Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lessons Learned

These last few months have been a time of reflection for me. I've thought a lot about many things, including the beauty industry, beauty products, my buying habits, and this blog (naturally). They are all interrelated. Despite the "dependencies" among these topics, I've realized I've learned a few lessons over the last 3-4 years. I want to share them with you. Boring feature? Perhaps. There won't be any swatch photos today, so if you're hoping for them, you may be disappointed.

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.

Lesson 7: Don't buy that fragrance because it smelled great on your arm in the store or on a piece of paper. Wear it for at least a few hours. It may morph in its dry-down to something you don't like - or even hate (as is my case with patchouli). Most fragrances do have three distinct phases, ending in prominent base notes. Ask the sales representative for a sample. Remember, if you like it, go back and buy it from the person who helped you.

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

52 comments:

Kate MacDonald said...

Excellent advice all around. I've gotten to know which counters have the best service and I make a point of buying from them, even if they aren't necessarily in places where I get benefits like loyalty points, etc.

One lesson I've learned recently and which I am trying to stick to: Don't get caught up in limited edition hype. There are times when you know you're going to want something from the moment you see it, but I no longer allow myself to feel pressured into buying something immediately just because I fear it won't be available the next day. Yes, new launches are exciting, but when they're produced in such small quantities that I feel I have to be at a store as soon as they open, it feels like bullying to me. That's one of the main reasons I barely purchase from Mac anymore. They've made the process stressful.

DustyJil said...

Yes! To all. I just completed stage 1 of a purge. I say stage 1 because I am shocked and dismayed at ow much I have left. Samples are critical. I used to be shy about asking. Then. Finally realized I was wasting money. The counter are supposed t offer a service you cannot get elsewhere. I have very irritation prone skin. I will no longer buy unless I can try something first.

Nemo said...

Hate to say this, Cg, what your excellent feature today is worth more than swatches. You are right in everything you say. As for skincare, my hide has never looked better and I am using Aveda products that cost $20 bucks a bottle! (I did buy the larger, $48 size recently.) After using the finest dermatologists on earth, people with a medical degree, I seek their advice and not some poor thing behind a makeup counter. It's less expensive, too.

Kylee @ Lifting in Lipstick said...

This is all really good advice! I always feel kind of like a mooch if I ask for samples for anything other than foundation. I think it's because I'm younger and that obviously makes me not look like the "I'm going to spend money!" type, so it makes me feel like they're going to think I'm just snooping around for free high-end product.

I don't have a Nordstrom/Neiman's here (unfortunately), but when I'm lucky enough to be near one I feel I have to "dress the part" to even get serious service. Put on a nice dress, make sure my makeup is flawless. It can sometimes be disheartening.

bambiQ said...

good lessons! you are totally right! It's true what you say about back ups, ingredients and samples.
Loving this kind of posts. Such a practical information :)

AnneD said...

Thank you CG for sharing your lessons learned. I especially agree with the lesson concerning GWPs. I went wild with that also, taking most of my totes to Goodwill.

I can't even imagine buying an expensive cream without a trial size first though. I won't even consider buying from stores that are stingy with samples. Although I have reached the point in life where clutter and little things make me crazy, so I don't want more than I can actually use. My husband just fell over when I read this to him! Anyway, great post today, thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Great post! While I do love coming here daily to see swatches, I too have learned many of these lessons this past year. Sound advice for a lot of us that spend our hard earned money on cosmetics and fragrance. - Zeynep

Mary said...

You have shared great tips. I can agree with you on every point you mention!

I can also suggest to be careful with free trial offers of expensive products. If they give you something very expensive for free then remember that you have to read all rules very carefully, because in the most cases you will be charged for the second supply for the full price. Often people do not read all that stuff till end and then are very disappointed that their credit cards are billed for the full price of the product!

ellyp said...

Unfortunately for my pocketbook, I have learned all of these lessons the hard way!

I have been cleaning out my stash this past week and, once again, I blush at my backups (mostly lipsticks). I'm too drawn to the newest and freshest to stay loyal to one lipstick -- EVER! I hate to give away some of these beautiful backups but I fear I will NEVER use them! As of a year ago, I have stopped buying them.

I agree with your "dressed up" comment very much but your "loyalty" comment has trumped that in my life. If I stick to my favorite salesladies at Nordstrom's, they know I am a makeup ADDICT and they know I am a very regular customer so they treat me well. There was one lady, though, that I felt dissed me for awhile so I took my business elsewhere. I do think she has noticed and she has started to be attentive to me again so I have started coming back around and I will buy from her occasionally once more.

