Best of the Best Sephora Sale Skincare Picks

Let's get to it, here are my overall skincare recommendations for the Sephora sale. The best of the best. I've probably talked about some of these products a dozen times over but that's when you know it's love, right?

Also, I didn't include any sets in this post because I will dedicate the next post to those!

First Cleansers

The holy grail: Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm

$29.50 for 3.38 oz

This was the first cleansing balm I ever bought and it's still my favorite. It's simple, effective, and not badly priced. It removes all traces of waterproof makeup without stripping my skin or irritating my eyes. And it doesn't leave a film. And it's free of fragrance and mineral oil.

Mid-tier priced: Farmacy Green Clean

$34.00 for 3.2 oz

After TTDO, this is my second favorite cleansing balm from Sephora. It is a bit pricier but it's worth it for the experience. It has a delicious, slightly sweet scent. Like the Clinique, it removes all my makeup well, rinses off easily, leaves no film, and doesn't strip my skin. Also, it comes with a spatula!

Treat yo self splurges: Sunday Riley Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm + Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm + Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil

Sunday Riley: $50.00 for 3.5 ozOmorovicza: $110.00 for 1.7 oz, & Tatcha: $48.00 for 5.1 oz

None of these are necessary, but they are lovely for if you're looking to treat yo self.

Sunday Riley's balm cleanser has a gentle grit to it. I love using it in the shower as a gentle physical exfoliator + hydrating mask. Omorovicza's cleansing balm is bougie AF but makes you feel like you're in a fancy Hungarian spa. Again, I also use it as a mask, usually when my skin is congested. It comes with a mini cleansing mit that gently rubs away dead skin. Last but not least, Tatcha's cleansing oil! It would pretty much be my dream cleansing oil if it didn't irritate my eyes (they're very sensitive and most oils irritate them.) It's thicker, easy to spread, doesn't drip down my hands, and emulsifies easily. Plus it comes with a pump and lid making it easy to use and travel with.

Second Cleanser

My holy grail used to be Indie Lee's Rosehip cleanser. Sadly they reformulated it this year and I heard it's just not the same. Thankfully I have a backup favorite! Also, I reviewed some other cleansers released this year in my Cleanserpalooza posts I and II (like the Farmacy honey bee and Drunk Elephant Beste.)

The (backup) holy grail: Youth to the People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser

$36.00 for 8 oz.

I love everything about this cleanser. The initial texture is a thick gel that's not too runny. It gently foams up, doesn't strip my skin, and doesn't leave a film. I know ingredients aren't super important for cleansers because they're only on your skin for a minute, but it doesn't hurt that this has a bunch of skin-loving plant extracts. You also get a whopping 8 fl. oz which is very generously sized for a cleanser.

Feelin' extra: Tata Harper Clarifying Cleanser

$68.00 for 4.1 oz.

At this price tag I woud not call this cleanser a necessity, but a nice addition to my skincare shelfie. I talked about it in my last Cleanserpalooza post as well as my Summer Beauty Favorites post so I won't get into it again.


Who doesn't love a good masking session? I admit to having way more masks than any one person needs. There are a lot of masks I like, but these are 3 that I LOVE.

Youth to the People Superfood Skin Reset Antioxidant Mask

$44.00 for 2 oz.

This is hands down the best clay mask for dry skin that I've tried. I bought it during last year's VIB sale and I'm sad it's almost gone. The fact that I'm using it more than a year later is also an amazing feat! Most clay masks dry up within 6 months (even when they claim to have a 8 to 12 month shelf life.)

I love this mask because it does clarify my skin like a clay mask should, but it doesn't dry me out like most other clay masks. I can wear this mask comfortably for 20 to 30 minutes and there's still moisture left in my skin when I wash it off. I can't think of any other clay mask that delivers such results!

Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask

$55.00 for 2 oz.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to recommend this because a) it's recently been embroiled in scandal and b) I don't actually use this as a mask, but rather as a spot treatment. If you use this on a pimple for a few hours, it DECIMATES that bugger to skincare hell. I like using it overnight, but I know that doesn't work for everyone so make sure to try it for shorter periods of time first!

