I Gave Sephora's Beauty Director My Credit Card and a $400 Budget—Her Picks Here



I'm the nosiest person when it comes to other people's beauty routines. Whether the other party in question is a friend, roommate, family member, celebrity, brand founder, co-worker… You name them, and I want to get intimately acquainted with their product M.O. 

Of course, this curiosity isn't subjective to the time of year—it's a 365-day obsession, after all, but I'm especially interested in what people are using and loving at the turn of the new season. Most of us, in some way or another, like to make some tweaks depending on what our skin or mood is craving, and there's something about fall, in particular, that's especially exciting. To satisfy that itch, I reached out to one of Sephora's beauty directors, Melinda Solares, to see what's on her radar as we transition from summer to fall. Obviously, due to the nature of her job, she has access to thousands (quite literally) of beauty products, so I thought it'd be especially fun to shed some light on her favorites and what she'd (theoretically) plop in my shopping cart. Keep scrolling for her top 10 product picks at Sephora and 10 more products I'm smitten with as well. 



Melinda's Top 10 Sephora Picks for Fall

"Before I begin, let me reassure you that yes, you read that right—$10! Even though I am a Sephora beauty director, I will admit that even I can forget to use a face mask regularly when I am soaking up those long summer days. However, once fall comes around, I reallocate those hours to a different kind of self-care, which for me, includes masking. These Sephora Collection masks come in four different formulas you can choose from based on what your skin needs most. My personal favorite is this Watermelon + Vitamin E option that pumps hydration into my dry skin."

"We are moving into fall, which means the weather will be cooling down. The sudden change can stress out our skin, and the cooler temperatures can dehydrate. My point? Our skincare needs to work a little harder. This steamer's micro-steam technology not only creates a deeper clean but also promotes better absorption and effectiveness of the skincare products you apply afterward. Think of your skin as a sponge. When a sponge is damp, it absorbs a lot more than when it is dry. The same is true for your skin."

"On that note, your skin doesn't stop at your neck and neither should your skincare! Whenever I pop out of my steamy shower, I will coat my body in this boy oil from By Rosie Jane. This is an ultra-hydrating, everyday body oil that's infused with the subtle scent of pear, jasmine, and fresh-cut grass."

"Just because the sun is setting earlier doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your sun-kissed skin. I was a competitive dancer growing up, and I have tried just about every self-tanning product out there because let me assure you, a one-shouldered gold lamé dance costume looks much better with a little glow! This Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water is one of my ride-or-dies because it color-corrects your skin instead of camouflaging (which leaves your skin looking like yours, but better). I also love that it goes on clear, so you never have to worry about staining your sheets."

"I like to think about scalp care as an extension of skincare. The health of your hair starts with the health of your scalp. So, things like cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing can be just as important for your hair as they are for your face. Part one: This Briogeo shampoo detoxifies and draws out impurities that clog the hair follicle and cause buildup on the scalp."

"Part two: And this scalp serum from Pattern contains peppermint, rosemary, and lavender oils to soothe, cool, and calm."

"I don't know about you, but I have missed wearing lipstick since wearing protective face masks became a priority. Mask or not, this lipstick is virtually weightless and does not budge! It is a clean and hydrating soft-matte lipstick, powered by nourishing cocoa butter. I find that I can even wear a thin layer of this under a protective face mask when I am heading into one of my shoots at Sephora Studios, then go straight onto camera without any touch-ups."

"This medium-coverage, natural-finish foundation does it all. Leading up to my role as a beauty director, I managed Sephora's YouTube and IGTV channels. After years of reading thousands of comments there, one of the most asked questions was how to get a natural-looking foundation, that has enough coverage but feels completely weightless. Basically, if you want it all, this foundation does that and more. It also has a serum-like base that feels and functions like skincare, which makes it especially perfect for the colder months."

"Based on my conversations with industry artists, founders, and developers, I do not see the brow lamination trend going anywhere fast, and I am so excited to hear it! I love a full, laminated brow effect, and this Kosas Air Brow is a super quick and easy way to get it. It is also formulated with hair care actives that fluff, lift, and set brows in place while helping them reach their full growth potential."

"I'm going to be honest: It doesn't matter what season it is, I am always reaching for this spray! It's a simple, three-ingredient daily treatment spray that soothes stressed skin and reduces the look of redness and irritation. Whether you are recovering from a sunburn in the summer or soothing dry skin in the fall, this is one of my top recommendations for stressed-out skin."

10 More Products I'm Loving at Sephora Right Now

Merit's fan-favorite Shade Slicks are so addictive and the perfect compromise between a gloss, oil, and stain. The brand just debuted four new shades, so you know I'm coveting each and every one. It also happens to be made with super-clean ingredients, so you don't have to worry about ingesting anything shade when you lacquer up.

Anastasia Beverly Hills might be the most well-known for its brow products, but its complexion products like, ahem, this brand new concealer, deserve just as much credit. If you've been on the hunt for a new miracle formula to help hide circles without feeling heavy or looking cakey, I highly recommend this one. 

This new brow pencil from makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic proves not all brow pencils are created equally. The handy blade tip makes ultra-precise application easy so that you can outline, define, and shade your brows to enviable perfection with ease. 

Belif is such an underrated brand IMHO. I'm obsessed with its dew-inducing moisturizers, and the eye cream is truly the best one I've ever used. Suffice to say, it comes as no surprise that this overnight lip masks graces lips with just as much luxurious moisture and TLC. 

Dr. Lara Devgan's products are expensive, but her line is one of the few that I feel is worth every single penny. If you've ever considered Latisse or extensions, try this high-tech mascara formula instead. (Yep, the results are just that good.)

This is the best investment if you want your limbs to look as supple and glowy as Rihanna's. Plus, the tropical fruit-inspired scent is the next best thing to being on vacation. 

I don't care what time of year it is, I always need a really fabulous highlighter. This brand new one from Freck is my latest obsession. It looks natural enough for everyday wear, but the color-shifting HD pearls also really take your night-out makeup M.O. to the next level. 

Jonathan Van Ness's haircare line literally just dropped, and I'm bursting at the seams to try every single product as fast as I can. I'm still making my way through the collection, but so far, this air-dry cream has been a standout. 

This liquid eyeliner isn't new, but for some reason, I only just recently tried it. And yes, from now on, all other liquid liners are dead to me. This fine-tipped version is the one I've been searching for for the past 18 years of my life. 

Vibe-y packaging aside (it's so fun), Topicals brings so much to the table in the efficacy and quality department. There isn't one product I don't suggest snapping up, but if you're someone who falls prey to dry, flaky skin once fall rolls around, you'll be especially appreciative of this hydrating, skin-soothing body mist. As the name suggests, it does, quite literally, churn your skin into a buttery dream. (See what I did there?)

Next, Fall Beauty Hall of Fame: The Top Products Worth Your Attention