18th October 2010


By Get Lippie

I buy a lot of cosmetics.  I buy a lot of cosmetics.  But a lot of things about buying cosmetics drive me crazy. Over-attentive shop assistants who hover over you, demanding to “help” whenever your eye wanders onto anything.  Under-attentive shop assistants who ignore anything resembling a buying signal, up to and including you saying “excuse me, can I get one of these please?”

But one thing that really, really, really drives me nuts at cosmetic counters is the refusal to give samples. I have pretty sensitive skin, and, it means that I can’t really buy skincare without having tried a sample of it for a few days first, particularly with eye creams, so many of them sting me after a day or two. Likewise, there are certain ingredients in some perfumes that literally make me vomit, so I have to be careful – you will never find me agreeing to be sprayed with an unknown perfume in a department store, ever.  They tend to get upset after the first time you throw up on a shop floor, I find. 

Now, none of this would bother me that much if we had a decent returns policy in this country for unsuitable products.  But, if you’ve ever tried returning something you were allergic to, or made ill by (or even one that’s damaged when you get through the packaging), then, on a cosmetic counter, you’re made to feel like a scammer, or a criminal if you try to return it to the brand.

Far too often these days, I find that brands are very, very reluctant to hand out samples, even when I’ve notice that they often have drawers full of tiny tubes and sachets just ready, willing and aching to be handed to people.  In fact, especially when the brand has drawers of product ready willing and aching to be handed out to people, this appears to be the time that the dragon sales assistant has decided that no one – but mainly you – simply cannot have a sample of anything.

In fact, even when you’ve spent lots of money on products already, increasingly brands (and expensive brands are the worst, at times) some companies won’t give you any samples, even when you ask. “it’s not policy” you’re told, or “we don’t have any”, both of which are doubly galling when it’s a brand you’ve had samples of before.  I know, if I had a chance to try before I bought – and I’d even be happy to pay a token amount for certain samples – I’d BUY MORE COSMETICS.

So, what drives you mad about buying cosmetics?  And, whilst I’m about it, what’s your biggest gripe about cosmetic sales assistants?