Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Temptalia Asks You


Do you like shopping at makeup counters or prefer self-serve displays (like Sephora)? What’s your preference?

Temptalia's Answer.

I like laid-back makeup counters, because I do like to peruse without being bothered or sold to, but I do like having someone dedicated to the line there in case I do need help. I love the variety in Sephora, and I love Sephora for being a makeup mecca, but I find it to feel a little dirty with all of the testers in various states of disarray. (I’m germaphobic, could you tell?) It’s also not as easy to ask a question or try something on–you have to track someone down.

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67 thoughts on “Do you like shopping at makeup counters or prefer self-serve displays (like Sephora)?

  1. Wendy

    I love the variety of Sephora! But sometimes I do feel a bit annoyed when someone tries to push a product on me. I, too, like to peruse without feeling bothered to. I just love looking through all the MAC products, even if it’s my billionth time there at the counter. xD

  2. Shelly

    Definitely self-serve; the possibility of pressure to buy and snotty MAs just makes me too nervous! I’m a shy girl so it gets to me more, and I succumb to buying pressure very easily :(

  3. Kristen

    I love self-serve displays. Even the sales people in Sephora bug me too often for my liking. I prefer stores like Ulta, which are large and therefore easy to avoid sales people in. xD

  4. I like Sephora or MAC store. I find at make-up counters, either the staff is rude or really persistent to sell. Although one time, I had a really unpleasant experience at Sephora – I had to go to the mall after pulling an all nighter for an optometrist appointment and had to kill time in between – all these girls in Sephora kept hounding me thinking I was a hobo or something and that I came there to steal. It really pissed me off.

    • I too like either a MAC store or Sephora. Even though I used to work at sephora I had a horrible incident too when I went there coming from the gym and was wearing sunglasses/ratty clothes because I just felt blah and I swear every single employee in the store was giving me the staredown…they are pretty paranoid in there and love to call security.

    • Simone

      Oh My God! that’s so horrible, did you say anything to them?
      I live in the UK so I’ll replace Sephora with SpaceNK, which I like but sometimes they’re a bit pushy, but they don’t just have to sell you one brand, so I think they can sell you something that will work for you.

      Once at a counter in a department store I was dressed up but my mum wasn’t and we went to dior to get some mascara, and the lady ignored us and then was really rude and snooty when she did come over, so my mum and I went to the channel counter next door and my mum bought all this stuff she was planning to look at the dior counter for instead and she spent about 300 pounds, as we walked past the lady from dior was all nice and friendly, asking if we wanted to try anything, and my mum told her no, not if she was going to look down her nose until she herd my mum get out her card, we’ll go else where. that had her told!

      • Well that’s how most make-up sales people are – esp if they work for a company. I used to work for *this well known company, lets just say* one summer as a part time job. And I have to tell you, my co-workers were REALLY rude, if they decided that you are not going to spend a lot of money. Like one time at gift with purchase a woman was not getting service for a while – but it is a really busy time. She complained and one coworker just plain yelled at her. It was awful – you don’t do that to anyone – let alone a customer. I think make-up is supposed to make you feel good – not bad. Bad sales people are a number one kill-joy. Sometimes I don’t even feel like buying make-up.

  5. Eliza

    Hmm hard question, i like to be able to get a SA if i need help but not someone breathing down my neck the whole time i’m in the shop! If i really had to choose i might choose self serve :)Just because if i know what i want i can just grab & go!Self serve is not really that common in Aus though.

  6. I like MAC because they don’t try to pressure you to buy stuff in a hurry or follow you if you don’t want to be. Their staff is knowledgeable too.

    The makeup counter girls are sometimes scary because they just follow at what your looking at and I feel like they EXPECT you to buy stuff. Makes me nervous to approach counters unless I really will buy stuff. Sometimes there isn’t a real MUA around but a “sales associate” which isn’t helpful to find a shade and whatnot for yourself.

    I like self-serve like Sephora too but I like to track someone down to be fitted for a foundation shade because I don’t trust my judgement. I’m a person who does some research before buying things and I know what I like, so Sephora is nice if you know what you want and don’t want to be pestered with other “options” provided by sales associates. I certainly do not like the disarray of testers though.

  7. Self-serving!! I hate it when you walk into a counter and the sales person basically jumps at your throat!! – Just leave me alone!! I’ll ask for your help if I need it!!!!!!

  8. sara

    I prefer self-serve displays! I love MAC but I wish they would let me be to just look.

