Do you feel like you get treated differently if you don't wear makeup at a beauty counter/retailer than if you wore makeup?

Do you feel like you get treated differently if you don’t wear makeup at a beauty counter/retailer than if you wore makeup? Share your thoughts!

Yes, absolutely I’ve experienced indifference and, “Oh, you’re not seriously shopping,” because I’m wearing no makeup (or next to none–like just tinted moisturizer).  That’s generally not the experience I get, but it can depend on the retailer, location, day, time, etc.  I’ve had it happen, and I’m sure it will happen again, though I think that retailers are training their artists/associates better in how they treat customers. I haven’t run into any aggressive salespeople in quite awhile.

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Enka Avatar

Definitively! I have acne and pretty noticeable scars (because I tend to obsessively pick my face), so I get weird looks from the sales representatives that don’t know me. Some of them help me buy something, and I can see their facial expression and their words that they think of me as someone that doesn’t buy makeup at all, or that doesn’t know anything about it. When I go to the beauty counter/retailer with a full face of makeup, they pay more attention to me, I think because my appearance doesn’t disgust them so much, and because they think someone who wears makeup all the time is sure to buy something.

Terri Avatar

Hi Enka,
Your comment really touched me. I am 47 and had HORRIFIC acne for most of my young adult life and I can understand how you feel but I just want to say something, because you sound so much like I used to. You are NOT disgusting and trust me, your acne looks much worse to you than anyone else as we are all our own worst critics. So, if you can, be nice to yourself because anyone that would look at you or treat you that way is not worth knowing anyway. Just trust me on that one and someday things will get better.

Audrey Avatar

I most certainly think I get treated differently if I don’t wear any makeup when I go shopping. Many of the sales associates seem to think they can just pawn off some inferior, yet expensive, product on me since I mustn’t be knowledgeable about makeup.

Being 19, if I don’t wear makeup I end up looking very young (just this weekend I wasn’t let into a movie at the local theater without my ID since they couldn’t believe I was over 14, when I was barefaced) and I think that also contributes to the lack of real assistance or poor customer service. Although I may go makeup shopping barefaced, and although I’m young, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t drop some serious cash on a product if I knew I’d use it. If a store makes me terribly uncomfortable then I can go elsewhere.

Ariasjn Avatar

I recently went to Sephora wearing no makeup, and I was looking at Too Faced’s Pretty Rebel palette and one of the associates came up to me and asked me if I needed any help and I said “no thanks, I’m just looking at this palette. I saw it online and fell in love with it.” And she replied “ok, if you need any help like someone to teach you how to use it let me know.” I was like WOW…. All I said was “Imm not wearing any but I know how to use makeup.”if she only knew how much makeup I own and that I probably know how to apply it better than her… I feel comfortable going out with no makeup on, so if it’s no special occasion I don’t wear it. Beauty counters/stored should definitely train their associates better when it comes to that.

Ariasjn Avatar

The palette was gorgeous, very pigmented with the exception of one color. I didn’t get it but I think I will go back and buy it before they stop selling it

Ariasjn Avatar

That was my problem, that she gave me that look and tone as if she’s talking to someone who she thinks has never seen makeup before. I can tell the difference in how they treat me when I’m wearing a full face of makeup

Baby A.. Avatar

May depend on how she said it but sounded like she was just really trying to be helpful. I’d appreciate an offer like that. You’ll never know when you can learn a new makeup trick.

Ariasjn Avatar

I’d appreciate an offer like that if I had no clue how to use eyeshadow. But to tell me if I need someone to teach me how to use an eyeshadow palette bothered me a little…I’m sure that if I was wearing a full face of makeup she wouldn’t have said that which is the point of this post. I wear makeup to work everyday, so when I’m off I like to give my face a break. Some SAs need to realize this. But hey, it’s not like it ruined my day. I offered her a smile and kept it moving

Lark Avatar

That sales lady IS well trained. The majority of women are busy doing things and don’t turn their lives around getting ready. They like a tutorial. Going to Sephora naked faced and throwing shade on staff is quite a bit of hubris.

