I Tested 5 Popular Sephora Products and It Was Enlightening
01.19.18
Collage by Emily Zirimis & Louisiana Mei Gelpi

Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the products reviewed are Sephora’s top 5 best-selling products. After it was published, a Sephora representative notified us that while these products are popular among clients, they are not actually the top  best-sellers, so we adjusted the headline and copy to reflect that.


I would say I have a medium-solid awareness of what’s “hot” (sorry) in the beauty industry based on both personal and professional interest, but I had never heard of Ciaté London Glitter Flip. From the name alone, it sounded like it could be any number of things — eye shadow, highlighter, an Olympic-level figure-skating move — but it turned out to be a liquid lipstick. “A transforming glitter lipstick in a metallic matte hue,” to be exact. The reason I bring it up is because it has 453 reviews on Sephora.com, with an average of 4.1/5 stars and 40,000 “loves.” I had to try it.

Why not make this interesting, though?, I thought to myself. I proceeded to challenge myself to test five popular Sephora products (my barometer for “popular” was 400 reviews or higher) and record my observations, because what else is a professional guinea pig journalist with a clean face and a heart of gold supposed to do with a free Saturday night?

With that, I invite you to scroll below for my 26-year-old virgin glitter-flipping test drive, along with my reviews of the other four popular products.


1. Ciaté London Glitter Flip

Let’s dive right in, shall we? I applied Ciaté London Glitter Flip in “Berry” while sitting at my desk, sweeping it across my lips with an absentminded translucent lip-gloss-style swoop. It felt fine — maybe a little dry, but fine. I was going to get up and look in the bathroom mirror, but I got sidetracked filing copy for a deadline, so I forgot all about the glitter flipping until I got home, peed, approached the sink to wash my hands, glanced up at the mirror for a second and…oh. Calling what I saw “clown face” would be generous because what it really looked like is some kind of ringworm rash around the upper part of my lips. Apparently “absentmindedly” was not the ideal adverb for Glitter Flip application, a hunch I quickly confirmed upon checking the “How to Use” instructions on Sephora:

  • Simply apply one even coat of the matte metallic formulation directly to lips.
  • Let dry completely for one minute.
  • Then, press your lips together (repeatedly press until you get the desired effect) and watch it transform before your eyes into a full coverage glitter lip.

The coat I applied was certainly not “even,” I didn’t let it dry for a minute and I didn’t press my lips together to create the desired effect, so I guess it makes sense that I got ringworm instead of a full coverage glitter lip.

What I didn’t initially understand about the Ciaté London Glitter Flip is that it is nothing like a lip gloss. It’s more akin to…an opaque coating of sparkle, I would say — as if you dabbed your lips with glue and then immediately thrust them into a dish of glitter.

I learned this after giving it a second try (this time with the directions close at hand). As I admired the impeccable disco ball pout that resulted, I came to the conclusion that though it probably wasn’t destined to be my everyday lewk, I was 100% thrilled that the effect payed homage to Naomi Campbell’s sparkle effect at the 2016 VMAs from the comfort of my tiny bathroom.


2. Beautyblender original

After the Glitter Flip fiasco, it felt good to nestle back into the comfort zone of a familiar beauty product with none other than beautyblender’s renowned edgeless, non-disposable, high-definition cosmetic sponge applicator.

I hadn’t applied my foundation with a sponge since high school, back when I was a fan of those white sponge wedges you can buy in bulk from drugstores. I stopped using them after a while, though, because a) my fingers were faster and b) I noticed the wedges absorbed an unnecessary amount of product.

I’d always heard great things about the beautyblender, though. It’s hydrophilic, which means it’s designed to absorb water — unlike traditional makeup sponges that were usually designed to repel it.  By wetting your beautyblender before using it (step one in Sephora’s “How to Use” instructions, which I did in fact read this time), you are saturating it with water so it can’t soak up any of your foundation. Neat, right?

I completed step one, squeezed out excess liquid (step two) and bounced my chosen complexion product across my face for flawless results (step three).

My chosen complexion product was Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint, a.k.a. my everyday “foundation,” and the results were indeed flawless. More flawless than it usually is when I apply with my fingers? I’m not sure. My fingers are definitely faster, but the beautyblender gets points for ASMR. I would call it a draw except for the shameful fact that I’m too lazy to wash a mere makeup brush, much less an extraneous sponge, so fingers probably win in the end.


3. Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover

My washing laziness extends to my face as well, which is why I prefer washes that not only wash but also effectively remove my makeup. (I know, I know, I’m supposed to double cleanse, but time is money and I’d rather watch Ross Geller move a couch down some stairs.)

The point of this laziness recap is to provide context for the fact that I don’t have much experience with beauty products purely designed for the purposes of eye makeup removal, save for the time I wore waterproof mascara and borrowed some of my roommate’s remover in a panic. It was blue and oily and terrible and honestly didn’t help all that much, which is why I was pleasantly surprised at how Lancôme’s Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover felt when I squirted some into my palm: light and gentle, like the kind of liquid a baby angel would take a bath in. It removed my delicate coating of mascara easily, so I challenged it to a more difficult task. I took my mascara wand and drew a thick, black patch on the back of my hand, then I poured some Lancôme on top and started rubbing softly in concentric circles. The black patch dissolved in seconds. I love baby angel bathwater.


4. Make Up Forever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation

Fun fact: I used Make Up Forever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation RELIGIOUSLY in high school. It was my second-ever foundation after Bare Minerals Original Loose Powder foundation, which my mom bought for me after watching an infomercial.

My mom was also the inspiration behind my inaugural bottle of Make Up Forever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation. I think she read a magazine article or something about how it was the go-to foundation for female newscasters who appeared on national television with high-definition cameras, and therefore it was THE BEST. I had really persistent acne at the time, so high-definition newscaster approval was all I needed to hear. True to hype, I remember the coverage being top-notch. I loved it and used it for years.

Eventually, though, my skin cleared up, “no makeup” makeup entered the pop-culture lexicon and I found myself seeking greener pastures in the form of BB creams and tinted moisturizers and other lighter formulas. Currently, I use Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint and nothing else. I don’t like to look like I’m wearing a lot of makeup, and I generally hate the idea of shellacking my face with heavy-coverage foundation. It is for this reason that I encourage you to take my review of Make Up Forever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation with a hefty handful of to-each-her-own-flavored salt:

I put it on, and I washed it right off.

My face just didn’t feel like my face while wearing it.

However, I know what it’s like to wake up with a face that literally aches from cystic acne. I know what it’s like to have cheeks speckled with tiny purple scars. I battled with my skin for most of my teens, and because of that I can tell you that Make Up Forever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation does a great job of covering whatever it is you want to cover, if you want to cover it. Even though I wouldn’t wear it in my present stage of life and skin, I totally get why it’s a best-seller.


5. Anastasia Beverly Hills DIPBROW Pomade

I was nervous to try this last one because I am notoriously untrustworthy when it comes to brow product application. By that I mean I don’t trust myself to apply anything other than a basic gel for fear of doing something wrong and making my eyebrows look like cartoon caterpillars. I’m terrified of pencils and shadows and pomades and anything that provides a noob like myself with the opportunity to go unintentionally overboard.

Sooooo I chickened out and asked a Sephora employee for help applying it in the store. My brows looked fantastic. Very natural. Would 100 percent wear Anastasia Beverly Hills DIPBROW Pomade again.

BUT ONLY WITH EXPERT ASSISTANCE.

No way in H-E double hockey sticks would I trust myself to dispense a self-serve pot of taupe pomade all by my lonesome self. I would, however, take a leap and attempt to use a pencil, which is what I coaxed myself to do after perusing the Anastasia aisle for adult-child-safe alternatives. I picked up the Brow Wiz, an “ultra-slim, retractable pencil for precise detailing and creating hair-like strokes” and penciled away.

I was pleased with the results and my skill in producing them, but I ran home and cradled my brow gel like a security blanket nonetheless.

Have you tried any of these products? I am most eager to hear your thoughts. Especially regarding the Glitter Flip.

Get more Beauty ?
  • Tessa

    I just switched from the Brow Whiz to the Dipbrow after a trip to Sephora this weekend, and I HIGHLY recommend watching a few tutorials before giving it a go. Also, cleaning up the product with a spoolie kind of deal to sort of thin things out. Once I’ve gotten the hang of it though, such a natural looking product and way more bang for your buck than the pencil!

