Trade Secrets from the Cosmetic Counter

cosmeticsI have worked at a cosmetics counter at Macy's for four years and I have some secrets to share! Use them to be a more savvy shopper on your next trip to the department store.

1. Be wary of the make-up brushes.

Yes, we are supposed to wash and sanitize the make-up brushes daily, but more often than not we don't. I've contracted multiple eye infections from using the brushes at the counter. Opt for the disposable cotton balls and swabs instead, even if they aren't the best tool for applying the product you're interested in.

2. We accept all returns.

The sales associate at the counter may deny this policy because they do not want to take a hit on their commission, however our policy is that we do accept returns within 90 days of purchase with or without a receipt. All you need to do is kindly ask for the manager on duty. Do not feel bad about doing this; it's your right as a consumer.

3. You do not need toner or lip liner.

These are add-on items. They benefit sales associates who work on commission more than they do your skin or make-up routine. People with extremely oily skin can use a toner, but for most customers it's extraneous. As for lip liner, can you really tell the difference if someone is wearing it? Really? Take it from me, save your twenty dollars.

4. Sorry, we tell everyone they look beautiful.

And you very well may be beautiful, but we say it to all of our customers, hoping they will buy everything that we just used on them. Best advice: bring along a friend who is honest and not biased by the promise of a fatter paycheck.

5. Department store vs. drugstore: Which is better?

Drugstore beauty products have come a very long way, but there are still some things that are hands-down better quality at a department store.

Personally, I would buy lip gloss, lipstick, eyeshadow, blush and mascara at the drugstore and save some money. The one thing that I will pay extra money for is higher end foundation. I haven't found a drugstore brand that compares in terms of color match, finished look and how it wears.

With skin care I can go either way. You don't need to pay a fortune but you do need to look for basic ingredients, such as vitamin C, sun protection and an anti-ager.

6. Try before you buy.

Ask for a sample before you invest in the product. We may not always have them, but it's worth asking.

Next: Trade Secrets from a Waitress >>

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D This article is stupid. People please note that not all the makeup lines in department stores work for the actual department store, some of us are vendors who went to school and put money, effort and skill into our careers. We get actual schooling and training through our company through out the year. Also the standards as far as cleanliness go are there and it is up to the associate to follow them. And sorry hun but lip liner is a must its like putting your eyeshadow on without primer.

April 21 2013 at 4:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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October 11 2011 at 5:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
a girl

HI, I really want to work at cosmetic counter in any department. I haven't done any professional make up course but I do make up when my friends have party or prom and they really like how it turns out on them.
What do you call whoever works on the counter, what's the position called? What do you require to work there? I dont have to be a make up artist if i can wrok there, I just can sell cosmetics to customers or just talk/advise to them... i really want to work there this summer

June 01 2011 at 8:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow! It's good to know you all are passionate about your profession, knowledge and skills. I loved to read tips on how to apply make-up (ie. foundation, lipstick, eye shadow, etc). In appling the tips, I experiment and find what works best for me. I use facial products that help maintain & provide me with healthy looking skin. I chose products without cosmetic contaminates, synthetics or toxic preservative. In using these types of products, I can look great and not have to worry that my skin care regiment is contaminating my health. I enjoyed reading all the comments.....

May 23 2010 at 6:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh my goodness, I see some buttons have been pressed by the publishing of this article. I have a few things to say and by the way, I've worked in 3 department store cosmetic departments and counters, am a licensed esthetician and a licensed esthetics instructor. In some states they are now making it a requirement for the beauty advisor to be a licensed esthetician. I think this is a must because we're dealing with skin and art here...not for amateurs. There ARE just salespeople with a 2 day orientation who fake it till they make it, and then there are true professionals who view the line of work as an art and a career and who HAVE had years of training and experience. My advice: request a licensed esthetician to work with you. Oh and brushes ARE dirty, FYI. Toners are NOT necessary, but neither is anything else at a makeup counter so that is the wrong word isn't it? It's a personal preference, not just for oily skin either. Lip liner is the same...a personal preference. I like it because it helps lipstick stay on longer, define the lips, and prevents bleeding. Depends on the lips. The end.

April 19 2010 at 12:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Csreer Builder, shame on you!!! Sale People are not skin care specialists! Toners close pours = minimizes the size of pours. You should use a skin toner!!! As a make up artist & skin care specialist of 20 years, I would skip lip stick - not lip liner. Lip liners have a more lasting wax in it, which means it stays on longer than lip stick, and it doesn't bleed into lines around your lips! Also, lip stick can have a lot of fats and toxins that you digest = ick! I use a lip liner, covered all over my lip. Then apply Blisticks (not chapstick). Blistick has beeswax, which lets your lip breath, and you will not become dependent on it like chapstick!!! Good luck...

