I’m not going to lie, the best part about writing about beauty products professionally is that you get to receive a lot of them for free. Obviously, beauty companies expect you to write about at least a handful of the things they send your way. That’s just the way it goes. It’s probably hard for you to believe that I only actually write about products I 100% endorse. How could you trust a beauty writer? I don’t. In fact, when I read magazines, I don’t even have to flip them open to know what products I’m going to find inside, simply because beauty companies have already offered to send them to me. That’s the actual truth, my friends. Luckily for you, I’m an honest girl, and even my therapist reads my beauty column, and that’s only partly to analyze the inner workings of my warped mind. Hi Dr. F!
I try to have a pretty principled approach to my relationships with beauty companies. I like them to send me new and exciting pieces and a few old staples, but I don’t ask them to back a truck into my storage unit or anything. If you start demanding a conveyor belt of free products delivered to your door, you’re going to pay for it in some capacity. It’s addictive, too. Imagine a box of new products coming to your door bearing prettily packaged gifts at all times? It creates the false impression that you are loved and admired, and it’s a sick, twisted obsession with an imaginary sense of being adored that many of my beauty editor friends have fallen prey to.
That said, I’m not ashamed to admit that I have sometimes begged beauty companies to send me more of my favourite beauty products because I’ve run out and, since I write about my genuine love for said products all the time, they may as well send them to me again, right? (This goes out to the fine folks at Giorgio Armani: Please, I beg of you! I need more Giorgio Armani Maestro Octinoxate Sunscreen Fusion Makeup in 5.5! I’ve written about it here, here and here. My love is real!)
There was once a dark period in my life when I went to go work for a men’s website and suddenly the free beauty products stopped coming. No one sends you products to review anymore once they realize you spend your days writing stories like “How to Get Her Into Bed in 5 Easy Moves.” At first, I thought I’d just suck it up. At least my past experience as a beauty writer had taught me what products I liked, and now I could just narrow in on my favourites and invest in them. I went to go buy my favourite curl cream of all time, Kerastase Creme Oleo-Curl, and was shocked – in a Heart of Darkness, “the horror, the horror” kind of way – to find out that it costs $42 plus tax. I’m just a poor journalist! I thought. How could be denied the very things that turned me into the beauty monster I had become?! The very industry that I had loved and treated like a religion had made me into a product-head, desperate for my next fix of luxury but with no means to pay for the hit. I was effed!
I did what any diehard beauty product lover would do: I went home and cried, and then I came up with a plan to get samples of some of my favourite products for free. Sure, I’m getting a ton of beauty products comped these days – not gonna lie – but this survivor knows how to stay in the lap of luxury in the worst imaginable circumstances: not having a beauty column. Here’s how…
Pretend You Use A High-End Product By A Competitor
This has got to be my favourite trick, and I’m leading with it, so be prepared to be disappointed by all my advice after this little gem. When I was working at that men’s site, I had grown accustomed to using a foundation by Chanel at the time. It was totally out of my sad journalist budget, so I went home and Googled Dior. I memorized the name of product similar to the one I wanted desperately from Chanel. I then went to the Chanel counter and told them everything I loved about my Dior foundation but that I had recently found it to be a little bit heavy and wondered if perhaps the Chanel foundation would let my skin breathe better during the day. I let the Chanel girl try out my favourite foundation on my face, and then I asked if she had any samples she could give me to try at home for a few days, just so I could really see the difference before making such a dramatic brand switch. Jackpot!
Insist You Already Own A Different Version Of The Product You Want To Try
This tip is pretty smart, too. Sephora will hate me for saying this, but they give out samples like it ain’t no thang. I have confessed my love of GlamGlow enough times (here and here, for example) to admit that I tend to do this really evil thing from time to time: I go into Sephora and rave about my love for GlamGlow Tingling & Exfoliating Mud Mask. “It’s simply the best!” I say, while channeling my inner Tina Turner. Then I ask them if customers tend to be more satisfied with GlamGlow Super-Mud Clearing Treatment, which is the white version of the amazing mud mask, if you didn’t already know. They don’t always give me a straight answer, but that doesn’t really matter, because a straight answer isn’t what I’m after. I’m after one of those sweet, sweet pre-packaged samples I know they’ve got all stashed up in those teeny-tiny white drawers around the store. Eventually, they break and give me one or two to take home to test out in comparison to my current mud mask. Genius!
Go Shopping With A Makeup Artist Friend
This is obviously harder to do because you have to have a friend who’s a professional makeup artist, but if you happen to have one, tap that immediately. Store clerks at luxury department stores tend to know all the top makeup artists in the city because they spend tons of money there all the time buying the latest products for their upcoming photo shoots. The store clerks will give them tons of amazing samples that they normally keep hidden from regular civilians to – as I’ve decided to believe – hoard for themselves. They’ll give your makeup artist friend samples of crazy stuff like mascaras and lotions and eye liners, and they’ll give them to you too because, well, it would be rude not to… especially when you’re standing there smiling with your hand out, right?