Monday, December 29, 2008

Donating Beauty Products to the Homeless

Guest blog written by Erin Brumleve

We all love Sephora. Most of us love Las Vegas. For those passionate souls that feel fondly toward both of the aforementioned playgrounds, the fervor upon entering the Las Vegas Sephora at the Planet Hollywood shops can be a bit overwhelming.

I certainly love Sephora. The feeling I have when I enter the store is akin to being on the threshold of promise. Promises of beauty, of clear, matte skin...sigh. I am the wide-eyed little girl back at the bulk candy store with the five dollars my parents just gave me. My heart pounds...I am here on a mission!

The orderly aisles, all of the fabulous promise-holding products, so gorgeously illuminated by the multiple full-spectrum light sources. My goodness! Are there really that many different colors of lipgloss? I didn't know shampoo came in a powder! Sigh...Sephora in Las Vegas. I feel a bit woozy.

My mission in the Las Vegas Sephora is to find a primer that is reasonably priced and that I can purchase anonymously at the time of my choosing. You see, I am a therapist. My persona is supportive of others, nearly to a fault, and my Mary Kay lady senses this. Her tone is simultaneously friendly and guilt-inducing when she calls.

So far, I have used my assertiveness training and resisted the urge to buy Time Wise Cellushape Nighttime Body Gel. However, Mary Kay lady is doggedly persistent; she is working on our relationship and is calling me "hon", sending me cards on my birthday, all the while pointing out my myriad of beauty troubles that should be appropriately soothed with her wares. If this keeps up, I will be up to my ears in Mary Kay products in a very short while. I picture her on the other end of the phone, her T-zone so perfectly shineless, beginning to crinkle, as I tell her, "No thanks. I'll just take three tubes of the Oil Mattifier."

"Erin! Focus on your mission!" The clear, bright voice and laugh snaps me to the present. The voice is that of my friend and mentor, Gini, who I have met in Vegas, along with our husbands. Luckily, I have Gini's laser-like focus to guide me today in the labyrinth of delectable make-up delights.

After combing the aisles on the quest for the perfect primer, I decide on Sephora Base Zero Brilliance Anti-Shine Primer. It's a good value, less expensive than Mary Kay, and you get more of it minus the Mary Kay stalker, um, lady. We purchase our products. Strangely, Sephora Nourishing Cuticle Oil and two lipglosses have also ended up in my basket, so I buy them too.

It's hot and I'm already nursing a hangover from the night before so I am glad when Gini and I decide to take a break from our shopping excursion to have lunch. We share a yummy pizza and each have a few glasses of wine. We talk. I am warm and fuzzy from the Sephora excursion, accompanying Gini to Jimmy Choo, and the glam-o-rama Las Vegas vibe in general.

Afterward, we head to the new shops at the Palazzo. I am a conservative gamer when I go to Las Vegas, preferring to invest my capital where I can see it - clothes and beauty products. The shops are just lovely. We order gelato in freshly-made waffle cones. Then we begin to meander back toward our lodging at Mandalay Bay.

At some point, I think we were in the Venetian, I have the sobering realization that my Sephora bag, containing my precious cargo of primer, nourishing cuticle oil, and lipglosses, is - gulp- gone! Where did it go? Why has it taken me nearly 20 minutes to realize it is missing? It's like another limb, or a small child for God's sake - and I just left it somewhere? I am stranded in the desert! My cuticles are in dire need of nourishment! My pores are definitely not happy with the predicament in which I've placed myself, and each one issues a silent, shiny, little protest.

I confide to Gini my loss and we decide to retrace our steps to see if perhaps I've set the bag down somewhere. We go back to the fancy bathrooms, the gelato bar, the pizzeria in the Venetian, all to no avail. Ah Vegas, you vile temptress - you've turned my misfortune into some other lucky gal's happy day.

Though our make-up reconnaissance mission was unsuccessful, the upside of this whole ordeal is that I didn't break the bank on my Sephora purchases and there are several Sephora locations in Las Vegas. I drag a patient Gini to Sephora for a third time that afternoon (we had conducted a preliminary scout visit prior to our second purchasing visit) to sullenly repurchase my orphaned products.

Oooh - now this Sephora has a slightly different layout than our last Sephora. Oh, and they didn't have those at the other Sephora. Oh look! Philosophy has two new eau de toilettes! Sensing my distraction, Gini reminds me what I am here to get and speaks with a saleswoman about the possibility of a new product line of Sephora Bag Bjorn's for tipsy, um, forgetful, customers who need a bit of assistance holding on to their purchases.

The clerk rings up my total and I pay for my items - again. She slips a free sample of Benefit Dr. Feelgood Velvety Complexion Balm into the trademark black and white bag. It's another primer! Yay! With this sample primer, my net primer loss is only .05 oz. Such brings a small measure of comfort to my sea of missing product grief. I give my bag to the reliable Gini for safe-keeping and we had back to Mandalay Bay, exhausted.

Gini and I have laughed about the whole make-up mini-ordeal several times since. She likes to say that I am a Good Samaritan and some homeless person in Vegas is feeling blessed to have nourished cuticles and shine-free pores. Maybe at tax time I'll write it off as a donation.

Reflecting back on hard lessons learned in Las Vegas, I note the Sephora Base Zero Brilliance Anti-Shine Primer is getting low. It has been a good product, serving my pores well. The scent and feel are tingly and lemony. I can wear it all day to keep my pores in check. The Benefit balm has also come in handy - I keep it in my purse for touch-ups throughout the day. I look forward to another shopping excursion to the Elysium realm of Sephora to replenish my supply. This time, though, I'll keep a close eye on my purchases - and maybe even bring a "Sephora Bjorn" to stow them in, just to be safe.

Editor's note: I did not change a word or add anything to this lovely, but extremely hilarious, account of shopping at three Sephora locations in Las Vegas. I also believe I bought something at every location. Sigh...I'm an addict. Next up: Beauty Products Addict Anonymous a.k.a. BPAA

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