January 5, 2017

Why Are Makeup Returns So Difficult?


I hate doing makeup returns. I particularly hate doing makeup returns at Sephora. It’s a lot of sighing, hissing, eye rolling, huffing, puffing, and blowing my house down if I dare think to return something.

Yesterday, I returned some items at Sephora which is kind of rare for me as I tend to toss something stuff into my makeup graveyard if it doesn’t work for me. I’m also one that places something in a bag, tells myself I’ll return it, pop it under my desk, and procrastinate the return for three months or until it is too late to actually return the item.

Why are makeup returns so difficult though is my question?

I have a few issues with Sephora returns. First off, I’ve returned items via mail on five different occasions and each time I had to call them at least twice asking for a refund well after a month of the return. Typically the reply I got was, “We are backed up with returns and it’ll be issued soon!” I googled this because I thought I was special but there’s actually a lot of complaints on Reddit and even on Sephora’s own message board about the same thing happening to other people.

But store returns are the worst for me….there’s so much attitude that goes into a return. I purchased the entire Too Faced Sweet Peach Collection when it launched. And of course, ironically, I got it as a gift for Christmas a few days later. Thankfully it was my sister who purchased it so, I didn’t feel so bad returning it and she totally knew I likely had it already but just wanted to be safe and got it as a gift for me. My sister is the best just throwing it out there πŸ™‚

I went into store yesterday to return and it was a bit of a nightmare. I actually felt embarrassed about the return as the girl that was doing them treated me like a criminal. It was a lot of huffing, puffing, eye rolling, along with a snippy, curt conversation about whether I used the items (a simple look at the packaging would reveal they had never been used and were in pristine condition).

I have a lot of respect for anyone in retail. It’s not an easy job and I’m positive they deal with a lot of crap daily. But jeez, I was very polite, I had my receipt, and the items were brand new. The return should have been really cut and dry. Why all the attitude?

Do you ever feel like makeup returns are difficult?

Have you been treated crummy when doing a return?

Do share!

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Kathleen Dorsam

    I return to CVS quite a bit no problems ever. Target used to be problem so I quit buying make up at Target. Sephora not had any issues, once I returned a lip gloss because I didn’t like it and the sales person helped me find one I liked way better. I think it had that old wax smell/taste..

    • Isabella Muse

      CVS I think I returned a cleanser once and didn’t have a problem! Target I never return anything especially makeup as used makeup is not something that can be returned to them. You’re lucky. I always get a bit of an attitude at sephora overall, with returns and just in general when asking for something/etc..!

      • Nicole Silva

        I’ve returned used makeup at Target with no issues. I have never had problems doing makeup returns anywhere.

        • Carol G

          Same here. I returned used makeup to Target with no problem whatsoever. Maybe each store is different? But my understanding is they have a great return policy for makeup. I can’t think of anywhere I’ve had a problem but I don’t return much. However I promised myself from now on to return something I don’t like because its just a waste of money and I need to quit doing that.

      • SH

        Hi there!
        Omg I thought I was the only one who has such a difficult time doing returns at Sephora! First of all I usually buy from them online to avoid going to the actual store. The associates here are not friendly to begin with so returns are even more extremely uncomfortable. I literally have to prepare myself to go. I also returned from the Sweet Peach collection which was the Glow palette. The cashier was so slow to open the package to check if it was used, which it wasn’t. He didn’t even bother to ask me if it was used. I returned it bc although it’s very pretty, I decided it was overpriced and I have too much make up. Lol Not only that but they also ask to look at the email order even though I had the one comes with the actual order. I think they verify the price but it makes me feel like I’m lying about the amount I paid for. What’s more frustrating is the only returns I do are products I’ve never used but they act like its such an inconvenience. I think Sephora needs to train its employees to be less difficult when it comes to returns.

  • Moda31

    Sephora touts their no hassle return policy, but in my experience Sephora.com treats you like you’re a con artist when you try to return stuff. My nearest Sephora is about an hour away, so online is really my only option. It’s always so hard to tell what might work for you when you’re shopping online, even if you do your research, so needless to say you’re going to need to return things from time to time. I’ve had some real horror stories dealing with their customer service reps, for a while I even swore off Sephora entirely, but inevitably there’s some exclusive item that sucks you back in.

  • Christina D.

    Happy New Year to my Sista Muse! May 2017 bring you much happiness…and make up!

    I think it depends on the store location. I don’t return items often, but when I do, I’ve never ever had a problem with the Sephora on 42nd Street. They are gracious and helpful. However, I did have an issue with one of those “Sephora Inside of JC Penney” stores and I think it’s mostly due to the location, the quality of staff that is hired, and the clientele that frequent the store.

    • Isabella Muse

      Happy New Year sis πŸ™‚ I wish you the very same thing! I’ll have to try on 42nd. Herald Square is a nightmare :-/ Also, Palisades Mall! I actually hate the Sephora Inside JC Penny thing and I feel the reps are particularly attitude-y in there and also not very knowledgeable about the products and brands.

      • Stephanie

        Lol, I hate the Sephora on Herald Square! It’s always crowded and I find that the Sephora employees there are particularly snooty.

        The ones on 42nd are much better.

  • Suzy

    I had bad experiences returning brand new with receipt things to Sephora too.
    I think it depends on the store and on the sales person you get.
    What has been working for me is to go to Sephora on holidays or weekends when you get sales people that are working there part time or seasonally, they overall seams to be more understanding about returns, at least this seams to be the case on my store. Most of my bad experiences where during week days from 9-5, so I never go to my store at that time anymore.
    I am not sure if it had happened to you, but I also had gotten a bad attitude when asking for samples when I wasn’t buying anything, which I mainly do to avoid the need to return a skincare item later, it is really annoying and makes no sense πŸ™

    • Isabella Muse

      I typically don’t even ask for samples but I can imagine it being a chore to create a sample or give you a sample. I can just imagine if I asked, I’d probably get an attitude too!

