Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The beauty counter and me.

So a week or so ago, the beautiful Beauty Blogging Blonde did this post about her experiences with concession staff and it got me thinking whilst having a wander around town today.

As most of you know, I work as a teaching assistant and I also cycle the 4 miles to and from school most days. Hence I wear an ultra cool (read tragic) 3 in 1 raincoat/fleece thing most days (to keep me warm on the playground and to block out the wind when I'm cycling) and I have a bike pannier which detaches and can be used as a bag. It's massive, but it's still pretty cute. I also rarely wear make up  on a school day because I leave the house at stupid o clock and quite frankly, I value sleep more than a made up face.

However, what I've really noticed is that on "school days", I frequently get blanked by sales staff at a variety of concessions. So today I thought I'd do a little test and see what happened. Here's my thoughts...

Clinique staff clearly hate me. I went to 3 separate Clinique counters in York and was not once asked if I was ok or if I needed any help. In fact, one woman actually lent in front of me to ask another customer if they were ok, yet still gave me no acknowledgement of my presence.

Estee Lauder, same goes for you - I was playing and swatching and looking but did you say hello? Did you jiggery.

Origins and Clarins - well done you! You gave me lovely sunny smiles and made me feel very welcome.

Benefit - you amazed me... for once in my life I walked past both of your counters WITHOUT being traffic stopped. Such a shame as I always enjoy being tangoed on a dull Tuesday afternoon.

Dior - Your concession lady was wearing a scary amount of blush, but she did at least give me a hello.

Lancome - no acknowledgement of me at either counter but other customers were approached.

Bobbi Brown - you were wonderful. Even though you were super busy, you gave me a lovely warm, open question and a big smile, and when I told you I was looking for a foundation you booked me in to come back and see you in 45 minutes and then spent almost an hour matching my awkward skin to a foundation (I'm a 3.25 - Cool Beige in case you're wondering - apparently a shade that pretty much never gets sold), and then matching my even more awkward under eyes to a corrector and concealer. You didn't give me any hard sell, and you were just generally lovely people. Thank you.

Now of course it may well be that these other counters were just distracted by other things (stock or jobs etc), but some of them were downright rude. Part of the reason I wanted to do this test is that I frequently feel intimated by these brands and not worthy of buying from them. I hung around all of the concessions for quite a long time and made sure that I was swatching and giving bits a try as opposed to just standing stock still starting blankly. At pretty much all concessions, I was not the only customer. I also know that when I've been wearing slightly less teachery clothing, I've been approached by some of the same members of staff that basically ignored me.

Ladies, what are your thoughts on the counter concession? Do you ever feel looked down upon/treated differently because of how you're dressed?

Disclaimer - This isn't a scientific bit of reasearch, but is just a comment on my own experiences. I used to work in Lush (very sales/demo driven) so I know that sometimes you just can't be bothered.


  1. I feel intimated.. If I want to buy something from EL/Dior/MAC other high end I carry my Mulberry as some sort of 'status' because in my head I think these people aren't going to offer a chubby lady who looks poor any help, sad I know! But if I'm wearing my coat like you, I barely get approached but if I have my links or pandora showing or just some sort of statement showing that I have money SA's will offer help.

  2. I also feel quite intimidated, mainly because of the shop itself (ie selfridged, harvey nicks). I always feel like I shouldnt be there and that they will look down on me. I always find myself mentioning which other premium make up I've used in the past as some sort of justification to why Im there, which is ridiculous! xx

  3. If i'm in work gear (pencil skirt, full face of slap, heels and hair looking vaguely presentable) I get wonderful service. If I'm in jeans and an old uni hoody (I'm not even a student anymore) I get looked at like scum. Exceptions to the rule and Space NK where I'm treated like dog poop regardless of appearance and Edinburgh MAC where all the girls are lovely to everyone x

  4. Oh, where to start?! I relate so much to this! Concession counters by and large make me feel like I'm taking up space...once I started talking to a Benefit SA and she patronised me by spending about 5 minutes telling me how to use a product that I'd already stated I'd had for ages and loved using...even though I tried to say I was interested in a different product. I generally think I get this reaction because i'm usually shopping in jeans and a t-shirt without much makeup on.

    The only exception was when I was touring concession counters looking for wedding makeup ideas, and the mi that suits me perfectly. When enquirinute I mentioned the word 'wedding' they would fall over themselves trying to give consultations and samples, even the really high end counters. So annoying!

    Also very frustrating for me is that I'm very pale and have not yet found a foundation that suits me perfectly. No matter how much knowledge I display at makeup counters of how many brands and shades I've tried, they ALWAYS try to match me to their palest shade, even if I insist I've tried it and it's blatantly a lot darker than my face. (OK, rant over...sorry!)

  5. I think your little experiment was probably the best test any beauty blogger has done on this subject!

    I pretty much ALWAYS get blanked at makeup counters. Quite possibly because I'm usually in ripped tights, an oversized, scruffy jacket, old trainers and have a partly shaven head haha. Strangely, MAC have gotten better at seeing to me quickly though - they've upped their game this year...or just hired nicer staff!

  6. Sorry for stalking your blog somewhat. Just catching up on what I've missed as I'm a new follower, of course.
    This post caught my eye as I've had some bad experiences with beauty counters.
    I'm not expecting them to charge right up and ask me straight away if I need help (as that's sometimes damn annoying) but you do expect them to say something after, as you say, you've been having a nosey and swatching the products for a while.
    I don't know who some of the beauty counter ladies think they are sometimes, but they do look down on you.
    Thanks for posting this. I think it's great that you've named and shamed the counters who didn't do so well. Go Emily! x

  7. bobbi brown is the ultimate best cosmetic counter! i always recommend them (and one artist in particular) to friends who need consultations or special event makeup. i love this little breakdown - it's like a cosmetic counter naughty and nice list!


Your comments and thoughts are really appreciated :) Thank you for taking the time to chat xx