Counter Service

I'm not scared of much in life (bar rollercoasters that go upside down and maggots) but I do get terrified at the thought of approaching a cosmetics counter. You can never just 'casually browse' at a counter, you have to hardcore shop, i.e. be sold to whether you like it or not. So many times I've strolled over to have a quick look at the new products on offer, a pretty display or just been lured by loud music, and quickly regretted that decision. If you touch anything it's an automatic signal for 'come straight toward me and give me the hard sell, not giving in until you've got me to buy this and three other products.' And the makeovers... don't get me started on the makeovers. If I wanted to look like Jodie Marsh dressed as a clown then I'd have gotten my 12yr old male cousin to have done my slap for me. It frustrates me so much that they can see what you 'normally' look like when you approach-slash-are-beckoned-over, but insist on completely changing you into a make-up whore.

The Good Old Days

It's for the very reasons above that I want to share a positive story with you. Yep, a positive story that includes a beauty counter and a make-up artist, just to prove that they exist. This Saturday afternoon I had nothing to do but wander around Westfield shopping for a new dress and perusing the shelves of Boots. I'd been sent a couple of Dior products in the morning to try so I wanted to see what else they had on offer at the counter. A lovely lady approached me and after a few minutes of chatting, discussing my blog and the Dior products she really made me feel at ease and was in no way giving me a hard sell - in fact I made it 100% clear from the outset that I wasn't buying anything because I already had some products to try at home.

Antoinetta (I think that was her name and I feel incredibly guilty for not being able to remember it!) spent about an hour with me, running through all the products within Dior's make-up and skin care range and was incredibly honest. There's nothing I hate more than being told a product is fab when it's really trash or that it's suitable for your skin when it's obviously best suited to Pat Butcher. She recommended products, told me which ones she used, let me try and play at the same time as answering all of my questions.

Yep, I heart Dior now.

The best part though was that she carefully approached the issue of testing some on my skin. She didn't sit me down, strip me of my make-up and begin a transformation, but first tested on small areas of my face and hands, ensuring I was comfortable and at ease in the middle of a shop. As we went on she asked me at every stage if I wanted to try it on my face, if I wanted her to remove my make-up, if I wanted to try mixing this with that... I didn't feel at all pressured, and as a result let her remove all my make-up and test about 10 products on me. She used cleanser and toner, serum and moisturiser, brightening cream and foundation, then topped it off with powder, blush, bronzer and even a dab of lipgloss.

I think other ladies working on counters should learn from this delightful woman. If you make people feel comfortable, make them think that it's their idea to try products, then they're much more likely to want to find out more and therefore actually buy anything you recommend-slash-force-on-them. If you're nice to people, are interested in them and their skin/routine then they're much more likely to listen to you and have a positive perception of your brand. Having left the counter I couldn't wait to go home and try the products I'd been sent. She even gave me a couple of mini samples of the products to try, which I've been using since then, after she recommended them. Now I've discovered that helpful make-up counters aren't a myth I'll be searching for decent ones high and low... but for now, Dior in Westfield London should be your first port of call.


  1. ahahah omg the description of the usual "counter service" it's so incredibly true!!

    There are a few rare gems among the sales clerk, but most of them didn't even have a decent training, or worse, are qualified make up artists with no talent whatsoever..

    The only time I had a somebody to try some product on me was at a Benefit counter a few years ago..I wanted to try a blusher eg Coralista, but the MUA was positively sure that Dallas was the best hue for me.. well I'm quite pale, black hair and green eyes..you can only imagine!!

  2. i couldnt agree with you more!! i think the worst thing you can do to a customer is push for the hard sell.

    with the company i work with you have to sit everyone down and show them a minimum of 6 yes 6 products!! even if they ask to see 1 thing u have to sit them down n show them 6 in total. i find that the majority of the time this just annoys the customer! i find that being friendly and approachable is the best thing u can do.

    im glad to hear that some beauty counters have mastered this =) xx

  3. It shouldn't be a hard thing to master, but clearly it is! I was so impressed with Dior that I'll be going back again when i need anything qualitative. If an assistant is bad, it doesn't matter how good the products are - you just won't buy them!

  4. I had a terrible experience at MAC in House of Fraser in Reading. Didnt pay me any attention for about 20 mins despite me waiting patiently and trying to catch someone's eye, then nothing I wanted was in stock so they tried to flog me a load of things I didnt want.

    All of this with a persistent "darling" at the end of every sentence.

    I haven't been back!

  5. You are so right.

    I never let them try things on me these days and instead just swatch colours myself and purhcase the product if I like the look of the swatch.

    I did a blogpost about a benefit counter recently, check it out at http://cinereabellflower.blogspot.com


  6. This is definitely a sore subject with a lot of people. It's not hard to give good service, so why do so many brands get it so wrong? It does give me hope though that there are good ones out there - this lady used to work in Fenwicks and Selfridges so maybe that's where to look!


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