Like most people, I signed up for Sephora‘s Beauty Insider Program for the free birthday gift. What I didn’t know at first was that this rewards program has levels, which don’t even matter. You really don’t need to be a Sephora VIB or Rouge Beauty Insider to get the most out of the program. I’ll show you why.
There are benefits to the upper tiers of Sephora’s program, but you’d have to buy a ridiculous amount of beauty products to make it worth the spend. Read on for more…
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1. All you need is to be a Sephora Beauty Insider…for free!
The most exciting Sephora Beauty Insider benefits don’t require a minimum spend. As a basic Beauty Insider, you’ll get access to special sales, end-of-year gift credit, and Sephora’s free birthday gift.
To achieve ‘Very Important Beauty Insider’ (VIB) status, you have to spend $350 within a year. For Rouge, the minimum spend is $1,000. You get all these things at VIB and Rouge status, too, with marginally increased benefits. The benefits aren’t worth the minimum spend, though. We’ll get into that math in a minute.
2. Everyone gets a free Sephora birthday gift, regardless of status.
In 2021, Sephora made it so anyone who signed up for their Beauty Insider program could get their pick of any Sephora birthday gift. It used to depend on your status, but not anymore! You can pick between:
- NARS Cosmetics birthday set. Includes bronzing powder and Afterglow lip balm in Laguna.
- Laneige birthday set. Includes mini lip sleeping mask, mini water sleeping mask, and mini water bank moisture cream.
- Moroccanoil birthday set. Includes mini hydrating styling cream, mini Moroccanoil treatment, and mini night body serum.
- Kérastase birthday set. Includes mini nutritive shampoo and conditioner. This set is an online exclusive and isn’t available in stores.
PRO TIP: Score a free Ulta birthday gift while you’re celebrating, too!
3. All Beauty Insider levels earn one point for every dollar spent.
On standard, everyday purchases, you’ll earn one Beauty Insider point for every dollar you spend.
VIB- and Rouge-level Sephora Beauty Insiders used to earn 25 – 50% more on every dollar spent, but the policy changed in 2020. Now it’s one point for every dollar for everyone, unless you’re participating in a special event or sale.
4. Sephora VIB and Rouge status get slightly better sales — but it’s not worth the spend.
During Sephora’s semi-annual sales, Beauty Insiders get slightly greater percentages off, depending on their status. Those with higher statuses also have longer access to the sales.
- Rouge members get 20% off during the first window of the sale, which can range anywhere from a few days to a week. They continue to get 20% off through the duration of the sale.
- VIBs get 15% off during the following phase of the sale.
- During the final days of the sale basic level Beauty Insiders get 10% off.
You can use this percentage off on almost anything in the store, though there are some exceptions and limitations. For example, you can only get the sale discount on one dyson product per order. You can get around this restriction by breaking up your order into multiple, separate purchases, with one dyson product in each.
It’s great to get an additional 5 – 10% off, but that’s not going to make up for the $350 or $1,000 spend in the vast majority of cases.
PRO TIP: The timing of the semi-annual sales change every year, but they usually happen in April/May (spring) and October/November (fall).
5. Earn extra points at Sephora Point Multiplier Events.
Twice a year, Sephora hosts Point Multiplier Events. You need to use an event-specific coupon code to get the point multiplier. During these events:
- Beauty Insiders get 2x points on select purchases
- VIBs earn 3x points
- Rouge members earn 4x points.
While you should definitely take advantage of Point Multiplier Events, they’re not a great substitution for Sephora’s old program, where VIBs and Rouge members earned more points on every dollar spent, all year-round. Now, you can only earn increased points during these brief events, and only on select products.
PRO TIP: If you earn your points at a Point Multiplier Event, your redemption rates in the Rewards Bazaar or for Beauty Insider Cash will go also up. For example, if you only spend $50 to earn 100 points as a basic Beauty Insider, your redemption rate would be 4% rather than the usual 2% on Beauty Insider Cash. The redemption rate would increase to 6% for VIBs who earned their points at Point Multiplier Events, and 8% for those with Sephora Rouge status.
6. Hit Sephora VIB or Rouge status early in the year to reap the most benefits.
Once you spend $350 or $1,000 to become a VIB or Rouge member respectively, you keep that status for the rest of the current year and the following year.
So if you become a VIB within the first month of 2022, you’ll keep that status until the end of 2023. Even if you don’t spend a dime in 2023. But if you earn VIB or Rouge at the end of 2022, you’ll still only keep your status until the end of 2023. This means you have less opportunities to earn points and take advantage of larger sales.
7. Sephora points don’t expire — unless you go 12 months without shopping.
Sephora points used to expire after 18 months, but Sephora changed this policy in April 2020. Now they expire after 12 months without any activity. Earning points through purchases counts as activity, as does redeeming points in any capacity.
8. Find the biggest bang for your buck when you redeem Beauty Insider points in the Rewards Bazaar.
In Sephora’s Rewards Bazaar, you’ll find mini versions of popular products. This is where you’ll get the best deals per point in Sephora’s Beauty Insider program. But note how spending more money to earn rewards doesn’t give you more value:
- If you spent $100 to earn 100 Beauty Insider rewards points, your return on investment would come out to almost 7.7%. For example, in mid 2021, Sephora had a mini version of Smashbox’s Photo Finish Primer available in the Rewards Bazaar for 100 Beauty Insider Points. The regular price was $30.95 per ounce. The reward size was $0.25 per ounce, making its cash value $7.65.
