It’s War at the Make-up Counter

Today my friend X took me to the mall and we decided to visit the new Bloomingdales. We entered in the cosmetics department, unaware of the horror that awaited us.

Some bitch at the Benefit counter approached me and started telling me about their new eyebrow waxing service. I tried to ignore her and looked at the make up while she gave X a brochure or something.   As I started to walk away, the bitch says brightly: “Can I just show you something?” I turned to her and said “Sure.”

Without any warning, she whips out a tube of something and starts rubbing it all over my face. I was too stunned to react. I couldn’t even believe it was happening. She babbled about the product while rubbing it in, and I kept my eyes tightly shut , dreading a blob of it on my contact lens.

When she finished, I blurted out, “How do you know this won’t make my skin break out?” meaning, How do you even know if I just had a facial peel, if I’m wearing a pound of foundation, if I’m on my way to a dinner party and can’t wash my face, if I have severe allergies, or if I’m carrying a kitchen knife to stab you with?

She smirked and replied: “It’s oil free and hypoallergenic. It’s silicone based.” I felt my face and indeed it felt slippery like the silicone glossing serum I don’t like to put on my hair.

I staggered off and told X how furious I was. I wondered if it was worth asking for the manager an causing a scene. We walked a few feet to the Dior counter, where a nice young black-clad gay guy asked how we were doing. I remarked that I was traumatized by the Benefit bitch.

He nodded and confided, “That’s their philosophy over at Benefit. Believe me, I’ve worked for them.” With that, he persuaded X to let him do her lipstick by saying, “PLEASE, I’m so bored and it will make me happy!”

The Dior guy did an expert job of lining and filling in X’s lips, explaining each product and why there was nothing like it. He did her eyes too, using 5 different products. While he worked, he told us about his unhappy childhood in a small-minded Christian community. He asked about my favorite poet, revealing that his favorite is Sylvia Plath.

“OH!” I said, recalling that the second most popular source of literary tattoos is Sylvia Plath, “So do you have any of her stuff tattooed?” He proudly yanked up his long sleeve to reveal a whole long poem about death on his upper arm, the words alternating in red and black ink. He kept right on moaning about his childhood, oblivious of how easily I had just pigeonholed him.

Finally, he was done with X, who looked great. He lined up around 8 products and asked her which ones she wanted to buy. When she said she wanted to think about it for a while, you could see his entire demeanor change. He coldly advised us to have a good day. When we left the store, we were careful to avoid the cosmetics department.

What next at the make up counter? A gang rape?

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61 Responses to “It’s War at the Make-up Counter”

  1. Aja Says:

    They do that at MAC as well. Which is why I’ve been careful to avoid that store. Although at Neiman’s the make up ladies know what’s up. They are helpful yet coy. They understand that if you really want to buy something from them you’ll just buy it, without them accosting you. YOU HEAR THAT MAKE UP SALESPEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD? Patience in a virtue.

  2. TinLizzie Says:

    It’s gotten to the point that unless I know exactly what I want and go directly from point A to point B in the makeup department I do not even walk through it. Actually, now that i know what products work best for me, I just order them online. The spritzes of crappy perfume give me an instant headache and nothing makes me run from a store faster than pushy salespeople (or nonexistent salespeople).

  3. bri Says:

    Which is why I hate the holidays, it tends to get worse around that time. Now those fuckers are branching out and setting up in the middle of malls, I have to look the other away or pretend I’m on the phone or else my hand gets grabbed and I get shoved over to some stank ass smelling lotion counter I could care less for.

  4. patni Says:

    A guy in vegas did that to me, I asked a bit about his products while i was waiting for a friend, he pushed me in to a chair, made up half my face and refused to make up the second half because i said i wasnt goign to spend the $190 on his stupid foundation, blush and eyeshadow that made me look like a corpse. ( I also had $25 to last me till my flight the next evening, and he didnt ask about that either)

  5. Sheri Says:

    They must be working on commission.