One of my favorite salesladies at Nordstrom's has mentioned to me that I teach HER a lot! She loves giving me makeovers with new stuff because I let her be creative and play. She has the neatest ideas so we love collaborating on something fresh! She lets me know that she enjoys me as a customer and, every time I buy something, she then loads me up on expensive samples. I totally don't need to dress up anymore when I stop to see her! :)

Estelle said...

Fabulous insights, lessons which I have all learned myself as well. Oh, and I enjoyed this article just as much as your swatch articles!

Anonymous said...

I really like this post, thank you for sharing some wisdom. I agree with so much of what you wrote. I, too, have regretted buying backups; part of the fun of makeup is trying new products and formulas.

I don't understand the stinginess about samples. It seems counter-intuitive that many retailers of high-end makeup/skincare have pretty good return policies, so I could buy the full-size and return it, but I can't have a decent sample? Doesn't it cost the company a lot more if you return a product than to give out samples? Isn't that what samples are for, to let customers test products to decide if they want to buy? The sales associates who have been generous in giving me samples have increased my confidence/boldness in asking for samples, although I'm still a bit shy about it because of past experiences with stingy employees.

The part you wrote about the bizarreness of the sales associates acting like they are doing you a favor by giving you a teeny useless sample is so true!

Eileen said...

This is a fantastic post, Charlestongirl! One of the best of this type that I have ever read and I concur 100% with everything you've said. Your readers are also contributing some great ideas. In truth, each and every one of the points brought up could be a post in and of itself. Well done!

Now I'd like to add one: Do not blindly follow a blogger's advice or accept their reviews as gospel. Think of them only as guidelines. And take those "grades" some of them assign with a grain of salt. Although they give the illusion of an impartial assessment, the systems used are often convoluted and highly subjective. Bloggers can't help but judge things based on their particular needs, their own appearance, their esthetics, their personal preferences, their skill level, and even their financial situation. So, keep in mind that you are simply reading another person's opinion. Don't be a lemming! Try the product and form your own opinion.

J said...

I find your posts so educating and interesting. I really have learned more about ingredients in skin care from you. After reading todays post I was worried about the skin care items I use regularly! Would you mind doing a post on which specific ingredients to avoid using and also mentioning some of your favorite skin care products that do not contain those items? That would be so awesome! I loved this post :)

Anonymous said...

Very valuable and true lessons! You are right in each one of them! Thank you

Eileen said...

Hi J,

You didn't ask me, but I'm going to direct you to a very consumer friendly site where you can get the low down on a plethora of common cosmetic ingredients. It's the Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary A-Z at Paula's Choice. I don't have the URL handy, but if you google it, you'll easily find the link.

If your skin is doing well with what you're currently using, then just check your ingredient lists against the descriptions provided by Paula. You'll quickly come to understand what is worthwhile, what is just filler, and what is detrimental. Remember, too, that it is not just the ingredient, but how much is being used, in what capacity it is being incorporated, and with what other ingredients it is being combined. Here's an example: We tend to think of alcohol as bad, but there are fatty alcohols that are beneficial when used in skincare. Also, even the so-called bad alcohol has it's place in skincare when it is used as an essential part of a delivery system for certain beneficial ingredients.

I know it sounds complicated, but like learning a new language, once you get the hang of it, the rest flows very easily. There are also some sites like Future Derm, Truth In Aging, The Beauty Brains, and The Triple Helixian (one of my faves although John Su has been on hiatus lately) that review products and provide detailed, research documented, explanations of how the ingredients in them function. There is so much nonsense to be found on-line, you want to be sure you're getting your info from people who have actually researched the topic and who provide links to reputable
research and case studies.

Sorry if I caused your eyes to glaze over :-P I did my best to keep this short, but cosmetic chemistry is such a fascinating topic.

Heather C. said...

I loved this post! Thank you for voicing your insights -- they are all so honest and wonderfully right on target!!

JudithDM said...

I agree with you 110%. I was taken in by a Revive body cream I had not expected to buy (was on the opposite side of counter buying a few Guerlain items, not skincare). However, the two reps loaded me up with samples of many other things. Plus the cream felt wonderful on my dry arms and skin. A bit pricey for me, and usually could have had some reserve. Yesterday I walked thru Saks to catch a cab and always love the cosmetic/beauty. I knew I would pick up a few things. Now, will come home and google for reviews of what I did buy, swathes mostly, to have another look, another thing I do, before trying on myself at home. I could spend my last dollar on cosmetics and beauty treats. I have long had an attitude about any immediate lust. If I lose an ebay auction, if an item sells out, there will always be something else. Has saved me considerably!!! Of course not reading our Charleston Girl would save me a lot as well, but she is a guilty pleasure, and yes, I learn a lot!