    • A

      I find asking for samples to be more and more difficult. I like to try certain products for my face because I am often allergic and also I simply feel you need to test certain items with your skin chemistry. I get lectures about why I shouldn’t do this, but, I’m sorry, if I’m buying a $65 foundation I should be able to test it out before I drop that kind of cash! Saving a return and tossed item later on, no?

  • Adrienne

    I couldnt agree more with the attitude from the associates in addition to the proxrastination and doing EVERYRHING before your return including changing register tape. I have the biggest problem at departner store counters so I just asked do you work on commission and she said yes. But I can’t keep $89 foundation that turned orange and “fresh faced and dewey” when I clearly stated I was oily. I never used what I purchased because once the makeup they applied turned orange there was no need to open it. That’s why I depend on your site so much because I know the more expensive it is the harder it is to return and I don’t want the hassle. I work just as hard for my money.

    • Isabella Muse

      It’s funny because even not with a return I notice a certain level of insanity when it comes to checking out. I forgot where I was a few days ago but I went into the store, no line, and I was happy because it was going to be a quick, simple check out and go. I had my items in my hand, my debit card out, yet it still took me literally 15 minutes to cash out. It was just a really slow experience with the sales rep wandering around behind the register kind of tidying up and ignoring me, after that she had to fix the bags, after that she was ringing and proceeding to look at every single tag and comparing it to the price on the screen…I actually reached a point that I almost lost my patience with her. I was going to just tell her forget it and leave. This is common at the bank, the post office, etc…it’s like it’s too much effort for people to do their jobs. Retail is NOT an easy job by any means, but it should be this difficult to purchase and check out quickly especially when I’m like the only person in the store. This is why I prefer shopping online!

  • Anon

    When you purchase online and return in store, you are essentially taking sales away from the store. People rely on sales for bonuses and paychecks. Also, if the item is used OR isn’t sold in that particular location, it is thrown away. I have seen hundreds of dollars worth of brand new product wasted.
    That being said, I don’t agree with you being treated poorly. Everyone should be given respect regardless if we are disappointed or not.

    • Stephanie

      Corporate should restructure their sales reporting and goals to exclude online returns if that is the case. The customer shouldn’t be punished for utilizing a store policy the way it was intended. I had no idea that brand new product would get tossed if it was not sold in a particular location. That just seems so wasteful. Again, a new corporate/store policy would solve this!

      Totally agree that everyone should be treated with respect.

      • Sarah Hubler

        I worked for a major retailer (non-beauty) and we had this debate all the time. Does the store get credit for selling online things when they don’t have it in the store? Or does that sale go to the .com channel? And same thing in reverse for returns. Does the return count against the store that sold it? Or the website if that’s where it came from? I’m telling you, you can talk yourself in circles with these questions. I think the entire home office was split on these questions and so were the stores.

  • Carrie Mansfield

    I basically NEVER return make-up.

    The one time I did was one of the Kat Von D metallic eye shadow singles, because it migrated so bad it looked like I had a black eye! I had no less than THREE MUA asking “did you use primer?!” After me telling them, yeah, I used NARS they shut up real fast, but sheesh.

    • Isabella Muse

      I rarely return it either. Typically I try to re-gift it or I’m guilty of tossing it into my makeup graveyard bin πŸ˜€

  • Stephanie

    Sorry you had such a bad experience, Muse! πŸ™

    I rarely do makeup returns, but the ones I’ve done have involved lipsticks that were completely the wrong shade for me. One was at CVS and there were no questions asked. Sephora was more involved, but luckily, the two cashiers that I dealt with
    were nice about it.

    I think makeup returns can be so difficult because Sephora, Ulta, etc. have people who abuse the return policy so unfortunately, that makes it harder for the rest of us who do genuine returns.

    • Isabella Muse

      I completely agree Stephanie. I think a lot of people abuse the return system and that makes SAs naturally wary of everyone who wants to return something :-/

  • Heather

    I hate returning to Sephora because no matter which store I return to, returns are always soooooooooooo sloooooooooooooooow……..and returns at JCPenney Sephora’s are even worse and even slooooooooooooower!

    • Isabella Muse

      I agree. And typically if you’re doing one at a major department store like says Kohls, there’s a line around the block and one poor person doing returns.

  • Rebecca C Floyd

    I returned a ton of black friday purchases that I made online. Some things were perfumes that smelled horrible and a couple were make-up items that I accidentally bought duplicates of. I also had a different receipt for almost every item and absolutely had no issues at all. The girl was very friendly. I looked like a hot mess walking into that store too, so I was actually surprised she was so friendly. I’ve always heard returns were very easy at Sephora and there’s not much hassle. It’s interesting to read this. Thankfully I’ve never encountered it. I did have one girl not believe I was a rouge when I asked for that seasonal tote bag they had when I checked out….she started to say “those are for rouge members” and before she could say it I told her I’m rouge. After that she was very friendlly,

    • Isabella Muse

      You’re lucky, where are you located Rebecca? I’m moving lol!

          • Rebecca C Floyd

            Come on! Lots of good shopping here. I’m not from here. Kind of new to this area so I’m learning all the good spots. Haven’t found any friends that love beauty/shopping yet either!

          • Isabella Muse

            You’re like 90 minutes or so away? Not bad lol! Ok, we’ll shop, and return in a pleasant atmosphere haha!

          • Isabella Muse

            AGREE! I have so many great readers around NY we should all do a shopping day together πŸ˜€

          • Rebecca C Floyd

            You come up with a day and I’ll be there!

          • Isabella Muse

            πŸ˜€ sounds good to me. I should do a post about it. Not right now, but maybe Spring when the weather is treating us nicer?

        • Sjofna

          I’ve never had a problem at the Cherry Hill location- they are always so nice even if I’m doing a return. They are also eager to make samples if I’m looking at something. The Deptford location has improved greatly too and I like shopping there as well. Philly is usually nice, but they are just sooo busy I hate going in there.