Ariasjn Avatar

Trust me, I wasn’t nasty to her in any way. I didn’t like how she treated me just because I wasn’t wearing any makeup… You lnow how you talk to a two year old when you’re explaining something to them? That’s how she was talking to me. When I said what I said to her I said it in the nicest tone I could and with a smile on my face. I’m not nasty towards people unless they are nasty to me, and she wasn’t nasty. And you said she IS well trained…if she was well trained she wouldn’t think that anyone who walks into sephora with no makeup on doesn’t know how to use it or doesn’t own any.

Nadine Avatar

I agree with Lark. I am an SA for Dior and we get trained to offer tutorials. It bothers me a lot that customers feel offended no matter what you say. It is either “omg the sa gave me a look/ the sa didn’t ask me wether I need help/ the sa offered me help, how could she!^^
Offering help is actually a nice gesture and does not mean that the customer got it wrong etc. There are many different techniques for applying make up/ eyeshadows etc.

Vivian/viceinvirtue Avatar

Oh yes that’s definitely happened to me on multiple occasions whether it be Sephora or a MAC counter. If I have a full face of make up on that day I get treated much nicer than if I wore nothing and get ignored. The funny thing is, especially at a Sephora, I’ll walk into one of their stores on any day without make up on and get ignored by some of their associates and just think to myself “oh boy, could YOU do with a makeover yourself!” 😛

Sydney Avatar

I agree with you about Europe. I live in Germany but have been shopping all over Germany and France. If you are dressed nicely and look a bit fashionable, it’s no big deal.

In the US, I think when you go into a makeup store they automatically look at your face and make a snap judgement on you. Just because I don’t have a full face on while at the mall doesn’t mean I don’t know about makeup.

Ann Avatar

I live in Germany, and I don’t dress according to the style and agree with this. I am more a makeup person, not a stylish person and I often get weird looks here when I go to the counters here.

Tasia Avatar

I’m a big fan of the “no makeup makeup look” especially when I’m shopping and I look pretty young for my age. I’m 21, but people often tell me that I look like I’m 15 or 16. Therefore I do get treated as if I’m just a little girl who wants to play with the makeup. I’ve experienced this as MAC, Sephora, Ulta, and various department store counters. However, I’ve also come across very nice sales associates that did not judge me according to my appearance. I’m well aware that some sales associates are working off commission, but that doesn’t allow them the right to judge a book by it’s cover. Over time I’ve just learned to not take it personally. Whenever I go shopping for makeup I do my research beforehand so I know what I’m looking for. I act more assertive and confident. Even if a sales associate is being rude to me, I’ll still buy something from them because I want to show them that they shouldn’t be so quick to judge. And if I come across the same sales associate in the future hopefully they’ll treat me better.

Ryou Avatar

In general, yes. I think retailers have also realized that online shopping is slowly starting to take their place, so they try to make sure customers have a good experience shopping in store. Of course that’s not always the case, but one can only hope.

KF Avatar

I don’t really wear any makeup except lipstick, and the only place I actually ever get decent service is at the MAC counter/store. They’re always really helpful and don’t try to push face or eye stuff (which I don’t use) on me. Sephora is the biggest offender — if I go in without lipstick on, I can’t get any service at all. I also tend to like really dramatic or offbeat lip colors and sometimes get snotty looks from more “conservative” brands’ associates. Not cool!

Linda Avatar

YES!! Of course I have and it’s quite blatantly obvious as well. There are times when all I want to do is make a quick errand to buy 1 item without makeup on. For me it’s a quick dash & go, pop in pop out. How I’m treated at the store during my pop in pop out was astonishing. I once went in without makeup and all the sales rep people at Ulta basically ignored me or gave me the stink eye. While I do admit I was dressed very casually, no make up fresh face which is how I am on weekends anyway, the CS was pretty bad. I vowed to never go into that particular store again. What do you know I got a gift card from my sister and so I went in again this time with makeup. The difference between no makeup and makeup? The sales people actually ask “Are you finding everything ok?” vs the previous time where they basically looked the other way. I remember (and I also wrote it in a yelp review) that while I had no makeup on the first time around the cashiers were basically chatting up a storm when I checked out. With makeup on, all attention was on me. It’s like uhh, what the heck. You’re discriminating against people who have no makeup vs. people with makeup on. I have continually gone back to the store before with makeup on, ONLY because Sephora is like a 30 minute drive away and Ulta is 10 minutes no traffic. I wish the stores train their staff better in customer service. Customer service is #1 in retail and if you’re not treating everyone who walks into the door equally, you’re not doing a very good job at keeping your customers.

