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Behind The Cosmetics Counter
by Robyne Highsmith
Not For Sale
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Behind the Cosmetic Counter

I see it everyday; people walk into a cosmetics department with a stare of confusion and wonderment.There you are alone swimming in the sea of cosmetics. As you look around at the product, it is hard to not notice the counter units. Some of the advertising is by girls half the age of people who use the product. Perfect airbrushed pictures give real people hope that one day they might look this good again. Did we ever look like that? Photo shop works wonders on paper yet can make real women feel inferior. I feel it is time for cosmetic companies to “Girl Up“and make things more realistic.

The “Use me “and “trynow “stickers on thousands of products can be overwhelming. Some creams promise to do everything but clean your house for a price. It reduces lines, exfoliates surfaces, decreases aging and gives a more youthful appearance and the list goes on. Prices can range from $10 -$1000. There are many things to consider in the price of product. The research, packaging, ingredients, and advertising all play a factor in the cost. The important thing to consider is your budget and can you achieve the same result for less.

All of this is Hoopla designed to get you interested enough to try the cream. If you play with it you might purchase. You have one face, one skin, one lifetime to get it right,or at least improve it. The company has the advantage here.

Seeking a raft in this sea of cosmetics you search for a cosmetic consultant (line person). Here are the basics you need to know about your pending adventure. You are in charge of the whole experience. I repeat, you are in charge! Never do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Take your time and don’t feel intimidated by the whole process. You might want to get a touch up (minor makeup application) that day or just ask questions.

During your trip into the department ask for a few samples and collect information on the products. Each line has flyer's and sample cups.Please don’t raid the samples, take only what you are interested in and will really use. Ask for pricing on the products that interest you. Study them at home and Google the reviews

What qualifies someone to work for a line in a department or specialty store?

In most cases, no experience can get you hired. You read that correctly. Only a few companies require any prior experience or an audition. During an audition, you demonstrate a makeover up to company standards.They are judged by the staff and management of the counter and or store. These are the exception rather than the rule.To be fair here, all companies would like to hire incredible cosmetic consultants, but there appears to be a lack of talent in this specific are applying for these jobs.

Many people behind the counter have no background in the industry at all. They come from various walks of life. Most have a sales background and these range from real estate agents to exotic dancers. I worked with a young lady who plucked chicken feathers for a poultry plant. It is really hard to think about….No wonder she changed jobs!

When you are hired for a specific line, you are contracted by both the retail store and cosmetic line. Each company creates training programs on its own products. Some lines such as Mac have a multi day extensive training programs while others hand you a product manual. There are extremes in training procedures and the line person needs to study independently.

Who are the “SpecialArtists “stores bring in?

In addition to the counter people there are also artists that are featured by the company. These are three types, local, regional and national.They work for the company and in most cases don’t sell outside of that specific brand. For example, if they are a Chanel Artist, they will not help you with Clinique. If you purchase anything from them it will be Chanel.

National artists are cosmetic “rock stars” brought in for a special event and an appointment is made for you at a specific time period. This is a great learning experience. Every time you have your makeup done by any professional, a new tip will surface.Nationals require a booking fee redeemable in product. Worth the trip and do this as often as possible.

Local and some regional can be found at the counter more often. Many of these artists work for various lines but only sell the company they are representing that day. Always ask if they rep for other lines or have product knowledge on what you are seeking.

How do you find a good sales person I can trust and relate to?

You can have a new BFF (best friend forever). Great cosmetic people are like hairstylists,when you find one you like that does an awesome job, never let them go. Share them with your friends and make many” girl’s day” trips to the counter
Questions, lots of questions! Here are a few examples:

1. How long have you worked for this company?
2. What other lines have you worked for?
3. What are your favorite products in and out of your line?
4. If you had to use another line, what would you choose and why?
5. Have you ever been a freelance artist? For Who?

All of these will give you some insight as to if they are qualified for your needs. Are looking for someone who knows a lot of lines and has years of experience? Not everyone is seeking an experienced consultant. Some people know product and want an “in andout” experience. The main thing to remember, if you don’t receive the desired answers thank the consultant for their time and move on to the next counter.

You need to select someone you are comfortable with and can develop a long term relationship. They will be your go to person in beauty and fragrance. I can not stress how important this is to saving money and sanity!

Do salespeople work on Commission?

It varies by company.Most work on hourly plus commission basis. All of them have two companies to keep happy. The line and the store.Three goals almost always exist with each person. Monthly counter, event, and store. There are a few others thrown in at times as well. For example if a free gift is going on.

If a salesperson is dishonest, or tries to oversell a client. The products will always come back to them.

How do the consultants know the products will perform?

Gratis is free product given by a company at intervals to allow the line person to try new launches? They are the same full size products located at the counter. Many stores allow all department members to win (sell one get one) or be given the product with trainings.The test results are included on most products in the training manual. Ask to see them and get an explanation as to meaning.

Word of mouth goes a long way in cosmetics. Client testimonials are great. People will be happy to tell you what works for them and share the story. Cosmetic consultants are able to use what they choose in the department, thus learning about a lot of the new products.

Are all stores the same or do some charge more or are they all the same?

If you take only one thing away from this article, Shop where and with whom you feel comfortable. Prices in cosmetics are set by the company and are the same in all stores. The same price exists at Saks Fifth Ave and Macy’s. Each retailer receives different gifts with purchase (GWP) and exclusives.

How do I know they are not just trying to sell me anything money will buy?

I hate to say this,but, you really can’t know. Most reps are honest, but with every profession there are always a few bad seeds. I have heard people make promises just to make goals. Here is your guide to using good judgment. Don’t ever feel inner pressure to purchase what you don’t need or can’t afford. Always think and ask questions prior to purchase. If someone tells you that their counter has ALL of the best products in the department. Run and don’t look back. Every line has star products and the consultant knows this.

I have a product that is for working for me. Can I return it?

Again, ask questions.Know the stores return policy prior to purchasing. Some of the high end stores will take a percentage off for use after a period of time. You need to ask if the store tracks your purchase in the computer. What if I loose my receipt? Will I have to take a store credit?

I love Nordstrom. Why? The return policy. You can order online or shop in the store. Exchange the products or return them at any point. They ship everywhere in the USA at no charge. Returns are free as well and each shipment includes a return label for your convenience.

Please be reasonable here, don’t return after using the whole jar. Why waste time when you could be using a product that works for your skin? You will know allergies and progress with a short period of time. It is best to return items as soon as you realize they are not working for you. No later than 30 days.

I believe that knowledge is power and the above information will help you with deciding the four important travel tips in Cosmetic Beauty Land.

Who should I shop with?
Will the products work?
How much will this cost?
Can I return it and get my money back?

I hope this article has answered some of the questions gave you have and provided a sneak peek into the industry. You are now armed with the information to make good decisions on your beauty routine... Enjoy your next trip to Cosmetic Beauty Land!

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