Sephora Studio: Newbury Street

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Sephora recently announced they are rolling out a new type of store: Sephora Studio.

The Sephora Studio is smaller than a traditional Sephora, less than half the size. The focus is supposed to be on a more curated experience for the customer. There would be custom makeovers with more advanced, digital features.

The first of such stores opened July 21 on Newbury Street in Boston. As a VIB Rouge, I was able to schedule an appointment online for a free 45 minute Custom Makeover for this past weekend (for non-Rouge, requires $50 minimum purchase).

The Studio

Located at 88 Newbury Street, the Sephora Studio is a small shop but not unnoticeable. The center of the studio has a long, double-sided makeover center – it’s clearly the focus of the Studio.

One of the coolest features are the sinks within the makeover center. This makes the 15 minute mini-facials so much easier. I didn’t realize when scheduling, but the Studio also offers a 75 minute Custom Makeover Plus, which is a mini-facial + makeover. The Custom Plus requires a $100 minimum purchase, or is free for VIB Rouge.

All services require an appointment, except the 15 minute mini-makeover.

All of the store employees were from other Sephora locations – no one was hired for the Studio. This means everyone working there should be around the same level, with experience working with customers. I ran into an associate from my regular Sephora, so it was cool to see her!

The Makeover

My appointment was scheduled for 1:00 PM, but my friend and I were running a bit late because we were having lunch at Bistro du Midi (yum). I called the Studio to let them know I was running late, and they said they’d try to be as accommodating as possible.

When we arrived, I met Cat, who would be my artist for the day. Since we were a little short on time, she asked my main makeup goals for the visit. I simply wanted to see how someone else would do my makeup (especially eyes), so that I could pick up any tips and tricks I’ve never thought about.

I think she was happy to hear I wanted to give her free rein, but she didn’t quite push anything too out of the box. She also explained everything that she was doing and why – not necessary for me, but helpful for beginners.

After a base of It Cosmetics CC Cream, Cat worked on my eyes. She used the new Marc Jacobs Scandalust eyeshadow palette, which has a beautiful mix of warm neutrals with a pop of red. I honestly didn’t like how she was applying the shadow at the time. The lighting in the store was just so unflattering.

She applied liquid liner (Kat Von D Trooper), but, with the store so busy, it didn’t go very well.

For mascara, she used Urban Decay Perversion, and then used Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz on my brows. Once my brows were filled in, I felt a little bit better about the look. Still, I was glad I didn’t have an event or anything important going on after the makeover.

My favorite product she applied was the Hourglass Bronzer in Luminous Bronze Light. I was shocked I liked it so much on me! I will have to pick it up at some point, it was so subtle and glowy.

The Digital Extras

The makeover itself wasn’t much different than a typical Sephora makeover. She used the Color-IQ tool, which never figures out my skin tone.

We took a before and after photo, which was emailed to me after the makeover. The photos were horrible though. The lighting in there was just so bad. She also left a note though, so that would be helpful for the artist to leave tips or other important information.

In addition to the photos, the email contained (most of) the products she used on me. Apparently, Cat had been scanning each product as she used it on me. She said she was able to even break down the eyeshadow application to show where each shade was applied, though she didn’t do that for me.

The Shopper’s Experience

After the makeover, I did a quick sweep of the store. I thought there was a good amount of brands and products, but they clearly didn’t have everything.

I had brought my friend Vanessa with me to go shopping for the day. She browsed the store and found a few products she was interested in. There’s no actual checkout counter though. We had to find an associate on the floor who had a mobile device for checking out. I could see this being a bit chaotic during busy times.

Vanessa received a cute tote with her purchase too! I behaved and didn’t buy anything 🙂


Overall, I’m kind of torn on the Sephora Studio. I like the idea, but I think I can do my own makeup better than the makeover I had. Perhaps this is better for beginners who want to learn more about makeup application and find products tailored for their skin tone/type. I felt bad bringing Vanessa along because there was no room for her to hang out near the makeover station.

I would like to go back for the Custom Plus Makeover, which would give an even more full experience of the Studio. I won’t be a regular though.

Have you heard about the new Sephora Studio?

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