Friday, March 23, 2012

The Friday Forum - March 23

It's April in March! Just about all of our flowers and trees have burst into leaf or bloom a month early. These daffodils in my garden are definitely early. Our days have been delightful. Unfortunately, driving rains are predicted for this weekend, and they may wash the blooms right off the flowering trees, including the magnificent cherry trees that are blooming all over town.

Today, let's talk about samples, a perk of ordering online (and occasionally in stores). I'm always grateful to receive samples, but I've been thinking about their purpose. With makeup, they can be useful when they give us an opportunity to try - from a clean source - a lip color on our lips. They can be just as frustrating in the makeup category when the retailer offers/gives us a packet foundation sample in a color that's so far off from our own coloring, we can't learn much of anything that would help us make a purchase decision.

Fragrance samples can be extremely useful. There are usually a few "wears" in them, and they provide us with the opportunity to determine whether a scent compliments our skin chemistry and personal tastes. However, the arrival from Sephora of fragrance samples I didn't request, in place of what I selected, infuriates me. When I already know I despise a scent, I don't want it in my box, polluting my purchases.

Skin care samples are problematic. Have you ever made a decision to purchase skin care after using a single-use packet sample? I haven't. I need at least a few days, and preferably a week or more of use, to determine whether the product will be effective on my skin. About the only thing a packet sample can tell me is whether or not I like the smell and feel of the product. That's not enough. Consequently, I wonder why manufacturers bother to make skin care packets. Is it only because they're inexpensive to produce? Do they think the packets generate good will? The skin care exceptions, for me, are single-use mask samples. I love them. They allow me to experience a single application, and I do know after using one, whether I will purchase the product. Ask your Sisley counter for a mask sample, use it, then tell me you don't want it!

What do you think about beauty samples? Do they entice you to purchase? When? If you could rule the world for a day, how would you manufacture and distribute samples? What do you love? What do you hate?

Do you want to talk about other things? It's time for The Friday Forum, our open chat. What new products did you discover this week? Did you find any deals you couldn't resist? Are you using a fabulous product and want to sing its praises? Did you find a beauty product disappointing? Do you have a question others might be able to answer? Want to talk about skin care? What's new in your life? Just use the comments. Don't be shy. Just make sure to ask any question you might have over the weekend. By early the next week, most (not all) readers will have moved on.

This was a big week for me. I received many new fragrances and samples of the glorious new Xerjoff Oud Stars Collection (from MiN New York), my Giorgio Armani Beauty Rouge d'Armani Sheer Lipsticks arrived (by pony express), and my UPS guy dropped off my newest Sephora + PANTONE UNIVERSE selections last night (with their classy packaging). I see the sun rising, so I'm going to try to get photos today - important because no sun is predicted for the weekend. I'm also excited about a possible new partnership with my local SPACE.NK. It's a fabulous store within Bloomingdale's at Tysons Corner Center, and they are interested in helping me provide you with information - and possibly a special gift day for local readers. Stay tuned.

Please remember to support the Giorgio Armani Acqua for Life Campaign to help UNICEF provide clean water for children in need. Armani will donate $1 for the first 100,000 people who “like” the “Acqua for Life” Facebook page from March 1, 2012 to March 31. How hard is that? Just a click.

Don't forget to enter the Bobbi Brown Bare to Bold Eye Shadow Palette giveaway contest. The deadline is tomorrow, March 24, at midnight. It's a beautiful palette.

Garden photo by Best Things in Beauty. Xerjoff photo courtesy of Basenotes; Nude packet sample courtesy of Sephora


yesplease1816 said...

Oh I absolutely ADORE samples!! I know most of them are way too small of an amount to really prove anything--but since I have acne-prone skin, they help me get over that initial hurdle of "will it or won't it break me out". If I like the smell, texture/feel, and it doesn't break me out, I will either get a bigger sample from in-stores (if possible) or order it online--but only if the place has an excellent return policy (like Nordstrom or Sephora). Plus, it's always nice to have some handy for when you run out of, say, sunscreen or serum and you need a day or twos worth til you can restock. :)

Happy weekend, Charleston Girl!

Kate said...

Hi Charlestongirl,

I have mixed feelings about samples. I like fragrance samples for the same reason you do. However, I wish more high-end brands gave perfume samples (coughTomFordcough). I would much rather have a sample of a perfume that costs $100 or more, than a sample from a perfume that will set me back $60. But I suppose I can always try LuckyScents or some other website from which you can order samples.

