Trade Secrets from the Cosmetic Counter

cosmeticsI have worked at a cosmetics counter at Macy's for four years and I have some secrets to share! Use them to be a more savvy shopper on your next trip to the department store.

1. Be wary of the make-up brushes.

Yes, we are supposed to wash and sanitize the make-up brushes daily, but more often than not we don't. I've contracted multiple eye infections from using the brushes at the counter. Opt for the disposable cotton balls and swabs instead, even if they aren't the best tool for applying the product you're interested in.

2. We accept all returns.

The sales associate at the counter may deny this policy because they do not want to take a hit on their commission, however our policy is that we do accept returns within 90 days of purchase with or without a receipt. All you need to do is kindly ask for the manager on duty. Do not feel bad about doing this; it's your right as a consumer.

3. You do not need toner or lip liner.

These are add-on items. They benefit sales associates who work on commission more than they do your skin or make-up routine. People with extremely oily skin can use a toner, but for most customers it's extraneous. As for lip liner, can you really tell the difference if someone is wearing it? Really? Take it from me, save your twenty dollars.

4. Sorry, we tell everyone they look beautiful.

And you very well may be beautiful, but we say it to all of our customers, hoping they will buy everything that we just used on them. Best advice: bring along a friend who is honest and not biased by the promise of a fatter paycheck.

5. Department store vs. drugstore: Which is better?

Drugstore beauty products have come a very long way, but there are still some things that are hands-down better quality at a department store.

Personally, I would buy lip gloss, lipstick, eyeshadow, blush and mascara at the drugstore and save some money. The one thing that I will pay extra money for is higher end foundation. I haven't found a drugstore brand that compares in terms of color match, finished look and how it wears.

With skin care I can go either way. You don't need to pay a fortune but you do need to look for basic ingredients, such as vitamin C, sun protection and an anti-ager.

6. Try before you buy.

Ask for a sample before you invest in the product. We may not always have them, but it's worth asking.

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