Thursday, 17 June 2010

Beauty counters give me THE FEAR!

I have a confession to make. I have a secret fear of beauty counters and the people that work at them. Well, I guess it's not so secret anymore. I've always had THE FEAR but these days I've developed strategies to stop me scuttling away the minute someone makes eye contact! This mostly involves a prepared list and spending even longer than normal putting my make up on, much to my husbands amusement.

I've had this 'issue' for as long as I can remember. Only now as my love for cosmetics grows I'd dearly love to grow a pair get over it. I'd love to pour over the make up without worrying that I'm going to be approached. I'd even like to accept a makeover if offered. I'm not absolutely sure what I'm scared of. I think the fear is that they are looking at me thinking she shouldn't be here, her make up is awful/she's too fat/not beautiful enough to buy this, delete as appropriate. It's totally ridiculous as make up is for everyone, not just the beautiful and it should be about enhancing what you've got. Believe me, I've given myself a talking to many time but to no avail!

I suppose it doesn't help that I've had a few bad experiences at counters. The bruised eye look at a Lancôme concession and the Benefit sales assistant arguing that the foundation was a perfect colour match (I'm sure it would have been, if only I was an Oompa Loompa)! The internet has revolutionised make up buying for me. I first found Specktra when I discovered what a make up swatch was and I've not looked back since! I love that you can peruse a collection or look at hundreds of shades without even leaving the house. It makes it so much easier knowing what I want to look at before I even approach a counter, or buy online and avoid THE FEAR altogether.

The only trouble is, now I really do want to brave a make over. I'm also planning a trip to London in the not too distant future and I want to look at a few lines which aren't available or have limited availability online. It will be a bit of a washout if I can't get near the make up for fear that someone will talk to me!

So, tell me, what is your approach to make up counters? Do you go with a plan or do like to just pop along to see what's new? Do you have a particular sales assistant that you trust and do you enjoy make overs? I'd also love to know if anyone else if counter challenged like me!

Jane x


  1. I smile at the MUA/SA and then concentrate on whatever I'm looking at, giving a polite but firm "I'm fine for now, thank you". I'm never rude, they have a job to do at the end of the day. I also tend to look at how the SA has her own MUA/SA applied ..that'll determine whether I'll let her near my own face! LOL

    When I go to the MAC Pro store, it's a little different though. The staff all know me in there now (shame!) and my friend and I always have our purchases dealt with by one specific MUA/SA if she happens to be there on the day(s) we pop in. I've built up a really good rapport with her over the past year and trust her recommendations knowing that she's not gonna try and bullshit me in order to gain more sales. If something doesn't perform as well as it should and she sees I'm about to buy it, she'll tell me so.

  2. Great post! I'm with you on counter fear. x

  3. I totally agree with Vexinthe City about their own makeup, it tells you a lot.

    I used to be like this but I'm getting more confident and able to relax and have a play with the makeup. I live in Chesterfield and really like one of the Benefit counter girls in our Boots. She isn't pushy like many of them can be and when I've have makeovers, she's always done my makup really nicely, in fact I had her do it for my work's Christmas party.

  4. There are definitely counters that are more approachable and sympathetic than others. The Ellis Faas girl in Liberty is lovely, and I always have good makeovers at the Suqqu counter. I understand you might be making a date of it with your husband, but, you know, if you wanted moral support, I'm in London quite a bit and I have been known to hang around the make up counters ;)

  5. I have the counter fear too, I think it's because I always feel too young to be picking through the displays at MAC and such other brands. Also, I'm rarely offered any help, I guess the SAs figure a girl in a black mini, ripped tights and a Jack Daniels top with a shaven head can't afford to buy anything.

  6. Great post! For me it's been trial and error. I used to be intimidated but my obsession over products took over.I do agree with the point about looking at the sales team's makeup -- there are some that I see that are downright scary and I always wonder whether they think that encourages sales...

    I've had makeovers where I've looked like an Oompa loompa and I've gone to counters where I felt like I knew more than the sales associates about their products. Sad but true.

