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10 Secrets from behind the Beauty Counters

Updated on May 4, 2016

Tips and hints

  1. Samples. Many companies no longer sample, but provide small plastic containers that the consultant can decant from the testers. Special sizes, (generous sample sizes) are now given as a GWP (gift with purchase) and consultants are instructed to sample with a purchase only, unless it is a fragrance launch. Ask for samples of foundation, serums, exfoliators and moisturizers as these are the products that cause sensitivity and reactions. Take your own empty and clean jar; don’t be offended if the consultant cleans it, it is to ensure that if there is a reaction then the product was responsible rather than a contaminated container.
  2. Where to test foundation? First apply to the back of the hand to see the consistency and if using liquid or cream, place an amount there (use it as a palette) and warm it up with your fingertips. Then dab on the jawline and blend down to the neck. Use a sponge or a cotton ball for power, liquid or cream, and you can see if the color blends in.

Glamour and perks

It seems such a glamorous job, being paid to wear make-up, play with it all day and be paid for it. Nowadays, with self selection, the Internet and supermarket own brands, competition is tough as targets get higher and commission gets lower. The quality of products in the self selection market has increased, as beauty companies use celebrity endorsements and limited editions to push sales. Glossy packaging is making a comeback and the use of social media highlights a 'must have' and 'to be seen with' product.

There are perks to the job, free and heavily discounted beauty products, but with it comes sales pressure, sore feet and as in retail, long hours with few weekends off. The job of the beauty consultant is to advise and sell their products, but do they believe in what they are selling or are they making a sale?


Beauty customs

Most of us cannot resist trying on new lipsticks on the back of our hands, and is an impulsive and affordable, quick fix pick me up buy even during a recession; lipstick sales remain steady. The sound of the 'click' of a lipstick cap and the luxurious packaging gives us the feel-good factor and allows everyone to have a touch of glamour in their life on a daily basis.

Many of us try to run through the beauty hall and avoid the consultants waiting to approach you, but don’t fear them, with a bit of knowledge you can get the most of your experience and walk through the halls at your own pace and learn to enjoy what the beauty counters can offer.

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The ultimate feel good factor, buying a new lipstick and hearing the click of the cap on the shiny packaging.
The ultimate feel good factor, buying a new lipstick and hearing the click of the cap on the shiny packaging.

Beauty essentials

3. How to find a good concealer. This is one of the key items, find a good concealer and it will create a perfect base. There are a number to choose from, cream, liquid, pencils, and sticks. Again, use the back of your hand as a palette and warm up a small amount. The color is important, choose one shade lighter than your foundation. Choose the texture according to your skin type, if you have dry skin, you may prefer a cream and if you have an oily skin a pencil or stick. Apply to the jawline only to see if it blends in easily, the correct shade and texture should be smooth and just visible. Opt for a matte finish, so it doesn't counteract other products like powder of foundation.

4. Lipstick. Many counters have disposable lip brushes so you can try the color. First wipe the lipstick with a tissue to ensure no other germs are on the product from someone else using it. Most professional consultants will have a palette so they can scrape a section to try.Once you have removed your own lipstick, use a dusting of translucent powder, then blot. If you are not doing this already, it will help the lipstick last longer and allow the color not to react with your skin and change color.

Using the back of your hand, warm up the product with the disposable brush or a cotton bud before applying. If you are trying a bright color wait for at least 30 minutes and look outside in case the color changes, this is happening more with indelible lipsticks as the strong pigments change once they come in to contact with the skin.

Wash your brushes frequently with shampoo and let them dry naturally.
Wash your brushes frequently with shampoo and let them dry naturally.
Blend your concealer under the eyes with a small firm brush for a flawless finish.
Blend your concealer under the eyes with a small firm brush for a flawless finish.

Tools for perfection

5. Use good quality brushes. You can find some inexpensive good ones in supermarkets. A good brush will hold the product and not fall off easily. If you swirl a brush into powder and it comes off too easily, then the brush has little control and will not be accurate for application. By controlling where the product goes, makes for the perfect application. Behind the counters, brushes are paramount for application and hygiene. Use them to blend concealers, powders, blushers and eyeshadows. Invest in a complexion and concealer brush, as these will create the look of a flawless base.

Small firm brushes are useful for the eyes and concealers. Dot the concealer on, then use the brush to blend, using small patting strokes. A good cheek brush, will not be too big or fluffy, find an angled one that will help contour and work from the outer cheekbone by dotting the blusher along the cheekbone, then sweeping upwards.


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Counter privileges

6. Asking for a makeover. Some counters will charge a booking fee, redeemable against a purchase, especially if they run events and often a goody bag will be offered too. This is because of a launch or a make-up artist being booked and there will be targets to achieve. Arrive with as little make-up as possible, as it makes reapplying easier and the consultant will remember this and be grateful. Be prepared to be seen in public with no make up! A good consultant will give you a hand mirror, so you can check what is happening, if not always ask to see how things look periodically.

Some consultants may offer you a mini-makeover if they are quiet, but don’t feel obliged to buy, but do take a note of the products used. Consultants have daily makeover targets and will offer them to help achieve their targets, so don’t worry that they are approaching you because they think you need a makeover.

Have a makeover at the counter to learn tips on using colors and blending eyeshadows.
Have a makeover at the counter to learn tips on using colors and blending eyeshadows.

8. New season color collection. The beauty houses bring out a Spring and Fall collection each year to coincide with the fashion shows. The consultants will have limited quantities of these products and are encouraged to promote them (often they will have company incentives), so if there is a color you like, stock up on it before it sells out. The same goes for limited editions, this is to encourage people to buy them as collectors’ items. In some cases there is a waiting list, so it’s worth making friends with your consultant to help you get a coveted beauty item or the latest 'must have' product.

7. Sampling a fragrance

Always take a fragrance strip, but then try it on your forearm, but don’t rub it. Instead, gently smooth it into the skin and leave for 30 minutes. Not only does the smell change, but also the intensity. Spraying onto the neck can cause a reaction, and spraying on to clothes may result in stains, so avoid both. Consultants are usually happy to sample fragranced body lotions or creams to ensure there are no reactions and like to link sell.

9. Trying nail varnish.

All consultants should have a roll of clear tape for you to use, so you don’t ruin your own manicure. Place a strip over the nail and use three strokes, center then either side. You should be able to see the texture of the product and the consistency of the color. For brighter colors and especially reds, you will need several coats and it's worth seeing if your desired outcome is possible and if it suits your skin tone. Despite how it looks in the bottle, the colors can clash with your skin tone, especially if you have a tan and are not as intense as they appear in the bottle. Ask for a card to put the strips on so you can take them home if you need to match it with an outfit.

10. Make friends with the consultant.

Building up a good relationship with a consultant can help you in so many ways. They will let you know when promotions are coming up, will save you samples, do makeovers whenever you need them and put you on the waiting list for any limited items. Like a friend, they will tell you the truth and advise you on what you really need without any sales talk. Consultants always save the best goodies for their favorite and loyal clients, it's not about how much they spend, but how the client treats them. Put yourself on a mailing list and your consultant will set up a client record of your favorite colors and products which is great if you forget, but also useful when other people want to buy you gifts. An automatic wish list!

Be bold and beautiful

The beauty industry is booming and beauty counters can be fun and glamorous. The consultants work hard (I was one for a decade for several houses), but they also have up to date training and information on the latest developments and techniques. Beauty is about having fun, looking and feeling good. Go and enjoy the beauty counters and discover what they can offer.

© 2014 S T Alvyn

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