          • Rebecca C Floyd

            I haven’t been to the one in Deptford yet. I go to Princeton a lot to shop too though because I lived there and still use physicians there and things like that. Always liked the Princeton Sephora and other stores as well.

        • Kristin

          Hey, you’re sorta by me- I’m in Cumberland Co. There’s Cherry Hill Beauty Supply on King’s Hwy (I haven’t been to that one, but I was at the two in Mays Landing today, killing time while my truck was being serviced).

          • Rebecca C Floyd

            Yeah, we aren’t too far from each other. πŸ™‚

            I didn’t even know Cherry Hill Beauty Supply existed….dunno how I missed that one.

    • Rebecca C Floyd

      I wanted to add that I did this when they first opened for the day so that I wasn’t there taking up their time at the busiest part of their day. I put the receipts with each item and highlighted the item on the receipt and she thanked me for that. I also bought a lot of new product after making my return. So I don’t feel guilty at all for returning online purchases there. I will say I will never blindly order perfumes anymore. BIG MISTAKE, lesson learned.

      • Isabella Muse

        hah I blind buy a lot of fragrances and in all my years I’ve thankfully been lucky! (watch my luck run out now)

  • AMG

    I’ve returned via mail to Sephora. No problems but it is slow, about a month.

    On a side note, I hate Ulta. The SA’s are super pushy and won’t leave me alone. I’ve quit shopping there.

    • Isabella Muse

      Thankfully no probs at Ulta with pushiness but their CS via phone isn’t particularly great!

  • Ally

    I guess I’m just lucky. We only have a Sephora inside JCPenny and I had no problem returning a product the day after I purchased it – when I had opened the box, the powder had slid right out of the palette and all over my floor! ): I was so nervous about returning it but the girl was so nice about it. I actually did an exchange – so maybe that’s the difference.

  • Kimkats

    The only Sephora I have here is a JCP one and I’ve only returned one or two things, but have never had a problem! Cvs isn’t a problem either but they had better not be since they tout a no hassle return policy. Target won’t take used makeup back so basically I buy only what I know works for me there, and only if it’s on significant sale, since I think target is priced higher than most drugstores for the same items.

  • Caroline

    I have made exactly one return to Sephora, of a cleanser that smelled bad from the very first time I opened it. You’d think that would’ve been an easy return, but the salesperson was quite rude about it and short with me! I’ve also had bad experiences returning stuff to Ulta, but my latest return there a few days ago was fine. I don’t like to return makeup, but sometimes it’s necessary and I wish companies made it easier on us!!

    • Isabella Muse

      I think everyone is burnt out with over returners and I guess they treat those of us that do a rare return like everyone else :-/

  • Eraser

    I might have returned cosmetics twice in my entire life and they were new and unused, most recently at Ulta where they were very courteous about it. However, I came of age in the day when returns on beauty products were forbidden – this was also the case for lingerie, swimwear, etc. and if I recall correctly, it was a health department regulation. Anyway, if a store has a policy they should honor it with no questions asked, and there’s never an excuse for bad service.

    • Isabella Muse

      eraser, I also remember days when makeup returns were taboo particularly at the drugstore πŸ˜€

  • Diana

    In general I don’t like to go into an actual Sephora store to shop, I feel like I am always been looked at by the sales associates as not good enough to be shopping in there, they come across as very upper crusty snotty types of employees, not friendly like at Ulta. So I would never return anything just to avoid this kind of treatment.

    • Leticia

      I feel the exact same way about my local Sephora. I had to return something once, that I bought online… sent my husband to do it lol.

      • Sarah Hubler

        It’s funny. I have two Sephora’s near me and one is super snotty and the other is always full of nice and funny and helpful associates. No guesses which one I go to. The “nice” one has such great diversity in their associates too – women and men from their 20’s into their 50’s and every ethnicity under the sun. I always think, wow, anyone who comes here is going to be able to get recommendations from someone with similar age or skin tone.

        • Isabella Muse

          THIS! I get some Sephora’s that are super nice and others are awful rude!

  • Pdo

    I recently returned to store a First Aid beauty moisturizing primer I bought at Sephora.com and just told them that it didn’t perform as advertised and didn’t even have a receipt, no problem whatsoever. I live in Dallas…maybe it’s that southern hospitality, dunno

  • Madison

    This is a bit of a heavy story but the day after Christmas in 2013 I was hospitalized because I couldn’t see. I got out of the hospital a week later, still very unable to see (still the case today) and decided I was going to return the MUFE Flash palette I received for Christmas as I wasn’t going to be able to do anything precise from now on. I go to Sephora and this palette is very clearly unused. It’s a cream product. The woman behind the counter asks why I’m returning it and I’m having a rough week so I just say the truth. I say “I went blind” (legally true) the woman behind the counter snickers “I bet!” and then finishes the transaction. Couldn’t believe it. Haven’t shopped at Sephora since. Who would lie about becoming disabled just to make a return less awkward lol?

    • Michelle Flamingo

      I am so sorry to hear about your experience. I think most people would have been kind, and she was the exception. Hugs to you, just as Muse said.

  • Anna S

    When you return items it counts against the hourly and daily sales goals, can really hurt when you bring in an expensive return and you are barely making the hourly goal, might be procrastinating to get to the next hour… returns happen it just sucks when its $400 worth of stuff bought online that counts against your store and your paycheck that you had nothing to do with. Retail is tough, everyone should try it once.

    • Isabella Muse

      Just curious how does it count towards your paycheck?? Do you mean commissions? Because Sephora doesn’t have a commission base as far as I know?

      • Anna S

        Sometimes can prevents stores reaching goals that are set for them, which can have all kinds of implications, less hours for staff and hurt bonuses. Even though most people are good, there are also bad apples out there trying to pull all kinds of tricks with returns. I can see how employees would get irritated, but also not cool to treat clients rudely when they don’t understand.