    Also: I’m avoiding malls on principle until after the holidays, partially because of precisely this vulture attitude everywhere (not just at makeup counters) and partly because I can’t stand the noise and lights and blatant overstimulation which seems to be deliberately derived so as to cause “shoppers” to be unable to “think.” Anyway, this really sucks, because I really want an iPad, and there was this really helpful guy at the Apple store last week, and I would like him to get the commission, but I just can’t bear to go back there.

    Wow, I feel so much better after getting all that off my chest.

  6. Andra Says:

    Keep walking, look at your watch and say “I have an appointment at the bank in 2 minutes. Get you on the way back.”
    Sneak out another way.

  7. Drooling Isn't Pretty Says:

    ugh i always feel SO uncomfortable at beauty counters, its like they have to make you feel so shitty about how you look. “and for those dark circles, buy this product!”
    i always just tell them EXACTLY the name and shade of the product i want and if they try anything i say im in a rush and im either buying or leaving. it shuts them right up.

  8. Juli Says:

    I HATE Benefit for that exact reason! They have the worst philosophy for selling make up. I used to take the long way through Macy’s so I didn’t have to pass their counter. That Dior guy would have pissed me off. I would have said “you’re very welcome for having us relieve your boredom!”

  9. Alicia Says:

    I had no idea this happened. Next time it happens, you should make sure to eat something filled with onions and then say every word possible that begins with P. Loudly and forcefully.

  10. anna dc Says:

    I totally understand. I was at the Clarins counter at a department store in DC the other day and though one lady there was very nice, the rest of them kept pushing me and pushing me to buy another product so I’d get a free gift, and I said I just didn’t want another, thanks, and they were SO unpleasant about it. This was while they were ringing up my $50 purchase. Ugh.

  11. heinous shrew Says:

    I have one word for you. Vitiligo.

    Most people don’t know what it is, let the fun begin.

  12. Cricket9 Says:

    Of course they are on commission! One of my friends used to work at Lancome counter at Sears. She told me how the sales people were harassed by the managers to sell more and more, and it was never enough – and how they were told to constantly push unnecessary and expensive products. She eventually quit; apparently, Lancome is one of the worst offenders, but it seems that Benefit is catching up. Years ago I worked part time in a clothing store – I could write a book about horrible managers, swollen feet and a bunch of size 16 women trying to get into size 4 stretchy sequined holiday dresses. The sequins were flying while we, the sales people, watched horrified. Retail sucks – from both sides of the counter.

  13. Cybill Says:

    Stop, drop & roll.
    Try it, it really works.

  14. TheShoeGirl Says:

    Urban Decay and Benefit are the worst as far as pushy goes. MAC is the worst as far as making you up goes. Unless you like to look like you applied your foundation with a putty knife…?

  15. Jacqui Says:

    Those benefit people are a plague on society…my mother and I walked by and one called out to her “would you like us to do something about those under eye circles?”
    Sweet, sweet people.

  16. annemarie Says:

    This story is awful. What fucking cunts! I would have been fucking livid.

  17. Suebob Says:

    When somebody works on you as hard and as pleasantly as the guy, I think you gotta buy at least a little something. Don’t you?

  18. theresa Says:

    i think im going to go get my face tatooed to my ass now.

    who is your favorite, anyway???

    i hate shopping attendants. they can convince me to buy anything so i consider them my personal enemy. but a stranger touching your face is is a massive violation of privacy. I’d rather have my butt pinched.

    touching somebody’s face who doesn’t trust you deeply (or visa versa) is one of the most uncomfortable social situations. college boys have no boundaries.

    but i have no slapping inhibitions so it balances out.

  19. Nikki Says:

    True story. Many years ago when walking through Saks (no, we didn’t have money… it was the cut-through store to our bus stop, really) with a boisterous gay friend, I was cosmeti-clenched. The overly coiffed & tarted up sales machine tried to berate me into a counterful of glitz. I was too polite to walk away without parting pleasantries because I was raised with boatloads of Catholic guilt.

