Costco Is My New Sephora


But first, gas.

Maybe you know the drill—when a Costco trip is on the docket, that also entails filling your car with that sweet, cheap unleaded nectar of the car gods. “It’s at least 25 cents less per gallon,” cousin Annmarie told me, slapping a plastic glove on her pumping hand. Annmarie is my Costco Connection, my super clever joke based on the warehouse store’s magazine, because Annmarie is sneaking me in with her membership card. Inside, we split up and I veer my colossal cart to the pharmacy while AM seeks out a rotisserie chicken.

At the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, Costco sales went through the roof as panic buyers padded their anxiety with two-ply Kirkland bath tissue. Those crowds deterred Annmarie from shopping there, but as Michigan began to open up this summer, we were both feeling braver. And I was low on Sensodyne. All shoppers were wearing masks, except a few dads who felt exempt because they were shouting on the phone, a logic I cannot follow. I stalked the pharmacy for the best beauty buys, because I need to feel a sense of purpose in life, and I’m on a tighter-than-tight budget right now. I know I’m not the only one.

Here’s what I got:

The boring stuff

Yes I scored my FOUR-PACK of Sensodyne ($25), because my teeth—and all the parts inside and outside of my bones—are SENSITIVE, okay? Gosh, do I have to explain WHY? They’ve been through a LOT.

Heave-ho! Into the cart they go. A two-pack of my bottom shelf mainstay Cetaphil moisturizing cream tubs, the greatest, most unscented lotion out there ($15).

In the area where the bottles are the size of American Girl dolls, Annmarie snags the secret to her shiny locks: Kirkland moisturizing shampoo. She used to use Kerastase, but this stuff is better/cheaper and her hairdresser hasn’t noticed the difference ($12).

Why is everything enshrined in excess cardboard, I wonder, standing in front of shoeboxes filled with 4 refill packs + bonus minis of Neutrogena makeup-removing face wipes ($17). They sell a 3.6-ounce vat of Neutrogena’s lightweight Water Cream for $25, which is packaged in a thick cardboard tray you could serve appetizers on. I fling a frisbee of two oceanic-scented Neutrogena Water Cream SPF 30 sunscreens into my cart ($15). Above me, a giant camping tent quivers in the air-conditioned breeze.

This is also the time to weigh yourself down with a 12-pound box of Dr Teal’s Epsom salts ($8), a 24-pack of cheap white washcloths to drape over your weary eyes ($12), and a pandemic headache’s supply of ibuprofen ($13). Hang in there.

The Frenchies

Spotted! A big ol’ bottle of Bioderma Micellar water for $17 and pharmacy fave Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè, two for $39. That cream is as essential to my skin in winter as long-underwear.

The splurgies

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t purchase any of these, but they are for sale at Costco (some online only), and I was surprised and impressed. Thought you would be too: LA FREAKING MER ($275)! Mason Pearson hairbrushes ($110)! Molten Brown hand soap in the bright and tangy rhubarb rose scent ($19). I spotted a 2-pack of Olay’s fantastic, derm-approved retinol for $45. Inventory changes a bit—where’d the SK-II essence go?—which is a deliberate and ingenious retail tactic that works on me Every. Time. Ooo what do we have this week?

The unrelateds

I just wanted to share that, in the way life goes, I walked out of Costco slightly out of breath, with a variety of intended purchases, like a cordless Dyson vacuum that was $100 off and looks kind of like a bazooka?!?! A three-pack of super soft tank tops that Annmarie saw on the cult Instagram account “Costco does it again” ($17). And enough Quaker Oats to feed a stable of breakfast-loving horses ($8.29). I regret nothing!

What’d I miss? Is that Kirkland citrus body wash any good? How many EOS chapsticks is too many? Which Boscia thing is best? There’s a lot of Boscia. Where’s the mascara? Tequila, in general? Let’s forget our troubles and discuss in the comments.

—Alex Beggs

Photo via ITG