Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Temptalia Asks You


Do you feel guilty returning beauty products? Have you ever? How do you get over it?

Temptalia's AnswerI used to in the beginning, but I think I buy and keep enough products that I shouldn’t feel guilty returning the occasional product–because if I return it, there’s a good reason. Companies have return policies for a reason, and I think as a long as you’re not abusing it (e.g. buying 100 things and returning all 100 things, then doing it again the next day!), then it’s fair for you to make use of the policies.

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72 thoughts on “Do you feel guilty returning beauty products?

  1. Carrie

    No. I only return products that are either defective (such as packaging) or just plain don’t work. Those are, in my opinion, very valid uses of the return policy and therefore there is no reason to feel guilty.

  2. Avatar of Shontay shontay

    Only to a certain extent. I buy way more than I return, but I frequent certain stores to the point where I am so familiar to the staff. Returning makes me feel like they’re judging me in my mind. It’s probably all in my mind actually. For example, I need to return two Urban Decay products to Sephora this week and I’m dreading it. Sometimes I look to exchange instead, but I’m going to suck it up and go for the return. There really is nothing else I need.

  3. Sometimes we do have genuine resons to return a products especially in Base products where a wrong shade can prove disastrous and we must have an option to return it and get the better matching shade. Anyhow, I am from India and no return policy is offered here. I would really like to know the brands or the stores which offer return policies for their products bought at your place.. Thanks in advance :)

  4. sam

    i do and i don’t. i work for a cosmetic line and it stinks getting things back but at the same time, i will return something if it doesn’t work or im not pleased with it- but i dont think you should return out of buyers remorse. buy what you can afford to pay.. ive seen counters turn business away from excessive returning.

  5. Avatar of rebecca blueraccoon

    I used to but i don’t anymore, but I still rarely do it – in part because I try to do my research first and not buy things that won’t work for me, and in part because I never seem to get my act together to have the item I need to return on me at the time I go to the store. I did manage to return the Too Faced BB cream I bought at Ulta, so that was something at least. (Impulse purchase, didn’t work out.)

  6. Zoya

    What a great Question!!! I actually feel guilty sometimes. Because i never ever use any testers on my skin, so end up buying a lot of products that i like, especially when it comes to Limited Edition items. I feel like i have to have it ALL:).But when i come home and put it on myself, not always like it. So it is probably 50/50 for me.

  7. Justine

    Lol im an avid returner/exchanger. Why should i waste hard earned money on something i dont really love. My bf haaates it when i return/exchange things. We just dont see eye-to-eye when it comes to that. Thats why they have return policies right? I exchange til I find the right one.

    • Robert

      While I agree that people shouldn’t keep defective or damaged items, most people take advantage of it. I work for a prestige beauty retailer, and I don’t work on commission, but part of the continually rising cost of makeup is damages and returns. People should make more informed purchases and actually think about each item as they buy it. Returns like yours will be a force for change in future.

  8. Avatar of Megan Megan

    Depending on the reason and if it is a store like Ulta or MAC. If it’s the brand store I feel worse. I think I can thank you Christine for my lack of returns. Stores need to be thanking Temptalia! :)

  9. Avatar of Ariel Ariel

    After working at ULTA and knowing what happens to most used, returned products, I do feel really bad. I had to “destroy” a box full of perfectly good products that had only been used two or three times by throwing them away in a dumpster. Most painful moment of my life.

    • Zoya

      They should give used products to the people who work their. At least it will not go to waste. That is what they do in whole foods whole body department. I used to work their and we would bring BAGS… full of returns (after we aprove it with the store manager!) home. I would give so many things to my friends.

    • Sara

      was there a procedure in place to make sure that workers didn’t take things like that? I’ve never worked in retail and I always thought if someone had a decently nice manager they would be okay with people keeping returned products? Especially the ones that may have been opened but never used! It just seems so wasteful and sad!

