It’s War at the Make-up Counter

Today my friend X took me to the mall and we decided to visit the new Bloomingdales. We entered in the cosmetics department, unaware of the horror that awaited us.

Some bitch at the Benefit counter approached me and started telling me about their new eyebrow waxing service. I tried to ignore her and looked at the make up while she gave X a brochure or something.   As I started to walk away, the bitch says brightly: “Can I just show you something?” I turned to her and said “Sure.”

Without any warning, she whips out a tube of something and starts rubbing it all over my face. I was too stunned to react. I couldn’t even believe it was happening. She babbled about the product while rubbing it in, and I kept my eyes tightly shut , dreading a blob of it on my contact lens.

When she finished, I blurted out, “How do you know this won’t make my skin break out?” meaning, How do you even know if I just had a facial peel, if I’m wearing a pound of foundation, if I’m on my way to a dinner party and can’t wash my face, if I have severe allergies, or if I’m carrying a kitchen knife to stab you with?

She smirked and replied: “It’s oil free and hypoallergenic. It’s silicone based.” I felt my face and indeed it felt slippery like the silicone glossing serum I don’t like to put on my hair.

I staggered off and told X how furious I was. I wondered if it was worth asking for the manager an causing a scene. We walked a few feet to the Dior counter, where a nice young black-clad gay guy asked how we were doing. I remarked that I was traumatized by the Benefit bitch.

He nodded and confided, “That’s their philosophy over at Benefit. Believe me, I’ve worked for them.” With that, he persuaded X to let him do her lipstick by saying, “PLEASE, I’m so bored and it will make me happy!”

The Dior guy did an expert job of lining and filling in X’s lips, explaining each product and why there was nothing like it. He did her eyes too, using 5 different products. While he worked, he told us about his unhappy childhood in a small-minded Christian community. He asked about my favorite poet, revealing that his favorite is Sylvia Plath.

“OH!” I said, recalling that the second most popular source of literary tattoos is Sylvia Plath, “So do you have any of her stuff tattooed?” He proudly yanked up his long sleeve to reveal a whole long poem about death on his upper arm, the words alternating in red and black ink. He kept right on moaning about his childhood, oblivious of how easily I had just pigeonholed him.

Finally, he was done with X, who looked great. He lined up around 8 products and asked her which ones she wanted to buy. When she said she wanted to think about it for a while, you could see his entire demeanor change. He coldly advised us to have a good day. When we left the store, we were careful to avoid the cosmetics department.

What next at the make up counter? A gang rape?

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62 Responses to It’s War at the Make-up Counter

  1. kate says:

    i always tell the salespeople how much i have to spend. i look young so they buy it, like i’m a kid spending my christmas money or something. and i never let them apply the stuff. this one salesgirl even thought my way of contouring lipstick and eyeshadow was cool. now, i haven’t been makeup shopping in about… 4 years?… so things might have gotten crazy worse.
    this one time i was dicking around in the shoe section of sacs poking at some chloe shoes. the salesguy wanted me to buy them ($1,100) and when i laughed in his face he suggested i get a sacs credit card so that i could enjoy shoes and debt at the same time. i think i told him it was a nice thought.

  2. anna says:

    Sorry to hear about this sister, those fuckers can catch out the best of us.

    I recall one occasion I approached the Sheisido counter, having heard wonderful rubbish spouted about their products. My skin has never been great so I’m fairly shy about getting anyone to look at it up close, let alone bloody touch it, however I just went in asking for a couple of testers to try. That was my plan anyway. I was told by the sales girl they would only allow me to have the testers after they have performed some bizarre analysis. I was promptly sat down, had some weird plastic/rubber stuff rubbed on the side of my face, right over a patch of bad skin I had painstakingly concealed before going out. She then peeled off the mush, and whisked it under a microscope where it was displayed to everyone on a big screen over the counter. Needless to say it looked horrific having my bad skin imprint magnified a hundred times, and she proceeded to point out all the bad things going on and I felt I didn’t have a leg to stand on as it looked so horrendous. Some random passer-by even laughed and said something out loud like ‘is that the surface of the moon?!’…. (what a cunt)…..and the crowning glory was the sales girl smirked at his comment, and then carried on. I just died.

    Now I’m older and I like to think a little wiser, and next time some stranger does something to me I don’t like just bark ‘NO!’ (as if telling off a naughty dog)…….or even better starting BOOO-ing them out loud in a pantomime fashion….I think this would work brilliantly with a friend who joins in too. That’s my plan anyway, mwah hah!!

  3. E says:

    Ah – I visited my local UK Benefit counter hoping to be able to exert retribution by smacking the lotion out of some presumptious sales-minions hand should they approach. But lo, I was handed a price list and left to poke at all the samples alone. I think they were all around the back of the counter, offering up small tributes to the make-up gods in order to make the craggy old woman leave.