        I could see returns being treated differently when it is more of an even exchange..

        • Isabella Muse

          Ah ok, I was confused as I thought they were somehow deducting something from an employee’s paycheck when you did a return, I was like “WAIT WHAT?”

  • Jane

    I can honestly say I’ve never had a problem returning anything to Sephora, regardless of whether I initially purchased in online or in store. They have always taken it back without any problems. The last item I returned was the tarte tartiest pro palette and the girl actually asked if I minded telling her why I was returning it as she was thinking of getting it herself. Sorry you have such bad experiences.

  • Curious Charlie

    It’s funny how they’re acting like they’re loosing commission over it XD

  • Shannon

    You’re lucky you can actually return makeup! In the UK you can’t return used makeup, fair enough for drugstore as all drugstores here have testers, but you need more than a swatch to know if you’ll like something. Same goes for high-end, it’s so annoying that we can’t return!

    • Isabella Muse

      Any visit I’ve made to London, France, or Europe in general I’m super careful with what I buy because of the return policy. I feel bad for you guys!!!

  • Bonnie

    I don’t believe I’ve ever returned a beauty product–can you believe it? I too either relegate them to the graveyard or regift. Let me tell you a funny story, though. At my first job, as a salesgirl at Sears in the early ’90s, a woman came in with a swimsuit that was CLEARLY from the ’70s (and even when I was working there, we’re talking, it was a 20-year-old swimsuit!) and clearly had been worn. She said she had just bought it and wanted a full refund. I was 16 years old, in total shock that someone would do this. I got the manager and the manager took the return and gave the woman cash for a 20-year-old suit! Another great return story was a few years later, when I was working at a bookstore in the mall. This woman came in with several books that were clearly laminated library books (and this was in the days when date stamps and actual cards were kept/recorded inside the book cover, even…) and said that she had bought them at our store several weeks before as gifts and wanted a refund. I said, “Ma’am, these are clearly library books.” She demanded to see a manager and, you guessed it…my manager gave her like $100 in credit for LIBRARY BOOKS.

    • Isabella Muse

      you aren’t alone, I tend to plop them into the graveyard too! It’s a rare day I return stuff! πŸ˜€ OMG LOL! funny stories!

  • Heidi

    I’ve never really had problems returning anything. Mostly I’ll return something to CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid, if I don’t like what I bought, and that’s where I buy most of my stuff, but I’ve told them everything from not liking the fragrance of a lipstick, the color being not what I hoped for, etc., and never have gotten any grief. Most of the time I’ll ask for an exchange, though, so maybe that’s part of it. There’s always something else that I want, so I’ll usually come in and ask if I can get what was my second choice instead.
    I can’t recall if I’ve ever returned anything to Sephora, but I know I’ve returned and exchanged high-end items at Ulta, and never got any resistance. One time they sent me the wrong item, and when I asked about it, they even credited me and told me I could keep the item, so I was dancing around about my free lipstick.

  • Z

    Depends on the sales person, one time I returned a brand new item with receipt, and the girl was so rude and cold! It was a set of formula x nail polishes with plastic seals still on, the colors were just off in person. Two minutes later I remembered I need to restocked on my moisturizer so I quickly grabbed my aqua bomb, got the same sales girl and holy crap her attitude went 360, was so nice to me, asked how my day was and complimented on my look. LOL even my boyfriend was like wow she’s a two-faced bitch.

  • Liz

    Ugh I just had a horrible experience with a return at Sephora…They sent me the wrong item and I just wanted to exhange it for the right item and honestly the cashiers working couldn’t have been more rude…and none of them wear name tags so you can’t even complain. I left there so furious.

    • Heather

      It’s so weird they don’t wear name tags at your Sephora! Everyone on stage at mine wears them.

  • ame

    I make a TON of returns. Some of them unused bec I see the item in person and it’s NOT what I expected, and others used items that sucked or gave me a reaction. I sometimes get grief but I have basically just stopped taking it. These retailers have policies for returns up to X amount of days, and as long as they have the policy and I am not abusing it, I am going to make a return. I not going to just keep something and waste money if the item doesn’t work for me.

    There are some SAs at Ulta or Sephora that give me crap, but I will give it right back.

    Unless I am forced to mail something back, and I am not really a fan of that, like from a brand’s site, I will go to the store itself (like Sephora or Ulta) even if I ordered online. It’s just faster. Though it does invite browsing…

  • Marina

    I will do anything to avoid shopping at Sephora. I get better service anywhere else and I don’t have to get anxious whenever I walk in there because their attitude is so bad. I hate that company. I worked for them and quit. If you guys only knew how bad it is.
    Love you Muse !! I never shop without Muse πŸ™‚

  • isabella

    I have absolutely no problem returning anything.
    If it doesn’t’ work for me I will return it.

    These stores push purchase online/return in store then whine about taking returns, sorry but you can’t evaluate anything correctly from a computer.

    Agree with upthread comment, if it is such an issue to take online returns, their system needs to be changed accordingly.

  • KatyCT

    I have no problem returning makeup/skincare. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t gotten attitude, but I file it into my ‘not my problem’ folder and do it anyway. I am a very good cosmetics consumer but I don’t like to hold on to something that is just bad. I have returned several Dior palettes because they just weren’t good. I am not going to eat $85 because a sales person is frustrated. I would say that in general I have had really good experiences returning products purchased online through individual companies back to those companies. Same with Nordstrom and Macy’s. They usually seem to be very sorry that something didn’t work out.

  • mushlice

    What I know is, in Asia, is it almost impossible (not accepted) to return any kind of skin care or make up itemsβ€”β€”no matter it is opened/used or not, or even if you just happened to get the wrong color that is not your faultβ€”once you leave the store, no return. I think that make sense, who knows if the one that you returned is fake or not, or what you did to the thing you are trying to return. Most importantly, what you returned cannot be sell again, who is going to pay for the price? The dealer? The makeup company? The customer in the end.

