Last weekend, Sephora held its biggest event of the year in downtown Los Angeles. It’s called Sephoria, and it’s a massive beauty wonderland, during which hundreds of brands set up interactive and experiential booths for their customers to test, swatch, learn, and explore (and maybe snap a picture for the ‘gram, too). There were also masterclasses taught by some of the best in the beauty biz (I attended those hosted by skincare expert Dr. Barbara Sturm and celeb makeup artist Patrick Ta). Attendees were even able to preview exclusive products and maybe catch a glimpse of a celebrity or two (I, for one, was delighted to see Jeff Goldblum casually milling about near the Fenty Beauty booth).
After spending two days amongst the throngs of beauty buffs, talking, testing, and picture-taking, I picked up a thing or two. Well, 7 things to be exact. Keep scrolling to see the everything I learned at Sephoria, including the type of light that penetrates deeper into the skin than UVA and UVB rays combined, the right way to match your foundation to your skin, and which iconic lipstick really lives up to buzz.
#1 HEV Light Penetrates Deeper Into The Skin Than UVA and UVB Rays Combined
I learned this scary fact during Dr. Barbara Sturm’s masterclass. Sturm is the scientist and skin expert behind some of the most famous faces and treatments in the world (seriously, though. She’s the inventor of the so-called ‘Vampire Facial’). Sturm explained that HEV light, which is also referred to as blue light, can penetrate deeper into the skin than UVA and UVB rays combined. HEV, which stands for high energy visible light, is emitted from electronics such as phones, TVs, and the computer I’m typing on right now (sigh).
The worry is that HEV light, since it penetrates into the deep layers of the skin, will cause damage over time, leading to loss of firmness, wrinkles, and other similar signs of photo-aging caused by UVA and UVB rays. Read more on the science behind it by clicking here.
According to Sturm, your best bet for protecting your skin from the potentially damaging effects of HEV light is to wear sunscreen, limit your time in front of electronics, and use her Anti-Pollution Drops, which protect against environmental pollutants and all wavelengths of damaging light (including HEV light). She also suggested setting your iPhone to night shift when you can, because it corrects the display and emits a warmer, less-blue light.
Let me tell you, I’ll be doing all of these things to protect against potential photo-aging. I’ll also commit to wearing my blue light glasses when I’m working in front of my computer all day. Because, who knows, maybe that will help limit my skin’s absorption of HEV light…
#2 Purslane Is the One Herb You Didn’t Know Your Skin Needed
Here’s another informative gem I learned from Dr. Barbara Sturm. During her masterclass, she expounded upon the virtues of purslane, which is an anti-inflammatory plant that’s naturally rich in omega fatty acids and antioxidants. The former strengthens the skin’s protective barrier. The latter fights free radicals, which can lead to premature aging, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation.
Dr. Sturm recommends buying purslane from your local grocery store or farmer’s market and putting it in a smoothie. If you can’t find purslane in your area, you can reap its myriad skin benefits from taking Sturm’s Skin Food Supplement ($95), which is rich in the ingredient.
#3 Contour Your Face Before Applying Concealer
Here’s one I learned during the Patrick Ta masterclass. Ta, who is the makeup artist to A-listers like Gigi and Bella Hadid, Shay Mitchell, Camila Cabello, Priyanka Chopra, and more, contours before he applies concealer. This is something I’ve never heard of before, but it makes total sense when you think about it.
Contouring the skin before concealer saves you from applying unnecessary makeup where it’s not needed. Since contour is usually only applied in the low, shadowed points of the face, it doesn’t make sense to waste any expensive brightening concealers in those places. Plus, since you’d be blending your contour into virgin skin—not the concealer that sits atop your skin—it ends up looking diffused and natural. By the way, his two favorite contour products are Tom Ford’s Shade and Illuminate ($88) and Benefit’s Hoola Matte Bronzer ($30).
#4 Use Both a Brush and a Beauty Sponge to Blend Your Makeup
Speaking of diffused and natural, Ta is known for creating makeup that looks smooth, uniform, and generally kind of perfect. There are never any harsh lines or unblended bits, and there’s a reason for that. He blends every complexion product twice—first he blends with a standard makeup brush, then he goes over the top with a damp beauty sponge. During the masterclass, he repeated this brush-first-sponge-second process after applying contour, concealer, and blush.
#5 Match Your Foundation to Your Skin By Swatching It Under Your Jaw Bone
I finally learned where to effectively and accurately test foundation shades at the Make Up For Ever booth. One of the lovely makeup artists there matched me to a foundation shade by testing a couple shades of the brand’s Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation ($43) on my neck, right under my jaw bone. When I asked why he was swatching it there, he said it prevents the dreaded ‘floating face’ look, which is when someone’s face doesn’t match their neck, and thus their head looks like a floating orb that’s detached from the rest of their body (not ideal).
He also mentioned that this a place where the sun doesn’t reach the skin, so it’s the truest test of everyone’s natural skin tone—no matter if you’re shade-matching in the winter, spring, summer, or fall. It’s kind of brilliant, right?
#6 Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk Lipstick Really Is That Good
I have to preface this with a confession. Until I entered Charlotte Tilbury’s glamorous Pillow Talk-themed booth at Sephoria, I had never actually tried her iconic and universally-flattering lipstick shade. Cue the collective gasp. Does that make me a bad beauty editor? Maybe, but luckily, that stage of my life is behind me now.
After one swipe, I could see what all the buzz was about. It’s a fully-pigmented matte formula, but it still looks natural and soft on the lips, not cakey. The most impressive part, at least in my humble opinion, is that it didn’t dry out my lips like other matte formulas I’ve tried. It actually felt comfortable—imagine that—, and I ended up wearing it for hours on end without a single second thought. What’s more is that it brought me a few compliments, which is never a bad thing.
#7 Nars Eyeshadow Deserves More Credit Than It Already Gets
It’s no secret that NARS is a quality makeup brand. I mean, there’s a reason so many beauty editors and makeup artists count on it for their makeup needs. While I’ve been a big fan of the brand’s silky, super-pigmented shadows for what feels like forever now, I was unaware how truly stunning the brand’s eye palettes are—specifically, the brand’s new Studio 54-inspired Inferno Palette, which drops on Sephora’s website on September 24.
The color pay-off was insane and the glitter shades made me want to drop everything and paint my face with them immediately. The moral of the story is that you need to try NARS eyeshadow if you haven’t already, because it’s so good.