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True Confessions of a Department Store Beauty Counter Veteran

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To work behind the beauty counter at a big department store, you have to be part make-up artist, part salesperson, and part therapist. Below, an anonymous staffer at a luxury department store tells us some of her secrets.


Image via Danie Nel/Shutterstock

I've worked at beauty counters at department stores for four or five years now. It's a stressful position where you're on your feet all day. I mean, yes, we do complain. It can be fun if you have a good team of girls around you, but it can be crazy and dramatic.

It's not easy what we do all the time. People think that makeup is just makeup, but it's not. You're promoting the line, and you're also helping women look good, feel good, and buy what they need to buy. I'm a very real person. I'm from Brooklyn, New York. That's my attitude. I tell it like it is. I'll tell you what looks good, what's not gonna look good. But I like to make sure that I'm giving emotional support to my clients because I want them to be loyal to me. A lot of them have followed me and that makes me feel good.

We work on commission. If you do really well and you hit every new goal, there is a bonus quarterly per year. It depends on the company you work for. Of course, if the customer service is amazing or immaculate, the customer is going to want to spend that $400 or $500.

Sometimes, they come in after happy hour and they want to buy some make-up. It's not even like $200, we're talking about like $600 worth of stuff. And then they'll find out when I'm not working and return it. It's like going to a strip club, like, "Oh my God, why did I just spend that $300?"

Let me tell you about this co-worker from another counter. She's beautiful and she speaks freely. So this client comes in looking for me, it's my usual client, but not a loyal one. She tells me to go downstairs for eye shadow. So my co-worker's having a conversation with my client, and she's asks, "How old are you?" And the client's says she's 31. She's smiling, waiting for her to say what most women would say, something about how she looks so young. But my co-worker says, "That's how old I am. I thought you were 52."

The client goes, "Excuse me?" And my co-worker says, "You need to put those eye shadows back and get that repair eye cream because I've been looking at you and you don't look like your age. I'm 31 and I look a lot younger than you do." She says, "I'm just being honest."

Then I come back, and the client says, "I want your honest opinion. How old do you think I look?" So I say she looks like she's 27. And she says, "That's sweet but don't ever lie to me again. You can drop the eye shadow and I want to get the repair eye cream and the repair eye serum." I'm like, what the hell is going on? But she doesn't complain about the other girl. She buys $170 worth of products, says, "I'll let you know how it works," and then walks away.

My co-worker says, "See? You got a good sale out of it. I helped you. Remember that."
· Confessions of a Beverly Hills Esthetician [Racked LA]
· All Beauty Week 2012 posts [Racked NY]