Woman talking(l+r), Sephora storefront(c)

HJBC/Shutterstock @greeneggsandglam/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘It’s not my fault I can’t shade match’: Former Sephora manager explains how you can get banned from returning makeup

'This is comforting bc I’ve haven’t even spent that amount there in my entire life.'


Eric Webb


Posted on Apr 7, 2024

Bad news if you’ve got an eye shadow addiction and a fickle heart. According to a former Sephora manager, you could get banned from making returns at the beauty store chain if you do it too often.

California-based beauty creator Jennie Pham (@greeneggsandglam) recently shared her knowledge about the policy on TikTok. She made her video in response to another creator’s post about the policy. Pham explained that she was a manager at a Sephora store until last March.

The video has 1 million views and almost 70,000 likes.

“Yes, you can be banned from making returns at Sephora,” Pham said in the video.

The creator explained that it’s not about the ratio of returns to purchases. “What matters is the dollar amount of what you’re returning,” she said.

She continued, “If you return more than $2,500 of product in the last calendar year, you will get banned.”

When that threshold is reached and a customer tries to return another product, the store’s system will deny the return, she said. A ticket will print out directing the customer to call customer service to find out why. “When you call that number, they’ll be like, ‘Girl, you’re done,’” Pham said.

There’s a simple workaround, according to the creator: Setting up another Sephora account with a different email address and phone number.

Pham further revealed some of Sephora’s return protocols, at least when she worked there. If a product’s been used or the seal’s broken, it’s usually destroyed. Sometimes, returned fragrances would be turned into floor testers. Nothing used is donated or reshelved.

“Just be responsible with how you’re purchasing and how you’re returning,” she said.

Pham was also a manager at Ulta in the past, she said, and that beauty store chain had no maximum on returns, in her experience. “Ulta just overall has a better return policy than Sephora,” she said.

One commenter wrote, “2500 is not a lot considering every item is at least $100.” Another viewer replied, “That’s so much. That’s a crazy amount to RETURN every year.”

For the most part, viewers expressed relief at the $2,500 limit. “This is comforting bc I’ve haven’t even spent that amount there in my entire life,” a viewer chimed in. 

“Do you get unbanned after a year? Like does it reset,” someone asked. Another commenter responded, “It resets every year. I’ve dealt with it like twice.”

Another commenter wrote, “just dispute with your credit card company.”

“I worked at Sephora. we had a lady buy an entire range of an expensive brand and return it a week later… she was filling the pots with Nivea. her getting banned was euphoria,” a comment read.

“I’m guessing it’s influencers not on PR lists reviewing products then returning and/or people who buy for one occasion and then return,” someone commented.

@greeneggsandglam #stitch with @Anna let’s talk returns in preparation for the spring savings event! also let me know what other questions you have about returns ➡️ #sephora #retail #returns #shopping #retaillife #FAQ #makeup #beauty #VIB ♬ original sound – JENNIE | greeneggsandglam

“It’s not my fault i can’t shade match & neither can the employees,” one viewer vented.

Several international viewers were shocked that you could return beauty products at all. “I’m British and honestly it blows my mind that you can return makeup. As soon as we open it we can’t return it unless it’s faulty,” a commenter wrote.

“I had multiple who would come in and try to return stuff and the system wouldn’t let me and i’d have to politely explain to them why … they always acted so confused and shocked,” another viewer commented.

Pham clarified in the comments that exchanges did not typically count toward the return limit.

Sephora last updated the return policy listed on its website in January 2023.

“If you are not completely satisfied with a Sephora purchase or gift for any reason, Sephora welcomes you to return new or gently used products for a full refund to your original method of payment if returned within 30 days of purchase, in most cases,” according to the policy. 

Customers must show proof of purchase, and products have to be new or gently used. Returns made after 30 days are eligible for store credit. 

While the Sephora website doesn’t mention a specific dollar amount as a threshold for banning customers from making more returns, it does include provisions for people trying to game the system.

“Sephora monitors return activity for abuse and reserves the right to limit returns or exchanges at Sephora in all instances. … All returns are subject to validation and approval at Sephora’s discretion. If a return is not approved by Sephora for any reason, the item may not be returned to you,” according to the website.

On Sephora’s community boards, there are several posts from customers claiming they got slammed with a return ban. In September, one self-described shopaholic wrote: “I am infuriated and was completely humiliated to receive this returns ban in front of other clients when I have been a loyal customer for so many years, and have never received a warning prior before this ban so it is clear Sephora does not value customer loyalty and will treat you like a criminal on a flip of a dime.” A community moderator replied to the post, directing the customer to contact customer service.

The Daily Dot reached out to Pham and Sephora via email.

In other recent Sephora news, a former employee posted a viral TikTok saying he was forced to give customers baskets when they were suspected of shoplifting.

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*First Published: Apr 7, 2024, 6:31 am CDT