My only wish is they would come out with a mini because I don't need the whole tube!

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

$62.00 for 1 oz.

If you're looking for gentle but effective chemical exfoliation, this is the mask for you. It reminds me a lot of the Kypris Glow Philtre mask (which I also love) but about $20 less. It's still very pricey but depending on how often you use it, it lasts forever.

Because it is so gentle and balanced with plenty of nourishing ingredients (ferments galore), I can use it within the same week I use other acids (ie maybe I'll use an exfoliating toner on Monday and use this mask on Wednesday.) I can't say the same for many other exfoliating masks.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C Sukari Babyfacial Mini

$28.00 for 0.5 oz

I'm specifically mentioning the mini because I don't think most people need the full-size. If you're a regular user of acids, you do not (and probably should not) use this on a weekly basis in fear of overexfoliation. I use this once a month, if even. I mostly only use it when I've been lazy with my skincare and haven't been exfoliating for a week or more.

The first few times I used this last year, my results were pretty inconsistent. But this year when I tried it again, I had better results. I still think the Ordinary's peel is better (and much, much cheaper) but DE's is easier to use and apply, and let's be real, way cuter to look at.

Unfortunately, they only sell the minis during the holidays. So grab it while you can! (If you want, no pressure here lol.)


No matter how many acids I try, I seem to come back to the same few. I guess that speaks to their quality!

AHA: Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment + Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum + First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads 

Sunday Riley: $105.00 for 1.0 oz.Drunk Elephant: $90.00 for 1.0 oz, & First Aid Beauty: $30.00 for 60 pads

Good genes has been my ride or die for two years. It's stupid expensive and kind of smells, but it delivers results so I keep coming back to it. My skin is brighter, smoother, and overall more even when I use this consistently. Even if I use it once, I see results overnight.

Drunk Elephant's serum comes in as a close second. I prefer Good Genes because my skin prefers lactic acid but the two serums are quite similar in their results. I also like that both serums are balancing with hydrating and calming ingredients to counteract the exfoliators.

One of my skincare pet peeves is when people say "why buy gg/ tlc when the ordinary's lactic acid serum is the exact same thing?" Because it's not the exact same thing, Karen. I totally understand that gg and tlc are luxury items that not everyone can afford, and that's totally cool. The ordinary works to offer an affordable alternative, but it's just that, an alternative. It's not an exact dupe. The ordinary's serum doesn't have any additional ingredients that help counteract the irritation that often comes from using intense AHA's. Also, the texture is so different and is more difficult to absorb. Rant over.

First Aid Beauty's pads are different from the first two as they're much gentler. They're basically a toner in pad form. But if you've never tried acids before and are looking for an intro product, I think these are a gentle but still effective option. You can also cut them in half to get more bang for your buck!

Vit C: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum + Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

Dr Dennis Gross: $78.00 for 1.0 oz. & Drunk Elephant: $80.00 for 1.0 oz.

Vitamin C has been a lifesaver for my acne scarring. I've already reviewed these two so I'll just link the posts here-- Dr. Dennis Gross C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum review and Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum review.


Generally, I prefer Korean and Japanese toners and Sephora does carry one of the best ones around for the 7 skin method! Plus there is one traditional American toner I love and have repurchased countless times! Bonus: it's also on the affordable side.

K-beauty favorite: Laneige Fresh Calming Toner

$27.00 for 250 mL

This is a relatively new release thus making it a relatively new favorite, but I think it deserves its spot on the list. It's an incredibly lightweight toner with a simple ingredients list. It's glycerin free making it very easy to layer (aka perfect for the 7 skin method.) I can slap a few layers of this onto my skin within a few minutes and get tons of hydration with 0 tackiness!

Underrated favorite: Kiehls Ultra Facial Toner

$16.00 for 250 mL

I don't know why nobody talks about this toner; it's so good! Again, like the Laneige, it has an incredibly simply INCI. While I like the Laneige for layering, I use this toner more in the classic western sense. After cleansing or using a mask, I'll apply this on a cotton pad and swipe it on my face. It helps calm and hydrate my skin, and also removes any leftover residue on my face.