    After my friend’s 10th exhale & eyeroll, my 5th smiling ‘no, thank you’, followed by a rather crudely hoarse comment from the beauty beast, my friend piped up, “She can’t buy anything! Her psychiatrist told her to keep her distance from strangers!” She audibly gasped & backed away, horrified, no doubt later telling co-workers at tea she’d almost been killed by a crazed lunatic who rummaged through her lotions & creams, then without warning bolted for public transit like a spider monkey back to the lock-down facility before lights out. Sadly, you & X were cosmeti-clenched… remember that just the slightest bit of crazy often releases one’s grip.

    P.S. Cybill’s comment made me burst out laughing. See, she already knows the drill.

  20. Madeleine Says:

    This post made me laugh, this is why I either completely avoid the cosmetic section or keep my head down and avoid any eye contact with the people working there if I’m shopping for something. I had this terrible experience when I was 15, I went through this bad skin phase and was pretty self conscious of it (didnt last that long thank god). Anyway I go up to the YSL counter, lingering for a few moments checking something out and I was pounced on by this YSL bitch. I didnt have a lot of confidence back then either so I didnt say no, she then went on to point out how terrible my skin was and how there product could cover up my terrible shocking skin. Worst experience of my life, atleast the MAC counter people ignore you.

  21. Bevitron Says:

    I suppose you could look at it as a kind of half-assed compliment, in a way. If they didn’t want you walking around displaying their beautifying unguents and whatnot on your face, or they thought you looked so seriously unprosperous as to not be worth the pump, believe me, they would ignore you with a vengeance.

    Or:
    “I have conjunctivitis (pink eye) and/or herpes (cold sores).”
    That ought to do it.

  22. kt Says:

    I usually am able to avoid make up counters all together when I enter a department store. When I do walk through one, no one seems to care about my presence. Maybe it’s my permanent scowl, thanks to a deep frown line on my forehead, that fends them off. Or the fact that I don’t radiate dollar signs. But I definitely would’ve freaked the eff out if someone ambushed my face and started slathering shit on it! Never mind the invasion of personal space, but because everything seriously makes me break out!

  23. Dru Says:

    Salespeople in my country tend not to be so much rude as passive-aggressively bitchy, like the gem who tried to sell me anti-ageing creams when I was twenty-two and had fabulous, distinctly early-twenties skin.

    Sometimes I feel sorry for the makeup counter girls, not only do they have to push awful products but here it also seems to be policy that they have to wear every single product a company makes and have it show- I’ve yet to see one of them without horrible cakey foundation and lipliner darker than their (regulation) pale pink/brown lipstick.
    I could almost sympathise with your Dior man, if it wasn’t for the fact that he basically dragged your friend into the little demo to relieve his own boredom. At least he was skilled at his job..

  24. Sister Wolf Says:

    Suebob – I hope you’re kidding.

    Theresa – Exactly, you just don’t start touching someone’s face!

    Nikki – This is inspiring. I can’t wait to act really crazy with a Benefit girl!

    Madeleine – It amazes me how they’ll tell someone how bad they look. What a terrible selling technique: First, insult someone and/or hurt their feelings. Maybe it’s based on that stupid book about “game?”

    Bevitron – Nah, it wasn’t a compliment, just an assault. I should have screamed “Now get me some make up remover, you fucking cunt!”

    kt – I think I need to write to the manager and document her/his response. That is my plan!

  25. Make Do Style Says:

    I’d have done the Benefit girl for assault!

  26. James Says:

    Can you please get a book published with random stories like this in it?

  27. Cricket9 Says:

    Suebob is not kidding. I’ve been told by a person spending tons of money at Holt Renfrew where she has a personal shopper and practically knows everyone by their first name, that any time they do “a makeover”it’s expected that you’ll buy something, and yes, they will get all pissed off if you don’t.

  28. Brie Says:

    Just as bad as the cosmetic sales people are the perfume sales people. They try and squirt crappy scents on you.

