So you’re dying to try the latest moisturiser, hair styling cream, foundation [enter beauty obsession of choice], but dropping serious £££s on a whole bottle before you’re even sure that it’s any good seems a little crazy doesn’t it?
That’s why it’s worth getting savvy with samples. Whether you’re shopping online or heading to the counter in-store, there are ways to score free testers before you part ways with a single penny.
But it’s not as easy as rocking up to your nearest Clinique counter and demanding ‘whatever’s on offer’ (do not do this!). Brands offer samples as a way to encourage customers to try something new, hoping that once we’ve tried it, we’ll get hooked and sign up for the full size.
How to get free samples at the counter
When it comes to landing freebies at the counter, there are few do’s and don’ts to follow. It’s worth noting that skincare brands are more generous than make-up counters – Clarins in particular, are known for their bounty of freebies.
Aveda, Kiehls and Clinique can also be very generous. Look to make-up brands like MAC (who actively encourage using testers before you buy), Benefit and Bobbi Brown for some of the best make-up samples, particularly drams of foundation.
DON’T feel guilty or embarrassed about asking for beauty samples
Your skin, hair and colouring are unique, so you have the right to figure out which products work best for your needs. Remember that brands offer beauty samples because they drive sales and are a great way to get new customers.
But DON’T act entitled
It’s ultimately up to the salesperson if they want to give you any samples at all – be polite and ask for their advice.
DO come armed with knowledge
The guys and gals at the counter love shoppers who appear to be authentic buyers. So your best bet is to approach the counter with a specific need and some knowledge of the brand and product line. Say something like, “I heard about this product from a friend” or “I read about this product in a magazine and I’m really interested in trying it.”
DO name-drop their rivals
A great tactic is to tell the salesperson you’ve been using [insert rival brand name of equal or greater value here]and you want a change so you’d like to try a sample of their new launch.
DON’T visit during busy periods
Go when it’s quiet – think early morning or evenings, rather than the lunchtime rush. You’re more likely to be showered with beauty samples when the salesperson is relaxed and has time to chat you through the product range in more detail.
DO book a consultation
If it’s skincare you’re after, it’s worth booking a skin consultation in advance (again during a quiet period) – that way you’ll get tailored skincare samples that are right for you.
DON’T worry if brands don’t offer pre-packaged samples
Many brands like Kiehls and Clinique can create a sample for you on the spot in a generic, plastic sample vial called a dram. This works for everything from a foundation or lipstick to serums and shampoos.
DO look out for new launches
The newer the product, the greater the marketing budget, which means counters will have more beauty samples around at that time – but you’ll have to be speedy, as they run out quickly!
DO become a regular visitor
Try to shop at the same counters and stores frequently. A salesperson is more likely to dip into their stash of beauty samples if they think you’re a loyal customer, rather than someone who pops in once a year.
How to get free samples online
Free samples aren’t just tucked away in secret drawers at beauty counters – you can also snap them up while you’re shopping online. Mail-order beauty retailer Feel Unique recently launched its brilliant Pick’n’Mix scheme, which allows you to choose from any five generous samples for free; no purchase necessary.
The selection of samples is huge: from Burberry, Armani & Chloe fragrance samples to Clinique, Claudalie and Bioderma skincare. There are currently a whopping 11 pages of samples to scroll through – so take your pick.
A lot of beauty brands will also offer free samples as a gift with purchase. At the moment, if you buy anything at MAC Cosmetics, you can add either a Prep + Prime Skin sample, or an In-Extreme Dimension Lash sample, to your basket for free.
Similarly, if you buy anything online at Benefit, you can add two free samples to your basket – at the moment you can choose from a They’re Real! remover, an It’s Potent! eye cream and an eye serum sample.
You can also get two complimentary samples with every online order at Charlotte Tilbury. At the checkout, you can choose from a selection of samples. If you’re buying foundation, they’ll automatically give you a sample of the shade purchased – one shade lighter and one darker, to try before opening the full size product so you can return or exchange if the shade isn’t right. Same goes for if you’re ordering their famous Scent of a Dream fragrance.
At Space NK, you can add up to three free samples to your basket with every purchase – look out for amazing brands like Kiehls, Living Proof (the luxury hair line that Jennifer Anniston co-founded FYI) and Caudalie.
Kiehls are renowned in the beauty world for their generosity with beauty samples. At the moment, you can bag three free samples at the checkout with every order. Note: their Ultra Facial Cleanser has cult-status amongst beauty bloggers and editors. If you haven’t tried it yet, make sure this is one of the samples you add to basket.
Beauty samples you can snap up now
We’ve teamed up with Magic Freebies to reveal the amazing free samples you can snap up online or at beauty counters right now (note: until stocks last). Don’t buy a new foundation before you’ve tried these…
Free Smashbox Studio Skin 15-Hour Wear Hydrating Foundation – 7-day sample
Smashbox are giving away free samples of their latest Studio Skin Foundation. Choose from 22 shades, each tailored to different skin types. Head to your nearest Smashbox counter to check what shade you are and to snap up a free, 7-day sample.
Free Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup SPF 10 Foundation – 10-day sample
Estee Lauder are offering free 10-day samples of their Double Wear foundation. All you have to do is follow this link to fill out your details and to print your voucher. Take this voucher to your local Estee Lauder counter and their staff will help you pick out a shade to take home.
Free Estee Lauder Double Wear Nude Cushion Stick Radiant Foundation – 10 day sample
Estee Lauder are also offering free, 10-day samples of their Double Wear Nude Cushion Stick Radiant Make-Up Foundation. To redeem yours, follow this link and download the voucher to your mobile, or print it off and take in-store.
Free Clinique Superbalanced Silk SPF15 Foundation – 10-day sample
You can claim a 10-day Clinique Superbalanced Silk Make-Up next time you visit your local Clinique counter. All you have to do is ask for a sample to try on your next visit – and if you aren’t sure on your colour, request a skin match test, too.