Essences + Mists

Tbh, I don't think Sephora has the most impressive selection of essences and mists. I've tried quite a few from their selection and generally think Korean brands do it better and cheaper. But of course, there are still a few favorites you can find at Sephora and what do you know-- they're all by Korean brands!

Underrated favorite: Belif The True Tincture Essence - Chamomile

$46.00 for 2.53 oz

So yes, this is pricey for the amount you get. But it lasts a long time because a layer or two of it at a time is sufficient. I think this sadly gets looked over by Belif's best-selling moisturizers and new releases. And it's a shame cause this has a fabulous ingredients list-- chamomile, beta-glucan, panthenol, centella asiatica, α-bisabolol, and so much more.

When I overexfoliated my skin this summer, this was one of my saviors. It's calming and hydrating ingredients helped keep my skin balanced when I wasn't using any acids.

Bougie: AmorePacific Vintage Single Extract Essence

$145.00 for 4.05 oz

This is stupid expensive but it's also stupid good. I reviewed it in my Spring beauty favorites and I still love it just as much. At the time I was unsure if I would repurchase. Well, my bottle is becoming increasingly emptier and I'm leaning towards yes...

Surprise Hit: Saturday Skin

$34.00 for 4.39 oz

I reviewed this in last year's Saturday Skin brand overview-- so you can check that out there. It's a surprise hit because I really like it depsite the fact that it has a high alcohol content (which I usually find drying.)


Sephora has a LOT of serums, but I think a LOT are overpriced for their ingredients and results. They have some of the best exfoliating serums on the market (see actives above) but when it comes to hydrating and brightening serums, I think Korean + green beauty brands have more interesting offerings. But nevertheless, I do have one favorite and a few honorable mentions!

Underrated Favorite: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum

$36.00 for 1.0 oz

Yet another product that flies under the radar! This serum is spectacular-- it's free of EOs and fragrance and silicones and alcohol and mineral oil (not that any of those things are universally bad, but they can cause some problems for me.) It comes with an airless pump and is packed full of hydrating ingredients as well as some peptides to boot.

It truly delivers on its hydrating claims and never ever pills.

Honorable Mentions

I also have a few honorable mentions for products that have recently been reformulated. I have used up and enjoyed their older versions, but haven't tried the new versions just yet. But bloggers I trust recommend them so that's why they're getting an honorable mention-- Drunk Elephant B Hydra, Dr. Roebuck's Tassie, and Dr. Jart+'s Ceramidin Liquid.


While the last few categories were lacking, I had a trouble narrowing this category down. I tried my best but there's still a lot!

Lightweight Hydrator: Superfood Air-Whip Hyaluronic Acid Moisture Cream

$48.00 for 2.0 oz

I’m not usually a gel person because most of the them are too silicone and lightweight for my tastes. But this is the exception. It’s alcohol free, silicone free, fragrance free, EO free, and just all around delicious. It’s hydrating enough for my skin in the summer and wears beautifully with oils and sunscreens.

Moisturizers for Transitional Weather: Herbivore Pink Cloud Rosewater Moisture Crème, Farmacy Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer, Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream

Herbivore: $48.00 for 1.7 oz, Farmacy: $45.00 for 1.7 fl oz, & Youth to the People: $58.00 for 2.0 oz

These are my go-to moisturizers for spring and fall. They’re not too light, not too heavy. They absorb well and keep my skin hydrated all day long. I would recommend the Farmacy over the Herbivore. First, the Farmacy has superior packaging-- the lid is magnetic so you'll never lose the spatula it comes with. And second, I have heard some people having problems with the Herbivore's shelf life (ie getting mold a few months down the line.) I did not have this issue personally but I do think it's something worth mentioning.

Also I wrote a whole blog post about Farmacy Honey Drop last year if you're interested.

The Youth to the People is a bit thicker than the other two, but still incredibly versatile. I used it almost every night this summer and am scraping the last bits from the jar in the morning as the temperature has gotten colder and colder.