JudithDM said...

A second (or third/fourth?) thought! Do we wonder where the samples and products on ebay come from? Sales associates do not realize they are cutting themselves out, not enticing a customer. Oh, well.....

Elena said...

I totally agree with you!

VancouverChic said...

Amen CGirl!!!!! I wish every woman could read your blog for today. One book that I have found very helpful is A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients; Complete Information About the Harmful and Desirable Ingredients Found in Cosmetics and Cosmeceuticals. Bring it with you when you go shopping. Consult it before you buy a skin care product. Go on forums that discuss skincare products in depth if you have a particular skin care problem. Wear what looks good on your skin and makes you look fabulous and not just what is fashion. While it is nice to see all the new colors that come in for each season it doesn't mean that any of those colors are literally going to make your face WOW! Thanks CGirl for the great written article today. *applauds*

Best Regards,
Joanne ~ VancouverChic

Lisa said...

Fantastic insights! I completely agree with everything you commented on. Well done!

Micki said...

I always had a rule whereby if I buy something, something in my closet goes to Goodwill. I pretty much stick to that one with clothing. I never had that rule with make-up because you can't give it to Goodwill. I never bought back-ups of make-up (with the exception of shu uemura when they left the US) because it's not often that I hit pan. When my mother passed away a few years ago, I was appalled at all of the "stuff" she had and vowed never to make my kids have to go through and get rid of everything. I have shoes and jewelry I've never worn, or only wore a couple times that just couldn't go to Goodwill, and what to do with all of the new in box shu? I finally broke down and opened an eBay account last month. In less than a month, I've sold over $3700! It's actually more exciting than buying and I haven't used any of the money to buy new stuff. It's going to retirement. Selling those $375 pair of unworn shoes for $75 will sure make me think twice before I buy another pair of shoes. There is some make-up that just isn't selling so I will find some organization that will take donations of new in box.

Melanie said...

This is a brilliant post, CG! I can relate to every lesson. Kate makes an excellent point about the LE items. It does get stressful, and who wants that pressure when buying makeup! And Eileen raises a good one as well about blogger-influenced purchases. I can say that I have had two major and quite expensive disappointments this year for that very reason. I think that this has added to my growing wariness over the virtual makeup and skin care culture in the last while. As has been mentioned here previously, bloggers may feel pressured to positively review products (I am actually sometimes surprised at the number of universally-glowing reviews for some items; not everything is that great all the time). Lesson 8 is really important, too. If you can, take the time to develop a rapport with an associate.

onegreatsmile said...

I agree wholeheartedly, CG. Even though cosmetics and some skincare items can be classified as splurges, there are smart splurges and waste-of-money splurges. An educated confident customer is the best customer. Shopping from a place of fear will empty your wallet lickety split. Have faith the next new color will catch your eye, don't be afraid to ask for a makeover or a sample, and read your labels. Yes. Yes. YES!!!

Jem McL said...

Hooray, CG! This is a great post with lots of reminders and most of all, that all things in moderation. I have back-ups right now that I wonder when I will get to them. I have the GWP bags stocked up in my "Cosmetics" room. It's that bad really. Even though I give them away, take them to GoodWill and pass them along with gifts to friends. It's seriously addictive.
You are also spot on with your evaluation of skin care products. I have "TRIED" so many only to be dismayed with the results. I am an avid label reader and enjoy more natural products whenever possible. It is sad these companies use some harmful ingredients that do terrible things in the long-run.
I really like so many different products from different companies that it does get confusing to shop for the "new" release of goodies. And then there are different seasons for different product shades...the list goes on.
If we find a regimen that works and we like the shades, I say get it and stay with it. Add something special on occasion and simplify the beauty routine! I am working on that process at the moment. (wish me luck)
This was a really good post!
Thanks for sharing as I think we can all relate to this one!

Charleston Girl said...

Wow, you are all great! I don't even know where to begin. Thanks for all the additional lessons and tips.

J, I would be glad to do an ingredient post. Actually, I think I published one years ago. I can dust it off and update it.

I wish all customers were as "with it" as you all are. We could send such a strongly united message to brands and stores.