  10. I so wish we had the option to return cosmetics here in the netherlands

  11. Avatar of Xero Xero

    I usually only buy drugstore cosmetics, so I’d never really had the chance to simply return a product I don’t like. I received my first MAC lipstick a few days go, Cockney from the Year of the Snake collection, and I was underwhelmed. I briefly considered the possibility of returning it to get my $15 back, but I figured that it was still wearable, and I’d feel bad that they’d just throw it out when the product is in perfectly good condition.

  12. Its not as common here in the UK to return make-up, I’m not even actually sure what the returns policy is for most brands, however I recently purchased make-up from bobbi brown and had been colour matched to a product that ended being too dark for my skin tone, I called up the store and they were so welcoming about bringing the product back and exchanging it. I think in the UK we just assume we can’t return/exchange items, I will definately be exploring my options now when I buy make-up. I was also informed once by a clinique counter that you can return foundation as long as you keep the receipt, because they dont give out samples.

  13. I agree. I never feel guilty about it. I return it because there is something that sucked about it and only if it is over a certain amount. Say a wet and wild palette or single is not so great, more than likely it will go in the bin cause they are so cheap. But something like a cleanser that costs $20 & up and does nothing… That can go back. I also have it down to within 3-6 uses and I will know if I will love it or hate it.

  14. Clara

    Absolutly not! If I buy a product I have certain expectations. And if the product doesn’t deliver, there is no reason to throw it away and waste money. I only buy HE stuff so I would waste a lot of money if I couldn’t return products from time to time…

  15. Avatar of Alison Alison

    No, absolutely not! I think its awful when store owners try to guilt customers who return products. I once had a lady say that I wasn’t allowed to return my moisturiser at LUSH, even though it was sold to me completely off and curdled! I had every right to return it (Though, she absolutely refused) and wasn’t doing ANYTHING wrong!

  16. Yellowlantern

    No I don’t feel guilty.

    Guilt is usually something I feel if I do something wrong and returning a product doesn’t fall under that for me.

  17. Kelsey

    That brings up another interesting question. Why do certain companies allow for the return of opened products? I’ve always found that strange..

  18. Avatar of Tyler tyler

    Only if I bought it from someone who works on commission, but if it’s online or from someplace like sephora then I don’t feel guilty.

  19. Avatar of chris chris

    I used to work behind the counter for Borghese. My philosophy was never to over sell, so that customers would not return products. Borghese is not a cheap line. I am surprised at the number of my friends who do not return products they do not like. I will return products that I personally use – that do not meet my expectations. If I feel I can pass it along to a friend or use in my kit I will keep it.

  20. Danielle

    I don’t feel guilty because I rarely return products. I typically only return if my skin was irritated or broken out.

  21. Avatar of Tuva Tuva

    There’s no return policies for makeup here. :( I wish it was though, because it stinks if you’ve bought something and realise it doesn’t work out.

  22. Avatar of Melissa Missy

    I’ve had issues with this in the past. My husband feels self conscious returning items. I, myself, don’t feel self conscious about returning items, although I’ve experienced negavitity from sales associates in the past. I’m consistently a high volume purchaser. I regularly make purchases within the range of anywhere from $500-$1500. Since I tend to buy more, I’m obviously going to tend to return more as well. That’s just logic! Sometimes whenever I go into the store to make a return, they’ll see me returning several items, and I’ll get an attitude initially. Usually, however, once the sales associate sees the receipt (thereby seeing that the store retun comprises a small fraction of the actual purchase) they’ll re-adjust their attitude towards me. Or, if I’m at Sephora, during the process of returning/exchanging/purchasing, my account will show my beauty insider points, and they’ll see the 3k+ number, and realize that, yet again, I am a high volume purchaser. I think that stores encourage these return policies, knowing that while they may lose money on returned items, they’ll gain money from purchases I choose to make at that store as opposed to one that doesn’t have a liberal return policy. Additionally, while I have three local Sephoras in my area, certain items simply cannot be found in stores (many are for sale online only). So often I am forced to order items online simply to be able to just SEE the item. Sometimes these items get returned unused and unopened. It isn’t my fault these items aren’t viewable in stores, and I am certain part of the reason stores offer return policies is to encourage online purchases; that way the consumer feels comfortable purchasing a product site unseen, knowing that it can be returned easily if it isn’t what you wanted. My husband is very concerned with what others think of him, and the idea of returning something skeeves him out. He worries about what these sales associates (strangers!) think about him too much. I guess I’m too practical to give a rat’s behind about it. Bottom line- they offer return policies to encourage business, and I know I give them plenty of business to justify my returns. And I won’t keep a product I’m not satisfied with just because of what others may or may not think about me while I make my return! And if I did, I’d just make my purchases online, and I’d ship my returns back to them as well!