  4. dust says:

    Yesterday on the market(yes, real market with vegetables) there was a stand that was selling things for grooming the eyebrows(I’m still on the market) and apparently they are doing on-spot makeovers. The girls shouted after me “Lady, would you like an epilation?”. This happened after we visited Sephora and Benefit girls dragged me to Brow Bar, only to realize that my brows need no assistance, so she suggested to do my mustache!!!!!!!!!!
    Which mustache?????????????
    Same with marketing hair products, I dream of a day when I’ll be able to buy something for “beautiful, shiny hair”, instead of “dry, damaged” one. And where are all the products for greasy hair, haven’t seen them for years!
    My advice, claim the allergy, set unrealistic goals and do your research on Make Up Alley, there’s a bunch of grumpy costumers over there balancing the make-up universe.

  5. mimi says:

    maybe its different in australia and france, but ive always had a really good experience at benefit in both those places. not at all pushy, always friendly and polite, informative without going overboard. i’ll be sure not to visit benefit counters in the US!

    mac on the other hand… i dont own any mac makeup specifically because they’re rude, pushy b!tches who make me feel like im not good enough to by buying their products even though im in their demographic.

  6. Crikey. That’s a tad aggressive for a hypoallergenic product!
    I regularly make friends with makeup counter people – I come in knowing full well what I want, buy it, then strike up a nice friendly conversation with the makeup girls. As a result, I seem to manage to get a lot of makeup done for free, or for a small parting with money once in a while. But occasionally there are surly ones that scare me…

  7. Desiree says:

    Wow all these stories are amazing to read. I NEVER go to malls or department stores anymore because I’m poor and if sales assistants in stores hassle me I just tell them I only have $5 to buy my kids’ pencils. True. Poverty completely freaks people out. I’ve also practised a death-stare which involves looking at right through these sales-dolls.
    I picked up some MAC make-up at a flea market last week dirt cheap – no knock-offs – I suspect fallen-off-the-back-of-a-truck. So what? Those global corp bastards can start taking it up the arse for all I care. I usually buy makeup at chemists (drugstores) as the staff are usually too busy to help – yay!

  8. Mew says:

    Met many persistent sales, but none that attacked my face outright… scary.

    Most times I get away with a curt “no” and brisk trot. Once a guy got me with his death grip and in my desperation, I tickled the guy. He stumbled and I ran away in his surprise/confusion.

  9. Killerr_queen says:

    I did a training morning with Benefit after applying for a job with them and they said they are not like any other company because their cosmetics are so wonderful la de da fair enough. But then they also said that they are not like any company because they mostly focus on sales not putting make up on clients and actually helping them to look nice. I mean come on you cant find a foundation shade suitable for every skin when there is only 3 shades available. But the whole priority of the company is to accost people to sit down and have the newest product slathered over their faces regardless if they want it or not. You have to wipe off the clients make up and give them a make over leaving them looking like something from two face from batman. Its not the product that works its the technique and how its applied. Then you have to push the product onto the client by telling them they look great (even if it looks terrible on them) and tell them various catchphrases as “its a supermodel in a bottle” “kylie minouge uses this” the next hour of my life was used to walk around the counter with a bottle of this supposed model in a bottle and try and get people interested in it. Needless to say I’m not like that at all and couldn’t force people to sit down and I was getting upset by people bluntly telling me no and giving me exasperated looks. I didn’t get the job all because I couldn’t get someone to sit down and have products pushed onto them. I understand why people say no at something that doesn’t work as the company states at £20 a pop no wonder people wont buy it. Its all about pester pester pester. Awful logic on Benefits part.

  10. Ari says:

    It’s a little harsh to be calling the Benefit girl a b**** she was just doing
    her job. Try having a better attitude and then maybe next time a girl, whose job it is to present and sell products, wouldn’t bother you as much.

  11. Usagi says:

    I feel lucky I haven’t had many of issues near the make-up counter. The worst I had was some girl trying to get my mom to buy a second make-up kit for me, even though I kept saying I don’t like make-up, even going so far as to say “It’s an alien thing, I don’t like it.”
    My friend had the idea to pretend you don’t know English. We were at a Saturday Market, waiting for other friends to be done in a perfume area (the friend I was with is allergic to just about everything, and couldn’t get close). This one woman kept trying to sell us something, and I tried really hard to say we were just waiting. My friend shot me a look and started speaking in fluent French. I don’t know French, but I used basic German mixed with French I knew to talk back. The woman did not know what to do. I looked over with a smile and just pretended nothing happened. We weren’t bothered again, and just left later.

    Next time I go into a mall with friends that shop a lot, I’ll just pretend I don’t know how to speak enough English. Most people probably didn’t learn German in school.
    It actually works all the time, since my mom has a really thick accent, I just start talking to her in German, and people back off enough. And it funny to laugh at people’s reaction later, since I don’t have an accent and just fluently go into another language.

  12. Miranda says:

    I visited the givenchy makeup in a Birmingham mall what a mistake i walked past and a old women stopped me and took me over to a chair and said she will show me a trick what a mistake she started slapping different liquids on my face saying it is trendy and I will look good she used a pencil on my eyes and didnt blend any of the eye shadow she then drew awful uneven eyeliners and left me looking grey i didn’t think it was right to have brown and white shadow and orange cheeks and a red lip stick i left as soon as i could stay away from old wichs

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