'Excuse me madam, may I have a sample?'

beauty counter
I honestly wouldn’t consider purchasing foundation, skincare or perfume without first trying a sample, so it always surprises me when people say they are reluctant to ask for them, yet so many people feel this way.
I know some beauty advisors can come across as a little intimidating, but daft as it sounds, they’re just ordinary people doing their job - to inform you of the best products for you and convince you to buy them – so don’t be afraid to ask!

Most beauty products sold at these counters come at a hefty price – and personally I can’t afford to make mistakes, so I want to be very sure that I’m making the right choice first time.  I wouldn’t dream of buying foundation that I’ve just tried on my wrist or only seen in harsh department store lighting.  I like to be sure that my skin won’t react badly to skincare, and that perfume wears nicely on my skin, that I don’t go off the scent after a few days, etc, etc.

makeup counter beauty budget
Here’s my guide to blagging requesting samples…

Look smart and well groomed – yes I know it shouldn’t matter but it does. If you fall out of bed with a hangover and rock up at Dior in skanky gear with greasy hair and no make up, the beauty advisor will assume that you don’t care about your appearance and therefore will not want to spend money at his or her counter.

Express an interest in the product – don’t just walk up to the Chanel counter and ask for a sample of foundation or moisturiser. Request information and advice, ask if the advisor will try the product on your skin. Tell them what qualities you’re looking for in the product.  All of this implies that you are seriously considering a purchase and will encourage the advisor to offer you a sample.

Just ask – you’ve spent some time talking about the product and nodding enthusiastically, so it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a sample.  Say you’d like to see how it lasts on your skin/ looks in different lights/ how your skin reacts to it, etc.  If they have no samples left (and often they genuinely don’t), don’t sigh and roll your eyes. Just ask if they have any little containers they could put some in.  If not, magically produce one from your bag/pocket – or pop into Boots and buy one! (I keep old sample/travel pots for this very purpose).

Ask for written details – if info such as the advisor’s name and product details haven’t already been offered (and they should be in my opinion), ask for a note of them so that you know who and what to ask for when you return to make a purchase, assuming you’ll love your sample of course.  This keeps the advisor on your side, helps build a rapport and will encourage them to take you seriously if and when you return. So the whole thing should be a doddle next time!

Are you uncomfortable about asking for samples – and if so, have you made any expensive mistake as a result?  Any beauty advisors wish to offer further tips?  Please tell me your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below - thanks for reading! x


  1. I've never dared asked for a sample! I'm not sure why to be honest. Luckily I haven't made any expensive mistakes...yet, but I'll definitely make a note of your tips next time I'm at a counter x

  2. I wanted to purchase a tinted moisturiser for £46 but had no idea about the colour matching because it was only available online, I requested samples because I certainly didn't want to throw all that money down the drain and they were very happy to oblige.

    However, other online companies have not been very helpful and have directed me to a page on their website titled returns info...so naturally I haven't bought from them, a) because they weren't very helpful, b) I wouldn't know which colour to pick!

    I've learnt my lesson by buying wrong coloured tinted moisturisers/foundations and I won't be buying any until I'm 100% it matches my skintone!

    Great post xx

  3. Excellent advice. I have no problem asking for a sample, provided, of course I don't launch myself immediately on a counter person and demand gimmee gimmee gimmee. I spend small fortunes on various brands, and there's not much I dislike more than wasting a good chunk of ca-CHING on a foundation that fades or oxidizes or makes my skin turn red.

    I totally agree that you need to look like you made an effort. Hangover hair might fly at Urban Decay but it won't win any points at Guerlain or Chanel or Dior!

  4. I just found u on Twitter :)

    I'm scared to do ur suggestions. I'm embarrassed to ask for samples

  5. Such a post! Im always too scared to ask but now I have ur tips I will def be trying again! xx

  6. I'm always petrified to ask for a sample! However I've found that the girls at the Estee Lauder counter are great and would actually offer you a sample.


  7. Great post! I absolutely agree with every point you've made! I am a sample queen! I love them, they are so handy and give me an idea on whether I like a product or not. Especially with foundations! colour matching in different light takes a while. Hurrah for samples xox

  8. Thanks for all your comments ladies. Sarah I agree EL are v good at sampling.

    Arianne, why are you embarrassed? Feel bad that I haven't been able to help you now... please be brave & give it a go! :)

  9. I wouldn’t dream of buying foundation that I’ve just tried on my wrist or only seen in harsh department store lighting.

  10. Great post! very informative and helpful <3 :)

  11. Glad to hear it senegence!

    Thanks Sara I'm so glad you found it helpful. x

  12. This is helpful though I have never even tried to ask for a sample. I mean I would want to reprimanded. Lol!
    New follower. Do check out my blog:

  13. The way you look when you approach the counter makes all the difference. When I look smarter and have a bit of makeup on I get served quicker and I even get approached by SA's when I'm just walking past to browse.

  14. Don't ever be worried about asking for a sample of a beauty. Why do they make sample sachets? To provide quality customers with sample products.Always remember it is part of the customer service they should provide.They want young women to promote their products.

  15. I tried asking for some when I was double wear buying and they told me they had none. I wish I'd just walked away at that point as it totally didn't work on my skin at all when I bought it. Such a waste of money. More people should ask I agree. When I worked for Clarins we had people just come in and ask for samples full stop. No interest in buying products just can I have some samples! Lol.


Please leave a comment - I love to read them & hear what you think! Nic x

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