Reba Avatar

I had the same exact experience at Ulta! I had wandered through the store over four times in search for an item I couldn’t find until someone asked me if I needed help. I also got that dirty look where you could tell that they were watching me for fear of me taking something. When I want to try on makeup or hold it up to my skin, I’d much rather have less on!

KaseyCannuck Avatar

Oh the irony!! You would think that a SA might see someone with a bare face and think they are possibly out to do some makeup shopping!!

JULES Avatar

If that ever happened to me, I think I’ll be so bothered that I would point it out in a ha-ha (not really) manner. If I was being paid attention to while wearing makeup or while checking out, I’ll casually mention how it’s funny (read: dumb) that when I came in with less makeup on, the CS was terrible. I’ve experienced poor customer service sometimes (not only in beauty stores) and attributed it to “am I not dressed up enough today?” or “did I not put enough makeup on today?”. I don’t wear much makeup at all most of the time. I only sport eyeliner when I go to a bar, club, or party. My daily makeup consists of brow pencil, mascara, concealer, foundation, light blush, and lip color. This is my makeup everyday, but the CS varies, so I don’t know what is their problem!

Hanna Avatar

I tried this yesterday – no make up at the Guerlain counter I usually go to. No difference whatsoever. They were still lovely and helpful and brilliant. So I still spent more money than I intended and came away £140 lighter!

Judith Avatar

I might be the minority here but no I don’t get treated differently. I’m canadian but I live in Belgium. In Canada I always had good service no matter what. In Belgium I’m always ignored no matter what.

Rachel Avatar

Definitely. I’m well acquainted with which sales assistants are worth the visit at my local department store. There are four or five excellent girls who give 100% every time I’m there, and the others won’t give me a glance unless I’m made-up and dressed nicely.

I always find the whole no make-up equals inferior service hilarious, because if I am shopping for makeup, stuff I already have on my face is only going to interfere with testing things!

cydoniac Avatar

unfortunately, some associates really don’t know how to treat a customer. I frequently am, like many others as I can see, a recipient of looks that clearly tell me “what on Earth are YOU doing here?” if I show up bare faced at a beauty counter….
things are always better if you wear makeup,which tells the associate that you are aware of how makeup is used, which is totally stupid if you ask me, because at the end of the day, an associate’s job is to help you even if you are completely ignorant…that’s their job. If they think that they are there to help only people who could be makeup artists themselves because it’s easier and less tiring, they should quit their job.
the good thing is that things are slowly changing for the better because of the recession and now I see that most associates bend over backwards to sell even one product regardless of you wearing makeup or not. I go to the Armani counter in one of the best department stores around and I always go bare faced and they always give me a full make-over and treat me like a goddess. that’s for reference. a few years back, they would probably look down on me, just like the people at Dior or Lancome used to do.

Mariella Avatar

Nope, not really. For one thing, I rarely go out without wearing at least a bit of makeup (I’m pale and have dark circles so I generally have on concealer – unless I’m shopping for a concealer – and some cheek colour and lipstick or gloss for the protection). But also, I tend to shop at the same few places and the gals know me. But I also find that most SA’s are so eager to make a sale of something that they won’t ignore me simply because they want to “sell, sell, sell”.

Daniela Avatar

It depends on where I’m shopping. If I’m going to MAC or Sephora wearing very little makeup they don’t take me seriously so I make the effort to at least put on a bright lipstick or eyeliner.
Whenever I go to a fancy store to buy more high-end makeup (like Burberry or Tom Ford) I feel like they’re judging me if I wear tons of makeup, so I try to go for a more natural look.

PoetrysTruth Avatar

I was treated poorly by a SA at a MAC counter when I was bare faced, but I’m not sure it was due my face or the fact that I looked REALLY young and she didn’t take me seriously.