  23. becca

    No, i don’t feel guilty. I have very sensitive skin and i return every product that i have a bad reaction to. I research products before buying them so I really don’t return unless i have a bad reaction from the product. I’d rather get my money back and buy something else than just throw it away.

  24. I only return products if they’re seriously awful or if I’m allergic to them. After working in cosmetics and knowing that they throw everything that was bought away, I’m less apt to return it for no reason

  25. I totally agree! I mostly do exchanges though, to try to find a product that works better for me :)

  26. I am SOOO happy you posted this today. I just bought the Oz palette in Glinda and it came without the lipstick. I feel guilty about exchanging the entire palette just to get a lipstick, but you make a good point–companies have return/exchange for a reason.

    I honestly don’t even know why I feel guilty about it, it wasn’t my fault, just a packaging error (or someone’s sticky fingers!)

    Anyway, this post makes me feel a lot better about exchanging it.

    <3

  27. Avatar of Pamela Pamela

    I agree that return policies shouldn’t be abused. (I work in retail so I see it frequently.). But I still feel guilty because I know that returned item will be trashed. That’s why I love swapping. One woman’s trash is another’s HG. I will return something if it’s really expensive, though.

  28. Not at all, I’m always a bit surprised when people do. I rarely return things (not because I would feel bad doing it but more because I’ll usually read a ton of reviews before purchasing!) but when I do, I mean… it’s my hard-earned cash!
    I do hate that it just gets tossed, but it wouldn’t be sanitary to do anything else. And I kind of hate the idea of completely wasting money more. I mean, if the product doesn’t work for you, it’ll likely just sit in a drawer for months or years before getting tossed out anyway…

  29. Janelle

    I worked in cosmetics back during college and even though I know what happens to the product, I do not feel bad returning it. As long as one does not abuse the return policy I do not see a problem with returning products that do not work for you. I once had a lady return a foundation that had maybe one use left; that is not OK, but if it does not work for you I do not see a problem with it at all especially if there is no tester available :) BTW for those of you that use drugstore makeup certain stores like Walgreens and CVS have a guarantee and will allow you to return used product. I have never done it, but it is nice to know.

    • Avatar of Susan Susan Nevling

      I returned a fairly expensive eye cream at Walgreen’s when it was half gone because the seal at the opposite end came undone allowing bacteria in. I made it clear to the manager that I wanted the company to be notified as it was defective packaging and didn’t want a bunch of ppl coming down with eye infections if the problem was not isolated. The pharmacist confirmed my concerns.

      • Janelle

        Totally Susan! The company needs to know that the product is defective. I saw a lady today at Sephora returning a near empty bottle of foundation and I was astonished when she said she colored her hair and the color no longer for her. Sephora took it back and the sa even thanked the lady. If a product is defective, not as promised, poor quality or doesn’t suit you I see no problem returning it. I just don’t like to see people abuse return policies and return near used ip items for no fault if the product or make numerous returns. Someone gave the example/analogy of a hamburger and not sending that back…yes you can send it back if it isn’t made right or tastes bad but don’t send it back with one bite left on the plate! Unless of course there is a hair bug but I don’t even want to contemplate that! BTW I know bath and body used to toss returned product (worked there im high school). but the last time I returned a lotion(from my secret Santa and I am just not a sweet pea girl lol) I was asked if I used it and saw it go back on the shelf. It turned me off. If something isn’t sealed I don’t think it should go back to the shelf. Does anyone know if this is there new policy or it was out of the norm?