    I wanted to find a specific perfume and had the damn sales woman at Macy’s keep pimping Jessica Simpson’s perfume to me instead. She wanted to squir tit on me but I ducked it. Everytime I asked for the perfuem I was looking for she would try and pimp out the Jessica Simpson perfume to me instead. Verya nnoying since I knew what I wanted.

    I finally let her squirt a card with it and let me smell it and I deemed it “Horrible old lady at church” scent. Just to shut her up. She gave me the cold shoulder after that. Another sales lady was watching…smirked…and came over to ask me what perfume I was looking for and promptly sold it to me.

    I usually get ignored at cosmetic counters and have to practically yell at the sales clerks to make a purchase. I am always in awe by the amount of make-up the sales women have shoveled on their faces at the make-up counter and wonder who could possibly want to be made up that horribly. *shudder*

  29. Witch Moma Says:

    Can’t even walk thru our 2-bit mall w/out being accosted by salespeople from the makeup KIOSKS. Stopped being nice long ago. Merry merry.

  30. BethUK Says:

    That’s horrible thing to do! How scary. Maybe you should carry a little pot of gunk on you at all times so you can return the favour.

    I’ve never had that sort of problem with Benefit over here but I’m easily scared by make-up counters and have developed some amazing avoidance skills over the years. Thanks to the internet I never have to go near one again!

  31. Liz!! Says:

    THIS is why I avoid purchasing any makeup at any department stores. It’s already a hassle to keep some of the Sephora guys away from me…

    I CANNOT walk into Mac (for this reason, I don’t own any Mac makeup). I went in once with my sister, and the woman was all over me as soon as I walked into the door. I kept nonchalantly repeating “I know your products already,” and trying to scrutinize a single gray eyeshadow just so she could get away from me. To her credit, she kept listing a million products that would “make the eyeshadow pop” but I have the great capacity to ignore others.

    That seems to work, although they are pissed because they know that unless I want to purchase something, I won’t buy anything. I always say that I am familiar with their line, own certain items at home and don’t need any advice. But then again, I’m a decent actress (I should hope so, since I used to act!), so I can pull it off.

    Kind of related story: I was taking my friend to David’s Bridal to try her bridesmaid gown on (I was the bride!). I REALLY didn’t want to go there because of the pushy saleswomen that nearly ripped my cell phone out of my hands, but that store had the stupid color I wanted.

    My friend was really excited about “pretending” that I was just a friend of the bride, and I had concocted a whole backstory (I was a Method actor, cant you tell?). Once they started asking her for the bride’s contact info, she folded like a house of cards. I had to come in with a brilliant save at the last minute…not sure if the saleswoman even bought it, though.

    So if you are going walk by any more makeup counters and you have a brilliant lie ready to go, make sure that X is a good actress. If not, just tell her to RUN!

    Sorry about that experience! I would have told the guy, “Well, if you’re really that bored. Just letting you know upfront, I’m not going to buy anything. I am in $80,000 debt from my college education and I can’t get a job because I’m too ‘overqualified,’ whatever the hell that means. Still bored?”

    Unemployment has given me the perfect weapons against makeup counter salespeople and time share sharks!

  32. Artful Lawyer Says:

    And this is why I use a mixture of drugstore products that I know work, and cosmetics that I can mail order (from MAC etc.)….

  33. Mayan Says:

    Why do people think they can touch your face WITHOUT your permisson?

    The horribleness of the cosmetics counter is kinda the reason why I buy all my stuff online!

    The only time I ever venture into the tarantulas’ lair is during Clinque bonus time. Yeah, I know I should like a twat but Clinque facewash and toner are amazing for my skin – as soon as I stop using it I breakout. Their base is pretty good too…

    I just head straight to the counter (just like they tell you to walk during self-defence classes: head up, strong gait, look straight ahead and dont stop no matter what). I usually lose my cool on the exit though and kinda fast walk/run outta there.

    On a seemingly unrelated note, I went mushrooming a few months ago and random people in the forrest would come up to me and exclaim “oh you are mushrooming” and REACH INTO MY BASKET AND TOUCH MY MAGNIFICENT FINDS. They would even hold them up and admire them, patting their tops. WTF?