I then went to the MAC store in the same mall and the SA was wonderful and even commented on how smart I was NOT to wear make up because I was looking for foundation and other face products. I spent almost $400 on that one trip (my nearest MAC counter was 3+ hrs away at that time) I had a list of stuff I wanted.

Malia Avatar

Yep, either totally ignored, or try to totally oversell, and its hilarious if its something outrageously expensive or that I know isn’t great.

LU Avatar

Happens to me all the time, and I still find it annoying. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m totally comfortable barefaced, so most days I don’t wear makeup. I agree that associates need to work on their customer service skills big time.

Kristy Avatar

Not if I don’t wear makeup, because I’m usually not fully made up when I’m running around shopping, but I have been treated differently based on my accessories, strangely enough. I’ve noticed I get better service and more attention when I carry a recognizable handbag and wear my jewelry/wedding rings. This works even with jeans and a T-shirt, which is pretty much my uniform.

Anne Avatar

Oh, yeah. I remember a Sephora SA who would not hand me over the black eyeliner I asked for and showed me a gazillion other eyeliners for ten minutes, because “obviously I do not know what I really want”. Of course, all the eyeliners she wanted to sell to me were much more expensive than the one I wanted and ended up purchasing anyway. I’m perfectly happy with it now.
But I’ve encountered SA who were dismissive or downright rude when I had a face full of makeup too, and others who were total sweethearts when I went bare.

Smurf Avatar

It’s funny because sephora is the one place I have the most trouble too. I generally wear little makeup anyways and def don’t look my age but it seems the more you have on the more they think you’re gonna spend. Some lady asked about eyeliner and they sent her to UD and left her there and I ended up helping her before my small kids got bored. They weren’t even busy! She was wearing no makeup…probably with the intent of going in to try some.

Sam Avatar

There is a twitter account called “makeup artists hate you” and its basically a bunch of counter makeup artists complaining about this customers say and photos people post on instagram of their makeup. It makes me very uncomfortable because it discourages untrained people to experiment with their makeup and it makes me not want to approach counters! They should be wanting to help people with their makeup, not discourage them.

Abbey Ward Avatar

I checked out this account after I saw your comment and hated the whole thing. I feel as though MUAs are annoyed by me being there a lot of times, and this reinforced that feeling. I was especially disturbed by a particular post referring to customers as “retarded” for breaking things. Such a hateful, horrible thing to say. It turns out that particular person has on her profile she works for Urban Decay. I emailed UD about it and they responded within five minutes. I was seriously impressed with the response and their customer service as a whole.

Devi Avatar

Yeah, I just went to go look too. It kinda makes me NOT want to go to a makeup counter or makeup store because it seems like A LOT of things set them off. :\ I mean, I guess as makeup artists they get frustrated because people ask stupid questions (or questions that they think should have common sense answers), but I always assumed that when you’re a professional, you give answers kindly no matter how ‘stupid’ the question may seem to you, and you try not to pass judgement on the person. But tweets like this “A woman looking for black lipstick today looked at me like I had 5 heads when I asked her “WHY DO U NEED BLACK LIPSTICK?” ” just make me feel uncomfortable because it feels like people working at makeup counters don’t promote creativity or curiosity with makeup. :\

Sorry, that was long, but that Twitter makes me want to purchase my makeup solely online or from the drugstore from now on. o.o

Rachel Avatar

I haven’t noticed that I am treated differently whether or not I wear makeup. Most salespeople are pretty helpful (I think they just want the sale) or they’re so busy they just want me to hurry up!

Geneva Avatar

I agree that it depends on the retailer. I generally purhase my makeup at Nordstrom, Sephora and MAC. So far, I’ve been treated the same whether or not I’m wearing makeup. I’m asked if I can be helped.

Verily Avatar

Yep – usually the staff is more helpful when I’m in no makeup. Probably because they think I need guidance, haha. But when I’m all decked out (I never go midway – it’s no makeup or all the makeup), it’s less help from them and more flattery and compliments. Sometimes the makeup artists and I like to share tips and the like.

Those are the differences that I noticed!