    So I feel that more than weird that in U.S. you can even return your tried make up item and get full money back!! I often shop at MAC, I know they do free return with anything you don’t like, but I never return anything. I will feel bad if I do so, I always try google the color swatches and make careful orders. However, if I get the wrong item from what I ordered, or the product is too bad that I feel cheated, I may do returning one day.

  • Jamie D.

    I’ve never really had issues returning products at Ulta or Sephora (nor drugstores or big box stores). My mall which houses Ulta and Sephora is a stones throw away from my home so it’s not inconvenient for me to make returns. I will rarely keep products I don’t care for unless they are under $5. Yes, I feel badly wasting product knowing it will be damaged out. However, it is the store’s policy to offer returns/exchanges. I would feel worse wasting all of my money keeping products that don’t work out. I’d rather exchange for products I enjoy. I sometimes gasp in horror when I read a Sephora review on a $100 serum that someone didn’t like and read “I threw it right in the trash!” WHAAAT?!
    I think Ulta could avoid some returns if they offered samples like Sephora does. My skin is sensitive to liquid face products (skincare, foundations). Sometimes I get a sample at Sephora to make sure I don’t react, then buy at Ulta if they sell it (I’m Platinum). I’ll swatch eyeshadows on my hand but won’t use the tester directly on my eyes because Ew. I may get home and the shades aren’t right or it irritates my contacts. 9 times out of 10 I exchange for something new so I’m not taking the money and run.
    I’m shocked to read how many negative experiences people have had while returning products. These are THEIR policies and as customers ((shelling out $$) we should not be made to feel guilty or criminal. The Sephora employees receive so much free product gratis. I refuse to feel bad when I pay full price. I’m so sorry anyone was made to feel this way. IMO, associates who treat guests this way should be reported to Corporate. Illuminating post.

  • Tay

    I very rarely return makeup mainly because I’m determined to make it work or would rather pass it along to a friend who might use it.

    My few returns to Sephora were because I received the product damaged in the mail or once I got a KVD liquid lipstick that was clearly used in an online order–seriously, there was product everywhere. But those were more of exchanges.

    But in general, I’ve never really gotten attitude. Probably because I’m at Ulta/Sephora waaayyyy too much and on a first name basis with the SAs, so they see how much I buy compared to how much I return.

  • blee

    I most of the time do not have issues to return things but its using my rewards or getting on line at Ulta and getting an order in. ? πŸ™ ? So I go to the store and they give me a hard time AT Ulta store. LOL

  • Sara

    Macys doesn’t always get my praise, but I actually did return makeup return there last night and it was a breeze. No third degree aside from are they used, and I was even offered a sample from the counter I was at and the woman’s business card for in store makeup sessions, lol. Plus pleasant conversation about makeup love! It was quick too, 5 minutes and I had 3 different invoices. Sephora I’m dealing with the SLOWWWWW online return thing now. But I refused to deal with the in store drama you had so I’ll have to wait for my money.

  • Danielle

    Ulta is horrible. They go through and open every item and it takes forever. Maybe it’s a new policy they have, but it’s a pain in the arse! Hence I do most of shopping/returns online.

  • CC

    I spent around $400 at SIJCP and towards the end of my shopping an annoying rep started helping me and suggested items all around the store. One item didn’t work out for me and I returned it quickly. She gave me a lot of attitude and even mentioned her days off “in case I were to come back and return more”. So annoying. Especially since she is about 21 and I’m in my upper 40’s. She did not understand any of my concerns.

  • Mo

    These companies are so quick to take our money but treat us terribly when things don’t work out for us. What’s the point in having a return policy if they’re just going to treat us like criminals anyway?

  • Jennifer

    I rarely return makeup, but I had a bought a product from Sephora online because I could not find it in store. I bought a shade that was described as my shade but was way too dark for me. I explained it to the gal at Sephora and she was not snippy with me at all. That foundation was $39 and I was not going to just keep it and not use it.

    At Ulta, I have also had good experiences with returns. An associate color matched me for a foundation in store. In that bad lighting it looked great. In daylight I looked horrible. The next day, I exchanged it with no fuss. I just swapped another for the right color last week and they were great. The even let me exchange something that I had for months. I had an allergic reaction and set it aside to return. I forgot about about it for 5 months! They still took it back. Part of this may also be that they look up my account and see that I drop quite a few bucks in their stores…..

  • Bya

    I don’t have a Sephora store close by so I if I have a return it will have to be shipped back. I recently had the same problem with two orders. I had tracked them & they were delivered to Sephora but I didn’t have a credit for either one. It had been weeks. So I called CS and the guy was really helpful & nice. He expedited both returns right away. I don’t really like having to follow-up, but if you don’t you might totally miss that they have never issued you a credit. So I always make sure I write down the return tracking #, the return date, and what items were returned in that order. They shouldn’t have given you a hard time because that attitude is going to make you think twice about shopping again with them. Tarte is another company you have to keep an eye on with returns or communication for that matter. I have had a few issues, but in the end they came thru for me.

    • Isabella Muse

      thanks for that Bya! I actually kept my receipt just the be safe as I’ve experienced that too. Not with Sephora but with another return I did for a pair of shoes at Macys. I never got the credit and about three months later I came across the receipt for my return and I was like, wait I never got back that money!?

  • erinface

    I’ve been fortunate that I’ve never had an issue returning anything to Sephora, Ulta or CVS, and I feel so sorry for anyone who does.

    My two most recent returns at Sephora/Sephora inside JCP were very pleasant. I was returning a Belif gift set that I had ordered online to my SiJCP because the moisturizer was the Moisturizing Bomb and was too heavy for my oily/combo skin (I usually use Aqua Bomb). The girls at the registers were asking me all sorts of questions about the brand, since they don’t have it in their store! They were actually GLAD I was returning it so they could try out the two products in the box that I *DIDN’T* use! LOL

  • fatima

    I never had issues with Sephora, CVS, Target, Walgreens, Harmon, or Walmart returns (in terms of beauty products).