  30. We don’t have such policies where I live, you can’t return cosmetics…
    But I’m really outraged that many people consider it normal to return a product just because they don’t like it! It’s ok if a product is really defective, but if doesn’t fulfil expectations or you don’t like its colour, what a shame is to return it, especially when you know it will be tossed. A certain amount of labour and materials was put into creating this product, and you just throw it away getting money for this?
    Well, why not return half-eaten hamburgers if you decided you expected more from their taste?

    • KF

      Can you not send bad food back where you live either? That doesn’t sound weird to me; if you’re not going to eat it because it tastes bad and you’ll just throw it away anyway, why not ask for something you will eat? Most of the time, I think restaurants would be happier giving you something you like so you’ll keep coming back.

      • CoyoteWinter

        In a lot of countries that is super weird, so I’ve had to learn. In the USA/UK/Aus (and no doubt a few more!) we expect returns and service like this, but on much of continental Europe for example – which is where I now live – it’s considered outrageous. It’s hard to get used to.

  31. Avatar of Cat Cat G

    I hardly ever return things, because I don’t buy unless it’s been positively reviewed and I’m big on sampling products first to see if they break me out because that would be one reason I would return a product. I can’t remember the last time I returned something, though I have a sneaking suspicion it was just something that didn’t show up on my skin. Even when I have taken advantage of a return policy in the past, I’ve never felt guilty. I just have a tendency to not feel guilty about little things like that. I do know some people definitely abuse return policies though, like if someone expresses knowing they’ll likely return makeup or something it really bothers me.

    More recently though, if I’ve been underwhelmed with how a products looks on me, I see if anyone in my circle of friends or family wants it and then I’ll give it to them. And someone always wants it :)

  32. Definitely not! If something breaks my skin out then I feel guilty spending all that money just to have it sit in a drawer. I almost always just exchange it for something else at the store though.

  33. mini

    I return products that break me out within one use, which is usually the case. If I find I dislike something after several uses, I just keep it. I use all moisturisers as body lotions if they dont work on my face.

  34. Avatar of Melissa Melissa

    Yes!!!! The only reason I would return something is if I had a reaction from the product. Even if I don’t like a product I either try to use it so I like it or just give it to one of my friends.

  35. Kelly B.

    I have absolutely NO problem returning a product!

    I live over 14 hours round trip (in summer driving conditions) from the nearest Sephora, Ulta, etc. I do a lot of research from various angles before ordering ANY product. If I am not sure about the item I will pay more money to order from a place with a return policy. I return anything that I have an allergic reaction to, that does not perform or look as advertised. On rare occasion I will return items I just don’t look good in or like the formula/color. If I purchase a set & I can use enough of the products to justify keeping it, I do. If it’s a lip gloss that I don’t particularly like, but it doesn’t dry my lips out or something…I’ll use it at home alone. People who live near stores like Sephora can go get a sample of many items I will never get a sample from online…even though I try to time some purchases based on which samples are available…and then about 60% of the samples are not what I requested & hoped for since they run out of them before fulfilling my order.

    The STORE sets the policies. I am confident that they make plenty of money from people that buy (like me) due to their ability to return…for any reason. A store will change their policies if they need to, it is a seller’s marketing strategy. They also have the use of my money for an extended time while I am waiting to receive the product, test it, return and wait for refund. And then there is the high markups on most products, where I am paying for status, marketing campaign, cost of returns, theft, etc. for items I keep.

    Wow, I am on a rant..I obviously feel strong about this one :) When this question has come up in the past, there were so many comments where people don’t take all factors into account or live in a country where returns are not an option. As a result, people make judgement statements about those of us who make returns. I am over the top responsible…I spend too much time & energy researching to avoid returns.