MakeupTray Avatar

I live in the O.C. We have South Coast Plaza, Irvine Spectrum, Fashion Island. These are high end malls where the wealthiest people in SoCal, shop. The top two being S.Cst Plza and FI. I find that you can’t even get help if you are not dressed like you can afford the makeup. The sales ladies don’t even get as far as your face. They check your purse, shoes and outfit. If you walk in with less than a Michael Kors/Coach bag, they don’t help you. lol. I feel that if you are dressed like you have money it doesn’t matter if you are wearing makeup or not. They will assume you are clean faced for a new makeover.
You definitely get more help if you are wearing makeup though.

WARPAINTandUnicorns Avatar

Absolutly!!! This was my biggest beef with the MAC PRO store in Toronto. It’s improved int he past two years but for years i went in and the retailers snobby me and ignored me when their not even busy because I didn’t have a full face of makeup. I honestly hated going there but it was the only way to get Pro product s in person for me.

Brenda Avatar

I found the PRO store (the same one) snobby as well!!! There were two girls who were friendly and helpful but most of the others that worked there (3 years ago) ignored me, even when there was maybe one or two others in there (esp. the male artist)
And I was 29/30 years old, not a little girl in to “play with the makeup”. I haven’t been back since I left T.O., so I can’t speak to how it is now.

Karen Avatar

i think the difference is more about your handbag than your makeup. I don’t worry about how much makeup I’m wearing but I will worry about taking a nice bag or jacket if it’s winter because that will make a difference in how you’re treated at the counter.

anon Avatar

One time I did have someone at a make up counter tell me what age she thought I was while I was wearing no make up. Needless to say, I never bought anything from them again.

I have zero sympathy for those who embarrass themselves by commenting on people’s age, weight, etc. If you make a living selling something, you should learn quickly what you shouldn’t comment on when it comes to a person’s appearance.

Abbey W Avatar

I’ve found that it depends more on the individual sales people rather than my makeup. On my birthday I had a long list of wants and went counter to counter buying specific products. The MAC artist was incredibly dismissive, but the lady at Chanel encouraged me to hang out longer because I was a good advertisement for their products! They were both equally busy, but even though I know the sweet associate at Chanel was flattering me, it made my experience so much more pleasant that she was willing to show me new products and let me take my time. And I don’t even want to talk about Sephora. I’ve been really disappointed the last several times I have been there, and it hasn’t all been at the same location. I know it’s a broad generalization, but everyone I’ve recently encountered working at Sephora seemed like they wanted to be somewhere (anywhere) else.

xamyx Avatar

I want to start by saying I very rarely wear makeup when I go shopping, and I never wear my best clothes/purse. I like to be comfortable when I shop, and I don’t want to be that person who gets makeup all over the clothing I try on…

I’ve only been completely ignored once at an Armani counter in Nordstrom, but I think it was more the fact they were working on a “hard-sell” with a customer & a pricey skincare regime. What’s funny, though, is the woman they were trying to sell to looked completely disinterested, yet I was planning to make a definite purchase, but having just dropped a small fortune at the NARS counter in the same store, it was probably just as well, LOL.

When I approached the NARS counter, the SA (there was only one) was working on a customer, yet she still acknowledged me, and asked me what I needed. I told her I needed to pick up up a few things, and she asked the customer if she could just grab those items for me. She had another girl ring me up, and I was on my way. I happened to walk past the Armani counter, where there were *two* SAs, and they just kept glancing my way, yet said nothing. The same girl who rang me up previously came by and saw me waiting, and she said something to the SAs, and they still ignored me. I’m not taking it personally, though; I’ve gotten excellent treatment at the NARS counter at the same store, so I just take my business there. I also don’t blame Nordstrom, as I got great service at the Kevyn Aucoin counter at another store.

I’ve always gotten great service at every Sephora & ULTA I’ve walked into. As far as MAC, I’ve only gotten glossed over when the store/counter was very busy, but it had to do with the circumstances more than my appearance.

