Monday, 23 November 2009

Counter culture: How clean are your tester products?

I'm in two minds about posting this. I've decided I'm going to go ahead and raise the issue here on the blog, but I'm not going to name-and-shame any counters or brands. For I have a SRS BIZNESS-style complaint to make. Read on to hear the grinding of my axe.

When you wander the beauty halls of any major city, you routinely encounter gaily-made-up sirens who try to beguile you into a "makeover" or a "pampering session" with their products. They're sales assistants, but they also claim the role of "makeup artist". In fact there's a thin line between the two - some of these people are qualified, such as MAC and Illamasqua's staff. Some are just sales staff who have had a training course with the company they sell for.

Most of these people are on commission and they can often be quite persuasive about getting you to sit in a chair and try out their stuff. Usually it's the non-qualified ones who push the hardest.

Sometimes it's fun to go along with the sales pitch, barring a little awkwardness when it comes to the hard sell (I'm thinking here of my poor family member who came away from the counter of a certain aggressively-marketed Californian brand beginning with "B", bearing £100 of products she didn't need and hadn't intended to buy, just because she couldn't stand up to the sales girl). *deep breath* But the thing really that bugs me about all this, if you'll forgive the pun, is hygiene.

Recently I found myself in the chair in an Oxford Street beauty hall, at the counter of a relatively new and niche makeup brand, having my eyes lined by a sales assistant. She was putting pencil on the inner rims of my eyes - something I'm hesitant to do even for myself.

Alarm bells went off when I saw her pick up the tester that the general public have access to and apply it straight to my delicate mucous membranes. I asked her if the products were sanitised before use, and she said they were, before and after every customer.

However shortly afterwards, I noticed her colleague pick the same pencil straight up from where she had replaced it on the stand and use it on another woman's eyes after mine. No sanitising took place whatsoever.

Are you cringing yet? Because I was.

As soon as we were done, I went across to the Clarins counter and asked to borrow some cleanser and eye makeup remover to take absolutely everything off again. (The assistant there readily complied - and she didn't try to sell me anything either.)

I originally wrote and published this post at London Beauty Review

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