Winter Heavy Hitters That Don't Actually Feel Heavy: Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb, Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream

Belif: $38.00 for oz & Dr. Jart+: $48.00 for 1.69 oz

Both of these are moisturizers I've been using for a few years now. And both of them are Korean and cult classics!

The Belif has the lighter texture of the two, but it still delivers a ton of moisturizing power. I like that I can wear it comfortably under sunscreen and with oils. It absorbs quickly into my skin, in fact, in winter my skin just drinks it up! I've gone through so many minis and each time it grows on me.

I've talked about the Dr.Jart+ so many times through the years because I love it so. Last year I wrote a review comparing it to another ceramide cream I also love... although the Dr. Jart+ is still the winner!


The two oils I’d recommend are ones I used last winter too! While I’ve tried a few more oils from Sephora since then, I still think these ones are better.

Oil Blend for Dry Skin: Herbivore Botanicals Phoenix

$88.00 for 1.7 oz
This was the first oil blend I truly fell in love with. I was afraid it would be too oily or greasy for my skin, but it absorbs readily in the winter. In the summer, with the humidity, I think it's a bit much. But in the winter? Perfect. I had some stubborn dry flaky patches on my face last winter, and this oil was the solution.

It's got rosehip oil, sea buckthorn oil, coq10-- all skin nourishing ingredients. Bonus, it also doesn't trigger my acne! It's free of fragrance but it does have Neroli oil, which can be irritating if you're sensitive to essential oils. I personally am not irritated by it nor do I find the scent to be very strong.

Squalane: Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil

$32.00 for 1.0 oz
If you know me, you know I love me some squalane. You can read my blog post from last year all about squalane oil here! I also compared it to a few other brands' squalane oils-- some pricier and some more affordable.

Eye Cream

Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb

$48.00 for 0.84 fl oz

This was the first eye cream I ever used regularly and finished. My main concerns for an eye cream are: does it hydrate all day and night long? Does it give me milia? And does it sting my eyes? The answers are yes, no, and no.

An added bonus is that it wears nicely under concealer. I'm not bit on under eye concealer, but if I am wearing it I'll prep my eyes with this eye cream. I'm currently using Belif's other peat eye cream and I can't wait to finish it up so I can come back to the moisturizing bomb, which is more fitted towards my needs. If you have more mature skin, the peat might be a better option as its thicker and offers additional benefits beyond hydration.

Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

$29.00 for 0.5 oz

I wasn't sure what to make of this eye cream at first because it has an unique texture. But I've really been liking it as an overnight eye cream! When I use this, I never wake up with dry, crusty eyes. The only weird thing about this eye cream is that you can't apply it on wet skin, because then it just slips off my skin.

Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream

$46.00 for 1.01 oz
If you're looking for a simple, hydrating eye cream that absorbs almost instantly (with cute packaging as a bonus) this is your product. It's quite siliconey so it does help smooth over lines. I haven't noticed it deliver on any brightening claims but then again, my under eyes aren't particularly dark.


Let me just take a second to bitch about the fact that Sephora includes foundations and tinted moisturizers under their sunscreen section. THOSE DO NOT PROVIDE ADEQUATE SUN PROTECTION. Rant over.

If you know me, you'll know that sunscreen is yet another category where I much prefer Korean/ Japanese options. They're cheaper and more elegantly formulated. What's not to love? There is one sunscreen I love at Sephora but it's expensive AF and not something I use all the time.

The Not-Actually-Japanese Option: Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35 PA+++

$64.00 for 2 oz

This is one of few sunscreens that I think are worth the splurge. This has a pretty siliconey texture but it doesn't break me out, dry me out, or make me excessively oily. It subtley blurs my pores, better than their silk canvas primer actually. I think that's what makes this sunscreen worth the pricetag to me-- the pore blurring effect.

It doesn't leave a white cast on my skintone but if you do have a deep skintone and apply a generous amount of sunscreen, I think this could give you slight ghosty vibes.


This post took a lot longer to write than expected. On the plus side, I seem to be getting better at writing these Sephora sale posts as the years go on. Hopefully later this week I'll have another post about the holiday gift sets! I was going to share an anti-haul as well, but I think I'll save that for Instagram stories. Happy shopping!

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