Look at it. So cold, so clean, so sterile. So jam packed with things you want to get your well-manicured hands on.

The latest in mineral concealer technology. The new hot lip gloss. Enough eyeliner and mascara to make Tammy Faye Baker faint. Powders and potions and perfumes, oh my!

Sephora is toyland for women who love makeup. And if you don’t go in there armed with a list and a determined expression, you could well walk out at least $250 poorer with only a shiny black shopping bag and some overpriced cosmetics to show for it. Believe me when I tell you that I’ve been there and done that. So when I got this Ask Afrobella letter, it struck a familar chord.

Hi, Bella. I love your blog and read it every day (even though I still use the “creamy crack” AKA relaxer). I need some advice. A Sephora is opening near my home very soon and I need to know what to check out. I have a budget of $100 to spend. A few details about me: I am of medium dark complexion and have oily skin. I don’t wear much makeup at all, usually only lipstick/lipgloss, but I am open to try new products. I love bath/body stuff (lotions, body washes, etc). Any advice you could give me would be great! Thanks in advance, and keep up the good work. — Angela

Hi Angela!

A new Sephora in town is an exciting prospect! For your first visit, it’s definitely good to go in there with a list, or at least a loose idea of what you’re looking for. First, you need to identify the kind of items you need.

OK, you have oily skin and a medium dark complexion. Looking for lip products (but possibly other cosmetics?) and definitely bath and body stuff. Believe it or not, you can walk out of Sephora with exactly $100 worth of all of the above stuff! It just takes some forethought. Come with me!

When it comes to snagging great deals, it’s all about timing. Now is a wonderful time to head to your local Sephora, because of all of the awesome Mother’s Day specials and packages that are currently available. If you’re feeling adventurous and looking to try some new makeup, you can’t do much better than the Smashbox Beauty Book. I first spotted this over at Beauty Addict, and I am in complete agreement with her — beauty sets really help you to build your makeup collection. You get the basic tools you need to create the look you want, for a lot less.

The Smashbox Beauty Book stuffs $181 worth of products into a $60 package, and includes the incredible Photo Finish Foundation Primer, a cream eyeliner duo in Caviar/Midnight Brown (both will work for dark complexions), lip exfoliant, a lip gloss — not so sure about that shade. It’s described as a creamy nude, but not all nudes are the same, especially for bellas with dark skin tones.

Another great little makeup box set is the NARS Artist Palette, which includes four awesome shadows, four beautiful and creamy lipsticks, and a blush that will totally compliment your chocolate skin tone.

If you want to start out your makeup purchase with the basics and focus on having flawless skin, you just might want to get the Bare Escentuals Get Started Kit. Your shade will probably be Warm Deep/Deepest Deep, but it’s ALWAYS best to ask the makeup artist to help you find your exact match. $181 worth of products for $60, and the package includes two shades of SPF 15 foundation, mineral veil, Warmth all over face color, and brushes galore! I’m dying for that Kabuki brush. It also includes a DVD for the makeup clueless. Can’t beat that with a bat.

OK, so you’ve spent $60 so far. Now you want to get something that smells yummy, to treat the rest of your body.

If you want to just blow the rest of your cash, you could go for the Carol’s Daughter A Mango Melange Moment gift set, which includes shea souffle, body cleansing gel, a teeny eau de toilette, and a loofah.

A great box set that costs less is Philosophy’s Birthday Girl, which might be the cutest gift set ever. I love Philosophy’s packaging. $35 gets ya Purity Made Simple face wash, Time on Your Hands exfoliating hand and cuticle cream, the amazing Amazing Grace bath and shower gel, Soul Owner exfoliating foot cream, and Kiss Me Red lipgloss, which I bet would look amazing on you!

If you want to combat your oily skin situation, you might want to forgo another box set and instead make your own. I’ve heard great things about the Juice Beauty Cleansing Gel, which costs $22. If you love lip gloss like I do, you would be remiss to not also get the lip plumper. It’s amazingly emollient.

But since it costs $14, maybe you should get a little more bang for your buck, and color to boot — and get the set of three tinted SPF 15 lip glosses instead. I love the three shades included. I’d totally buy this — as IF I need more lip gloss!

You’re down to your last few dollars. If you’ve got ten bucks left, do yourself a favor and get the Boscia Fresh Blotting Linens. I have them in Green Tea and Lavender, and cannot go a day without them! Especially since summer’s coming and the oily skin season will be in full swing. You can’t go wrong with these blotting linens, trust me.

Whew! At the end of a shopping spree like that, hopefully you’re strutting out with two bags and a new arsenal of fabulous products.

Bellas, what would you get on your $100 Sephora shopping spree?

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