- If you spent $250 to earn the 250 Beauty Insider rewards points, your return on investment would come out to 8.5%. During the same time period, Sephora offered a mini version of Glow Recipe’s Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask and Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Serum for 250 Beauty Insider Points. The 0.17 ounce reward-size of the eye mask had a cash value of $14.28. The 0.17 ounce reward-size serum had a cash value of $7.14. Altogether, this reward would be $21.42.
The difference in return on investment for $150 more dollars spent: less than 1%. Womp. But hey, if you’re gonna spend the money anyway, collect your free stuff. But spending more to get more is definitely not an incentive at Sephora.
PRO TIP: Don’t mistake everything in Sephora’s Rewards Bazaar for a good deal. In mid 2021, Sephora was offering a reward-sized version of Living Proof’s Curl Shampoo and Conditioner. They were 1.0 ounces each, and cost 250 Beauty Insider reward points. The reward was worth $4.92 total, for a total point redemption rate of only 2%.
9. You can now exchange Sephora points for Beauty Insider Cash — but the redemption rate isn’t great.
In 2020, Sephora introduced Beauty Insider Cash, which, for the first time ever, allowed all Beauty Insider members to exchange their points for cash off purchases rather than using points to shop for select products in the Rewards Bazaar.
The Rewards Bazaar is still almost always a better deal. But maybe you’re not overly concerned with getting the best deal if it means building up a collection of mini beauty items you may or may not like. Maybe you’d rather just save money on full-size beauty products you already know, love, and were planning on buying anyways. In this case, Beauty Insider Cash gives you more flexibility.
Every 500 points earned qualifies members for $10 off purchases — essentially a 2% cash back offer. Rouge Insiders who save up 2,500 points will get $100 off a purchase, which is basically a 4% cash back offer.
This isn’t a jaw-dropping deal. To earn 2,500 points, you would need to spend $2,500 on makeup, and/or buy an unreasonable amount of product at Point Multiplier Events!
10. Load up on free samples with Sephora Rouge status, but it’s not worth your minimum spend.
Sephora Rouge status shoppers can use their free shipping to load up on extra free samples without any extra costs. Two free samples come with every order, so breaking up your order into multiple shipments helps you get multiple free samples. Whether or not those samples are worth the $1,000 spend is another question altogether. In June of 2021, for example, Sephora was offering 0.05 ounce samples of Bulgari Eau de Parfum Au The Blanc. The total value of this sample size was $4.16 if you got two.
But not every sample is worth even that much. In June of 2021, Sephora was offering a sample of POREfessionals Pore Minimizing Primer. This sample was only worth $0.72.
Is it nice to get free samples, especially when they are high value? Absolutely yes. But is it worth spending $1,000 on product to get even more of them? Noooo.
PRO TIP: Remember that splitting your orders up means they won’t be packaged as efficiently. You may or may not decide that the environmental costs of inefficient shipping aren’t worth the perks of maximizing free sample policies.
11. Sephora Rouge and VIB status give you free shipping.
If you have Sephora Rouge status, all of your orders will qualify for free shipping. VIBs get free shipping on orders of $35 or more. Sephora Beauty Insiders and the rest of the general public get free shipping on orders $50 and over. Standard shipping is $6.50.
- So, if you spent $350 to reach VIB status, you’d have to make 54 orders between $35 to $49.99 in order make up for your $350 spent! (And you’d be spending a minimum of $1890 so you’d get to Rouge status halfway through, anyway.) Again, this isn’t any kind of incentive. If you happen to spend $350 and get VIB, good on ya. But don’t go out of your way.
- If you spent $1,000 to reach Rouge status, you would need to place 100 additional orders valued at less than $35 to make up your spend in shipping . And by then Sephora should probably just give you stock in the company.
The shipping benefit is a “nice” feature, but it’s not any kind of reason to earn top tier in the program.
PRO TIP: Wondering how long Sephora takes to ship? Standard shipping takes three business days. If you need your order shipped even faster, you can pay $15 to upgrade to Flash Shipping. Flash Shipping gives you access to one- to two-day shipping on all of your orders for 12 months.
12. VIB and Rouge shipping benefits have been a moot point during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, Sephora has been handing out free shipping promo codes like candy. This removes any remaining significance from the free shipping benefit for VIB and Rouge members.
Will the surplus shipping codes be restricted again if circumstances around consumer shopping habits revert to pre-pandemic norms? Your guess is as good as mine.
13. Get marginally more end-of-the-year credit with Sephora VIB or Rouge status.
At the end of every year, Beauty Insiders are rewarded with Dollar Savings Offers. These offers are essentially credits you can use to purchase beauty products at Sephora, but they do come with a minimum spend.
Sephora can technically change the details of this benefit from year to year, but in 2020 Basic Beauty Insiders received a $15 credit applicable to purchases $75 and up. VIB and Rouge members got more with the same minimum spend. Sephora VIBs received a $20 credit, while Rouge members got $25.
While it’s nice to get an extra $5 to $10 in credits due to your VIB or Rouge status, the benefit isn’t large enough to justify reaching for the $350 or $1,000 minimum spend — again, unless that was money you were going to spend anyways.
I’m wondering if any of you are members who have reached VIB or Rouge Status and can clue us in on any benefits I’ve missed? Drop a comment and let us know!