April 09 2010 at 5:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lucy London

I perform facials (mini- no extractions) and I always use a toner that is appropriate for their particular skin, my customer and I can actually see their pores become smaller.

I love Lancome products and I see their results either immediately or with in seven days. In fact we have products that have a seven day guarantee. I don't know of any other product that offers that.

April 09 2010 at 2:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lucy London

What an ignorant article. There is NO WAY this person works at Macy's. She doesn't know the policies of Macy's or the Cosmetic Department. I've been with Macy's for almost two years in the Cosmetic Department with a luxury line, and our brushes and tools are cleaned and sanitized AFTER EACH AND EVERY CUSTOMER, and I have seen the same standards in other lines through out the department. If you are not sure of the sanitation, ask the consultant to please sanitize her equipment in front of you. All of the counters in my store are very conscientious in all aspects of cleanliness.

I am also a trained cosmetologist and I do know the importance of a toner/balancer. And if she doesn't then she hasn't been properly trained in either her products or in general knowledge. Shame on her.

For General Information-
It closes pores, removes any residue of cleansing products, environmental debris and does put your skin back in a ph balance, that would normally take almost 3 hours to achieve; this sets the skin up to receive the serums and moisturizers.

Knowing not only skin care, but how to apply make-up artistically and individually for each person takes skill, experience and dedication. We can take a very homely person and make them as beautiful as any movie/TV star; and teach them to do it for themselves as well. A lot of young girls come to us for their proper skin care when they want to look beautiful for their proms and homecomings dances. We also take care have the brides and their attendants and the mothers. We take the student to the business world. We do a lot of things for our customers/clients. We take back returns and they are destroyed not returned to the counter unless we verify that they have NOT been used.

There are a few drugstore products that can be used in a pinch, but they are few and far between. Once you use the better brands, and you see and feel the difference they make,you NEVER WANT TO Go back to cheap brands. I see the difference in not only my own skin, but I see the difference in the women who made that same decision years ago for themselves. They look years younger than their chronological years. No matter how much you spackle and paste your face with make-up, if you haven't taken care of the skin you will look horrible. I see it everyday with women who have spent too much time in the sun and horrible skin care.

I still think that this person did not or does not work at Macy's. A hack writer with no experience. No Way - No How.

April 08 2010 at 11:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lucy London's comment

Although I agree with you that toner is necessary for most people I do want to point out and clear up any misunderstandings......For example your statement of, "It closes pores, removes any residue of cleansing products, environmental debris and does put your skin back in a ph balance, that would normally take almost 3 hours to achieve; this sets the skin up to receive the serums and moisturizers. "
You are correct about the Ph balance and the latter pat of your statment of benefiting from you moisturizer, however since some people reading this are very savvy and intelligent we must remember that pores cannot be closed or shrunk. Pores, however can be cleaned and "appear" smaller but it is not possible for them to shrunk. Unfortunately if one does not care for their skin with the proper regimen, pores CAN be enlarged, NOT FAIR, in my opinion.

April 09 2010 at 1:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Picky Picky Picky. Women are so cruel. The original writer was being general, but AOL is a general audience. The comments and advice are basically "sound" amd "accurate". Does it make you feel better or superior to find fault with everything being written? Why not, take what you want and leave the rest. Life is much to short to worry about the small stuff. Be happy and smile, I am sure it will make your face look better than any makeup ever could!

April 08 2010 at 9:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I read the article and comments. I am no expert. I just know what worked and looked best for my dark African American oily skin for the first 52 years. Now I am 53 and it is changing. I need help. Does anyone remember a full makeup line called COLORWORKS? Circle of Beauty Inc, NYC was the distributer. It was sold at the Sears counters in the early 2000's. Sears. It was discontinued but I do not know if Sears discontinued it or the company. I have never found such smooth and rich make up in a vast array of foundation colors. All I needed was loose powder that is how good it was. It came in every shade of every woman in the world. The line had 40-50 shades. Hence the name, CIRCLE OF BEAUTY. Can anyone help me find this make up or at least the new name it is under now and where it is sold? I have hunted for the company CIRCLE OF BEAUTY and cannot find it. Fashion Fair and the fashion model Iman's line did not come close to this afforable product in quality. HEEELP.

March 26 2010 at 12:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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