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.

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