EllenB said...

Thank you, CGirl, for a very informative and eye-opening post! I always learn something new by reading your blog--swatches or not! Great post! I can count on 3 hands the number of times I have purchased something based on your review and I have never been disappointed. I just think you are the wisest of them all and feel confident when I make a purchase based on your review and swatches! Keep it up, CGirl!

Tracey Kaste said...

I agree with most of what you said but take issue with the sample one. As a Promotional Artist with a few lines if I have samples they are for my guest to take. Yes I will sample something new personally, but if it comes down to you or me getting a sample I am giving it to my guest. Companies are stingy with samples that are pre made (was at a Market training today for a company who does not regularly send out samples, when questioned we are told it is to expensive) and some stores will not allow everything to be sampled as it does not have literature to accompany the sample (ingredients for the consumer to check in case of allergies)
Also with a medical background I know and we are told not to say products penetrate to the sub q layer, but unfortunately I hear to many SA's say that much to my dismay. Products can be cell communicating but they do not penetrate.
Love your blog :)

Jem McL said...

You are again, spot on Charleston Girl! We should unite to rally the troops around these cosmetic companies for better ingredients, truthful disclosure on product packaging and advertising and let the consumer make the decision best fitted for their individual needs. Education is KEY to everything from skin care to color cosmetics and beyond. Sometimes I think these companies believe we are lacking in knowledge and will buy whatever they put out there! HA - "Lessons Learned" was an intelligent approach to this this all-to confusing market of "BEAUTY!"
Thanks again! (You hit my buttons with this posting) :-)

Anonymous said...

Awh, now you made me remember again my favorite beauty consultant I miss so much even after 14 years of no-seeing! Dear Florence from Israel, from col-bo Yehuda first and from Ben Gurion later - I will always remember you warmly.. Here in the Netherlands there is serious lack of knowledge and love for the job among so called assistants, far less real enthusiasts. Sorry for whinning, it's just my weak and painful point: tired of coming to the shop and knowing more then people working there about products.

Thanks for a good bunch of advise, CG - it's all handy.

I can add one more thing about sampling: when I really wanna try the (usually costly) product, I don't rely on ready samples (indeed, more often they are not there) and just bring with me small plastic container (empty pot from travel size-something or even eye-lenses container) - _testers_ they have always and if package hygienic enough you can get something to try :).

Dovey said...

Hi Charlestongirl,

Amazing post! Navigating beauty counters still is a tricky process, and often a trial and error one! I think the insight you've provided here is spot on, and hopefully will help many beauty enthusiasts out there!

I'd have to agree with Lesson 3, the samples. They do seem to be hard to come by --- even at Sephora. To add to your point, it seems that lower volume / suburban stores seem to be more generous with samples and education (understandably) while I find that counters within the city tend to be a bit more stingy. I think it's good to shop around and get a feel for the different counters and SAs available to you.

Anonymous said...

This is an awesome post!

Anonymous said...

Great advice! I agree all round. (Although I've read that propylene glycol is not a bad thing in skin care as it helps the active ingredients?)

Charleston Girl said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks! Propylene glycol isn't necessarily a bad ingredient. It's just a cheap moisturizer. You usually see it somewhere in the middle of ingredient lists when it is included. In the Khiel's product, it was first!

Here is my post about it: http://bestthingsinbeauty.blogspot.com/2010/10/know-your-ingredients-propylene-glycol.html

Also, check out this link: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705315/PROPYLENE_GLYCOL/

I don't choose to put it on my skin.

Laura said...

Another great post. I will only add that I have learned the true meaning of customer service through my exchanges or returns, not the sales. It's easy for a store, brand and/or associate to sell an item or many items but try returning something and see how you're treated. The people and stores that don't make me feel guilty or cross examined as to the nature of why I'm returning are the ones that I return too. More than a handful of times I have been very unhappy, sometimes even outright mistreated by people and it has genuinely made me feel bad afterwards. There is still one place and one woman in particular that I probably won't shop with again...ever. In summary don't be afraid or guilted into not returning or exchanging an item as long as you are within the guidelines of the return policy.

Sondra Derrick said...

Spot on! Wonderful column you posted today. Clean an refreshing and very insightful. Very timely too. New collections are burgeoning.