I think makeup samples are becoming more and more rare. Even when the samples are from the counter itself, I find most counters give skin care samples. And I am with you on skin care samples...they are usually not enough for me to make a decision. To their credit, the Guerlain counter in Bergdorf in NYC gave me extremely generous samples of their Orchidee line of skin care and they lasted at least a month. But most of the packets are worthless, in my opinion.

I received the Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation this past Monday. I have been using it all week and love it. It is very lightweight, but evens out skin and provides a very natural finish. I had a beauty "a-ha!" moment recently - I don't need a ton of coverage from my foundation. I think I thought I needed more. So, using this product (which I would say provides sheer to medium coverage), is sufficient to even out my skin tone and provide coverage for the redness in my cheeks. I am really enjoying it.

I picked up a Lancome La Laque Fever gloss last night in Optic Rose. This is my first La Laque Fever gloss, although I own other Lancome glosses. I would describe the effect as similar to YSL's Golden Glosses. It gives a brilliant sheen to lips. Not much color, but it is making my lips glow. I think Lancome is an underrated brand in some respects. They have some seriously good products, both makeup and skincare.

I also rediscovered my love for Chanel's eyeshadow quad in Kaska Beige. The colors are all gorgeous and make my green eyes stand out. I love redisovering my love for products I have had for a long time.

After reading about Liz's makeover with Edward Bess on Cafe Makeup, I am seriously lemming the Quad Royale in South of France. I was curious about them after reading the reviews, but hearing what it did for Liz kind of set me over the edge. I have not purchased any EB products in a while, and I believe that is about to change!

Our backyard literally exploded with blooms over night. It has been very warm here, and things were getting significantly greener, but almost overnight every tulip is now in full bloom and all the trees have buds, if not full-fledged leaves, on them. Incredible. The rain is definitely helping. Good thing my husband likes yard work, because it is not really my thing!

Enjoy your weekends, ladies!


Evelyn said...

Hi Charlestongirl,

I tend to like samples although skin care ones are not my favorites. I do have to say that I was given some pretty generous skin care samples from Chanel that I really enjoyed and I ended up purchasing full sized products so sometimes it's a positive thing.

The companies should understand that if they want us to spend $300 for a face cream or whatnot, they need to give a decent sized sample first since skin is a touchy subject. I simply will not buy something that expensive (including perfume) unless I have tried it out enough to know it won't sit uselessly in my drawer. Yes it's an investment for them, but you're less likely to alienate a buyer by sticking them with an expensive product that does not work with their skin and chemistry.

My pet peeve is foundation samples. They are always the same color and too dark for my skin. For example, I keep getting the same color from Armani when I order. How about 3 little packets of different shades instead? One might actually match and convince me to purchase a full size.

I picked up and got in the mail a few things that I am happy with this week like the Edward Bess South of France Quad that I've been eying for months. I also got Sun Blondes in 04 and I think it will work really well with me when my skin leaves behind its winter pallor. I purchased Dior's Incognito nail polish which looks far better on me than the lipstick by that name; it's a great neutral color for every day.

All in all it's been a good makeup week and now it's time to dig out the spring clothes to go along with this weather!

Have a great weekend.

CGirl said...

Hi CG!
I love samples, but rarely make purchasing decisions based on them (other than fragrances). I do a ton of research (read reviews/swatches) before I even try a sample. My fave samples are handcream because it's always nice to them around. Something that really irritates me is the lack of mascara samples. I have a ton of trouble with mascara and really want samples before I buy. Many a time, I have gone from counter to counter asking for a sample. No one has ever had any! I have returned many mascaras. If they had samples, they would lose a lot less money in returns from me.

I received many goodies this week! My first Chantecaille purchase arrived: Sunrise and Heirloom lip chics. I am in love with Sunrise. It is exactly what I wanted for spring. I was afraid it would be too orange, but it is quite pink. The formula is fantastic. Heirloom is mucher darker than I expected, so I will likely exchange it.

I also received a L'Occitane cleanser, Laura Mericer's radiance primer, Tarina Tarantino eyeshadow duo, and Korres body butter. It will be a fun weekend of playing with it all. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

lovethescents said...

It's been gloriously summerlike here so we've been outdoors mostly. But, as it's still winter here despite the 24C temps we've had, we're expecting a seasonal 3C on Sunday. Good thing the winter coat is still closeby!