  36. Avatar of Gina Gina

    A bit. I work in a fragrance department on commission, so I know that if I return something that I purchased from a commissioned sales associate, they lose that commission. And it’s a huge pain when people abuse return policies–I had a man return a bottle of Bleu de Chanel that was 3/4 empty, saying he didn’t like it! However, return policies are necessary, and it’s just very comforting to shop at a store with a great return policy. Because if you DO get a product that is broken/defective/irritating, you shouldn’t have to be stuck with it. And I’d much rather a customer return a product than be upset with me for selling them something they hated! Returns are just part of my job, and I have to deal with it.

    • Kelly B.

      Gina…I think that you have a great attitude and make excellent points. They guy and people who abuse returns are just going to be abusing policies in general, IMO. When a sales person is on commission…I will still return under the conditions mentioned in my post below yours. However, if that sales person was kind, helpful and especially is he or she was not rude when I made the return…I will go out of my way to make sure they continue to get my commissions for any future purchases (and that can be for years if they stay and it is a place I buy from…or I may buy from there just for that sales associate.)

  37. Laryssa

    The only time I’ve ever returned beauty products was because I had a negative physical reaction to them. For example, my skin reacts to a red pigment in some eyeshadows, and I’ve had to return eyeshadows because my eyelids because inflamed!

  38. Avatar of PinkProvocateur Pink Provocateur

    Never. I spend time reading reviews and testing in person before I buy, so I am reasonably sure the product will suit me, but if I have an unforeseen reaction or the product does not arrive in perfect condition, back it goes. I do buy a lot of makeup, but I am not wasteful with my Husband’s money.

  39. Avatar of Alicia Alicia

    I’ve never actually returned any beauty products. I feel guilty if I return anything so I try to avoid it if possible.

  40. ann

    wow. i WISH we could return products where i live. but it’s simply not possible, not even if you receive a broken or defective product in your sealed box.

  41. Anita

    I’ve lived in a number of different countries but not one where it is the norm to be able to return cosmetics. While I think it’s 100% OK if the product has caused a reaction or is faulty, if you return it because you simply don’t like it then I honestly think it’s quite wasteful to return it. It’s one thing to exchange a shirt or skirt “until you find the right one” but most of the time returned products are thrown away. I’m quite astounded that people think it’s ok to do this, especially when testers are available and they simply change their minds. Yes you are paying a lot and want to make sure you’re happy with your purchase – but there should be more onus on us as consumers to act in a less wasteful and more environmentally friendly way.

  42. Avatar of Jessica Jessica

    I don’t feel guilty when I return products because I try to do it only in extreme cases, like if something breaks me out. However, I would definitely feel guilty buying something and returning it because I didn’t like it, or if was just an impulse purchase I regretted. In the first case, I would just try to use it up or give it away, and chalk it up as a lesson learned. I enjoy trying out new things anyway, so if it doesn’t try to kill me I see no reason to waste it. And if it’s an impulse purchase I tend to keep it and let it serve as a reminder of my bad judgment every time I use it :P

  43. I only return something if it’s done me bodily damage like those black Boscia nose strips (ripped the skin right off my nose!)

    Otherwise, I suck it up as a poor judgement purchase.

  44. Avatar of Liz Liz

    The only cosmetics I’ve had to return sofar have been foundations and bb creams at the drug store. I don’t feel bad at all because they don’t have testers and I can only learn so much from reviews.

    The thing that annoys me the most are people who go into a DS and open the cosmetics, test them and then leave them on the shelf. These items have to be tossed and if the employees don’t notice that they have been tampered with it messes up the ordering.

  45. Avatar of Veronica Veronica

    Somewhat. The only beauty product I’ve ever returned was a set of brushes to Sephora, which I had never opened or used and returned for a different kind. Beauty products I don’t generally enjoy because I know they’ll get tossed regardless if they’ve been used or not. I try to get my worth out of them.

    This being said, if I find a high-end item to be of poor quality, I’ll return it. Drug store I’ll usually shrug off the loss or give it away to somebody it’ll flatter more, but when I’m spending upwards of $20+ on something, I expect good results.

