annual Sephora Employee Sample Sale that I eagerly partook in for the first time just before Thanksgiving. The sale is more like an epic company-wide event, where tickets are sold weeks in advance for entrance and the chance to score sweet deals on products ranging from high-end hair tools to pricey skin creams that claim to be better than Botox.

Each $5 ticket gets you a 25-minute time slot to dig through the mounds of product on the 32nd floor of Sephora’s corporate offices in San Francisco and a choice of either five new and full-size products or one “super” product, such as a multi-piece travel set, a hairdryer, or a train case.

The best part—other than the obvious fact that it’s a beauty buff’s ultimate dream—is that all proceeds from the sale are donated to the  non-profit Raphael House, a homeless shelter for women and children.

I was completely amused throughout the work day as I witnessed excited coworkers cheering each other on before they went off to their scheduled shopping timeslots (“Good luck, girl! Hope you score!”). Others would come back to present their “haul” in a dramatic show-and-tell at their desks to a chorus of “Oohs!” and “Aahs!”

I couldn’t help but notice a few men stumbling out of the sale looking wary and bewildered carrying box loads of product, not knowing exactly what they got, but seemingly hopeful that they snagged cool Christmas gifts for their wives and girlfriends.

I was pretty stoked with my own haul: a Pur Minerals Mudd Mask, a full-size Korres Yogurt Body Butter, a giant bottle of Ren eye makeup remover, a bottle of lily and gardenia-scented French parfum, a five-piece Skyn Iceland Detox Travel Kit in a white cosmetic case, and an Amore Pacific Skin Hydrating Botanical Mist—absolutely perfect for perking up my skin on the plane for my upcoming holiday travels- and all for less than $10.

Next year, as a seasoned vet, I’ll be sure to go back more prepared with a targeted wish list, my own tote (I learned the hard way that it was BYOB–bring your own bag), and maybe even a cup of coffee beans to sniff in between testing out multiple fragrances!

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