Following on from last weeks post about Kirkcaldies being bought out by David Jones, shall we have a chat about cosmetic floors and how terrifying they can be?
I’ve spent a fair amount of the past decade working on the tiled territory of beauty counters. And they are such a different world from any other place I’ve worked. There is high emotion, drama, and a whole bunch of bright lipstick. I have been known to sigh about the drama quota and then be all “well what did I expect, choosing to work in an industry full of women and gay men” *no offense to the straight men and non dramatic others out there.
The ladies and gents who toil at cosmetic counters are a diverse bunch. You get the fresh out of makeup school-green as anything-and a bit scared to come near you with a mascara wand beauty assistant through to the jaded- been in the cosmetic industry for far too long-and a bit cynical but highly knowledgeable about products beauty assistant. You get the beauty assistants who are tired of the retail portion of their jobs and just want to play with the pretty colours. You get the longstaying beauty assistants who love helping their customers sort out their skin/makeup and have built up loyal customer (fan) bases.
All of that you can’t usually tell from their exteriors. You might think you can get a clue from how old they look, but you need to realise that these women/men have access to all the great skincare ingredients - retinols, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, aha’s - things which can make them look more youthful than they are. Plus some of the more mature counter staff might be stuck in their ways and be inclined to give you a look straight out of the 70’s. And some of the younger staff might just have the knack and be incredible artists.
So in the end it’s a little about trial and error. And asking questions. Questioning is key, well communication is key. But how do you know that you’re giving and getting the information you should be? How do you speak the lingo of the cosmetic floor?
I can see this is going to get drawn out into a bunch of posts, so for now let’s talk about how to find the right person to help you. And how to not piss them off so that you get the best service.
First, do a reccie of the cosmetic floor and find someone who is wearing makeup you like. Although I did get all mightily offended when a male makeup artist I once worked with said to me that female artists always make women in their image, I do believe that you can tell a lot about a person’s idea of beauty by how they present themselves. If you like a bit of edge, find someone with an edge you appreciate. If you like colour, find someone wearing colour on their lips or eyes in a way you enjoy. It’s always good to say that you like their makeup as an opener and get them on side.
You’ll no doubt know what you’re looking for, be it foundation, a new eyeshadow, something to make you look less tired. Tell the beauty consultant that. See if you can expand into the kind of textures you like (matte, dewy, shimmer, sparkle) or don’t like. Let them know how you want to look, how you like your makeup to look. And it’s ok to say 5 years younger. Point to celebrity references if possible, or even save some photos onto your phone/tablet before you go as a visual reference. Tell the beauty consultant what you like about the makeup look you’re showing them. But remember that the tools used on counter are brushes, not wands, so you’re unlikely to magically look like Cameron Diaz *cough* my celebrity reference shows my age *cough* or Kendall Jenner.
If you have a budget, now is the time to let them know that so they can recommend something you’ll be able to fit into your financials. And likewise if you have any sensitivities or allergies. Or if you want to save all the fluffy bunnies.
If you’re really just wanting to have a bit of a look and a wee play while you kill time then tell the beauty assistant (who will approach you as it’s part of their job description) that in a nice way. Don’t say “I’m just looking” back to them in an angry voice when they ask you how you are, or how your day is going. You’re not answering their question. Don’t stick a hand in their face when they say hi. Be kind. Be a nice human.
If there is a product you’d like to try out, by all means ask for a sample so you can try it at home with your normal skincare regime / see how it wears / give it a whirl before you fork out the big bucks. If the sales assistant has spent time with you explaining the product or trying some on of it on you, then ask for their name when they give you the sample. Then if you decide to go back and buy the product ask for them when you go into the counter, or if they’re not there tell whoever serves you that they showed you the product. They work on commission, give them a bone.
If you’re at the counter to check out a product or colour so you can go buy it online, don’t waste the time of the counter staff, they are working to targets so let them go serve someone who is going to buy their products from them.
Likewise if you go to a counter to have your makeup done. Or to try a lipstick, and maybe an eyeshadow, oh and sure you’ll try on a foundation too thanks and before you know it you’ve had your makeup done. It is polite to then purchase something to thank the makeup artist for their time.
All of this comes down to good old manners. And a bit of respect.
I will turn things on their head now as I’m not here to run for President of the cosmetics department and I can hear some of you protesting. You’re at a counter, looking for a bit of help. If you get any attitude, feel patronised, or are pushed into buying something you don’t really want. If you’re feeling pressured to buy something so that you can get out alive, then leave. Just say “I’ll think about it thanks”, “I’m just going to see how it wears thanks” and leave. There is no acceptable reason for someone working on counter to be rude to you. Or to be super pushy in order to make a sale, as much as they’re taught to ask open ended questions they do need to give you the option of saying no.
I have a bit of a helping hand for anyone who has felt less than amazing when they have been to shop at cosmetic counters in the works so stay tuned. In the meantime, tell me about your cosmetic department experiences in the comments below.