The Roadmap to Sephora: What It Takes To Get On The Shelf

Securing a spot on the shelves of a prominent beauty retailer like Sephora or Target can significantly elevate your brand's visibility and credibility. However, the journey to getting your beauty or personal care brand into Sephora involves meeting stringent criteria, adhering to compliance standards, and understanding the legalities set forth by the retailer and relevant regulatory bodies. This comprehensive guide will lead you through the steps, requirements, compliances, and legal aspects necessary to successfully pitch your brand to Sephora.


Sephora Storefront


Understanding Sephora's Requirements:

Sephora maintains high standards for the brands and products it carries. To increase the likelihood of your brand being considered, it’s crucial to focus on the following key requirements:

  1. Innovative and Unique Products: Sephora prioritizes brands with unique, innovative products that stand out in the market with a high digital footprint.

  2. Quality and Efficacy: High-quality products with proven efficacy and a positive consumer experience are essential.

  3. Packaging and Branding: Exceptional packaging and a compelling brand story that resonates with Sephora’s clientele are crucial.

  4. Sustainability: Emphasis on eco-friendly and sustainable practices is increasingly vital in today's market.



Compliance and Legalities:

Compliance with industry regulations and legal standards is critical for beauty and personal care products. Prior to attempting to secure placement in Sephora, ensure you:

  1. Adhere to FDA Regulations: Comprehend and comply with FDA regulations for beauty and personal care products. This includes adhering to labeling requirements, ingredient safety, and product testing.

  2. Ingredient Safety: Familiarize yourself with Sephora's banned ingredients list and ensure that your products comply with their standards.

  3. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP): Following GMP ensures consistent product quality and safety. Luckily Royal Labs® is GMP Certified as well as USDA Organic and FDA regulated.

  4. Testing and Certification: Some products may require testing and certifications to guarantee compliance with safety standards and the absence of harmful substances.



Sephora's Banned Ingredients List:

Sephora maintains a list of prohibited ingredients for beauty and personal care products. Commonly restricted ingredients may include parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, and various synthetic fragrances. Understanding and adhering to this list is essential to meet Sephora's requirements.


Click Here to Get Sephora's Banned Ingredients List



The Process of Getting Your Brand into Sephora:




Before anything else, consider whether your brand aligns with the Sephora customer base. Sephora has amassed a devoted following for valid reasons. Understanding their distinct brand—ranging from the carefully selected brands they feature to their VIB program and on-the-go beauty section—is crucial before determining if your product fits their ethos.


Distinguishing between the demographics of Sephora, Ulta, Bluemercury, and CAP Beauty is essential. Experience these stores firsthand to note the atmosphere, music, lighting, staff, decor, and products they offer.


For instance, Sephora gravitates toward products reflecting current trends, be it an ingredient, color, or social impact trend. Despite being a significant player in the beauty industry, they aren’t overly flexible, preferring products that are just right. As an indie brand, it's vital to bring something fresh and distinct to the table.



Sephora's buyers heavily focus on a brand's unique selling point—ensure you can express yours concisely in a single sentence.


For instance, in the case of our fragrance wipes: "Our fragrance wipes by Nomaterra deliver 5 spritzes of our eau de parfums evenly on the skin and cater perfectly to the on-the-go Sephora woman."


Apart from your elevator pitch, confidently understand how you stand out among the numerous brands vying for attention at Sephora. Competition is fierce, so having a clear reason why Sephora should feature your brand is crucial.



You don't necessarily need to participate in costly trade shows to capture the attention of a Sephora buyer. LinkedIn can be an invaluable tool. Search for the appropriate buyer for your category on LinkedIn. The Sephora buying team operates from their San Francisco headquarters at 525 Market Street, 32nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105.



The subsequent step involves sending an attractively packaged box with product samples to one or two Sephora buyers. Ensure the package contains:


  • Full-sized products in packaging
  • Samples (miniatures—the buyer might share these if they genuinely like the product)
  • A catalog or sales sheet outlining a brief brand story
  • A brief, personal note addressing the buyer


Sample Box of beauty products

Make the package visually appealing! Investing effort into the presentation will help it stand out amidst other deliveries. Use a beautiful ribbon, tissue paper in your brand's color, and, if available, seal it with a branded sticker. Adding a fragrance to the tissue paper is a nice touch. Ship it in a trackable manner, such as using Muji gift boxes or white boxes from the Container Store.



Follow up via email and phone call to confirm receipt of the package, typically 3–4 days after the package's arrival.


Their common email format is


When calling, if there's no answer, don't leave a voicemail; try again later. If they answer, introduce yourself, mention the product sent, and inquire if they've had a chance to try it. Briefly convey in one sentence why you believe THEY and Sephora would appreciate the product. Respect their time and avoid over-explaining the product’s greatness.


Regarding email, it's acceptable to follow up three times but cease after that. Follow up 3–4 days after their package reception, another the following week, and one more the week after.



If they find your product innovative and fitting for Sephora, they might invite you for a meeting at their SF offices. If your aim is to land in their stores, don’t hesitate to travel there— an in-person meeting makes a strong initial impression. Prepare a compelling PowerPoint presentation. In Part 2 of this series, I'll detail the contents of the presentation to impress the buying team and post-meeting strategies.



Several months later, follow up with any exciting news about your company. This could include press features, interviews, new product launches, or partnerships that display your brand's growth and increased awareness.


Should you introduce a new product or update packaging, sending a follow-up package with these updates is crucial. Lack of initial interest doesn’t preclude a future placement on their shelves.

These guidelines will help you approach Sephora buyers sooner rather than later. Remember, Sephora is eager to diversify its offerings with innovative brands like yours just as much as you are keen to join their lineup. Be confident in your brand, and share your experiences in the comments!


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