I love samples, but they need to be large enough for a few applications, as you suggested. I tried a Korres Wild Rose cream this week and like it a lot...however, I noticed it has Titanium Dioxide in the ingredients list. This sounds a bit scary! Not sure how I feel about that eventhough the feel, itself, is lovely.

I could live on fumie samples, though. I have enough to last me a lifetime! Plus, if I can't afford a FB of something, I can still get my fix in samples that can be purchased ;-)

I'm so surprised by those new ouds. Like you, I'm not typically an oud girl; in fact, the By Killian Amber Oud is too resinous for my nose. These Xerjoffs are so exciting! Looking forward to your thoughts.

No makeup purchases this week. Did buy a pair of hot pink jeans: no, I'm not 16, but they'll be wonderful with pastel tops that are so en vogue now!

Am STARING at those LMdB lipstains. Oh the torment of wanting too much!!

Eileen said...

Spring has sprung and I hope you all had a great week as you welcomed the new season. I love watching the gardens come alive. Although most everything in my area is evergreen, I enjoy the display of varigated greens that all the new growth creates. And, as for the flowers, they're making their appearance and will soon be providing explosions of vibrant color throughout the landscape. Yes, spring has spring :-)

I've been enjoying my beauty purchases from last week's beauty events. Guerlain has released some extraordinary beauties this year with more on the way. I have also been very happy with my new Chanel foundation: Vitalumière Aqua Cream foundation. A smooth and creamy texture, buildable coverage, light-as-air feel, "real skin" finish--what's not to love?

Samples. I love getting them when they're things I am interested in trying. I really don't like samples, though, that are just indiscriminately tossed into my bag. Most of those I throw away. As for skin care, since it takes about 4 weeks for new cells to reach the surface, no sample is going to let you judge a product's efficacy in just a few days. It does, however, let you know whether you're going to have a bad/allergic reaction to it. Personally, I find most SA's are happy to give me samples.

Hi Katie,

Last week you asked how we were wearing Sunny Pink and Golden Glimmer powder and if it could be worn during the day. Here's what I've been doing. I pump a tiny bead size amount of Sunny Pink onto my hand and then swirl a stippling brush in it. I use the brush to apply it on the apples of my cheeks and then lightly fade it out as I move up towards the cheekbones. I find a stippling brush--as opposed to using fingers--gives a smooth, well-blended, and natural looking application. For the Golden Glimmer highlighter, I use a humongous Louise Young fan brush (3 1/2 inches across!) to apply it in the classic "C" around the browbones and cheekbones and merge it with the Sunny Pink. Using a large fan gives a more diffused effect which is softer and more attractive on a woman my age. I also lightly sweep the highlighter all over my décolleté for a subtle golden glow. Can it be worn during the day? Yes! Guerlian calls Golden Glimmer "A sweep of sunlight." Applied with a light hand, it gives a golden, resort glow which is at its best on a bright and sunny day. I hope that gives you some ideas.

Hi Evelyn,

A few weeks back you asked if I'd comment on my Chanel event makeup application, I did so on last week's forum, but didn't get around to it until late Saturday night. The complete description of what the Chanel MA did to me is one of the last comments--#25, I think.

Jo said...

I like samples of products I want to try. I like to see if I like the texture, scent and absorbability of a product before I decide to buy it. But, I have far too many samples that I have no use for.

I am enjoying Guerlain's Sunny Pink blush this week. I put it on underneath my Blondes bronzer and love the combination. I tried the Sun Blonds bronzer but it was too dark for me. I just like a subtle bronzer effect so EB Daydream and Guerlain's Blondes are my favorites. I am also eagerly awaiting my shipment of LMdB lip kaledioscope, I should get it on Tuesday!

Have a nice weekend everyone!

Clarisse said...

Ah samples!!! For me the problem is with those I get when I purchase on line since they send whatever is close by or they want to sell... But when I go to shops (pharmacies, Sephora, department stores)I'm asked what I'd like and I tell them skin care samples, giving them the name of the brands I usually use or would love to try and I get loads of samples which I love: I keep them for week-ends or 3/4 days trips when I'm glad to use only my usual products (and my make-up bag is very light). I'm happy to say the shops where I live are very generous (I've been a faithful customer for ages too and they know me which certainly helps) and I hope that will lasts! A lovely week-end to everyone: sun is back here with high temperatures at last...wonderful:-)

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Yesplease!