    You can’t touch my mushrooms OR my face.

  34. Emily Bleak Says:

    @Sheri – Don’t feel bad, Apple Store employees don’t work on commission! :)

    I tend to do most of my shopping alone (other than thrift stores, which I think require a team to rifle through every last rack and box for that one hidden bit of goodness), and with big headphones on. I like to think that, coupled with a polite nod to any approaching salesfolk, broadcasts “I’ll find you when I need you.” My state recently passed a law stating that you can’t just randomly spray passersby with perfume – I’m so thankful that I don’t walk out smelling like six different crappy “celebrity inspired” scents anymore. Instead they have to spray it on a card and offer it to you, which can occasionally be nice to toss in your purse to make it smell good. Anyone who came at my face like that would be carried out on a stretcher, though – I have the typical Russian-American steel-girdered personal bubble, nobody touches my face.

    The worst for me was Lush, every Lush I’ve been to has been an endless parade of upselling me their chemical garbage. Just because it’s in recyclable packaging and smells like a hippie’s armpit doesn’t mean that I don’t see the sulfates and parabens on the label. (Unfortunately, my mother obsesses over their bar soaps, so when I go in to buy a gift, it’s like they’re trying to convert me. Ugh.)

    The MAC store near me is actually very refreshing – it’s quiet, well-lit, and spacious. The sales ladies will let you know where to find them and back off until you ask a question. I know that they work on commission, so when one of them is helping me, I make a note of his/her name, but otherwise it’s very low-pressure and the saleswoman I tend to seek out has a great eye for my color. I think the location of the store (Newbury St. in Boston) is high-traffic enough that they don’t need to worry too much about keeping their paychecks up.

  35. Marky Says:

    I think this is worse with the economy being where it is. My friend M has been at the same department in the same department store for 26 years, and lately his stories of shark-like clerks have been astonishing.

    I’m a sucker. If a clerk gets me to try something on and compliments me, generally, I’ll buy it. Unless the clerk happens to be that psychopath at that store on Main Street in Santa Monica where they used to sell Comme des Garcons for men. Remember her? I think you wrote a wonderful post about her. In the pantheon of horrible salesclerks, she ranks #1.

  36. melissa Says:

    It’s astonishing to me how nobody here seems to understand the firm “No thank you, I’m just looking” technique. If you just stand around and say nothing, of course they’re going to bother you. That’s their job. If you make it clear to them that you do NOT want to be bothered, they generally retreat to a slight hover rather than a full on attack.

    Make-up saleswomen are annoying, but that’s how they make money. I’d think that you would understand the value of a buck more than anybody else, Sister, based on your posts about your monetary needs and your leaky roof.

    The same with every other job. People are friendly to you because they’re paid to be, especially if they’re working on commission. They will converse with you, give you a makeover, show you samples, focus all their attention on you if there’s a chance that you’ll buy something from them. If they spend an hour on you because you didn’t tell them straight from the start that you weren’t going to be dropping money on their product and then realize that you aren’t interested in buying, it’s an hour wasted.

    I used to work in telefundraising (i know, despicable, right?) for my college and the worst part about it is when people keep you on the phone for over 10 minutes then tell you that they’re not going to donate. I never worked on commission, so it wasn’t terrible, but obviously, I would rather people just say “no” from the get-go than keep me on the line.

  37. kt Says:

    I’m wondering if you should make corporate complaints, if that would be more effective? Either way, I’m all for it. As a girlfriend once said when she was approached by a pushy guy at a club to dance, “No one touches my stomach fat. NO ONE!!”

  38. mia Says:

    this is hilarious. My lil sis is a ‘bene-babe’ and they definitely have a very pushy strategy – more so than the other ‘premium’ brands in her beauty hall – which she isn’t always v comfortable with. and I’ve learnt most of their stuff is cheap and nasty. she is v into makeup – and extremely knowledgeable about it, and tries to be as informative as possible to her clients, which I think helps to give good service at a beauty counter. Most of her colleagues don’t seem to know very much at all, which is a little worrying, if you’re expecting some level of expertise from a premium brand. Of course they work on commission and it’s in their interests to sell as many products as possible – but what’s key is actually listening to the customer and what they want and need, and catering to that, rather than slapping on half the counter. Then there are the timewasters who hassle them specifically for a free makeover with no intention of buying.