  9. Hend

    It really depends .. If im going to buy a new foundation or concealer .. I will go to Saks because I need a professional help getting the right shade ..
    but in case of buying lipsticks blushers etc .. I prefer Sephora ..I think u can look at ur self in mirror and see if you r comfortable wearing this colour or not ..

  10. I’m really torn because I love both. I love counters because then you have a professional who is with you the whole time talking to you, explaining things, and helping you and I like that (esp at MAC). I do like Sephora to because I can play. The only downfall to me is that at Sephora they arn’t makeup artist and there are soo many brands sometimes they get confused, like sometimes i feel like they have no idea what they are talking about. Honestly, if I had to pick it would be counters like MAC because they know what they are doing.

  11. Definitely self serve displays. The employees at Sephora give me freedom but are always there to help if I need it. I feel pressured to buy when a counter employee is staring at me the whole time. MAC counters are great though.

  12. Kathy

    Self-serve, most definitely. Most of the time when I shop for makeup, I know exactly what I want, but I also like to look around for fun. Because of this, I prefer to be left alone.

    I love my local Sephora. It might be smaller in comparison to other Sephoras, but the people who work there are ALWAYS nice and never pushy or intrusive. Sometimes the people at makeup counters are a little too intimidating for my taste (except for the ones who work at the MAC counter at a local Nordstrom; they’re awesome).

  13. Sarah

    Self-serve. I like getting into my zone uninterupted.

  14. Aubree

    Not at my Sephora! they badger you every 5 seconds! “do you need help! -5 seconds later- do you need help?!”

    =_= I love Sephora..and I love them trying to help..but please..let me look by myself THEN I come get you if i need help!

  15. I prefer makeup counters that are more laid back. Usually these are just ones I’ve visited more often, such as NARS and MAC. I tend to find others tend to be too pushy which is a little annoying. Otherwise, self serve places, such as drugstores and Sephora are not bad either. I hate yucky testers too, I’ll just swatch it on my hand.

  16. Sarah

    I like to just browse at Sephora, but then when I do need something I feel like I can never find someone to help me. At least in MAC’s I can usually find someone easily.

  17. Rosie

    I don’t know if it’s because I tend to go to the same girls at Sephora but I love it there and don’t feel like they push products on me. I always feel like I get at least three options of what I’m looking for and they take their time to show me the color on me or to demonstrate or apply something (granted it’s not super busy on a Saturday). I went today to South Coast Plaza around 11:00 a.m. and it was perfect because I got helped for about 15 minutes and found everything I was looking for and color matched and tried different products :).

  18. I despise Sephora! The service is lousy, the samples are dirty (not just germaphobe dirty, but genuinely, disgustingly dirty), and the MAs follow you around the store- not to introduce you to products, but to make sure you’re not sneaking anything into your bag. It’s awful.

    I prefer make-up counters and boutiques, since the service tends to be better and the MAs are much more familiar with the products. I do get intimidated by them though, but that’s an issue just me, rather than the MAs in question. They’re just too pretty!

  19. Sephora any day…Make counters like Chanel or Dior can get annoying, esp when u ‘just want to see’ and not buy…
    I find ladies at these counters pretty rude too…guys are nice..

  20. Dawn

    I like to be free to browse at my own leisure, and hate being pestered by sales staff. I might have given Elizabeth Arden makeup a try by now if it wasn’t for the fact that the SA’s pounce on you as soon as you even look in the direction of their counter.

  21. HebrideanSprite

    I prefer Sephora, because there are people if I need it but I don’t feel like I’m being hounded or constantly under scrutiny by the sales staff, I just feel more comfortable.

  22. fks

    Give me self-serve displays over pushy saleswomen any day.

  23. Carrie

    I prefer shopping at Sephora or online because shopping at makeup counters can be very annoying. Sometimes you have to wait a long time for someone to help you and they’re always trying to get you to buy more. The other day, I was looking at the gift sets at a perfume counter in a department store and the woman kept following me around & asking questions, even after I told her politely that I was just looking & didn’t need any help. She even sprayed a perfume I had no interest in on a tester and made me smell it. Finally, I just had to leave.

  24. AnnaS

    I prefer to be left alone to browse and try new shades. I really dislike pushy salespeople, however, know that they are just doing their job.
    I’d like to think that

  25. Julie

    makeup counters.

