Fifteen years ago, the world was a very different place. 1998, memorable for me as the start of secondary school and thus the beginning of the hellish wasteland we call the early teenage years, was the year I first got drunk, "There's Something About Mary" spawned a million hair-gel spunk inspired 'dos and Geri Halliwell smashed all my Girl Power dreams by leaving the Spice Girls. Things would never be the same again.
BUT THEN. Something amazing happened. Something arrived in the US of A that would, 15 years later, still send me into a tailspin every time I come into contact with one. The make-up Mecca that is SEPHORA.
Sephora, first established in Paris (très chic) in 1970, was acquired in '97 by Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy, who quickly opened the first store in NYC a year later. Fifteen years and over 1,700 stores later, the mega-brand lends itself to skincare, perfumes, hair care, bath products and some of the best make-up brushes you'll find at a decent price point.
The day that Sephora left UK shores, never to be seen again, was a dark day for beauty. They are MENTAL not to have at least one store over here. Just my spending alone would keep them afloat. It's safe to say that whenever I get the chance to visit the US, my trip will definitely involve at least two or three trolley dashes around its floors, while Chris paces around outside looking vaguely suicidal.
To celebrate Sephora's 15 years in the US, I've hand-picked 15 MUST BUYS you can treat yourself to from the store to say a big well done to yourself for working hard/looking great/being nice/feeding your pets this week. Consider yourself enabled.
These items are all things I have used, loved and covet. If you only buy a couple of things this summer, make them from this list. TRUST ME.
This is the ultimate salt spray for shaggy, beachy, surfy hair that doesn't dry up and go crispy, but retains shine. When I'm on holiday, I ditch my hairdryer and spritz this all over my hair and go. I love it.
Sorry, but HOW CUTE is this set? I bloody love it. The four brushes (powder, shadow, angled liner and lip brushes) are of the usual excellent Sephora quality and are housed in the awesome bright bag. A beauty, and a mega good value.
This luxe palette contains basically every shade you'd need for looks that range from totally neutral to dramatic and smoky. The shades are pigment rich and stay on for hours without creasing or falling, and every single shade is KILLER. No filler.
This shimmering multi-purpose powder is a real handbag staple for me. The five bars of color blend together to create the most gorgeous glow, and I buff it on to my cheekbones, my chin, the bridge of my nose and my temples for a beachy, kissed-by-the-sun look.
When I'm feeling a bit flush and want a new lippy, Nars is always my go-to brand. The formulas are always rich and stay on without having to touch-up every 10 minutes and the range of colors is fab. My favorites are Jungle Red, a rich, creamy red, Heatwave, a semi-matte orange red, and Niagara, a peachy pink.
When I came across this set, I fully hyperventilated. The fact that I can't buy this in the UK makes me die inside. I want it SO BAD. These ten mini lacquers are bright, sunny and perfect for a summer mani/pedi. The orange! The yellow! The light blue! Swoonsome.
I really love Philosophy products, and I think this has to be my favorite. The Summer Grace scent is light and pretty and lingers on your skin after showering, but not in a cloying way, just in a "Wow I smell good" way. A must-buy.
Sorry, what? 16 eyeshadow trios and 15 lipsticks for $25? Are you shitting me? This set is incredible value and contains every color you could every want to play with for big and bold looks as well as more natural shades, and each trio contains a highlighter to make your eyes POP.
One of the many things I love about Sephora is the great range of perfume rollerballs. Every time I visit, I always pick one up for my handbag -- and of them all, I think Stella must be my favorite. The soft rose mixed with the heady amber is perfect for both day and night, so a definite handbag essential.
Tweezerman tweezers are the SHIT. Seriously, chuck away your old crappy ones and just spend the $15 on these bad boys and your eyebrows will thank you forever. They grip on to even the tiniest of hairs and are RUTHLESS in their accuracy. And stripes!
It seems expensive for a little pot, but it lasts forever. The best eye cream I have tried, it's rich but not greasy and fades away late nights and puffy eyes after watching "Stepmom." Fab.
I'm a massive fan of the Soap & Glory brand and their entire range speaks to me. This body scrub is excellent; it smells delicious and doesn't contain anything nasty. It exfoliates without making my sometimes sensitive skin sore and dry, and I love the fun packaging.
So you've exfoliated your bod, now slap some of this on your face, leave it on for 10 minutes and thank me later.
These two new shades are just so utterly beautiful, I could cry. The peacock green and the cool turquoise are begging to be worn this summer, and you could totally accent-nail yourself up by using alternate colors. The Dior nail lacquer formulas are pretty good, but I recommend also using a good non-chip topcoat, like Seche Vite.
These Tarte twist up blusher sticks are water based and give you a natural looking flush that STAYS. They are excellent. I know some people get a bit worried about blush sticks giving you spots, but these are oil free so won't clog your pores, they just make you look extra gorgeous.
So, that's my list of my 15 must have items available at Sephora. Go get 'em! Are you going to buy anything off this list? Got your own favorites? Shall I start a petition to get another Sephora opened in Brighton? GO GO GO!
Natalie's going to be live-tweeting from her mate's BBQ this weekend, whilst drinking gin: @Natalie_KateM.