    Re what Dru said about having to wear their brand – my sis can’t stand much of Benefit stuff at all! She’s become an expert at finding dupes – or at least semi-convincingly passing off the stuff she actually wears as benefit…

  39. tartandtreacly Says:

    This is why you should go to Sephora.

  40. Erika Says:

    I actually get my eyebrows done at Benefit and I am pretty sure that they don’t like me but I don’t care. I tend to be very picky about what is used on my face and tell them so without hesitating. They have this Benefit arch thing they do which can make you look like an overplucked freak but they do it better than others so I keep going but I give them my major instruction list each time. They act like I am some strange person who is overdemanding. I just think they are used to doing whatever they want.

    Someone touching your face without permission is a huge no-no. You handled it well.

  41. liz Says:

    I walk around cosmetic counters with a look in my eye that says “mess with me and I’ll fucking punch you in the face”
    it works.

  42. Elaine Says:

    I am more afraid of the kiosks in the mall. When I was 14 I was with a group of friends roaming the mall when one friend got stopped by a lady selling straightening irons. She started to demonstrate how amazing the iron was. Pretty soon the guys got bored and went to the food court (where I wanted to be as well)
    So once the lady finished her spiel and showing off my friend’s hair she said “So you each want one right?”
    They were $200 each.

  43. Bevitron Says:

    Okay – pretend you’re walking through the beauty products department of a hot-shit (or shit-hot, whichever)department store…I, the young and fabulous Hi-pressure make-up artiste, detain you for a second, and remark, “Your skin is wonderful, YOU are wonderful, you do not need any of this marked-up crap – now run like the wind from this area – flee! On your way! Mwah, mwah!”

    I’d do it, too.

  44. Zoe Says:

    I hate it when you want to try something out and they insist on putting it on for you. I can recall having clowns lips painted outside my natural lipline (“so flattering! makes your lips look so full!”), reverse panda concealer, horrendously thick eyeliner and the most hideously obvious blusher applied. All on seperate occassions. And they always want to plaster foundation on me.

    So last week I tried telling the MAC woman I wanted to apply the lipstick myself. She gave me a sort of stony smirk, like I was both rude and really weird. I sat there the entire time feeling so incredibley akward that eventually I just ran away when she wasn’t looking

    Also I totally agree with the perfume comments! I have learnt never to ask assisants in certain shops for advice. I’ll say I like mens perfumes and they’ll try force some kind of new sugary floral crap on me

  45. Aja Says:

    Melissa, I get it. I use the “just looking” routine all the time. But when people are persistent, it can be trying. Or my personal favorite, going into a shop for one thing (a basic concealer) and the salesperson tries to make up your entire face when you’ve told them you just need one item. Then the sales person acts all rejected and pouty that you don’t want to buy 25 different products when you told them you ONLY want one. The shame is on them. And when this happens, I usually don’t come back. I dislike when children pout, on grown adults it’s just pathetic.

  46. Aja Says:

    And mall kiosk people are the absolute WORSE. There’s a terrible one outside of my local H&M. The people call out to you in the most obnoxious ways and then get mad if you don’t want to stop and see something “amazing”. I always look both ways to avoid them and dash into H&M like you wouldn’t believe. Sad, isn’t it?

  47. Sister Wolf Says:

    James – That is my dream! Would you buy it??

    BethUK – Hahahahha, what a great idea to carry my own junk to do battle with. I could say “WAIT, I need to do YOU FIRST!”

    Emily Bleak – I’ve never had a problem with MAC. It’s always so crowded, they just want to move on to someone ele.

    tartandtreacly – Yep, that’s what I’m thinking. You can fuck around and take your time and leave empty handed without being rebuked.

