8 Reasons to Spend That Gift Card on the Store Brand

I know a lot of Sephora and Bluemercury gift cards made it into stockings this year.
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I know a lot of Sephora and Bluemercury gift cards made it into stockings this year.

When I was a kid, buying store-brand stuff was something we had to do because we weren’t rich, not something we did out of choice. I’ll never forget some long-ago, hooting-and-hollering conversation about how my grandpa even purchased the "no-frills" ammonia. 

Today in beauty, that’s usually not the case, with some store brands competing against top brands for dominance in the market — even within their own stores.

Two places where it’s so easy to spend a holiday gift card on some of the top brands in beauty are Bluemercury and Sephora. I can get lost in both even though they’re super different. I know a lot Sephora and Bluemercury gift cards made it into stockings this year, so here are 8 products that make great reasons to spend those gift-card dollars on the in-house brand.

Bluemercury is a boutique-y beauty shop where you can find everything from small European soap brands to Molton Brown and NARS — but don’t pass over their own m-61 skincare line!

I have been really impressed with most of the things I have tried from m-61, but the superstars are their Brilliant Cleanse and Fast Blast

With Brilliant Cleanse, you get a huge bottle of AHA/BHA cleanser that is perfect for night use. This cleanser has salicylic, lactic, malic, and glycolic acids to fight acne and clear dead skin from the surface. I really love it, and the travel-size bottle itself lasts months, so the big one has you covered for an extra-long time.

Fast Blast is a mondo-value product that I can’t live without. After a shower, to preserve body moisture, the first thing I do is attack with lotions and oils, but I’m really paranoid of getting these products on my face or having my face dry out before getting my routine on. Since it takes too long to run the facial breakdown before body, I like to slap on this vitamin C mask during that lotion-y, oil-y downtime. Then I wash off my hands, the mask, and go about my normal routine. 

This is another huge bottle that will last a really long time, giving me the vitamin C daytime treatment that I need.

I’m never disappointed to get some Sephora dollars in my stocking. Maybe in past years I would have found a single expensive item to drop that card on, but lately I don’t bother when you can get a massive haul instead from Sephora's own brand pickings.

Sephora Collection makeup has come sooooo far. Within months of new product launches from other top brands, they have their own version on shelves. Right now, I am super feeling their Perfect Mist Airbrush Foundation and Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer. They’re both mixable and didn’t break me out — my two most important criteria — and they come in way more shades than most brands, which is a major plus. 

So cute, so tiny, ready to roll in my carry-on!

So cute, so tiny, ready to roll in my carry-on!

I like to swing past a Sephora before any traveling because there’s usually something I'm overlooking. Last time I went to San Francisco, I straight left my makeup bag at home — poop. 

Firmly planted in my travel bag: this tiny Black Magic Makeup Removal Cloth and Things Are Looking Up Lash Curler. I use it to take off makeup and allow it to dry overnight. Even better is Sephora’s portable eyelash curler. Before I got down with my bae Tarte lash curler, this was my go-to. For such a tiny tool, it works gorgeously and is my BFF for traveling and saving space.

Sephora Collection Color Lip Last and Cream Lip Stain 

Sephora Collection Color Lip Last and Cream Lip Stain 

My two favorite lipstick formulas ever are both from Sephora Collection. Cream Lip Stain is the stuff of legend, staying on sometimes until the next morning back in the days when I was a naughty stay-out who never washed off her makeup. 

Their second formula on my fav list is the Color Lip Last. Great shade selection, easy to apply, stays on very well, and it's a creamy, balanced matte. I rotate colors all the time, digging their reds and flamingo pinks lately.

Gift cards are sometimes turn out to be better than someone picking out something for you. I feel like you have to know someone really well to pick out beauty items for them unless its explicitly spelled out. And as much as I love me some Dior lipstick or Belif skincare, I love filling a bag with stuff from the store brand more than I like walking away with one thing for my gift card money!

  • What's your favorite store-brand beauty product?
  • Where did you get a gift card this year?

Graphic/Photos: Maria Penaloza