  26. aksaiyo

    I like self serve, because I like to be able to play and fully test out the products without the SA’s watching my every move. But I’ll go for a normal counter when I’m looking to match a shade for foundation, or some advice.

  27. condesa

    I love both. I just hate (and then leave) when the SA try to push the sales and bothers me. The should finally learn that the pushing is the perfect way to turn off customers!

  28. Lauren

    I definitely love Sephora because of the variety of products, but I agree that it can be difficult to find someone to ask questions to. It’s almost like, after they say “Hello, do you need any help?” they disappear – I spent 15 minutes looking around for someone to help me get a perfume. But I love MAC (counters and free-standing), sometimes, for the people. The MAC people are very knowledgeable about their products, whereas Sephora SAs may know some, nothing or a lot about certain products. Though, if someone who hasn’t met their sales quota will zero in on me and try to push products like a mad wo/man. So it depends, really. x.x

  29. Roya

    self serve,.

  30. I don’t mind chatting with sales associates, but I do prefer to be able o test things in my own time. That said, I prefer BOTH of those options to buying online. I like being able to test it and swatch it on myself. So ANY situation that i can do that is my preferred method.

  31. ChickABoo

    Hmm it depends…they both have Pro’s and con’s.

    I like the fact that with a makeup counter, you can get advice and help, by someone who is a professional, and when you buy something you know its unused because they only have the testers on display.
    But they can get soo busy, i remember i waited 20minutes for one lipstick…because all the MAC makeup artists were busy with appointments..and also when they recommend something to you, they can get a little pushy.
    with self serve displays, i like the fact that you dont have to wait for anybody to give you an item because its tucked away. but i HATE the fact that alot of the products, have been used. Some people ignore the testers and just open anything and start using it. You have to go through all the products to find one with the security seal still unbroken, or a lipstick that looks untouched.

  32. I prefer self serve, without a question. Though I buy most of my products at MAC, I find I often have to wait a long time to get anyone to get the products for me, and I usually know exactly what I want. I like places like Sephora where you can just grab the products for yourself and go pay for them.

  33. Pam

    i like self-serve displays. I can take all the time that i want! Provided no one bothers me… LOL…

    sometimes i don’t mind going to make-up counters if i do need help in selecting a colour. but i also hate it when the MAs are pushy… :P

  34. Jordan

    I hate having people ask me if I need help every couple of seconds haha. I like to shop by myself and I rarley ask for assistance so I prefer self-serve displays like at Sephora.

  35. I prefer self serve stores like Boots and Superdrug (in the UK), but I’m alright with counters now, especially if I want something specific. However I hate it when there’s noone available at a counter (like the Dior one in my local Boots is notorious for that) and I have to ask for someone else to help and they won’t know where things are kept! :S

  36. Brandi

    I really like self-serve better. I really do not like to be bothered by pushy sales people, it makes me want to leave and less likely to buy something. Although Sephora can be overwhelming, it is probably my favorite place to shop because they let you just shop without really bothering you!

  37. I am with you. 100% Let me browse, but be available if I need help. And three cheers for germophobes! LOL!

  38. Leli

    I hate sephora.i only buy my perfume from there.i’m just not interested in the brands.i like to stick to 2-3 brands I find that work best for me and that’s it.i buy everything from mac,except for some things I buy from korres and my mascaras which are usually for max factor.
    I hate being pressured by ma.i like to look at things myself and decide based on what i want it.but when i’m not sure about what i want , i love to have an expert who can help me decide.at my closest mac counter I know more than the girl there does.at my mac stores they are all experts and I love them.the other time i wanted plum foolery blush but i thought i should ask for suggestions.the first blush the girl recommended to me was plum foolery!i love her!

  39. lazeny

    I like both but sometimes I like neither. I like playing w/ cosmetics w/ no one bothering me but sometimes it’s fun discussing cosmetics w/ a cheerful and helpful SA.

    The other day while at a Shiseido counter this SA tried to “cajole” me into buying a lipgloss to pair w/ a lipstick I bought, and then when I inquired about their new eyeshadow she insistently and irritatingly pushed at least two different eyeshadow products on me, going so far as telling me that their eyeshadow is better than what I had on and that a satiny, slightly shimmery finish doesn’t look good on me at all (w/c what I was wearing). I told her in a no-nonsense tone that what I had on was an eyeshadow from a Shiseido sub-brand that their counter don’t have(the kind that you can buy only on exclusive boutiques, I hate dropping brand names but she was bi-atch). She even told me that I should buy their new lipstick and I shouldn’t wear light/nude lipsticks and I ought to stick w/ dark colors because my lips are small. I mean, REALLY.

