You might want to read this before signing up for that "free makeover"
GERMS ARE EVERYWHERE
While most makeup counter artists and salespeople clean the makeup brushes (a common breeding ground for bacteria) after they use them from one customer to the next, you can never really trust any brush that isn't yours, says one former Estee Lauder artist.
But "it's not the brushes consumers should worry about, it's really the products themselves," she says. "No matter how many times a day the sales rep cleans them, people love to come stick their dirty fingers in the colors to test them. It's amazing! Women walk right up to the counter, grab a lipstick tester and put it right to their lips. I think that's one of the most shocking things about working at the counter -- the general public's complete disregard for bacteria," she concludes.
THEY PLAY ON YOUR INSECURITIES
Do you feel special when a salesperson says you are pretty or goes on about how great your skin is? Well, for the most part, they are complimentingeveryone.
"Usually if I compliment them, they open up about what they are looking for," says one former makeup artist. She says she found that women were "shy and self-conscious" and that with a little "boost" from her, they were more likely to talk to her about their skin or makeup concerns and buy products.
THEY MAKE THINGS UP
"Cosmetic training in a department store or beauty supply focuses mostly on sales and not about product knowledge, which is unfortunate," says one former counter makeup artist.
"We do learn mediocre product information, but that doesn't come until several months after working there, so we spend the first couple months making stuff up or sharing our limited experience," she says. "I would generalize that most beauty advisors know a little more than what the average woman does about beauty," and the ones that make "good money" off commissions are "sales people, not beauty experts," she concludes.
THEY PRETEND TO BE SOMETHING THEY'RE NOT
Walking through a department store you'll realize that sometimes the salespeople look more like doctors than makeup artists. This is a planned scheme to convince you they are "experts," says a former counter worker. "The lab coats and charts are a marketing tool. They give the illusion [that the] sales force are estheticians, research scientists and keep their area clean," she says. "If we were [experts], we would not be working at the counter. Experts on beauty are actually providing services in salons and developing new skin care technology in a lab," she jokes.
THE FREE MAKEOVER IS NOT FREE
One of the biggest selling points of visiting the makeup counter is the "free makeover," but what salespeople don't tell you upfront is that the makeover isn't reallyfree.
Makeup artists at counters work on commission. So although you're not obligated to buy anything, it is expected. "Technically it's free, but we invest our time hoping you will become our next big customer. It's like tipping -- if you don't tip your waiter, no one is going to come after you yelling and waving their fist, but you would leave feeling guilty. It's just not courteous to get a free makeover when you have no intention of buying," says a former counter makeup artist.
THEY JUDGE YOU BASED ON THE PRODUCTS YOU USE
Often when you chat with a beauty counter salesperson about makeup or your skin care, they will ask you what products you are currently using. This serves two purposes: They can judge how much money you might spend with them and then they can assess how much time to spend on you.
"If I ask you what products you are currently using and you reply [that] you use a 3 in 1 cleanser from the drugstore, I have learned you don't want to spend a lot of care, time or money," says one counter worker.
THEY KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR SAMPLE GRIFTERS
You can and should be asking your beauty counter salespeople to try samples of products before you buy them, but do know that they are taking note of how much you are "sampling" and how much you are actually buying.
"I would give them about two to three days worth [of product], not more than that. I am not supplying their skin care, I am just letting them touch, feel and smell," says one former counter worker. But she warns "some beauty advisors have an on-going mysterious hostility with their customers and will not waste product on someone who won't buy."
THEY TALK ABOUT YOU BEHIND YOUR BACK
Think once you leave the department store you are forgotten about? Think again. "If we get a particularly weird customer we may laugh about it for weeks," says one former makeup artist. "I used to have my family in stitches at dinner telling them the customer stories of the day. There are weird people out there!" she says and that was the "only fun we [could] have sometimes."