Sephora is like a candy store for grown women like me. The smell of perfume lures me in, and before I know it, I have a basketful of cosmetics, shampoo and nail polish. Unfortunately Sephora can be pricy, especially if you, like me, are an impulse buyer. To keep my costs down, I enrolled in Sephora's Beauty Insider Program. Membership is completely free, and the rewards are plentiful.

Sign up

Sign up for the Beauty Insider Program at your local Sephora store—just ask any store associate to help you out. If you'd rather fill out the application in the comfort of your own home, you can sign up online here.

Earn rewards

Flash your card (or log in to your account if you’re shopping on the website) whenever you shop at a Sephora store and you'll have access to all of the reward program benefits. My favorite part is that you can even use the Beauty Insider card at Sephora stores located inside JCPenney’s! As a member, you'll receive one point for every dollar that you spend at Sephora. When you get at least 100 points, you'll be able to select a Beauty Insider deluxe sample (items like Benefit Cosmetics’ They're Real! Mascara and NARS lip gloss). At 500 points you can redeem your points on limited-edition beauty sets (like a Living Proof haircare set). As a Beauty Insider, you'll also receive invitations to special Sephora events, free in-store beauty classes, and access to limited edition products that aren't available to the general public.

Keep track of your rewards

One of the best parts of the Beauty Insider program is that your points never expire. To keep track of your points, you'll have to create an account on Sephora.com. Log in, and you'll be able to see your current rewards, how many points until your next reward, and previous purchases.

Use your rewards

Once you've accumulated at least 100 points, you can pick a sample in-store (at my local Sephora the samples are proudly displayed in a plastic case by the registers). If you shop online, you’ll be prompted to select a reward when you qualify for one. Just put a check mark in the box for the reward you want to receive and it will be added to your basket.

Other ways to use your rewards card

Keep your eyes open for special sales and promotions to earn extra points. For example, Sephora is currently offering 3x the points when you buy selected fragrances. Sephora will also recommend certain products to you based off of your beauty profile. Complete your profile here.

Receive a birthday gift

Besides earning points, all Beauty Insider cardholders will receive a free gift from Sephora on their birthday. I got an email for a free, full-sized Philosophy Vanilla Birthday Cake shampoo for my birthday. Head to your local store and show your rewards card to get your gift. You can also add it to your basket during the checkout process if you’re shopping online (the gift will automatically be offered to you if it's at least 14 days before or after your birthday.)

Get VIB status

The more you shop with your Beauty Insider card, the more you will be rewarded. If you spend at least $350 in one year, your membership will be upgraded to a Very Important Beauty Insider (VIB). As a VIB you'll have access to exclusive products, VIB gifts and private VIB shopping events. If you spend at least $1,000 per year at Sephora, your status will elevate to VIB Rouge. In addition to the same VIB benefits, you'll get free shipping on all orders, surprise gifts, and invites to VIB Rouge-only special events.