Eileen Avatar

I feel like I’m more judged based on my age instead of how much makeup I’m wearing. I’m 20 and people think I’m 14 without makeup (it’s quite annoying). If I’m not wearing much makeup and am not very dressed up, I get ignored by sales associates at a lot of places. Frankly it’s good sometimes because I always look up things (especially your reviews Christine!) before I buy. When in store I just kind of test out the color to make sure it fits me and I buy right away. I rarely buy things the sales associates suggest to me. I usually use them to find things instead hahaha. But when I’m wearing makeup, I can make myself look my age and they start noticing me.

sam Avatar

ABSOLUTELY! I work at a makeup counter now and made it a rule when I was hired in that I would never do that to anyone. And, after being behind the counter, I like when people come in with no makeup on so I can offer to try something. People without makeup on are more prone to wanting to try something than people with a full face on. Same thing as me going in somewhere. If I’m looking to go in to try a new foundation, I’m not going to do a full face just to have it taken off.

yellowlantern Avatar

I don’t wear makeup beyond maybe mascara when I’m shopping so I really wouldn’t know. I will say that wearing nicer clothes definitely makes a difference.

I really wish there were no sales associates at counters actually. Dealing with super outgoing and pushy sales people gives me social anxiety. I just wanna look/swatch and then take what I like to a register.

KT Avatar

Because I am 16 and wear only a little makeup when shopping, I have always found it intimidating to go to makeup counters after a bad experience I had the only time I visited a MAC counter. I was very excited to look at all the products I had been interested in, but was put down by the SA who made me feel inferior and persistently tried to sell me things I both knew were not good and had said I was not looking for.
I’ve had experiences with Sephora SAs giving my friends and I a little snotty glare. I assume this is partially because I am the only one of my friends interested in makeup and they just tag along. Even though this is the case, I feel much less pressured by SAs at stores like Ulta and Sephora. At the ones I normally go to, they are, for the most part, very helpful and respectful.

erin Avatar

Of course!! The sephora associates always ignore me when I have no makeup on unless its the one or two that recognize me. Then when I get to the counter to buy my stuff from the snotty sales associate and I pull out my VIB rouge card they fall over themselves trying to undo the damage. This is why I make 90% of my purchases online. If I come in wearing makeup its like every associate asks me multiple times if I am finding things ok or if I need any help.

Amanda Avatar

I’ve never experienced anyone treating me poorly because I went out shopping without makeup on. However, whenever I walk into sephora wearing makeup, I usually can’t get any help from a sales person. Even at the cash register… I’ve stood at the counter for several minutes on a few occasions and no one has come to help me check out, so I gave up and just walked out. Also, when I do wear makeup in sephora, and the staff actually tries to help me, they always ask me who helped me with my makeup in the store today. They seem to assume that I can’t possibly know what I’m doing. My bad experiences with shopping for makeup have only happened in Sephora. Macy’s, Nordstrom, Ulta, etc have all been fine. But at sephora, I either get bombarded by staff who think I don’t know what I’m doing, or I can’t find anyone to help me. :/

Charlotte Avatar

Yes, I won’t even go shopping at MAC if I’m not wearing a full face of perfect-looking makeup because they’ll try to sell me whatever I’m not wearing and/or assume that I don’t know much about their products or cosmetics in general. It just gets on my nerves because I’m a former makeup artist and generally informed consumer. I haven’t had a bad experience at Sephora in a long time, but my Sephora just did a complete overhaul earlier this year which greatly improved the shopping experience as a whole.

Kristen Avatar

Oh, yeah. If I go in full faced they tend to fall over themselves to help me. If I go in with little or no makeup, they don’t even look at me. Then they’re surprised when I go up and ask for specific things by name. MAC is the worst culprut and one of the reasons I stopped going there. And half the time THEY didn’t know the names of the products so when I told them they realized I knew what I was talking about… It was actually kind of fun doing it that way. But first I had to get someones attention…

Samira Avatar

See, I don’t generally go to makeup counters, but I’m planning on trying to get foundation matched this weekend, just to see what different salespeople put me in, as an experiment. I am intentionally NOT going to wear makeup, so that it, you know, works.

Quinctia Avatar

I haven’t gone out shopping without makeup in awhile, so I can’t really say. I’m pretty sure the people at both Sephora and Ulta would still recognize me. Apparently I’m easy to remember because I have one of those shiny patent Hello Kitty purses from Loungefly. So I’m the “girl with that HK purse” everywhere. (Who buys a lot of makeup.)

