Sephora is the one-stop shop for makeup and beauty addicts. However, like any other workplace, some of the employees can be total duds. The problem with that is: When customer service is bad, it can leave you feeling bad — especially when things like vanity are concerned.
People walk into Sephora, sometimes in their most vulnerable state. They're looking for skin care solutions for acne or (because society hates old people) to reduce the signs of aging. They're hoping to walk out of the store feeling more confident, but in these Sephora horror stories, they end up feeling so much worse.
The woman who was told she "must feel ugly."
"So basically I had some 'treat yoself' money and really wanted to buy some excellent quality makeup. I don't have the best skin so I was looking for a good foundation and setting powder. I go into Sephora at 8:30, knowing they're closing in 30 minutes so I try to make my visit as quick as possible. Anyway I ask a girl for help and she's pretty dismissive then I ask another woman for help.
She immediately takes me to the makeup chair and takes all my makeup off without asking which is horribly embarrassing for me because I'm so self-conscious about my skin. As she takes it off she tells me horrible the makeup I had on looks, Blow #1. I try to text my boyfriend (who is sitting in the car waiting for me) to tell him that thus woman is doing my makeup so it'll take longer and she stops and says, 'look sweetie if you're going to text the entire time I'm trying to show you things then I'm not going to help you.'
Next she proceeds to tell me I must feel so ugly and how my lips, which didn't have any chapstick on them because she took it off, made me look like an old woman (I'm 20.) Blows #2 and #3. Once she was done she said, 'Wow I bet you didn't think you could ever look pretty.' Blow #4.
I sat there in quiet disbelief. This woman had literally called out all my flaws in the most horrid way. I tried so hard not to cry in the store. Ended up walking out with over $200 of stuff I needed but I felt [redacted] buying so much stuff from this woman. I write emails to Sephora and the JC Penney it resides in. they ignored me after multiple times. This situation still haunts me when I'm feeling really down about myself."
The woman who was told Sephora doesn't carry makeup for people with dark skin.
"I wanted to do something I liked today, and since I had a bit of time off, I decided to go to the Sephora near my school. I went it today just to swatch some stuff, I was waiting till payday to buy the things I want, but I wanted to see how they would look on my (brown) skin tone.
As I'm swatching, one of the Sephora girls comes up to me and tells me that it would look terrible on me (I was swatching the Too Faced Natural at Night at the time) because I have brown skin, and 'makeup isn't meant for people like me.'
I was flabbergasted, I seriously thought I had heard her wrong and my ears were playing tricks on me, but then she continues on and tells me that they have nothing in the store that could help me because of my 'very dark skin.'
I was so close to tears by the time she finished talking and walked away that all I could do was leave and come back home. I know it's not supposed to hurt me, but I've always had a hard time accepting my skin with all its imperfections and what she said made it so much worse."
The woman who was told she was so pale she looked "sickly."
"I have impossibly pale skin, and a few months ago, I finally got the courage to go look for some bold lipstick. As I was swatching at Ulta, the sales lady came up to me and told me that I shouldn't wear bright colors because it would make me look like a clown. Then, she asked me if I was getting enough sun, because I looked sickly and staying cooped up inside all day isn't good for anybody. Best believe I asked if I could speak to the manager immediately.
Sadly, I haven't had the courage to rock a bold lip since that experience. I have a gorgeous bright pink UD sample sitting in my makeup drawer right now. Maybe I'll finally wear it tomorrow."
The 17-year-old girl who got told she "looked dirty" because she had regular, old, teenage acne.
"This happened to me, when I was like 17, I was in a Sephora where the lady refused to touch my face because I 'looked dirty.' She made me wipe my face with a wet wipe and inspected the wipe (it was clean, of course) before she started on my face. It might have been racism, and I should be more used to it, but it hurt.
I wish I'd raised a fuss but honestly, like you, I was just trying to avoid starting to cry. Even now, I don't shop at there."
The 24-year-old who got told she looked too old for her age.
"I had a Sephora employee a few years ago start pulling at my forehead to smooth out some line and then lecture me about how I was going to have crows feet if I didn't start using an eye cream, while I was getting foundation matched. I was 24 or 25 at the time and I told her that, and she said I didn't look it and I got a lecture about skin care.
