I’ve always been in the minority among my friends and fellow bloggers, because I had no interest in Sephora ever coming to the UK.
The beauty superstore is as much my temple as yours, but I’ve always like the idea of it as something special. Something you can only treat yourself to once every couple of years (she says, conveniently ignoring the fact that she has visited cities with Sephoras in them four times in the past year).
But that’s the very line of thinking that led me to waste one of my five days in New Orleans in America’s bleakest shopping mall. A place so depressing that it made it onto Wikipedia, but only because looters set fire to it during Hurricane Katrina. But a place that, unlike the city itself, had both a Sephora (albeit a Sephora-inside-JC Penney’s) and a Bath and Body Works.
I mean, would you look at the state of that. Okay, some of these are for Jehane, but still. They’re just masks. Sheet masks. Feet masks. Weird nose strip mask things. And, my personal favourite, eye masks. Yes, all the eye masks are for me. I like to use them on a Sunday night, while I’m winding down for bed and planning my week. I’ve tried it with a traditional full-face sheet mask, but it just slips off my face. Ain’t nobody got time to lie back and do nothing with a face mask on.
The makeup, on the other hand, is all for me. Jehane picked up one of the Tarteist liquid lipsticks on one of her work trips to the US, which just so happened to coincide with my birthday: it was pink, minty fresh and the name was a Mean Girls reference. So I got another one: bae, a bright red. Which I really need to use a lip liner with, as by the time I had breakfast on my first wear it was all over my chin. The Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara I spotted on another blog and couldn’t resist: I mean, just look at that packaging.
Also purchased: a Kat Von D tattoo liner (despite the recent UK launch and the pitiful exchange rate, I mean what); Urban Decay Moondust liquid eyeshadow (which I’m relieved to see we don’t have here yet); Beauty Blender cleanser that I got with my Sephora beauty card points. Which I always seem to be rolling in, despite living in a country that doesn’t have Sephora.
Due to the forementioned exchange rate issues, I wasn’t planning much in the way of clothes shopping while in the US – and then I wandered into Dillard’s. As a high-end department store (think House of Fraser, if the brands on display were anything to go by) there wasn’t much in the way of everyday fashion in my price range – but I fell hard for lingerie brand Jasmine & Ginger. The super-soft, gorgeously-fitted pyjama top has been silently mocking me through a recent bout of the flu, while the cat-print bottoms are so cute it took the sales rep literally zero convincing to get me to buy the matching knickers.
Now, a quick word about sales tax in the state of Louisiana. This is set at 5%, but different municipalities then charge additional rates which means you end up paying as much as 10% in New Orleans. To be fair, that’s half as much as UK VAT – but because it’s not included in the price of products can make for a nasty surprise when you get to the checkout. Tax free shopping is available throughout the state, but it isn’t advertised and apparently requires you to show your passport and ask for a voucher for the tax from participating retailers at the point of purchase. You can then cash in your voucher at Louis Armstrong International Airport (a name I never get tired of saying) when you leave.
I knew none of this before my trip, only researching it after the event when I realised what a hefty dent the exchange rate had made in my credit card! There is, it seems, a convoluted way of claiming back the tax once you’re back in the UK (shoutout to the utter babes manning the Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Facebook page) but it’s far easier to do while you’re still in the state!
I talked about indie shopping on Magazine Street as part of my New Orleans travel blog, and here are my spoils! A secondhand copy of Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ (it smells old and plays like new, and I’m sure somebody would love to tell me it’s not an original pressing but for $14.99 who really cares); the righteous new Against Me! album and one of Ryan Adams’ Pax-Am 7″ singles from Peaches Records. And, from dog-friendly indie boutique Tooth and Nail Trading Co., a Flambo “Jazz Fest Lemonade” soy candle, hand-poured in New Orleans, and trumpet earrings made by one of the women behind the boutique.