Social Experiment: The Makeup Counter


Heading over to the makeup counter as a teenager always gave me two feelings, excitement and anxiety. I loved seeing the vast display of hues ready for swatching, but as much as I wanted to dive in and test everything, I was always reluctant because of what makeup I had on and how I was styled. Throughout the years I’ve visited enough makeup counters to know that the level of customer service and attentiveness varies depending on what you look like. It can be hit or miss, and I was curious to see if my reservations still hold true today.

On the first day, I decided to pull my hair back and walk through the mall barefaced. In previous social experiments, I’ve found that when I wore less makeup I was more approachable, but today was not the case. I circled brands and gave eye contact to several sales associates in hopes that they would make the initiative to give a lending hand to a confused customer. That did not happen. I left both Macy’s and Sephora a bit disheartened. My last trip that day was over to MAC and as soon as I walked in, a smiling fuchsia lip-wearing woman quickly asked if I needed any help. Thank goodness. If I were a reluctant beauty shopper, this would be a frustrating shopping day.

Day two, I decided to curl my hair and go for a bold lip and sultry eye before hitting the same stores. Naturally I feel more confident when I decide to make myself up, and it showed! Multiple sales associates willingly came up to me asking if there was a specific product I was looking for or if I wanted to try any samples. The surprising difference between day one and two was the assumption that if I wore makeup I had product knowledge, so I didn’t need to be further educated. They assumed I was simply looking for specific purchases.

Regardless of appearance, there are many days I need to rush to the store to pick up eye liner or quickly make myself up for a night out. I was disappointed that in order to get proper help at a makeup counter, I needed to dress the part. Sales associates at makeup counters would do much better to help a potential customer in spite of what he or she is wearing on their face. Like the old saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.