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Ladies, there are things make-up counter clerks won't tell you

By By Petra Guglielmetti

Whether you're a well-versed make-up maven or someone who's nervous about accepting a free sample of a new product, it can be hard to read the pretty people who sell cosmetics at department stores. And are those "try-me" make-up samples totally unsanitary? Here are some things make-up counter clerks don't tell you.

We know when you're

only here for free samples.

"Telling who's going to buy and who's just browsing becomes a fun game of basic psychology," says New York City make-up artist Raychel Wade. "While there are always surprises, you get a general sense of how to tell the difference." If you're tempted to keep stopping by for free samples, bear in mind: Cosmetics-counter employees might ignore seeming cheapskates. "I regularly see salespeople walk away from a customer or not offer much help to her if they don't think they'll make a sale," says Christa, who works make-up duty at a luxury department store in New York City.

You could find a better product

at the next counter over

—or at the drugstore!

You usually buy beauty products from a few different brands when you shop at the drugstore—that's because one brand doesn't make all of the best formulas for your skin type or colouring. Yet when you're parked at a department-store counter, it's easy to believe that one brand can fulfill all your needs, especially when stocking up earns you a free gift. "We make it seem like we have the best of everything, and we really don't," admits Christa. Hey, it's their job! But off the record, department store make-up artists will admit that your money may be better spent on the cheapie stuff. For example: "Drugstores carry amazing mascaras, but it wasn't my job to direct customers that way," says Wade. "At the end of the day, I was working for the brand, not the customer." That said, you can sometimes tell which products are duds because salespeople won't go out of their way to mention them. "You're not going to work hard to sell products you don't like because if the client ends up hating them, she's won't buy from you again," Christa explains. Try asking the clerk to name her top three products in the line—chances are, these truly perform well.

We only shampoo the brushes a couple times a week, and that lip gloss is a petri dish.

Just think how many cheeks that blush brush touches in one day—and how laborious it is to thoroughly clean and dry one of those things. Conscientious make-up counter workers do all they can to keep the inherent ick factor in check—wiping lipsticks with alcohol before each use, misting brushes with solvent, offering cotton swabs for customers to apply countertop samples. But they admit that these measures only go so far; clueless customers dip their fingers directly into the lip gloss before clerks catch them. "The biggest issue is face creams, when clients don't use a Q-Tip and just dig in," Christa says. "Usually when I see this happen, I toss the jar right away, but do I do so 100 per cent of the time? No."

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