My makeup and skin care addiction results in lots of beauty samples. They’re the mini packets and whatnots that come in paid beauty-box subscriptions and with orders from Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom and the like — not the full-size products and nifty gifts sent to top beauty gurus. I can’t imagine reaching that kind of nirvana because at my age I’m pretty much outside of the desired demographic.
In many ways, marketers for beauty companies have it easy. Their products are easily sampled, unlike the products of most major corporations. For example, I’m a senior writer for a large, well-known U.S. insurer — perhaps even the best known (think “lovable duck”). Insurance companies can’t send out sample coverage for potential buyers to try. Instead, they have to prove they’re the best the old-fashioned way: with good customer service and by paying claims quickly. That said, not every beauty product is an easy sell. Sometimes sample packets are too small to have meaning. For example, skin care products generally don’t produce overnight results, so one- or two-use samples must be stellar to be convincing (although they’re useful when packing for vacations).
By my estimation, I make one full-size purchase for every 25 products I sample. Here are some recent products that went from sample to makeup shelf:
- Bumble and Bumble Surf Foam Cleanser and Creme Rinse Conditioner. I received three samples of this cleanser/creme rinse combo and the third was the charm. I had good hair days each time I tried the samples — my hair seemed to have more volume, bounce and shine. That was enough to convince me to pull the purchase trigger.
- Benefit They’re Real! Mascara. I’ve mentioned before that my lashes seem to “eat” mascara. I don’t know where the mascara goes; it just seems to disappear from my lashes as if it was never there. They’re Real! gives me both volume and length, plus it stays in place until I take it off.
- Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes. This mascara sat in my sample drawer for months until I decided to give it a try based on YouTube recommendations. The reviewers were right: It makes my lashes look long, fluffy and flirty — and even the non-waterproof version stays put.
- Too Faced Hangover Rx Replenishing Face Primer: Too Faced is one of those companies that offers generous, frequent samples. I tried this primer after a sleepless night. (I’m somewhat of an insomniac.) The primer lived up to its promise to leave my complexion brighter, more moisturized and “awake.” I don’t use Hangover Rx every day, but I reach for it if I’m tired, dehydrated or wearing a foundation that’s somewhat drying.
- Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation. I wouldn’t have tried this foundation without the benefit of a sample. Truth be told, I loathed the original formula. I even purchased it twice because people raved so much I thought I’d missed something. When the reformulated version was released, I shrugged because I figured it would be much of the same. But no! After trying a generous sample — enough for about four days of wear — I realized the new version was the bomb. In fact, I liked the liquid version so much I also purchased the stick version for travel.
- Kat von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick. I received substantial samples of Kat von D’s signature lipstick in two shades, Bachelorette and Underage Red. I’m one of those women who doesn’t like to reapply lipstick often, and I found the samples long-wearing and comfortable. As an added bonus, I received favorable comments from strangers when I wore them. I now have about eight shades in my collection and couldn’t be happier with their performance.
- Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme. I received a sample of Le Marc Lip Creme in So Iconic as part of Sephora’s loyalty program. I loved the formulation: It was rich, creamy, long-lasting and made my lips appear pouty and plump. I purchased full sizes in three other shades and they’ve become my favorite lipsticks.
- Beach Walk perfume by Replica and Orange Sanguine from Atelier Cologne. Tiny one- or two-use spritzers of these scents were included in separate Sephora orders. Beach Walk has a clean, fresh fragrance that does, indeed, smell like the seashore. Orange Sanguine is a close-but-not-quite-there approximation of heady orange blossoms. I purchased travel sizes of each and discovered they smell wonderful both separately and together.
Lesson learned: Shop your sample drawer! You won’t love every product, but if you’re like me you’ll find some hidden gems.