When I taught my first group makeup lesson back in early September, it really struck me that nearly every woman in the group confessed to not knowing how to visit a makeup counter. A couple of them said that they had had awful experiences of being bullied and pressured by pushy sales girls, and a couple said that they’d never even been to a counter because they felt too intimidated.
I saw this phenomenon in action a couple of weeks later when I took one of the ladies from the session makeup shopping – she went to a well-known professional make counter when I went to go and get us coffee, and when she came back, she told me that the girl who’d helped her was pushy, rude and belittling.
I find this incredibly sad. It might sound silly, but I believe going to makeup counters should be a fun, happy, creative experience that all women should be able to enjoy freely!
On the whole, many counter artists are lovely, helpful, artistic people who really believe in the products they sell. However, there will always be that small handful of people who will ruin it for everyone else – and (very generally speaking) counter artists are somewhat known for being big ol’ meanies. There are some easy ways to improve your makeup shopping experience: let’s look at some of the key points together.
Know what you need to buy. The worst way to lose a lot of money fast in a makeup store is going in without having an idea of what you want. A good sales rep will empty your purse faster than you can say ‘limited edition gift set’. Check what you’re running low on and what you’ve run out of. Check what’s out of date and needs to be replaced. Think about any specific items you might want to try, like white eyeliner gel or a matte red lipstick. Write a list and keep it close!
The artists may not assist you immediately. This is especially true on high traffic days like Saturdays. Artists will most likely have back-to-back appointments on Saturdays with clients coming in to have their makeup done. These clients will take priority over everyone else who comes in to the store, because the artists know they will be big spenders. Expect to have to wait for a little while if you require assistance!
Occasionally, you may come across an artist who is just plain rude and ignores you completely. My personal way of dealing with these ones is to completely ignore them back until I’m ready to make my purchase, and then pointedly ask to be served when I’m ready to pay. Just remember, you have every right to be in the store and you don’t have to validate anybody else’s nasty behaviour – that goes for both makeup counters and life in general!
Play with the products. They are on display so that customers can pick them up, feel them and apply them (try to stick to the back of your hand for hygiene reasons). If there are disposable applicators available, please use them – particularly for lip products! You can wipe off the end of the tube or the top of the pan with a tissue to make sure you are only using fresh, clean product. Let’s face it – you have no idea who picked it up before you!
Ask for testers. If you’re not 100% sure wether something is the right colour, it’s best to look at it under natural light. If you’re in a department store, this will mean leaving the counter to go outside. It’s okay to ask for testers – most counters have a ‘two per person’ or ‘three per person’ rule, and they have product allowances for items to be set aside as testers. If you’re going to drop fifty dollars on a foundation or thirty dollars on a tube of lipstick, you are perfectly entitled to make sure it’s what you actually want first! Don’t be afraid to ask for testers, because the artist may not offer straight away.
Counter makeup artists are sales reps, first and foremost. They are not only given, but are expected to exceed strict sales targets for each day, week, month, quarter and year. If they’re trying to push you into purchasing something, it’s primarily because they want to meet these targets. Know this: their targets are not your problem. If you have a budget, stick to it. There are a few common makeup counter add-ons to be aware of – the artists will likely try each of these on for size if they can, so be prepared:
Add-ons: lip liner or primer, lipgloss
Add-ons: bronzer, highlighter
Add-ons: primer, concealer, powder
Add-ons: eyeliner, eye primer, mascara
Point-of-sale or till add-ons: brushes, makeup wipes, makeup remover, cases, sponges, promotional items
There’s a fine balance between accepting their advice (for example, it is better to set foundation with a powder, and to use a lip liner under lipstick) and being bullied into buying extra products – the bottom line is, if you are feeling pressured, firmly state that you’re on a budget and you only want x product and then thank the artist for their help. Usually, mention of a budget or limited funds is enough to deter artists from pushing for more sales!
Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you have a horrible experience at a counter with a rude artist, let the company know. Make a note of the day and time you went to the store, and note the name of the artist you dealt with, if you can. You can then later call the counter directly and speak to the manager, or look have a look on the company’s website for a customer service email address.
Makeup counter artists are notorious for being rude and pushy – and that kind of behaviour is not okay, in a retail environment or anywhere else! There is no excuse to treat somebody badly, and the company will want to know about any artists who reflect poorly on the brand’s image.
Makeup shopping should be a fun experience, not a stressful chore. I hope you’ve found this guide useful!
What’s been your experience with makeup counters? Wonderful? Awful? Tell me all about it!
Image creds: Fashion Sense, All Things Beauty, MAC Cosmetics