  40. Andie

    I prefer counters over self service displays like at Sephora. I, like you, am a germaphobe (easy to be when you are a nurse). Every single time (literally) I have been in a Sephora I have seen someone apply mascara or a lip product straight out of the tube. That place is like one big petri dish of nasty. Also the sales staff (especially on a slow day) is always in your face. I don’t know if they overstaff (not going to criticize hiring more people in times like this), but this gets very old. I do however like the variety of products and the promotions that they have.

    I have a relationship with the staff at my local MAC counter (not lucky enough to have a MAC store nearby), so shopping there is usually very pleasant. I however am getting less and less excited about MAC as the years go by.

  41. vickie

    I tend to like both equally. I like that when I’m at a makeup counter there is always someone to help if I have a question and I’ve never had a salesperson who was pushy and trying to get me to buy a product I didn’t need…I love sephora because of all the brands that they have there but everytime I go in there I am followed by sales people or watched and it makes me feel uncomfortable like they think I might steal something so I don’t go there to often unless I need something that I can’t find at ULTA. Plus the testers are nasty looking everytime I go in there.

  42. Amy

    Totally agree with you! I love counters that are clean and neat, and the staff are there if you need them, but not pushing the hard sell. At this Estee Lauder counter in Nordstroms, this one lady would not leave me alone, even though I told her I prefered to be alone for awhile. Arggg! Now I refuse to shop at that counter.

  43. Emily

    I definitely like self-serve places better…but like you, I like having a MA available who knows about the specific line I’m interested in. I like Sephora but all of you are right, the MAs there can be hounding and annoying at times, and I don’t like that I have to track someone down to try on something…at the same time though, I love their variety. My fav. counters are two specific MAC locations. =)

  44. mkdallas

    I much prefer Sephora than the department store counters. While I’m not crazy about the somewhat cluttered, not-so-sanitary testing/swatching issues there, I infinitely prefer being able to take my time and not be jammed by an SA looking for a sale any way he/she can get it. The SAs at Neiman’s are particularly bad about this; they are literally like hawks. The other day I was perusing some YSL Rouge Voluptes (which because of the weird colors, take some time and thought to examine) and the lady just came in and took over. Before I could say a word, she’s grabbing the tubes out of my hand, making her recommendations, urging me to try this one and that. I realize this is how they make their money and I don’t begrudge anyone a paycheck, but I honestly have stopped buying there because of their strong-arm tactics. They almost give you attitude if you say, “I’m just looking, thanks.” Now that Sephora carries YSL, Dior, Givenchy and Guerlain, I really don’t have to submit myself to the NM ordeal anymore.

  45. Speaking of unsanitary, there’s a Sephora beside my favorite MAC. One time I went in there and there was dust on the makeup displays!!!! I was so disgusted I actually took the time to clean part of it. I just couldn’t leave it that way lol. All that to say I’m not too fond of Sephora because I know I can’t really trust their cleaning/disinfecting methods. I’m sure they clean what they’re helping someone with, but who knows how often they clean the display.

  46. DonnaN

    Sephora and MAC are my fav’s, as both local stores’ staff know me, so I get left alone, unless I ask for help!

    The big problem I have with Ulta and department stores (like Macy’s) is the pushiness of their staff. It’s like I want to have a BIG sign on a stick that says….”I don’t need your help now, but I’ll ask for it when I do!!”. Macy’s, especially the Chanel and Dior counters…..they will NOT leave me alone!! The only department store that I love the service at is Nordstroms…I can’t wait for their new store to be completed at my local mall!!

  47. frini

    Sephora. But If the SA at counter is good. Gives you lovely gifts.

  48. Lila

    Self-serve displays;
    being bombarded by people can change what I buy drastically.

  49. Sass

    I like both…doesn’t matter to me.

  50. AnGeLwInGz

    I go to Sephora if I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for. The guys that work the floor there are always too busy checking out themselves in the mirror to help me anyway. I never purchase in-store at Sephora, always online, because even the sealed items look grimy. Ulta is usually good with their employees and products. With makeup counters I’ve learned which stores and malls have the most pleasant employees. Sometimes it’s worth the drive just to have a better shopping experience. I go in one direction for Dior, the other for Chanel.