    BUT DO NOT get me started on ULTA. It is such a chore and they keep asking why you want to return the item. Followed by OPENING every single item while asking if it was used or not. They are terrible.

  • Carolyn2

    OMG – I returned online items back via mail and it took six or so weeks!! I will only return Sephora items in store from now on.

    And — I can say with great delight I’ve never ever had a bad experience returning items at my local Sephora in Bellevue, WA. Th heirs really. Ice there.

    Ditto with local Ulta stores – no problems.

    • Isabella Muse

      likewise. I don’t really do returns much but the three or so times I’ve done via mail was awful, had to call and ask about the money and refund twice!

  • Rebecca

    I am a frequent Sephora and Ulta shopper, both online and in store, and I return things quite often. I have NEVER had a problem at either store with returns. Sometimes they will ask why I didn’t like it, but not in an argumentative way, just to learn about the product and maybe recommend something else. The SAs at Ulta will often have a hard time figuring out the process or the register – lots of turnover so they’re often new hires – but they’re never snippy or rude. I usually have the receipt, but if I don’t they just look it up through my Ulta Rewards or Sephora VIB account. Usually I get an apology that it didn’t work and a “thank you” for being a customer.
    I live in a suburb of Dallas, Texas and I find that people are generally friendlier (or at least more polite) here than in the Northeast; maybe that’s part of it.

  • Lori P

    I’ve had no problem returning things to my local Sephora here in Oklahoma City. All my returns were due to the fact of defective merchandise. I had to return two palettes that were shipped with shattered eyeshadow and I got a credit for the one they didn’t have in store and a replacement for the other which was the ABH Renaissance palette. One other time I came in with an UD Vice lipstick in which if one took the top off, the whole thing fell apart. The SAs and I had a good laugh because we were actually trying to see if one could get the top off without the whole thing falling apart (I got a replacement for it in the end). I used to work retail and returns can be a bitch because you had legitimate returns and returns where you could tell someone was trying to rip you off and now rules have gotten very strict about what can be returned or not in some stores. I’ve also had good luck in returns with Ulta but forget about returning unused makeup to Walgreens, they don’t accept them.

    • Carol G

      See that’s funny, my Walgreens takes back used cosmetics. I commented above that my Target does too even though Muse said her Target won’t take back used stuff. I guess it really depends on the individual store? I returned an opened, used Revlon mascara to Walgreens, no questions asked (with a receipt).

      Also, I worked at Macy’s and people were trying to be shady and trying to return cosmetics that were very obviously several years old. I wouldn’t do it. However, as long as you had a receipt or if you had the credit card you used to purchase the item we could look it up that way and I had no problem with doing that for people. Although Macy’s policy was stupid: any returns came off the total counter sales for the day even if it was originally purchased at a different Macy’s. I worked at a smaller Macy’s so a $100 return could be detrimental to your counter goal for the day. That may be why some sales associate have a bad attitude. It’s a dumb rule but that’s the way it was so you just dealt with it. We were told to at least ask the customer if they wanted something else just so we didn’t have to take the hit on the return.

    • Sarah Hubler

      Huh, strange my Walgreens always returns things that don’t work out – used or new. I feel like I do way more drugstore returns than Ulta/Sephora ones because I can’t try on in the store. I feel like drugstores HAVE to return/exchange makeup items that don’t work because it’s not your fault they don’t have testers. πŸ™‚

      I wonder if you tried another Walgreens if you would have better luck? I shop at 3 different ones in my area and all of them have taken makeup returns with no questions asked.

  • Carrie

    After a nasty experience in Sephora (that included the sales associate “helping” me remarking on my weight and how it would be a waste for me to spend money on makeup since I was sweating so “grossly”, (FYI I have VERY bad social anxiety and I sweat whenever I am in public because my anxiety is so high.) ) and a stressful experience when I returned something that was it for me. I vowed only to shop Sephora online….then I had a few bad experiences there and now I refuse to give that company any of my money.
    I only shop at Ulta now and have NEVER had ANY bad or negative experiences with them. I’ve returned un-used and used makeup. I’ve had multiple sales associates help me, all positive, helpful, lovely people. I’ve been made to feel welcomed and never had my weight or sweating commented on. In fact I once apologized for my sweating and the young woman helping me went out of her way to make sure she understood and helped me find some products that are now my Holy Grails.
    I LOVE my local Ulta and I LOVE that all the people who work there young and older treat me like a welcomed friend and not just someone giving them money. That I can comfortably return things that don’t work for me and am not treated as some unwanted bother is just the cherry on the top for me!

    • Isabella Muse

      Whoa Carrie! I’m so sorry you experienced that. That’s TERRIBLE! πŸ™

  • Yelena

    Muse, i hate that you are experiencing that at a sephora store. I personally LOVE sephora and am lucky enough to have some great girls at my local store. Returns are quick and easy and apart from asking your VIB rouge/ beauty insider account, there are rarely much questions asked. In fact, i was so embarassed about my last return and was worried it would not be possible because it was something that I had purchased with store credit from a previous return… so a return of a return lol. I nervously walked out to the counter and explained that i had a return for a product that was bought with credit from a previous return… she looked at my receipt and whipped out a cash return before I could say too faced sweet peach palette. Ok thats a mouthful but u know what I mean. I suggest you post a complaint on their facebook page and they will PM you to address the issue. They are very quick to respond and very eager to resolve any in store issues you experience.

    I feel more comfortable returning products at Sephora than any other store which is probably why I shop there so often. I’m sure if there is some deficiency in their customer service, they would like to know in order to address it!