    By doing this 'research,' I've found some fantastic counters and sales associates who I trust now and know me (I am a frequent visitor after all). Those are the only counters I ever get makeovers done at (NARS for example).

  7. @ VexintheCity – that’s so much more sensible than running off. The fact is if they let me look, undisturbed I’d probably spend more! That’s fantastic that you have someone you know and like at the Pro Store. I imagine it makes for a great shopping experience.

    @Sparklz and Shine and Lizzy, I’m pleased to hear I’m not alone! Are you both fans of online shopping too?

    @Primp and Preen, that lovely that you found someone you can trust. I love the idea that I could go and get a new look. Unfortunately, Benefit is one of my least visited counters because I always find someone is hiding just around the corner ready to pounce!

    @Grace – the makeup looks I’ve seen you have done at counters always look gorgeous and very ‘you’, if you know what I mean. I think the key must be, as so many of you have commented, is finding the right person. I suppose the brand style and ethos has a part to play too. I’ll be biting your hand off for moral support. I already know that you give great shopping advice ;)

    @Beauty’s Bad Habit – that makes me said that you get bypassed. I love your look and think your make up is stunning. I imagine for you it’s probably rubbish that you don’t get any advice/assistance. I remember feeling out of place when I was younger but you really shouldn’t, you have tremendous skill and have every right to be browsing,

    @LipstickRules – I’m hoping the same will happen for me, that the desire to shop will over rule my nerves. I know from your blog post you have some SA’s that you know well and think that must lovely to develop a rapport. I shall have to be brave and do it, purely in the interest of research of course ;)

    Thank you so much for the comments. I’ve really enjoyed reading all of your experiences and advice.
    Jane x

  8. When I've gone for makeovers, I go with a specific intent: to learn a technique, to try a certain product, something like that. That lets me take charge of the encounter from the beginning. The SA knows what you want to learn (or learn about), they've got a way to showcase their product, they don't need to try and suggest a full makeover to get you beyond the "browsing" stage. Once I started taking my own agenda to any potential makeover situation, I no longer had quite so much concern about walking out looking quite :D

    If someone does suggest a full makeover, address your concerns right up front. Then they know what to avoid, or at least watch out for. (You might even go in and ask "if I've accidentally applied my eye makeup too heavily, what are some tricks I can use to tone it down without washing it all off?")

    Sparklecrack Central

  9. I'll take you shopping, m'dear. No need for the fear, I'll fend off the SA's for you. It's something I've done for people for *years*. You're in safe hands, I promise! Drop me an email if you're interested.

  10. Hi LiAnn, that's sounds like a good plan. I probably don't need to start from scratch. Maybe testing the water with just a different eye look would be a good start for me. Dipping my toe in so to speak.

    Hi Get Lippie, well you already know my answer but it's a definite yes please. I think the date with hubby is OFF, you and Grace would be much better shopping company! ;)

    Jane x

  11. I know what you mean...I do find it hard to stay at a makeup counter for more than afew minutes as I know I will be pounced on by a sales assisant and even when you say your fine there eyes seem to follow you around!

    I am getting better though and have had afew makeovers...but most have been as bad as going into a phone shop and being sold a contract. It is all too sales based.
    Which is such a shame!

    Hopefully you will get over 'the fear' and have a lovely time shopping for makeup in London :)
    Do tell us how you get on ;)

    Fee xx

  12. I have the 'fear' too!

    Sometimes when I do want help I just do the automatic "no I'm ok thanks!"

    I'm slightly better at M.A.C but I still get all nervous!!

  13. Hi Fee! It's interesting that you mentioned the sales pitch element of a makeover. I remember reading a guest post on MizzWorthy's blog about the sales targets imposed on the SAs/MUA. It certainly sounded like it's increasingly sales based forcing out the real artists in favour of those with good patter. As a customer I think it's a real shame.

    I'll let you know how my shopping expedition goes :)

    Hi L.F. - I know what you mean about saying "No thanks". It's almost like a reflex to make sure you're left alone.

    Jane x


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