A beauty counter often seems like the enchanted land, with all those gorgeous makeup and skincare products twinkling and shimmering at every turn. But the smart consumer has to wonder: what’s real and what’s fake? Or more importantly, are they putting your health at risk? To find out, we asked real women who work behind beauty counters to give us the inside story. Ignore this at your own risk.
Seriously… EVERYWHERE! Have you ever seen the number of people who come and stick their dirty fingers in the pots to test them, leaving behind both grime and germs? Even though most makeup counter salespeople clean makeup brushes between one customer and the next, even the products themselves are often a breeding ground for bacteria. So, how to keep yourself safe? Firstly, avoid testing on lips and eyes, which are the most vulnerable to infection; use the back of your hand. If that’s not feasible, wipe lipsticks, powders and eye shadows with an alcohol-coated cloth or antibacterial wipe before testing. If you are trying out an eye or lip pencil, first wipe down with alcohol and then sharpen them to pare away any surfaces that come in contact with skin. Finally, wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer before and after visiting a makeup counter.
Appearances are (intentionally) deceptive
Seen those salespeople who look more like doctors? This is all a part of visual psychology – the sparkling white lab coats create the illusion that they are trained estheticians or scientists. Fact, on the contrary, is that if they were experts, they would not be working at the counter. Rather, you would find them in salons, a dermatologist’s office or developing new skin care technology in a lab. Marketing, aloha!
That free makeover is not free
The whole idea of walking out looking like a brand new person or popping in to get your face done before a party is is super-seductive but remember, it isn’t really free. Even though, technically, you’re not obligated to buy anything, it’s considered a serious breach of protocol to get a free makeover when you have no intention of buying anything. Makeup artists at counters work on commission, so they spend time on you hoping to make a sale. It’s like tipping – no one will punch you, but you would be made to feel guilty like hell. And just try getting decent service the next time round!
How many times has a beauty counter salesperson asked about what products you are currently using? Wonder why? They use the information to judge your buying cred and accordingly figure out how much time to spend on you. As a skincare salesperson reveals:”If you are happy using a 3-in-1 drugstore cleanser, it tells me you are unlikely to buy a $40 toner.”
Of course, you can and should be asking for samples before committing to a new product but remember that salespersons are taking note of how much you are “sampling” vis-a-vis actually purchasing. Tip the balance too much in the wrong direction and you might well be left out in the cold during future visits.