I never realized how valuable samples could be for those with oily skin. Thanks for sharing. Since my skin has never been oily, I often forget that even a sample an be helpful for those with oily skin.

Yes, the travel value is enormous - when you can get a sample of something you know and like. :)

Charlestongirl said...

Hey there, Kate,

Did you know that Tom Ford has a dram program? If they do not have a pre-prepared sampled of what you'd like to test, they have all the equipment to make you one. Really - bottle with gold labels are the ready. Shame on your TF reps for not offering! Ask.

You can pay for samples at LuckyScent or MiN, and they are gracious and fast. However, the TF samples are FREE. Seriously, I am going to tell our local rep that some counters are not providing what's expected by Mr. Ford!

BTW, totally agree on the Guerlain samples. They are usually generous (not packets). I also take my own container to stores and ask them to make me samples (good SAs offer to do it anyhow). When an SA says, sorry, no samples, I whip out my container. Too funny when they are trapped. How can they refuse then?

Totally agreed on Lancôme being under-appreciated. It seems that if the brand isn't Chanel, LMdB, Armani, or a few others, women don't pay enough attention. Even my readership numbers reflect that!

Everyone on earth needs at least one EB Quad Royale. I love them! It's weird, but one of my favorite beauty bloggers just sent me hers. She didn't like the colors in the latest. I was thrilled to have it!

I wish I still had some tulips!

Charlestongirl said...


We should telegraph your suggestion to brands: give us a choice of shades! Bobbi Brown does it to a limited extent - better than most. Armani used to do it on their Web site and does do it in stores. Loyd showed me his case of samples on numerous occasions. He had just about every shade. It shouldn't be that hard.

Yea - you bought some fabulous new things! Have fun testing this weekend!

Charlestongirl said...

Hi CGirl,

Interesting, I have enough mascara samples to stock a counter. I have no idea why they won't give them to you. Ask. Often they have them; I have NO IDEA why they aren't offered.

Sunrise, an exquisite shade. Love it!

Charlestongirl said...

Lovethescents, hey!

The titanium dioxide is a sunscreen. Do you react to it?

Maybe I like the Xerjoff ouds because they are soft and un-oudy. Really! I have already pre-ordered three and am ready to add a fourth. I will be beyond broke, but the global distribution is limited, and the "desire to have them" is intense.

Pink jeans? You will be right in step with Kate Middleton, the world's fashion icon. Nothing wrong with that. She's classy.

The LMdB lipsticks are very pretty. Wait for the new lip glosses in the Cherry Blossom Collection, though. Then you can get something pretty AND new. :)

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Eileen,

I also have no problem getting samples. It may be because I write a blog. Not sure. In the "old days," before BTiB, SAs were not as forthcoming with them.

I was hoping to receive my new Chanel blushes today, but I can see from the tracking that I won't get them before Monday. I'm bummed. Was looking forward to the treat. I am such a box addict. Wish I could space out my orders and time shipping so I get at least one box/day. Imagine the adrenaline rush!

Thanks so much for sharing your immense knowledge with everyone. Happy weekend!

Charlestongirl said...

Jo, use a fan brush or powder brush, and apply that Sun Blonde VERY lightly. You can make it work. :)

Wouldn't it be fun to do a sample swap? If we all lived close, we could. I give those I can't use to contest winners in their giveaway boxes or take them to work, where the gals adore them.

I am so glad you have Aurora on the way. Most stores have sold out quickly. Some counters only got seven of them - TOTAL!

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Clarisse!

France and the U.S. must be very different. Example: the last time I went in Sephora with a friend, she bought something (maybe $100?), and they offered her nothing. I then asked, "Do you have some samples you can give her?" (I've become pretty aggressive about samples for my friends.) Suddenly, the cashier offered her several. That's why I tell everyone here to ask.

Happy weekend. After your frigid winter, you deserve a break. :)

Kate said...


I totally agree that everyone needs at least one of those Quad Royales. However, I am having a heck of a time deciding. Which one do you like the most? My skin is somewhere between fair and medium (probably more toward the medium spectrum). Is there one you prefer over the others?


Eileen said...

Hi Charletongirl,

Ooooooh . . . New Chanel blushers! What did you order? Joues Contraste (US version) is one of my favorite blusher formulations. I think Chanel was wise to reformulate a couple of last year's baked blushers and release them in the US version. That's sure to make a lot of women happy. I think we're spoiled by the smooth, buttery, satin goodness that Chanel manufactures for the US market :-)

As for Lancôme, I'm not sure why it doesn't get more love. I've purchased some lovely lipsticks, blushers, and eyeshadow palettes (love Taupe Craze) from Lancôme.