  48. golden gate jumper Says:

    I had a similar problem at a Nordstrom Benefit counter!
    I was assigned for classes to do a project comparing makeup brands, and this was one of the brands. She just wanted to ‘do me over’ though at the time I was committed to being natural. I just wanted to ask her questions, and she just wanted to sell me lotions.

  49. Nickie Frye Says:

    Yikes! I’ve never had them put it directly on my face! That seems very unusual indeed. Normally they encourage you to try it on your hand. She must have been new. Or insane? Putting it directly onto someone’s face seems like a potential liability, among other things. Hm, bad deal.

  50. Alex Says:

    I always avoid walking through the make-up department and just try to scurry along the side ways. They pounce on you! But if one ever tried to smother something on me, I’d have to tell a b**** off.

  51. kate Says:

    i always tell the salespeople how much i have to spend. i look young so they buy it, like i’m a kid spending my christmas money or something. and i never let them apply the stuff. this one salesgirl even thought my way of contouring lipstick and eyeshadow was cool. now, i haven’t been makeup shopping in about… 4 years?… so things might have gotten crazy worse.
    this one time i was dicking around in the shoe section of sacs poking at some chloe shoes. the salesguy wanted me to buy them ($1,100) and when i laughed in his face he suggested i get a sacs credit card so that i could enjoy shoes and debt at the same time. i think i told him it was a nice thought.

  52. anna Says:

    Sorry to hear about this sister, those fuckers can catch out the best of us.

    I recall one occasion I approached the Sheisido counter, having heard wonderful rubbish spouted about their products. My skin has never been great so I’m fairly shy about getting anyone to look at it up close, let alone bloody touch it, however I just went in asking for a couple of testers to try. That was my plan anyway. I was told by the sales girl they would only allow me to have the testers after they have performed some bizarre analysis. I was promptly sat down, had some weird plastic/rubber stuff rubbed on the side of my face, right over a patch of bad skin I had painstakingly concealed before going out. She then peeled off the mush, and whisked it under a microscope where it was displayed to everyone on a big screen over the counter. Needless to say it looked horrific having my bad skin imprint magnified a hundred times, and she proceeded to point out all the bad things going on and I felt I didn’t have a leg to stand on as it looked so horrendous. Some random passer-by even laughed and said something out loud like ‘is that the surface of the moon?!’…. (what a cunt)…..and the crowning glory was the sales girl smirked at his comment, and then carried on. I just died.

    Now I’m older and I like to think a little wiser, and next time some stranger does something to me I don’t like just bark ‘NO!’ (as if telling off a naughty dog)…….or even better starting BOOO-ing them out loud in a pantomime fashion….I think this would work brilliantly with a friend who joins in too. That’s my plan anyway, mwah hah!!

  53. E Says:

    Ah – I visited my local UK Benefit counter hoping to be able to exert retribution by smacking the lotion out of some presumptious sales-minions hand should they approach. But lo, I was handed a price list and left to poke at all the samples alone. I think they were all around the back of the counter, offering up small tributes to the make-up gods in order to make the craggy old woman leave.

  54. dust Says:

    Yesterday on the market(yes, real market with vegetables) there was a stand that was selling things for grooming the eyebrows(I’m still on the market) and apparently they are doing on-spot makeovers. The girls shouted after me “Lady, would you like an epilation?”. This happened after we visited Sephora and Benefit girls dragged me to Brow Bar, only to realize that my brows need no assistance, so she suggested to do my mustache!!!!!!!!!!
    Which mustache?????????????
    Same with marketing hair products, I dream of a day when I’ll be able to buy something for “beautiful, shiny hair”, instead of “dry, damaged” one. And where are all the products for greasy hair, haven’t seen them for years!
    My advice, claim the allergy, set unrealistic goals and do your research on Make Up Alley, there’s a bunch of grumpy costumers over there balancing the make-up universe.