  46. Avatar of Susan Susan Nevling

    Not at all. I usually only return if I have a skin reaction or if the product is defective but returns policies are available for a reason. I think they clamp down on frequent abusers.
    I believe the companies get feedback from returns and it may help generate improvements.

  47. Sara

    I’ve never returned anything, as I’ve always felt to guilty about the product being thrown away. I always keep it around until I think of something to do with it (layering another color on top to make a color more to my liking) or I just give it to a friend/person I know. I’ve always wondered though: do stores have procedures to guarantee a worker didn’t keep a returned product? Like in my head if I worked at a makeup store and something was returned that I really liked, I’d probably keep it and just sanitize it to death. Or is that not possible?

  48. Meri

    So weird this google alert (for the topic) came in to my email right when Im checking how to return the new MAC Archies Girls palette Caramel Sundae :/ …I dont feel guilty because it’s not something I do very often or set out to do ever, and the comment below is correct even if unused they toss them/recycle the return. I think if it doesnt work then yes it’s fine to return and dont feel bad, the company would rather you be happy and maybe you will buy again later then to have you eat the cost and shy away from the brand.

  49. Avatar of Tory Tory C.

    I never considered returning products until I worked at a beauty store. We got so many returns every day, I figured I may as well do it too. We generally didn’t mind taking returns except when it’s being abused, like you said. If it’s now and then and there’s a valid reason, I think it’s fine.

  50. Avatar of Mikki G Michelle G

    I have never returned anything even if it is a terrible product. I bought a couple Ulta products—eye shadow and mascara. They were awful. Threw away the mascara and gave away the shadow. I bought the Mac Veronica quad before you reviewed it, and I am struggling trying to blend and give it a good try before thinking of sending it back. Sad, the colors are nice in the pan but they just don’t apply or blend like I feel they should.

  51. VickyM

    My country has a very bad return policy, even with clothes you can´t return them, only exchange them within a small limit of time after purchase. When it comes to make up we can´t return or exchange anything under any circumstances, so you have to be careful when you buy, particularly high end make up because of the price, since once something is bought, there is no turning back :) .

  52. If I could return beauty products here in Australia I sure would, but we can’t! Yet stores have no issue with selling used makeup….

    • Lolita

      WHAT?!?! stores sell used makeup but don’t accept returns? that’s disgusting! where do they get the used makeup anyways?

      • Yep, you read me right! Smashed eye shadows, mushed up lipstick you name it, the worst part is that they reseal the products with sticky tape :( It’s because people use the products in store and not the testers provided. I’ve learned to check now but since makeup is so expensive here I purchase it online :)

  53. Avatar of raloves alaras

    Actually no, I don’t feel guilty. I feel guilty not returning it if I will not be using it. I feel concerned about the environment though.
    I wish return policies were just as helpful here in the UK as it is in the US. Here you cannot just say ‘I didn’t like it’. But it’s so unfair as with so many cosmetics you cannot know before you wear/ use it a couple of times.

    • Avatar of raloves alaras

      Especially now the online cosmetics sale is increasing, I think returning a product is just a consumer right if they are underwhelmed with it in some way.

  54. Anna

    So I read through everyone’s comments and no one posed this question… why are returns not turned into testers? My first thought is, is it’s not sanitary? but then counters have to sanitize testers anyway from one person to another, so I don’t think one person’s gentle first use makes too much difference considering 100+ people will be swatching that item after the original owner.

    I don’t return items often, but I don’t feel guilty in returning an item knowing that I will likely be purchasing another item from that same SA the next day. I don’t believe an item should be returnable if more than half of the item is used. On the other hand if you stash an item away you don’t like because guilt keeps you from returning it, eventually the item will be tossed (upon expiration if not sooner) not just wasteing the item but also your money.

    • Tanya

      I agree with you about turning the returns into testers, however I think the stores don’t do that because they don’t know if you added an ingredient to the product.