Who doesn’t love a beauty sample? Show me a woman who doesn’t love a sample and I’ll show you a… erm… hedgehog! LOL! I don’t think you can find anyone, male OR female, who doesn’t love being handed a bunch of samples at the cosmetics counters. It gives us the psychological effect of getting a “deal”.
Quite often, if you ask if there are any “gifts” after your purchase, the odds are that you will be given a product sample. Quite often, it will be a skincare sample. Sometimes, it comes in a one time use sachet form, or more generously, you get a little bottle or tube or jar. A deluxe size sample, as they call it in the cosmetics circles.
Quite often also, what do we do with these samples? Right. We save them for “when we travel” because they are “so useful for travel”. Sometimes, people even sell deluxe samples like the ones you see above. There are even online STORES that specialise in selling skincare samples, and when beauty subscription boxes were the rage, that’s all you basically got. Incidentally, I don’t know if subscription boxes are still a thing – anyone want to enlighten me?
The scary thing is that, there are people who actually buy these samples online from online stores that specialise in selling samples. And they tell me, “You know, if I buy a 15ml sample for RMX and the full size 50ml product costs RMXX I’m actually saving money because if I buy 4 sample bottles, I can get more product for less!” Well, I’m going to give you 5 very good reasons why you should not be buying skincare samples and in fact should be wary of using cosmetics samples!
The logic behind sampling is sound. If you try a product and like it, the odds are high that you’ll return and buy a full sized product. Kiehl’s builds their marketing strategy around this, as do many Korean skincare brands. In Korea, walk into any skincare store and you’ll be given so many samples, you might feel embarrassed. Or pleased. As you will.
But here’s why I will warn you to be careful and wary about skincare samples.
Samples rarely have an expiry date
Take a look at any of your skincare sample sachets or bottles or tubes or jars. They may be miniature sizes of the full sized product, but they rarely state an expiry date. Sometimes, larger sample sizes state a date, but they’re usually the exception rather than the norm. Most of the time, I’d expect the samples at the counter to be recent and fresh. But the truth is that we don’t know that. I’d be even more wary especially about buying samples from online stores or ebay. You have no idea how OLD some of those sample products are, and there’s no way to tell. So imagine if you then take it home and keep it in a dark cupboard for “when you travel” in the future. Then you forget about it and rediscover it 2 years later. How do you know it’s not already expired? Do you still use it then?
My Advice: When you get a sample, don’t keep it for “when I travel”. Use it as soon as you can to best measure its efficacy and to ensure it doesn’t expire
Samples aren’t indicative of the efficacy of the full sized product
How often have I used a sample product, only to be let down by the full sized product thereafter? I actually feel that quite often, the sample products are superior to the full sized, so it makes us want to buy the full sized product 😛 I have a suspicious mind that way. So, as far as I’m concerned, if I use a product sample, it’s purely to test the scent and texture. I don’t place any score on efficacy, because there’s usually far too little product to be truly effective. Anyone who tells you that they see an effect immediately after using a one-time use sample, is deluding themselves and you. This is also true in the case of samples of foundation. If I receive a sachet of foundation sample, rarely does the texture translate to the real thing. There is a difference between a smear on a foil sachet, and a liquid in a bottle. So I test to see if it oxidises or for colour match, and that’s it. Skincare? I never judge a product by its sample.
My Advice: Samples are best to test for allergies, scent and texture, little else. You need at least 30 days before you see results for most skincare
Samples may not be packaged effectively
Quite often, a full sized product may come in a glass jar, or a pump bottle. But in the sample size, it comes in a foil sachet, or a plastic bottle/jar. Does it ever make you wonder if the foil packaging or plastic is actually appropriate packaging? How do we know that it hasn’t reacted in some way to the sample packaging?
Samples may not be hygienic
This is true particularly of those that come in jars or bottles, less so those that come in sachets, because we know sachets are sealed all round. Most full sized jars or bottles come sealed, or with a security sticker somewhere on the packaging. Samples never do. Hmm… Ever wondered what else might have gone in? Or if you buy these samples, ever wondered if you’re getting the real thing? Hmm… which brings me to my final point.
Samples are easy to fake
Unless you get your product samples from the cosmetics counter or an authorised distributor or store, you could well be getting a fake product. I’m not saying that these online stores or auction sites are selling fake goods. I’m just saying that there’s no way you can tell a real sample from a fake. Packaging for product samples vary and aren’t standardized. Smaller samples come in foil sachets. Larger samples come in bottles that may or may not resemble the final product and even then, comes in different sizes. Whereas, full sized products come in only 1 or 2 standardized packaging. So, who’s to say that a sample you’ve purchased isn’t real? I don’t know. Maybe time will tell, after your skin reacts.
So the upshot of this is that while I think that product samples are a great way to try out a new product or to familiarize yourself with a new product, or even to travel with (more on this another day!) we do have to be very wary and careful about using these product samples.
Above all, please don’t buy skincare samples off the internet. Samples are free for the asking at any cosmetics counter. Sure, sometimes the SAs may look down their noses at you, or be all uppity, but ultimately, if you persist, there’s no good reason for them not to give you a sample of the product that you want, unless they don’t have any on hand. Any cosmetics counter worth shopping from will have samples at hand. Perhaps not the product you want, but of other products you can try.
With makeup it’s always harder. Usually, the only samples available are of foundation, and even then, only of 1 shade. So you can test for texture and maybe allergy but little else. Lipstick samples are useful for testing colour, but again, little else. The texture is rarely representative of the actual product. I rarely bother, if I’m to be honest.
Are you a beauty product sample collector? Have you bought skincare samples off the internet?
At one time, I used to collect these samples. I derived some sort of perverse pleasure from wheedling out a product sample from a tight-fisted SA at a beauty counter. Sometimes, I still do. Just to keep my hand in LOL! But buy off the internet? Are you stark raving bonkers?! 😛 Ok, tell me are you and do you? 😛