  55. mimi Says:

    maybe its different in australia and france, but ive always had a really good experience at benefit in both those places. not at all pushy, always friendly and polite, informative without going overboard. i’ll be sure not to visit benefit counters in the US!

    mac on the other hand… i dont own any mac makeup specifically because they’re rude, pushy b!tches who make me feel like im not good enough to by buying their products even though im in their demographic.

  56. RedHeadFashionista Says:

    Crikey. That’s a tad aggressive for a hypoallergenic product!
    I regularly make friends with makeup counter people – I come in knowing full well what I want, buy it, then strike up a nice friendly conversation with the makeup girls. As a result, I seem to manage to get a lot of makeup done for free, or for a small parting with money once in a while. But occasionally there are surly ones that scare me…

  57. Desiree Says:

    Wow all these stories are amazing to read. I NEVER go to malls or department stores anymore because I’m poor and if sales assistants in stores hassle me I just tell them I only have $5 to buy my kids’ pencils. True. Poverty completely freaks people out. I’ve also practised a death-stare which involves looking at right through these sales-dolls.
    I picked up some MAC make-up at a flea market last week dirt cheap – no knock-offs – I suspect fallen-off-the-back-of-a-truck. So what? Those global corp bastards can start taking it up the arse for all I care. I usually buy makeup at chemists (drugstores) as the staff are usually too busy to help – yay!

  58. Mew Says:

    Met many persistent sales, but none that attacked my face outright… scary.

    Most times I get away with a curt “no” and brisk trot. Once a guy got me with his death grip and in my desperation, I tickled the guy. He stumbled and I ran away in his surprise/confusion.

  59. Killerr_queen Says:

    I did a training morning with Benefit after applying for a job with them and they said they are not like any other company because their cosmetics are so wonderful la de da fair enough. But then they also said that they are not like any company because they mostly focus on sales not putting make up on clients and actually helping them to look nice. I mean come on you cant find a foundation shade suitable for every skin when there is only 3 shades available. But the whole priority of the company is to accost people to sit down and have the newest product slathered over their faces regardless if they want it or not. You have to wipe off the clients make up and give them a make over leaving them looking like something from two face from batman. Its not the product that works its the technique and how its applied. Then you have to push the product onto the client by telling them they look great (even if it looks terrible on them) and tell them various catchphrases as “its a supermodel in a bottle” “kylie minouge uses this” the next hour of my life was used to walk around the counter with a bottle of this supposed model in a bottle and try and get people interested in it. Needless to say I’m not like that at all and couldn’t force people to sit down and I was getting upset by people bluntly telling me no and giving me exasperated looks. I didn’t get the job all because I couldn’t get someone to sit down and have products pushed onto them. I understand why people say no at something that doesn’t work as the company states at £20 a pop no wonder people wont buy it. Its all about pester pester pester. Awful logic on Benefits part.

  60. Ari Says:

    It’s a little harsh to be calling the Benefit girl a b**** she was just doing
    her job. Try having a better attitude and then maybe next time a girl, whose job it is to present and sell products, wouldn’t bother you as much.

  61. Usagi Says:

    I feel lucky I haven’t had many of issues near the make-up counter. The worst I had was some girl trying to get my mom to buy a second make-up kit for me, even though I kept saying I don’t like make-up, even going so far as to say “It’s an alien thing, I don’t like it.”
    My friend had the idea to pretend you don’t know English. We were at a Saturday Market, waiting for other friends to be done in a perfume area (the friend I was with is allergic to just about everything, and couldn’t get close). This one woman kept trying to sell us something, and I tried really hard to say we were just waiting. My friend shot me a look and started speaking in fluent French. I don’t know French, but I used basic German mixed with French I knew to talk back. The woman did not know what to do. I looked over with a smile and just pretended nothing happened. We weren’t bothered again, and just left later.

    Next time I go into a mall with friends that shop a lot, I’ll just pretend I don’t know how to speak enough English. Most people probably didn’t learn German in school.
    It actually works all the time, since my mom has a really thick accent, I just start talking to her in German, and people back off enough. And it funny to laugh at people’s reaction later, since I don’t have an accent and just fluently go into another language.

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