  51. CeeBee

    I don’t mind either – mostly ‘cos I LOVE shopping for makeup!
    Self serve is great, because I usually have a firm idea of what I am looking for and what I need it to do for me.
    I know what colours tend to suit me and it bugs me a bit when sales assistants start waving orange or purple lipsticks at me (like the very sweet MAC SA who tried valiantly to steer me to the Liberty of London display last week when I’d already decided the lippies weren’t right for me – but she took it rather well, LOL!) but that said, I do *adore* my local Dior SA Pam, who is just lovely and gives me free samples every time I purchase something. She also jokes that I know more about Dior than she does!

  52. AgnesONutter

    It depends on the counter and on the store, and if I know what I want or am just browsing. Some counters are okay with browsing, some are not really.

  53. Brenda

    That’s a tough one. I’d say self serve, however I usually have a really hard time when I DO want help because quite often I get ignored. I’m 30 in a month, but I look 20 (get carded constantly) and it doesn’t help that I went back to school and work landscaping, so I don’t usually dress like a career woman. I find I get NO service if I’ve dressed too casually. It’s very irritating.

    I prefer the MAC stores, or the NARS lady is really nice. For Sephora, their in store stock is pitiful and I don’t like being followed around suspiciously. so I’ll go, test whatever and then buy my items online. Even though there are 4 Sephora’s in my city. :P

  54. AnGeLwInGz

    While I agree that it’s really annoying to have makeup counter sales people hounding you, remember that they have their department managers hounding them. They have sales quotas not only from the store, but also even higher ones from the makeup company. I’ve seen people lose their jobs from not meeting their personal sales goal for the month. It’s so cutthroat and dirty, and I’m really glad I got out of that business!

  55. I enjoy both, as long as the sales people aren’t pushy or trying to show me a bunch of products since I usually don’t have a ton of money to spend or sometimes I’m just looking.

  56. Kathryn

    I’m a counter girl. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like a kid in a candy store when I’m at Sephora, there’s so much to look at! However, I totally agree that there’s something much more comforting about a make up counter. I really appreciate when a sales associate takes a personal interest rather than having to track someone down for help. Although sometimes I do feel obligated to buy more than I initially planned on purchasing at least I’m getting suggested the right products for me and my complexion.

  57. BrownBrickhouse

    I will take either as long it is not those kiosks owners selling mineral makekup.

  58. starr

    I’m not germaphobic but i am painfully shy. I prefer the freedom to peruse because with MAs im usually ignored(when i need help) or when i get help(but am just looking) i feel pressured to buy something. :) sigh i usually just end up looking at your swatches Christine, get excited, then quickly swoop into the store grab the product(i pay!) then run out!

  59. Jodie

    It depends on the purpose of my trip. If I’m looking for something specfic, like a foundation or a concealer, and I want professional help I might go to a counter. But if the trip is just to browse I would probably go to Sephora. I find that sometimes I encounter salespeople at Sephora that have no idea what they are doing so when I go to a specific counter I know that salesperson will (most likely) know the line.

    While Sephora has a lot of brands, and many products for each brand, they don’t have everything. I honestly never even thought about this until recently when I went to the Nars counter at Bendels and ended up with a lipgloss that I LOVE that I never saw before at Sephora. And the girl at the counter was awesome and didn’t pressure me to buy other products. I can’t say the same for Trish McEvoy. The man would not leave me alone about the damn perfumes and how they are “such a good deal” Psssh.

  60. Emm

    Makeup counters I like but I feel like the sales people harass me which I can’t stand. I like Sephora because I can see the product I am buying, though I don’t trust the testers. I also like Sephora because people don’t bother me unless I ask them.

  61. Cath

    I prefer shopping at makeup counters. I love having help to shop makeup because sometimes the salespersons see something that looks very pretty on you and that you wouldn’t have tried in a million year! But i think that the costumer service is really poor since maybe 3-4 years and that’s disapointing me. When you spend so much money on beauty products you want some service! (i don’t speak about everybody, i met some wonderful people at the mac counter in La Baie in Montreal)

    (sorry for the spelling/grammar, english isn’t my first langage)

  62. I prefer self-serve, like Sephora, for browsing and when I know what I want. I’ll hit the MAC counter if I know what I want and can just request by name or MAC store if I want a new collection of shadows that work together or to be color-matched. The MAC counters in Manhattan are just too pushy for sales and they are busier so it’s very rushed.

  63. FATMA

    I like both and

  64. Kimberly Poston

    Definitely Sephora self-service. I hate pushy department store sales people.