Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Lesson 1: Don't buy back-ups. I used to buy a lot of color product back-ups, and most of them have gone unused. The exception is Chantecaille's Tiger in the Wild palette. I am on my second, and I have a third at the ready. That's the exception. Most of my other back-ups are still waiting to be used - two and three years later. Why? Because there are always new colors that are just as exciting. The same rule applies to skin care - actually, even more so. If you love something, it works, it makes you look better, and/or your skin loves it, don't buy a back-up. For one thing, the product will age while you use the first one you bought. If it's as great as you think it is, it will still be around when you are ready for your next jar (or whatever). Why not get a fresh new one?
Lesson 2: Do not buy products just to get the gift with purchase (GWP). I did this regularly in the past. Those samples built up in my house, even though I gave many away. I have enough tote bags, makeup bags, and mascara samples for life - and I've given away hundreds. Let me give you an example. Right now, Estée Lauder has a beautiful GWP at Neiman Marcus. In prior years, I would have thought up why I needed $75 worth of products in order to get the gift. This year, I passed it up (I'll admit I admire it every time I see it). I don't need anything from Estée Lauder right now, and I'm excited about new products, not buying more of what I already have.
Lesson 3: Ask for samples. I shopped for decades and most of the time was not offered any samples with my purchases. It was only after I started blogging that sales associates became generous with samples. Don't believe that they don't have them - they do. They use them themselves and often send them out of the store to family members and friends. They won't part with them unless you are already a good customer (or dress so well to go shopping, they recognize you as a cash cow). I proved my theory by asking friends who were SAs and by direct observation. I went to Sephora with a friend who spent about $100, with no help. We picked out her purchases ourselves. When she paid at the counter, she was offered nothing. I had to say, "Do you have any samples you could give her?" Only then was she offered a few packet samples. I guess the fewer they distribute, the more they can take home with them.
Which brings me to Lesson 4: I will not buy skin care after being offered one packet sample - one application to test. How ridiculous! One high-end product representative acts like she is doing me a huge favor by offering me a single-use packet sample to test it. What would I know after one use? Only whether I like the smell and don't react negatively to an ingredient. If you can't give me five days worth, don't bother. While I'm grateful for the thought, I cannot evaluate a $500 product in one night.
Lesson 5: Don't believe the skin-care sthtick you'll be fed at the counter. This past weekend, one product representative told me her new serum would be absorbed "all the way to the dermis." In reaction, I said to her, "Really, wow, then it's a drug?" She clammed up quickly. I was like a cat toying with an unfortunate mouse. I should feel guilty. After the FDA made an example last year of Lancôme, cosmetic companies have had to back off their exaggerated written anti-aging claims. Apparently some of them are making up for it with beauty counter folklore.
Lesson 6: Learn your ingredients, know what has been proven effective, know what your skin likes or hates, and examine ingredient lists before you buy. Recently, I looked at a Keihl's label. A good company, right? What was the first ingredient (the highest concentration) in the anti-wrinkle serum? Propylene glycol. Nice? No. I was recently sent a product to test that contained petrolatum and mineral oil among its most concentrated ingredients. You won't be reading about it here.
I could go on and on. Give me enough time, and I would. I'll leave you with Lesson 8: Once you find a good product representative/makeup artist/sales associate, stick with him or her. Loyalty will benefit both of you. It's also terribly unfair to let one person spend close to an hour with you and then buy from someone else.
Would you like to add a few of your own lessons in the comments?
Photo courtesy of jmorganmarketing.com and samplecontainerstore.ecrater.com