Hi Jo,

After reading your comment, I plan on pairing my Sunny Pink with Blonds tomorrow. I have both Blonds 02 and Sunny Blonds 04. Right now, Blonds is better suited to me, but in a month or so, Sunny Blonds will be the star. Then, it will be back to Blonds come autumn. I'm glad that Guerlain made two intensities of this soft, glowing bronzer. If I could rock the Brunette versions, I'd get those as well! Fortunately for my wallet, they're too dark and warm for me.

Jo said...

Hi Eileen,

I think you'll love the sunny pink/blondes combination. I know I do! I haven't returned the sunny blondes yet so maybe I'll give it another try tomorrow with a lighter hand. I've been using the Bobbi Brown bronzer brush to apply maybe I need to try a different brush.

Can you recommend a good fan brush. Do you know if the Trish McEvoy one is any good? Or, what's your favorite. Thanks

Evelyn said...

Hi Charlestongirl,

I hope they hear us and make more samples available! When I was at an Armani counter the poor MA went nuts trying to find anything other than a 5.5 shade (a bit dark & yellow) for me to try, she actually had to find a pot finally to make me one (very nice of her) of another shade. If one more MA tries to foist a yellowish shade on me...

Thank you Eileen for posting your makeover. I actually have a few of those products, maybe I'll add a few more to try that out for myself. :) Actually I need to find a decent MA to try a makeover too. The last time I did one at a Chanel counter did not quite go so well. There were so many products put on my face, I couldn't handle the scent and well I was a Jersey Shore sort of bronze. I was not pleased at all. oh well.

Time to relax! :)

Charlestongirl said...

Jo, the Louise Young LY20 Super Fan Brush, recommended by Gaia, is fabulous. See her feature here:

Eileen said...

Hi Jo,

I second Charlestongirl's recommendation of the Louise Young fan brush. It's the one I am currently using for the Golden Glimmer powder. Because of its size, it is obviously good for all-over applications and for blending, but once you get accustomed to its 3 1/2 inch size, you can do some surprisingly fine detail work with it. If you want a standard sized fan, then check out Laura Mercier's. That's another one of Gaia's favs. I have it as well and love it for applying those intense and highly pigmented blush shades that Edward Bess and Tom Ford seem to favor.

Hi Evelyn,

I got a good laugh out of your Jesey Shore bronze. It instantly brought to mind one of my makeup counter horror stories :-P Can you imagine how many comments dear Charlestongirl would get if that were the topic of the forum? LOL

I think we'd all agree a good MA is a real jewel. Like you, I already owned a number of the products used, but I wasn't there to try out new things so much as to get a look using Trace that could go from day to night with just a bit of tweaking. The MA was wonderfully responsive and gave me two looks that played up my dark green eyes. Whereas the day look used black liner and Incognito; the night look used Mirifique and Bonheur over Incognito. I really must remember to ask the Chanel counter manager for the MA's name. I'll want to work with her again in the future.

I think we all love hearing about beauty events, so you other ladies really must share with us. Pretty please :-)

Jo said...

Thanks CharlestonGirl and Eileen for the fan brush recommendation. It looks like a beauty. Unfortunately they are out of stock right now (not suprisingly seeing as how it is so well loved) so I'll have to keep checking back with the website to see when it is in stock again. Maybe I'll try the LM in the meantime.

Leigh said...

I find samples generally useless also, except for specific perfume requests from Beautyhabit and Luckyscent. There is one type of sample, though, that I really like: the deluxe sampler kit. You pay a modest price to experience a company's offerings in a luxurious format. Ineke Perfumes offers in a beautiful box mini-atomizers of its fragrances for $25, which can be used for credit toward a full-size purchase. And I recently received Tatcha's gorgeous skincare sampler set (packaged in rice paper!) for a fraction of what the complete line costs. I would like to see more companies do this.

This has been an exciting week in beauty for me. LMdB retwittered my feature on the Cherry Blossom Kaleidoscope, which was very flattering. I then decided that I needed the Aurora Lip Kaleidoscope now, only to find out that it sold out online already. I had to call a couple of stores before I located one. That'll teach me.

Up next on my list is Guerlain Sunny Pink. I'm a bit paranoid about this one selling out too!