    • Lisa Howell

      I use the Anastasia brow pomade daily, I absolutely LOVE IT, and have used it exclusively with their brow brush for 3+ years

    • rien de rien

      Dipbrow was my first brow product and oh Lord was I a hot mess. That is definitely not a beginner product. I switched to pencils for years, but came back to Dipbrow and now it’s my favorite thing in the world. I totally agree that it’s the most natural brow product, and for me also the fastest to apply. The price is soooo much better than pencils! I’ve had the same little pot for almost 2 yrs and it’s still half full. I keep waiting for it to go bad or dry out, but it’s still perfect. It’s the only thing on that Top 5 list that seems worth it to me.
      Speaking of… Guys, please don’t spend $40 on makeup remover. You can get the same amount of cold cream with comparable if not better ingredients for under $10 and it will remove ALL of the Dipbrow. I promise.

  • mandy

    Interesting top 5. I wish there were pictures!

    • mariahg

      Yes, pics of how the Glitter Flip works!

    • Harling Ross

      I was going to include a photo of me wearing the glitter flip but the day I tested it my nose was recovering from a case of almost-frostbite and I can promise you it was an image you do not want to see !!!!!

      • Kiks

        Ow! Almost-frostbite?! I need to know more about how this happened. I hope your nose is ok now.

        Moving back to real winter after seven years on the west coast and I am excited but also terrified.

    • Wanted to say this too!! I was so curious of what everything looked like!

      Eva | http://www.shessobright.com

  • sims

    Bi-Facil is the best! I tightline and mascara every day (pretty much my only makeup) and it removes it instantly. If only it wasn’t so expensive, maybe I could stop waiting for the gift sample from my mom’s Lancome purchases…

    • Fabiana Copelli

      those samples save me tbh

      • sims

        same! it’s the only reason i was able to use their hypnose mascara for as long as i did until i found a better, waaaay cheaper mascara (essence false lash) b/c there was no way i could afford it

    • Cynthia Martinez

      Neutrogena is next closest thing to the Bi-Facil… it works great for around 8 dollars?

    • Kiks

      There’s a Nivea one (Express Eye Makeup Remover) with a similar formulation that works just as well for me. Highly recommend— it’s taken me years to find anything that came close to Lancôme, I have tried them allllll.

      • sims

        Ooooh I’m gonna check this out – thank you! Love when shit works just as well and is much much cheaper 🙂

  • SpiritAndCourage
    • Harling Ross

      so necessary TYSM

    • Leandra Medine

      have never felt so understood.

  • I love using Dipbrow on days when I really want my brows to stand out. Usually, I just use Boy Brow (in blonde), but sometimes I pair it with Dipbrow (also in blonde) for extra oomph. ABH has a small, angled brush that they recommend using with Dipbrow and I can vouch for the brush being necessary for easy application.

    • Kiks

      I really want to try it. Is it an ashy blonde? I have such a hard time finding blonde pencils, they’re always too warm. I need so ashy it’s almost grey.

      • No, I wouldn’t consider it ashy, sorry!

      • Tessa

        I had the same issue when I was blonde! I recommend Taupe in Anastasia Brow Whiz, it was the only thing that looked natural on me. Now I’m back to my natural brown/blondish mix, and I use their Ash Brown shade!

  • Renee

    Lol, about the Dipbrow, I guess Anastasia launched it in 2000, but no one got it, so they pulled it. Then Instagram came about and they brought it back (cuz tutorials). This was all in her interview with The Cut, btw. https://www.thecut.com/2018/01/how-i-get-it-done-eyebrow-entrepreneur-anastasia-soare.html

  • dayman

    Just need to express how confounded I am about the glitter flip being their number one product. Everything else makes so much sense, but I have never even really heard of the glitter flip, and I’m someone who spends hours reading about makeup on a near daily basis! And on top of that, an opaque, matte, glitter lipstick seems so opposite of what an average makeup wearer would buy! Do people think it’s lip gloss? Does it have a cult following and I somehow totally missed it? I am so intrigued

    • examplesample

      It’s a gimmick product that went viral. It looks like a normal, matte liquid lipstick until you smoosh your lips together. With every smoosh, the glitter ~r e v e a l s~ itself.

  • orthostice

    CIATE LONDON GLITTER FLIP? (!) The last time I heard anything about Ciate was circa-2012 (2014?) when every British YouTuber was promoting their nailpolish. The top (!) selling product? WHO KNEW.

    • Kiks

      SAME.