Kimmwc03 Avatar

I definitely think it makes a difference unless you develop rapport with an SA and they pretty much know you when you walk in the door. I hate shopping at stores when the SAs I know by name are not working. However, MAC store SAs always treat me like I’m invisible no matter what I am wearing. So I just buy MAC online.

Joanna Avatar

I find you get treated differently based on your overall look (hair, clothing, shoes, etc.) and not just makeup (or lack of makeup).

There was one winter that I had to walk through a high-end store (Holt Renfew) to catch my bus after work. On warmer days, I wore my lightweight stylish coat and I always had sales clerks greet me as I walked through the store. On the coldest days, I wore my old, ugly, heavy-duty down coat and I never got greeted. It was an interesting social experiment.

Grace C. Avatar

OH YES DEFINITELY! I’ve been to quite a few counters that ignore me because I wasn’t done up.
It would take quite some time to get their attention sometimes just because they are doing “other” things. They would fix their counters and everything before acknowledging me. I went to a Chanel counter last week without any makeup. The SA completely disregarded me and went to help another woman because she was all dolled up. Yesterday I did my makeup and I stopped by the same Chanel counter after work. The same SA came to me to help me out instantly.

Lynn Avatar

I always wear makeup so can’t comment …. however, I’m and older woman – nearing 60 – and I certainly notice that I get treated differently these days from when I was younger. I often feel that they’re thinking “don’t know why she’s bothering, she’s obviously past it”!

Sarah Avatar

I’ve definitely noticed a difference in customer service when I shop at a beauty counter or a store like Sephora. I’m sure if its because I don’t have any makeup on, or because when I don’t have makeup on I look significantly younger. I have a feeling that they see me as a young girl with no money, therefore not worth their time. To be honest, usually I don’t mind anyway because I prefer to be left alone to test and play around with the products, and I don’t feel as comfortable doing that when I have someone asking if they can help me every 5 seconds. If they treat me rude though, that’s their loss because I have no problem taking my money elsewhere!

Danielle Avatar

Definitely. And I would say that where I live, if you go shopping without makeup (whether you’re buying makeup or not) you get treated differently. Also, everyone tends to get dressed up when they go shopping.

TrippyPixie Avatar

I definitely feel like I don’t get taken seriously if I don’t have makeup on at a beauty store. I get treated as if I don’t know anything about makeup, when I actually know quite a bit! Also, I’m college-aged, so I’ve got that going against me. (I look a few years older than I really am, but it’s quite clear that I’m young.) Many associates think that I’m just wasting my time in the store or don’t have any money to spend, even though I am willing to pay a decent amount for a product I really like.

It’s annoying, since I don’t always want to wear makeup when shopping. If I’m looking for a new foundation or blush, why would I apply something at home just to take it off in the store? If It’s a lip product or eye product that I’m looking for, then I’ll apply some tinted moisturizer and blush.

Madelyn Avatar

I know that when MAC was still cruelty free I was treated really horribly sometimes when I did not have my full face on. I was there because I wanted to learn, and I had a few reps that were kind, but most were not. At Sephora I have had a bunch of odd experiences. I went there about every other week last year (more money to spend and building my library) and they would say things like “Are you back AGAIN? Don’t you have it all?” or “Weren’t you just here?” It started feeling like Mean Girls. Last year was rough, and that store was my escape, but not for long with that. It reflects in how much I purchased from Sephora this year. I have spent less than 1/5th the money there.

Wwendalynne Avatar

yes! … psychologists prove it all the time: people make all sorts of ridiculous assumptions based on many things starting with your gender all the way down to and including the specifics of your appearance.. Wasn’t it is the news recently that a saleswoman told Oprah Winfrey she couldn’t afford a handbag in a shop in Zurich, or something like that. Doesn’t matter where in the world you are either. We’ve all experienced that look, haven’t we?

Dayna Avatar

From someone who works on the retail side (Been with Clinique for 4 years) I can safely say I treat all of my customers – those who wear no make up, or plenty of make up the same. That being said…if I am getting the body language/see someone with little to no make up on, I love offering to teach how to apply or which colours might flatter. That’s why I work in this industry after all – I love make up and helping people to use it! That being said, when I go into other stores and approach other counters, I have very high expectations of the retailers haha! In my head I’m all: ‘Oh that’s a good way to approach me’, or ‘Wow I would so not treat my customer like that’.