    • Isabella Muse

      aw it’s ok dear! I love Sephora too and it really depends on the stores, sometimes I get GREAT CS! Other times not so much! I’m a Rouge Member as well! I’m so glad you had a good experience πŸ˜€

  • Jen

    I recently watched a “YouTube beauty guru” do a what she called “Huge Sephora haul” recently and I was shocked and disappointed to hear that she was retuning more than 50% of this huge haul she had done. And her reasons for many of the returns were ridiculous. She was returning items for performing exactly as they were advertised they would perform, which she claimed did not work for her. This abuse of Sephora’s return policy (and I can imagine the same goes for Ulta) is probably the reason some of these employees get frustrated. In the end, the consumers are paying for these returns. I spend an embarrassingly large amount of money at Sephora and Ulta each year and I RARELY return things – like seriously almost never. Why? Because I do my research and because an amazingly large amount of information, reviews, and even testers are available to the consumer so that returns can be avoided! Unless I have a reaction to a product, or it straight up fails to live up to a claim, I consider it MY BAD when I don’t like something after I buy it. I do not pass my “mistake” on to other consumers to pay for. There is never an excuse for being rude to a customer, but I do to some degree understand the frustration people may sometimes get. Unfortunately it is hard to sort out the occasional return from the straight up rampant abusers of the return policy.

    • Randi MacDonald

      If Ulta provided samples of their foundation, they would probably end up with a lot less returns. I always get a sample from Sephora before I buy a foundation.

  • Courtney

    I suppose I look at it a bit differently. Sephora’s items are pricey and if I purchase something that I hate and choose to return it and the Sephora or Ulta Representative has an issue with it I don’t care. I kept items that I hated in my earlier days of makeup buying and have learned. I’m not keeping a $50-$60 item just because you have an issue. It’s your companies policy so you’re going to honor it! Not to mention I spend way too much on makeup to keep a crappy product!

  • Heather

    I worked at Sephora 12 years ago and while it’s certainly possible that this has since changed, any returns counted against the store reaching their sales goal that day. When we didn’t reach our goal, the store director would obviously not be pleased and, though Sephora employees don’t work on commission (at least they didn’t when I worked there), we would get financial bonuses when we consistently met our sales goals. If we didn’t make these goals, we didn’t receive those bonuses. Working on a retail salary, you can imagine that you needed all the help you could get!

    Not that any of this should excuse an attitude when a return is being made, especially when a product is brand new (I can personally confirm that brand new products were carefully examined and put right back on the sales floor). I just wanted to clarify why even being nice about your return may not make it welcome.

    Personally, though stores like Sephora have very gracious return policies, I think it’s certainly easy to take advantage of them, and I think that’s wrong. I am more likely to ask my best friend or sister if they’d like to try something with which I was dissatisfied than return it. Of course, people are absolutely within their rights to return – that’s just my opinion for myself.

    • Isabella Muse

      Thanks Heather for clarifying how some of this works. I didn’t know you got a bonus when you met sales goals!

    • Jes

      My pal is regional director, and as Heather said, there is a team sales goal for the quarter. I am not sure that it would be counted against the store sales, if you are returning an online purchase. I know that across retail, and at Sephora, the stores took a hit this year. Online did really well, but people just didn’t make the trek out, since online returns are so easy, and that flash shipping just makes it so worth it. I’ve never had an issue at my local Sephora. Regardless, they should still be polite, as you are a customer, and building relationships are important for them. I’m sure the store director would not be pleased that you were treated badly.

  • LJT

    I have always had good look with returns at my local CVS. Sephora and Ulta not so much. If Nordstrom carries the product, I buy it from them. Their no hassle return policy is wonderful, so I give them almost all of my business.

  • Melissa

    I almost never make returns, unless a product is damaged, so I’ve not had any problems at Sephora or Ulta. I’ve never had an allergic reaction to anything, but I would assume that if I did, I would return it. But if I order a wrong color or formula, or just decide I don’t like what I bought, I figure that’s on me and I make it work. I have several types of pigment drops and other items that can alter the color and/or formula of foundations so that I can make just about anything work. Foundations that aren’t my favorite end up being the ones I throw on when testing makeup looks or for when I just run out to do errands. Plus it’s surprising how often I change my mind about products based on the time of year, weather, or even just my mood. Things I really end up hating go into a basket with the hundreds of samples I never end up using and I bring it to the office or to friends and let them “shop” the basket, which is fun for everyone. I’m happy to let them benefit and discover new things they love.

  • Brandy

    I worked at a high end clothing store for a year and returns from online purchases would hurt our goal. This particular clothing store sold very expensive clothes so sometimes we would have someone return only a few items but the cost was over $1000, which meant my manager would force us to be extra pushy with customers so we could make our goal. The store was also located next to several bars, so we would have drunk women come in at night and make huge purchases only to return them the next day. Which meant if I sold them the clothes, my measly $5 to $10 bonus I made from them was taken away. I also was banished from the register and into the back room to unpack and steam clothes if my email capture rate from customers was low. Mind you I was only paid minimum wage. I think everyone should work in retail at least once in their lives, but I don’t think I could ever do it again.

  • Emily

    I have only returned once to a Sephora inside JC Penney (a Caudalie facial mist that I hated SO MUCH after spraying it one time! OH how I hated that thing) and once to Ulta (a Tarte primer that just didn’t do anything for me). Both were online purchases, in-store returns. Neither time did I encounter an attitude. I’m in Monmouth County, NJ. Even if they did give me an attitude, I think I’d let it roll off, though it may make me less likely to shop there in the future. Oh, and once to a Macy’s MAC counter, because I received the wrong shade and wanted to exchange it for the one I ordered. No big deal. As long as I’m within the company’s published return policy, I know I’m doing nothing wrong, and feel no shame. BUT, I am lazy, which is why I shop online so much in the first place! And it’s rarely worth it for me to make a trip to the store, even if I’m not wild about a product. So I very rarely return.

