How To Get the Most From Your Makeup Shopping Trip


Recently, I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal, which highlighted makeup "moochers," or folks who habitually visit makeup counters to use the testers instead of purchasing makeup. As a makeup artist, makeup consumer, and former makeup counter worker, here are my three tips for making the most of your makeup shopping experience.

Keep It Clean

Y'all. Do not use open testers. Ever. It's like eating food off of a stranger's plate that's been sitting out for months (or longer). Think about it - someone uses the bathroom, then doesn't wash her hands. Then she dips those nasty hands into a jar of moisturizer. Later, the nice Sephora employee offers to make you a sample of that same moisturizer, out of the jar that's infested with fecal matter. I'm not exaggerating because I've seen it. Part of being a certified makeup artist is learning about/having extremely high sanitation standards. I sanitize everything between clients, even if they're in the same family. WHY, then, would you use this stuff that hasn't even been consistently monitored for cleanliness?

So, practice smart sampling.  Try lipstick on the back of your hand, then wash your hands. Or, if you must try it on, make sure the lipstick is shaved and sanitized. Same goes for any product that is not in an individual package or an airtight pump. Safety first, people.

{About to clean + sanitize everything after a job with the help of Kent Beagle}

Play Nice

Let's say you're not grossed out by using the testers and you want a makeover (I HIGHLY suggest taking some alcohol pads with you, just in case. And if the brushes don't smell/look clean, they're not. You have the right to request clean brushes).  You will receive great service if you are up front with the salesperson and simply ask if there is a fee for a makeover.  They'll say no, but remember he or she is a salesperson - not your personal makeup artist.  If you want a full makeover, be prepared to purchase at least one of the items they used, or offer a tip - even $5 is greatly appreciated.


Make Friends

Conversation I had today with a non-makeup salesperson at the mall:

Salesperson: I looooove your makeup, your eyes are amazing.

Me: Thanks so much! I'm a makeup artist, so I've had lots of practice.  If you go to MAC or any of the counters here, they can show you how to do what you want.

Salesperson: I have...the reason I hate MAC is because they make me look like an oompa loompa.

Me: I've worked with several MAC artists, and I assure you that they are trained to achieve any look you want! Just be really specific, tell them you want something simple, not a full face.


Two takeaways - first, most folks who work at a makeup counter/store do so because we love makeup, so we love to talk about it. Ask questions! The more specific you are, the more we can help you. For example, if you want to learn how to do an everyday smokey eye, don't ask for full makeup. Ask for a simple smokey eye that only uses two or three products and takes about five minutes. Second, use that time like a makeup lesson, not just as having someone put makeup on you.  I was at MAC today and told the salesperson I loved her lashes. After she shared which mascara she used, I asked her how she used it, too.


Makeup shopping is intense. Pushy salespeople, the rush of fellow shoppers, and "that lipstick is HOW much?!" can add pressure to what should be a fun experience. If you try these tips, hopefully your next shopping trip will be amazing.  Or, just order the goods online...


Images c/o Google Images