I just came to a realization the other day. I don't really buy makeup anymore, I am collecting it. I barely wear what I have, but if the line puts out new, I must have it! Really? Why? I don't really know. When I wear my makeup, no one knows what line or collection it is from. So obviously I am not trying to impress anyone. So I am going to put a comma in my shopping, not a period. I am going to slow waaay down. I will use and enjoy what I have and judiciously choose new items with much more care and thought. I have only purchased a GWP twice. I never thought the tokens samples were worth much. I bought the Bergdorf Goodman this summer with a Tom Ford purchase. That was fine. I bought the Cle de Peau one from Nordstrom during the Beauty Bash this summer too. What so I need with a gold eyelash curler that CDP rarely offers?

I was purchasing from YSL this spring several items. I asked the SA for some samples. My niece was with me and she is becoming a cosmetic diva and she was purchasing a lipstick from YSL. The SA said she was new to the line and wasn't allowed to give out much. But minutes later four of her family/friends stopped by her counter to see her. She rang us up & gave us the bums rush. She then gave each of her visitors goodie bags with bunches of samples and even full size testers. I know because I was still standing there and saw it with my own eyes. I found the manager & asked for a refund & explained why. The manager took a look inside the bags- yes, they were still there gushing over their prizes.

We spent almost $400 and got one sample that the SA squeezed in a tiny case. I don't know what happened after we left. I don't care.

There are good SA's and I love to give them my business. More good than bad I think.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post CG! and AMEN!! to everything you've said!!!

Dollie Solanki said...

This is truly a fantastic post. I admit I get very tempted when I see GWPs coz they still arent very prevalant here in India. But these days I have tried to control my cravings coz I simply dont use much makeup daily.

cytaormina said...

CG,
You really should entertain the idea of writing a book. I know you work as well as maintain this blog but I think you have much valuable information to share, far more than just some swatches.

I look forward to your posts with my morning coffee so please keep em' coming.

Paige said...

This is an excellent post! I, too, have learned these lessons esp. #1, #2, and #7. However, I'm too shy to do #3 (ask for samples)--I feel like I would be looked down upon if I ask for free samples. I personally feel that SAs should actively give samples to customers so that they would be hooked onto the products and come back to purchase them. I used to buy a lot of Chanel products from Macy's counter but through out my regular visits, I received only one mini bottle of eye makeup remover one time and a perfume sample another time. That's why nowadays, I choose to shop at chanel.com. I get 2 samples every time I shop and chanel.com occasionally sends me lipstick samples once in a while. I have discovered products/shades that I ended up liking and purchased the full-sized version later. Clinique.com is also another place that is generous with samples.

Anonymous said...

Some stores just won't give samples. When I worked at Ulta we were forbidden to make samples. They only had some fragrance ones around, nothing else. They wouldn't supply little containers either. We were told that they wanted sales and they didn't care if the product was returned. It made it difficult to work there.
A friend who's an MA has told me her high end store has told them to not give samples out either. So sometimes it's not the salesperson, sometimes it's just following order.
I disagree with all of this and did when I was working.

Anonymous said...

Dear Eileen ! I love to read your comments! Could you please share what skincare line or lines do you use? Thank you!

Charleston Girl said...

O...M...G, Anonymous. Thank you for sharing.

With an attitude like that, it's a wonder why Ulta is still in business.

I think I know their motivation. Sometimes, brands, not the store, eat the returns.

Eileen said...

Hi Anonymous@7:36,

First off, I'm 69 and have dry, sensitive skin with the occasional mild rosacea flareup. What works for me might be totally unsuitable for someone else with different skin concerns. Also, my skin care routine does fluctuate a bit depending on what my skin needs and the season of the year. Oh, and before I forget, I make absolutely no distinction between my face, neck, and décolletté when it comes to applying my skin care products. I slather my lotions and potions all over :-) Now, all that being said, here are the products I'm currently using:

AM: Cleanse with Cetaphil for dry/sensitive skin, follow with Jack Black Protein Booster Serum mixed with Cosmetic Skin Solutions' CE Ferulic (a SkinCeuticals clone), then Crème De La Mer and La Mer eye cream. When that's all set a bit, I use Chanel Essentiel SPF 50. It's primarily a physical sunscreen, so it goes on after all my other stuff, right before my foundation.