  • Dora

    I’ve never returned anything to a drugstore (that I can remember), although occasionally to Target — but I go to the one by my mom’s house where everyone is nice. : ) I don’t return a ton to Sephora but I’ve definitely made returns — never had a problem. I can imagine department stores would be snotty about it — but I almost never shop (for cosmetics) at department stores.

  • Randi MacDonald

    I had the same experience at my Sephora. I returned a sun safety kit with a receipt. I did not use the products. She asked me and I told her no, I didnt use them. They were all wrapped up, even the little paper was on the zipper of the bag. She proceeded to open each item and inspect it, in front of me before she processed the return. I lost my mind right then. I asked to speak to a manager( because they would take the return either way, if I used it or not and I had a receipt). I did not like being treated like I was lying.

    • Mary

      Sephora employees are required to inspect every single returned item. It is merely to check if it can be resold in the store or not. Even if it was said that it wasn’t used, they have to check to see if it is damaged.

  • Jan

    If a store has a policy to return make up then I return makeup I don’t care for…I am very respectful to only swatch once or twice then make a decision.

    The only time I have ever had attitude was at Sephora the other day. He was a young sales associate and I just chatted him up and that was it. I am also quite older and although I stand soaking wet at five foot even I am pretty confident!

    So they can hiss all they want- if they don’t like it they can change their policy or quit their jobs!!

  • Barbara Grossmeyer

    I so agree with the last post. I am also in my an older makeup buyer, and girls…when you get to a certain age, you realize the problem lies in the clerk, not you. And age brings a few gifts..like confidence and not giving a darn. If they say they return makeup….then they should return it.
    I have gotten lots of attitude, and gotten nice clerks too. Just dont care. You young ones will all get there. The sooner the better.

  • An

    I typically don’t return makeup or skincare, because I feel guilty returning it when I know it will be thrown out. The only time I make returns is when I get an allergic reaction or if the performance of the product is really horrendous. That is why I read beauty blogs and reviews before I purchase something to get an idea if the product is good or bad. So thank you for your reviews because it helps me.

  • Silvia

    I have no problems at my Target have only returned those Jergens glowing bronzers which didn’t do a thing even tried the darker shade and noticed was developing an itch which went away right away shortly. I also don’t like to return things unless necessary and don’t hoar so much make up products. I make sure I like them enough that I will use them. Though of returning the Revlon blush and bronzer strips which are pretty dead even on me very pale but decided to keep them and work something out with them. Hate the though of all this trash going to the landfills and beaches. Too much unnecessary waste.

  • Mary

    Let me make it aware that in store returns at Sephora hurt the pocket books of the employees at that store. The employees are not paid commission but they do bonus if sales are good and returns affect that significantly. One of the biggest ouchies are when someone buys online, uses it, then returns it to a sephora store. To begin with, the store did not profit from the buy because well, it was bought online. If the product is used then it cannot be sold in the store. Therefore, the return is a loss to the store. Some of it can hit really hard as some returns are HUGE! Is it right for employees to be hissy when you return at sephora? No, not at all as client service shoud be a priority, but I figured I’d chime in and let you see it from their perspective as well. Retail stores like CVS or Target will not share profit so they are not so personally affected with returns but Sephora employees are. Just my two cents here. πŸ˜‰

    • Isabella Muse

      thanks Mary! You guys are all super helpful with the insight on how bonuses/returns/etc works! I think myself and many other consumers have no idea about the bonus thing or the fact that our returns are essentially being tossed out!

  • Chris

    CVS was very good about returns — unopened or opened products if no receipt were given store credit.

    Ulta was very good as well provided you returned it in the specific time frame on the receipt. Ulta generally is terrible about offering samples — either out of lids for containers or no containers with lids at all.

    Never returned anything from Sephora, but it’s good to know that some of the stores are quirky about returns. I do appreciate when samples are offered by the SAs. It cuts down on full sized product returns. I’ve been able to try fragrances at home from their testers and they do provide the appropriate container with a spray top.

  • Jamie King

    I think Americans should consider themselves to be so lucky with returns! In Australia you can’t return used makeup at all. Which is extremely reasonable seeming that its illegal to sell them because of hygiene issues. Also the Sephora in Australia is absolutely horrendous! There’s seriously people still waiting for their Black Friday order to come and the product selection is abysmal. Like seriously, quit complaining, there’s millions of people on Earth worse off than you. Totally agree with returning new makeup and the employees shouldn’t be rude, just everything else.

  • Emily

    I must be super lucky . Or maybe they are nicer in south . I returned just this last wed a Dior foundation I got sat vib sale , it was wrong shade . They let m exchange it fo Correct shade and didn’t say a thing . Didn’t have to pay extra since sale is over either . Retuned a smash box palette about 3 weeks ago . They didn’t say anything . Also returned at Ulta tarte holiday kit I didn’t like and they asked why but didn’t question me much . I used to be afraid to return but now I’ve gotten over it . They have rerun policies . I think it’s fine unless returning stuff all the time .

  • UglyMakeupLover

    Wow, no one’s mentioned this? How nice an employee will be to you is based on your physical appearance! Attractive white people will always be treated better than unattractive Asians. That’s the hierarchy – and everyone else is in between. As an unattractive Asian, I’ve gotten the most horrific service everywhere, even though I’m always super-polite, well-dressed, and in full makeup of the brands the store sells. And then someone else who’s more cold, poorly dressed, and not in makeup gets much better treatment.

    I’m seeing some people here who say they NEVER have any problems returning anywhere, whether drugstore or high-end stores. That’s because you’re attractive, and you have a cool vibe that makes people like you. If you’re unattractive, non-white (especially Asian), and you don’t have any cool vibe that people are immediately perceiving, you’ll be treated much worse for doing stuff much better. It’s an extremely unfair and hurtful world out there.

    I do most of my shopping online because employees are INCREDIBLY nasty to me, though I’m always polite, well-dressed, etc.