A Love Letter To Sephora

Dear Sephora,

My appreciation for you started when I managed to convince my mom to let me wear makeup for Halloween in 6th grade. One look in the mirror and I was hooked.

After that, I snuck my $0.99 Wet N Wild black eyeliner to school with me each day, carefully applying it in the girls’ bathroom before the bell rang. I was in awe of the instant gratification and confidence boost it gave, and also how it helped me fit in with my middle school friends.

Over the years, my love for makeup evolved from drugstore to Dior, and I met you. While I was no longer motivated by a desire to fit in, makeup instead became a welcome respite from the chaos of my adult life.

When my son was diagnosed with autism 15 years ago, I was left emotionally blind-sighted. I was heartbroken for my child, which began a downward spiral that took me to the depths of despair, where I remained for many years. Watching my son struggle and knowing he was certain to his life with a disability was a pain that almost overwhelmed me.

As I navigated through those difficult feelings, I embarked on a mission to provide my son with any and all interventions that would maximize his progress. My days were spent at countless doctor appointments and therapies. It was exhausting and defeating at times, and I was holding on by a thread. The worst part was enduring the judgmental stares and finger-pointing from those in my community. Sometimes it seems that there’s nothing better than an autism diagnosis to bring out the worst in other people. It was during this dark time that I looked to you for a reprieve from the disorder in my daily life.

Walking into your store gave me the same goosebumps I felt when my parents first took me to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Just like those masterpieces, my face became a canvas, and I’d paint it accordingly. If I was happy, I’d wear Urban Decay Born To Run Eyeshadow Palette and the Dior Rouge Blush in Rose Montaigne. If I was sad, I’d wear the Tarteist™ PRO Amazonian Clay Palette and the Hourglass Ambient® Lighting Powder in Dim Light. And, because it always fit, even as my waistline expanded during 3 pregnancies, there’s no better compliment to a great outfit than a well thought out makeup look. If I wanted to tone down a colorful outfit, I’d wear Viseart Theory Eyeshadow Palette and the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Contour Duo. If I wanted to liven up a monotone one, I’d wear the Anastasia Beverley Hills Modern Renaissance Eye Shadow Palette and the Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer in #8.

Being with you was a magical experience. The isles, variety, colors, and textures renewed me, and within seconds, my stress and sadness dispersed like pixie dust floating through the air. I was transformed by all of the sparkle, shimmer, and shine, no longer burdened by the pain in my life. Swatching highlighter pallets and trying on red lipsticks gave me the confidence boost and artistic distraction that I desperately needed. It felt so good to feel pampered in such a fun way, and the Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette seemed a small price to pay to feel indulged. One swipe of Tom Ford’s Lipcolor in Flame, and I was ready to re-face the world and my reality at home. Sure, my life wasn’t perfect, but my makeup could be.

When my now 21-year old daughter became interested in makeup as a teenager, I would bring her with me to visit you. Because her childhood experience was different than most, and she experienced more than her fair share of struggle and defeat, she was in need of something to lift her spirits. Eventually, what started out as a therapeutic experience for me, turned out to be one for her, as well.

It became our weekly ritual to meet at your store every Friday after school – a reward for getting through the week. We loved highlighting our best qualities and emphasizing our favorite features. When she would get her makeup done for each high school dance, we looked forward equally to the fun, upbeat environment of the store, and the shimmery accents that would prepare her for the memorable night ahead.

Years later, a lot has changed. My son endured battles only he could understand, but his hard work and determination allowed him to now be a fully-included Senior at our local high school. My daughter grew up, and flapped her wings to the University of Oregon, no more high school dances in her future.

One thing has not changed, however, and that is the magic that still transforms me every time I visit you.

Sometimes the best therapists come dressed as a cast member in a red-trimmed black dress, carrying a gold YSL lipstick tube.

With love and gratitude,