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The cosmetics business is a very competitive one. This allows women a great deal of choice when it comes to choosing cosmetics of all kinds but it also makes it hard for any makeup or beauty company to stay in business if they cannot offer something very special that appeals to a great many customers.

Sephora is one of the companies that got it all - and continues to get it - very right as they have become, in a relatively short space of time, on of the best known cosmetics retailers in the world. And as any make up maven will tell you make up samples and beauty products from Sephora are definitely the most popular offerings of all among those who keep a watch on the beauty product samples that might be available for them to claim.

What is Sephora Anyway?

Sephora is a French company founded in 1970 by by Dominique Mandonnaud, who pioneered the 'open sell' concept and layout familiar to anyone who shops in a Sephora store. Although it was already the biggest cosmetic chain in France, Sephora did not first appear in the US until 1998, when the company unveiled a flagship store in New York City. There are now more than 300 Sephora outlets across North America as well as a number of 'pop up' Sephora stores located inside JC Penney department stores. With the launch of sephora.com the brand's extensive product line became available to anyone, not just to those living near a large city and extended its reach even further.

If you were wondering about the unusual name it is a combination of two names; "sephos", a Greek word for "beauty" and Zipporah, the reputedly very beautiful wife of Moses as described in the Old Testament.

What Makes Sephora Different?

If you have yet to discover much about Sephora you may wonder what all the fuss is about and what it might be that sets it apart from the many other beauty retail companies. The physical stores are light, open plan and 'friendly', something of a contrast to rather severe and formal beauty counters in high end department stores and yet several steps above a drug store aisle!

The selection of products available is also a huge draw. Sephora, in addition to creating and producing their own line of high end cosmetics and skincare products also offer cosmetics from over one hundred other higher end brands, including Urban Decay, NARS, Make Up For Ever and Too Faced Cosmetics. This means that shopping at Sephora offers a 'one stop' experience that is quite unlike any other.

The other most commonly cited reason, from its customers at least, for their love of Sephora is its dedication to employing highly trained staff, staff that are not only available in stores but as online consultants as well. The company offer a training program for their beauty staff dubbed "Science of Sephora." This program trains staff members in every aspect of their job, from the correct skincare techniques for different skin types to the art of color combinations and makeup application. If you have never shopped Sephora now would be a great time to give it a try and decide for yourself if the offerings live up to the great press they seem to get all of the time!