I do think some people think this is a sales technique. I haven't been back to Sephora since, though I'm assured that's not how all their employees act, simply because I don't want or need to be negged and lectured every time I walk into a store."
The woman who was class-shamed for not "looking the part" so to speak.
"I went into Sephora looking to set an appointment to get my makeup done for my wedding. The lady I asked was really rude and snobby, saying it was probably out of my price range, (I was in a baggy T-shirt and jeans that day, I looked like a hobo) and just spoke to me in such a condescending way. She seemed like she was in a hurry to get me out of there. It was a Thursday at 1:30. They weren't busy. IDK what her problem was. But I went to Estée Lauder instead. Never going back."
The woman who just wanted a new foundation but got shamed for having acne instead.
"So I went shopping today and thought I'd stop by Sephora to get a new foundation since my old one was running out. I decided to try out the Fenty Beauty foundation, but I couldn't find it so I asked for help from someone working there. I honestly just wanted to get directions for where it was, but she started trying to match me to a foundation and I was just like "okay, I guess it won't hurt to have some help".
The entire time she was trying to match my foundation she kept pointing out every little thing that was wrong with my skin. She kept questioning me about my skin care routine, what cleanser I use, whether I exfoliate etc. She told me I need to stop touching my skin, I need to start putting on sunscreen (even though I already do both of these things). She also kept trying to get me to get a facial even after I told her multiple times that I don't want it. Every time a foundation wouldn't match perfectly to every part of my face, she would shame me because parts of my skin are more pigmented that other parts."
The other woman who was class-shamed but fought back.
"I went in with no makeup to get foundation matched. I asked for two samples of foundation to see which one I liked more. The employee said I was wasting her time and walked away. I went back a few days later wearing makeup and nice clothes and a designer purse. She came up to me super friendly and asked how she could help me. I told her she could help by getting me someone who wasn't rude and didn't think giving me samples was a waste of her time."
The person accused of shoplifting because they ... had acne.
"I've heard about how the Sephora employees let you know that they know you're shoplifting by insisting you carry one of the store bags with you. So I was wandering around in there one day without much makeup on, I was just minding my own business lookin kinda ugly with my acne on display. Three employees started following me around and eyeing each other, and then one by one all of them INSISTED that I have a bag. I was pretty offended because I didn't look pristine they thought I was shoplifting."
The woman who wanted a makeover but was told there was no way to make her look better.
"One time my sister dragged me there for a 'makeover' immediately after a really messy break up. I looked like hell and the woman told me there was nothing she could do to make me look better so there wasn't really any point in trying. That really helped me feel better. I will never set foot in another one of those stores."
The Sephora employee who doesn't GAF about your recent foot surgery.
"I recently had surgery on my foot, which left me with 10 stitches along the side and bottom of my foot. Definitely could NOT walk on it.
Well, as a true makeup addict, I decided that I was going to get my dad to talk me to Sephora on the last day of the 15% off sale for VIBs thinking someone would help me as I tried to se my crutch around the store...
Upon entering the store, I crutched my way to the UD display. I was looking for Naked 2, but it was lower, and I couldn't grab it without felling over on my crutches. My dad was already grabbing a MUFE lipgloss for me, so I asked a sales associate - Big mistake.
She told me I could find it right in front of me, and as I began to explain how I couldn't reach it without falling, she WALKED AWAY FROM ME. MID SENTENCE."
The person who was told they can't afford Marc Jacobs.
"Any experience with the urban decay rep at Sephora makes me mad. Somehow it's like they go out of their way to be snarky. The first time I went for my makeover and I wanted to use the Marc Jacobs like and the rep came over and told me that she wanted my stylist wanted to use the UD on me. I told her no that and I was waiting for the girl to come back and she made a few snarky comments that it made me feel uncomfortable. Some comments were about how I can actually afford UD products over Marc Jacobs. I ended up telling the manager about the situation because for one they aren't supposed to put other brands down and she did."
Why can't every Sephora employee just be Rihanna?
Shopping for beauty products should always be a fun and helpful experience that boosts your confidence, not one that leaves you feeling insecure, insulted, and empty handed of the products you wanted to try. Maybe Sephora's customer service training could use a few systematic tweaks so its customers don't leave its stores with stories like these.