Self–Selection Versus Beauty Counters

What is the difference between products bought from a self–selection stand or from a beauty consultant behind a counter? Not a huge deal, you may get samples, some advice, and prettier packaging, but those are the main differences, besides paying more. It doesn’t necessarily mean you get better quality from premium brands, because you can get the same quality with some mass produced self-selection brands. The difference in price between a black eye liner from a premium brand maybe four times that of a self–selection brand, yet the color black won’t change and the difference in the product is negligible. Only the name stamped on the pencil indicates the price.

These self-selection companies make excellent products, as long as you know what you are looking for, and are good for experimenting with on a budget, especially for teenagers. L’Oréal mascaras are similar to Lancôme, at a fraction of the price as they are from the same company, and use the same brushes. My friend was a Lancôme consultant, and she would recommend this to all her friends when they were on a budget. These brands can mass-produce with the latest technology without the costs of packaging and paying for a consultant. Instead, they pay a well-known model or spokesperson to enhance their sales, and often come out with fashion colors and new products at a special launch price, making it affordable to the masses. If you consider the success of Max Factor’s Pan Stik and Crème Puff, Maybelline’s Great Lash, Revlon’s Top Coat, and Rimmel’s Hide the Blemish; these companies can and do produce some excellent products.

Previously those who shopped in the self–selection stands were seen as cheap and unsophisticated shoppers, and beauty consultants loathed them. Today, everyone likes the choice to browse alone, and most people don’t want to be approached unless they ask for help. These days, it has been proven that shoppers buy more when they can put items in a basket without a counter in-between them and the products, but still have consultants on hand if they need advice. As a result many cosmetic houses have designed counters to be more customer friendly, and stores like Sephora who have independent consultants have grown in popularity. People can shop without sales pressure, and don’t have to ask to try something. It doesn’t mean the role of the consultant is defunct; people still need advice on foundation shades and like to discuss what works with hints and tips, so people have a choice of how they would like to shop. However, there is less commission for the consultants, and also with more brands to choose from, many customers are no longer brand loyal, but buy what is trending or what celebrities endorse.

The usual Revlon, Rimmel, Bourjois, Max Factor, Maybelline, and L’Oréal stands can be found in most pharmacies and supermarkets around the world, and these can be a lifesaver if you need an emergency lip gloss, or pencil that you have lost or left at home, or when you are out or traveling. It’s happened to me, I left the house without my lip gloss and bought a cheap one to keep me going for the rest of the day from a Rimmel stand. If you’ve been put off looking because you thought the products were cheap and nasty, look again. You may find a bargain buy, or a color to go with an outfit that other houses may not have. With mass production, they can offer more colors and is a great place to look to match an outfit to a nail color. The premium brands cannot afford to mass-produce a large range of colors, which is why they only do limited edition seasonal colors. I often scour the self-selection stands to see what the next classic item is. One of my favorites is NYC where you can get cheek color or pencils for a couple of dollars, (they work as well as the premium brands), and you can’t go wrong with Maybelline if you are on a budget, and e.l.f. cosmetics essentials ensures everyone can afford good quality make-up basics.

Beauty Super Spy Tips

  • Don’t dismiss off the shelf brands; some are as good if not better than some counter brands. Packaging may look pretty, but don’t forget you are paying for the click of the lipstick lid, or the weight of the foundation compact.
  • You can’t test all the products on a self-selection stand, so only buy in daylight, or test and then go outside and look to see how the color or texture sits. This is a general rule for buying foundation, concealer, and lipsticks.
  • Always check the product is sealed, for hygiene reasons.
  • If there are no testers open, ask a member of staff if they will open one up. They can use discretion, because they can write it off as wastage. Often people will want to see what a mascara brush is like, and it’s reasonable if you spend $10 on a mascara to look at the brush. Many companies will have dummy brushes on view these days, so you can compare the brushes, or color charts built into the stands.
  • Don’t go by the names of products, but look at the shades, and see show they react on your skin, as it’s all marketing. There are many shades of beige for foundation, from classic beige to warm beige; they mean nothing and you need to try them as each company differs in what they class as warm beige.
  • Beauty consultants and make-up artists stock up on basics from self-selection stands. Most buy eye and lip pencils, sharpeners, nail polishes, and eye shadows, but they never openly admit to it.

©Beauty Super Spy. 2015. Image is in the public domain.


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