  • Lily

    I actually own and currently use 3/5, which surprised me since I’m as lazy as makeup can get (still searching for a lip stain that doesn’t come off after I eat like a beast). The Lancome eye makeup remover is awesome, no matter how much eye makeup (waterproof or not) that I’m wearing, it all comes off on the cotton pad with minimal effort. I also had help learning how to use the Anastasia dip brow but once you get the hang of it, it’s not so bad! The key is to put it on and take off pretty much all of it with the spooly lol. The beautyblender is my most recent venture and I still know how to use it decently. I don’t wear any face color except powdered blush which is what I use it for and that… is a slow process since it doesn’t pick up powder as well, but looks good!

    • Leeanne

      The Kat von d everlasting liquid lipsticks stay forever

    • Mandie

      Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink liquid lipstick wears almost too well. It outlasts both Kat Von D and Colourpop. It will 100% stand up to a cheeseburger, you literally must remove it with an oil cleanser or lip scrub.

  • Any brow product that requires a brush scares me. I’m a beauty blogger but I’m just too crap at actually putting makeup on to use pomades! Tinted brow gel all the way.

  • Al

    What the hell???? Am commenting for the first time because the lack of a picture of the glitter flip confuses me even more than the idea of glitter flip itself. I have so many questions.

  • starryhye

    A beauty story with no pictures!?! :'( I really wanted to see that glitter lip thingamabob

  • Kay Nguyen

    Love the Lancôme eye makeup remover, it has been my (and my mom’s) favorite for quite sometime now! It’s worth every penny <3

    https://www.myblackcloset.com/

    • Lisa Howell

      I only used the samples I’ll have tho try again, I am currently using the Sephora store brand.

  • Holland Kennedy

    I actually knew about the glitter flips, but the fact that they are top on this list is absolutely insane. Also, sidenote – a bottom 5 selling products review would be equally as interesting!

  • Aeri Amadis-Noel

    Love, love, love the dipbrow (have it in three colors!) and use it daily! I have thick, unruly, curling and cowlicked brows that also have bald patches, so I can do a light shade behind the thick areas and paint in the missing hairs in the sparse ones. The beauty blender is in my daily rotation for foundation, under eye powder and intensifying my highlight. I did know about the glitter flips and i have and use them …fairly frequently but it blows my mind that it’s a best seller.

  • Amanda Grimmer

    I am a daily user of Dip Brow and the Blender. Both are fantastic. With practice, the DipBrow is something you can achieve a natural look with (for every day wear) or a more dramatic look. The Beauty Blender is great for foundation, BB Cream, CC cream and even for setting powder! I have never tried the other 3 on the list but, I’m not a fan of those brands in general!
    You did a fantastic review on all 5 though!

  • Sara Elizabeth Beatty

    I where the brow pomade…I draw my brows on daily and have tried it ALL that ULTA has to offer. I LOVE THIS STUFF! If u have the right brow brush to put it On! But it does dry out pretty fast so u need to make sure that in between dips u put the cap back on because u can make it last about 3 to 4 months, and I put a full brow on…
    BUT LOVE IT!!!!!!! Must have!!!!

    • Sara Elizabeth Beatty

      Oopsie…wear not where. Thanks google.

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  • Pam Lester

    I stopped buying from Sephora because I ordered online and they always promise free samples up to usually four
    the last time I ordered I didn’t get any samples and they told me they were out of them yet if you look on their site they still offered the very same four free samples with most of their product. I tried to get them to send them to me at a later time but they wouldn’t do it

  • Charlene Woods

    Anastasia brow pomade dries out too quickly. I give it a D. Just invest in the new brow gels that are popular in Asia. It lasts for days. I LOVE make up Forever.

  • gmail login

    I really wanted to see that glitter lip thingamabob. gmail sign up

  • laura

    the dip brow pomade is one of the few products i’m loyal to. the advice i got was “use pencil if you’re trying to *shape* your brows, but use the pomade if you’re trying to *fill* your brows.” i’d had a more difficult time with the pencil actually, but the pomade with a small brush is pretty easy to use.

  • Don’t fear the eyebrow products Harling!! They are life changing in every way! Please do a special eyebrow post to help you break through your fears!

    Eva | http://www.shessobright.com

  • isn’t Ross Geller moving it UP the stairs ? ! (love him & this epic-sode : )

  • Lorange E

    Was this the top 5 this week? In the past year? (Just curious if you specified a timeframe.)

  • Margaret Lee Barnett

    This is so my life too: ” (I know, I know, I’m supposed to double cleanse, but time is money and
    I’d rather watch Ross Geller move a couch down some stairs.) “