PM: Cleanse with Tatcha Cleansing oil. If I used a lot of eye makeup that day, I'll use Chanel Bi-Phase eye makeup remover before the Tatcha. I've used cleansing oil since I was fourteen and couldn't imagine removing my makeup with anything else. After cleansing, I use my anti-aging heavy hitter--a prescription product from my dermatologist that contains .05 retinoic acid in a nurturing, soothing and emollient base. I give it about 20 minutes to absorb before applying my La Mer cream and eye cream. This has been my basic routine for years and years. If it ain't broke, don't fix it :-)

I love beauty oils for trouble spots and always have a couple on hand. My current fave is Tatcha's new one. It works brilliantly wherever I need a beauty boost. I also make my own toner from my great-grandmother's recipe. It's rose water, orange blossom water, aloe vera, witch hazel and chamomile. I keep it in spray bottles--one in the frig and the other in the bathroom. It's very refreshing. I also love Guerlain's Orchidée but that's quite a splurge so it is a treat rather than a staple.

In regards to procedures, I get an IPL (Intensed Pulse Light) treatment every six months and that keeps my mild rosacea completely under control. I also get Botox in my glabella every four months. I'm in complete agreement with Nemo that if you have skin care concerns, get yourself to a good dermatologist who likes the esthetic side of the practice.

angusmum1 said...

I have noticed that some blogs have the disclaimer that the product was sent for their consideration indicating they did not purchase. While this is fine when a blog is based soley on these products and all receive glowing reviews, I simply stopped reading it, what a crock

Claire said...

A bit late in the game but excellent post, CG! Yes, I don't know why samples are so hard to come by, that's why I love Sephora and maintain a good relationship with my fave SA who always asks, "Do you want to try anything???" Most of the time I said no, because like you, I've got loads of samples galore that I've just donated (and will continue to donate -- believe it or not) to local women's shelter. Anyhow, I will try to somehow link this post somewhere where I can see it when moment of weakness strikes!

Anonymous said...

I think the best thing you can do for yourself before buying skincare is to educate yourself on ingredients. Sales associates are not your best source of information and in the end are just trying to persuade you to buy. The ingredient dictionary and reviews on paulaschoice.com are particularly helpful. There are no magic ingredients in a $500 jar of cream. The only magic will be the vanishing act will the money disappearing from your bank account.

Charleston Girl said...

Angusgum, that's not-so-subtle code language for "I didn't pay for this, it was free." I've always found the "consideration for review" to be pretentious. Companies send their products for review. Very seldom do products show up at the door, without prior conversation, for "consideration."

I wish I could explain the thinking of 80 percent of "beauty bloggers." You would be appalled. They insist they tell the truth in their features, but few really do. Their blogs are businesses to them. Everything they do is driven by their goal to monetize to the max. It's always best to steer toward blogs, like The Non-Blonde or The Beauty Look Book, where the authors buy most of what they review.

JoanneP @ The Convenient Beauty said...

Spot on CG!!! I couldn't agree with you more. I've learned those lessons the hard way. I still have a couple of back ups (emotional attachment needs a tough cure :D). And may I add:

1. Know your skin/personal preferences. Too often I got talked into things I ended up returning or never use. The foundation matching in the store is 99% fail. I found the best way to test foundations is to wearing them in different lighting, occasions for a week before getting the full-size.

2. I agree with Eileen on bloggers' reviews. What works for them might not for you. Since I don't have counter access to some of the most talked about brands, I used to shop based solely on bloggers' reviews. Half of the time, it's a success. The other half is more like buying into the hype. Learned this the hard way. And now I listen to what I really need and use those reviews as a rough guideline.

But at the same time, online reviews from real consumers (whether they blog or not) is generally helpful to know the products better. I always do my homework before hitting the counters and only let a knowledgeable SA explain a new product (to me).

At the end of the day, cosmetics is about finding what works best for you by carefully experimenting different ingredients, colors, textures, etc...

p/s: I love reading the comments! Gotta share this post on my blog!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Eileen for you response ! I am thinking of buying Tatcha cleansing oil and lip balm as well!

Sassa said...

May I add a post request here? This thought was prompted by Anonymous 6:57 where she wrote about bringing a small container to take a bit of the tester.
Would you mind writing a post about how to hygienically test at a counter? How do you test mascara or lipstick? Since I don't know how to do it, I generally wind up just buying one that looks good on the display, wasting a lot of $$

Adam & Susan said...

Hi CG, I'm back for another read-through of this fantastic post and the comments. Thank you for sharing what you've come to realize; perhaps we will get a part two someday? :) I am a member of a few beauty boards on facebook, and am now learning not to buy into the hype around products, especially limited edition items, for fear of being "left out" or missing out on the "next best thing". After all the excitement is over (within 48 hours LOL), the item is rarely spoken of again! Thanks for a great post!