Sephora vs. Pharma Prix – Purchasing Luxury Beauty Online


If you’re no stranger to luxury beauty, you’ll know that Pharma Prix has recently launched itself into the online luxury beauty sphere. When I refer to luxury beauty brands, I’m focusing on names such as Dior, Chanel, Benefit Urban Decay and NARS. These brands are now available to shop online from Pharma Prix’s Beauty Boutique. The great news is that in the same transaction, you can also buy regular beauty brands found in your local drugstore such as Covergirl, Maybelline and Rimmel. I’m unaware of any other website that allows you to do this.

If you’re wondering why you should consider buying luxury beauty on Pharma Prix site vs. Sephora (aside from the fact that you can buy a $50 mascara as well as a $10 eyeliner), I’m here to break it down for you.

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Similar but not the same
The main difference between the two retailers is simple: Pharma Prix carries luxury beauty but not at all of its locations, while Sephora is known for the latest and hottest in beauty releases. That point alone might help you determine which retailer is right for you…but just in case,  here are some more reasons why you should buy luxury beauty at either Sephora or Pharma Prix.

Points Programs
If you’re familiar with the points system at Sephora, you’ll know that they recently upped their game with their Beauty Insider Program. They are now more generous with the number of points you can receive based on a three-tiered structure: Beauty Insider, VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider) and Sephora Rouge (which is the highest tier). You can earn more points, earlier and exclusive invitations to sales and receive events if you’re at the level of Rouge. Don’t be fooled, if you don’t meet the threshold year upon year, you will be downgraded and lose your important status which doesn’t happen with Optimum.

When redeeming points, you may be disappointed by the size of the items you can trade your points in for. The samples tend to be quite small and if the good ones are gone you’ll have to wait for the next cycle to be released.

The points system for Pharma Prix is the well-known Optimum program. In 2018, the company decided to merge with Loblaw Companies’ PC Points
program to create the PC Optimum loyalty program. The good thing about the merger is that you can now earn points for everyday household items that you would naturally find in the grocery store that you can then redeem for anything you like at Pharma Prix: including luxury beauty products that don’t often go on sale.

Additionally, around Holiday times such as Boxing Day and Black Friday – Optimum usually has a “Spend Your Points” event where if you have been saving up your points for a long time you’ll receive an extra dollar amount to spend instore. The only comparable promotion that Sephora has is that sometimes they release a $100 gift card if you have $2,500 points. The downside is that there are only a few in stock and you have to be online to snatch it up quickly because they only host a limited number of the offer which almost doesn’t seem fair.

Samples at Online Checkout
Sephora used to offer three samples with every order but now only offer two! Pharma Prix offers three samples with every order so that’s a definite plus there. However, I find that I throw out samples that aren’t perfume. That being said, having two or three samples isn’t really a “make or break ” for most people…but it’s definitely an added benefit.

Beauty Deals
Sephora is really great at dropping emails that include bonus codes so you can get free luxury samples when you spend a certain amount. I take advantage of these often as I usually always have something waiting for me in my basket. I also find that these beauty deals contain luxury samples of new and hot products that have just come out, especially for luxury beauty brands. Pharma Prix doesn’t seem to offer these beauty samples in the same way as a “spend and get” like Sephora does. I find that the email communication for deals or even discounts on makeup or sets is not as prominent and there aren’t as many “minis” that come with your purchase. One of the best ways to sample a new product is through a mini, but not one that is so small where I can’t actually make a decision in my head whether or not to buy.

Gifts with Purchase
Pharma Prix has the better value when it comes to gifts with purchases. A great example of this would be a Clarins or Estee lauder gift with purchase that often comes with a lot of PC Optimum Points on top of the physical gift. Sephora tends to get exclusive gifts with purchase but these align more to fragrances or bigger ticketed items.

Pharma Prix often has items that are exclusive to them such as an exclusive NARS blush palette that cannot be purchased anywhere else, including Sephora.

Pharma Prix and Sephora both offer free shipping on orders of $50+ and free returns in store. The only difference here is that if you are at the Rouge tier for Sephora, there is no threshold for shipping.

Both these beauty providers have their benefits.  If you’re a natural shopper and can collect PC Optimum points, you’re most likely better off buying your luxury beauty at Pharma Prix. However, if you love the latest and hottest new releases, Sephora is definitely the place for you.