Colleen Avatar

That never occurred to me! I normally never wear makeup when I am going makeup shopping because I want to have a clean face to start out with. I probably have been snubbed by makeup salespeople in the past because of this, but I think by now most retailers I frequent know me by sight as the girl who usually buys a ton of makeup.

Veronica Avatar

I’ve never gotten indifference, but I have noticed a difference in approach. When I have makeup on, most MUAs will assume I have experience with the products I’m looking at, whereas sans makeup, I get treated more like a novice. It’s one of the main reasons I go to counters without makeup – easier to sort out the professionals from the non.

Angelina Avatar

Yes I do feel they treat me differently! It is very off putting because when I go makeup shopping I like to be barefaced so I can try things on. I feel like they judge me based on this, like they think since I am not wearing makeup I won’t buy a lot or that it’s my first time at a counter. No! It’s not my first time! I buy tons and tons of makeup but usually shop online because I honestly think the sales associates have no idea what I want and are just being pushy and judging me based off my makeup and clothes because normally I am in my scrubs! Lol. Their loss though I still buy products just not from them if they are being rude or inconsiderate.

Susan Dowman Nevling Avatar

Yes and no. If I’m dressed well but not wearing makeup, they are usually decent. The only time that happens is if I need a complexion color match or I’m running in to pick up a product I ran out of. That hasn’t happened in years. I tend to patronize the same sale people and places too so they know what to expect.
When I was younger, I did feel ignored however.

Janice Avatar

I get treated a whole lot different at a high end store vs. sephora. Especially at a local Nordstrom in Sacramento the beauty associates are way snotty and have the tendency to ignore you whether your wearing makeup or not. On the other hand… I love sephora and some Ulta stores.

Katherine Avatar

Yes, in the past but not recently. I experienced problems at a MAC counter trying to pick up items for my daughters. I wasn’t purchasing anything for myself and I still haven’t dipped into MAC products given that I was snubbed at two different MAC counters. However, I’ve noticed lately that no matter if I have makeup on or not, or if I’m dressed down for comfort to shop—every MA asst. has been kind and helpful.

Fernanda Avatar

Totally, it happened to me just the other day! I was having a no makeup day to give my pores a break and I decided to stop by at MAC to ask if a lipstick I’ve been looking for had finally arrived (they said they were going to call when it arrived, but they never did). When I got there, the sales lady didn’t even let me ask – she said she was busy with another client (like taking forever doing someone’s makeup) and that I would have to wait, but in a really snotty way, not letting me even get a word in.
Sales people can always find idiotic reasons to be snotty, and that’s just really stupid. This really is enough to dislike the entire brand and take my business elsewhere. Retailers really should instruct salesforce better, or they’ll lose good customers (I mean, who really dresses up to go to the mall?).

Karla Avatar

For me, if I wear or don’t wear any makeup it doesn’t make a difference while at Mac. The customer service is great and they will leave you alone if you say you don’t need any help.
Yet, my sephora is different! If I don’t wear any makeup, about 80% of the employees will ask me back to back for help and will keep an eye out for me (maybe because I’m a young Hispanic inside of a store that’s located next to Gucci and LV and their demographic is rich Caucasian females). But if I wear makeup, about 2 employees will offer help.

Lark Avatar

I get more of a beauty emergency approach, like I must be out of base. But never ignored – a girl with no make up on is either in a lost luggage nightmare or was raised by wolves and needs to be taken under wing where I come from.

Kat Avatar

Honestly, I get dirty looks no matter what. And I’m almost positive it’s because I’m a teenager. Whenever I walk into a Sephora, MAC store, Nordstrom, or heck, even CVS, I get eagle-eyed from almost any SA I walk past as if any second I’m going to start shoving handfuls of makeup into my bag. Sometimes they even go so far as to “inconspicuously” hover near me as I browse the store, every once asking insincerely if I needed help finding anything. Yeah, sounds innocent enough, but one time in Sephora after spending a particularly long time examining some Urban Decay goodies, I noticed a SA whispering to the store manager and pointing quite blatantly at me. A few moments later, the manager walked over and with a very nasty tone told me that if I wasn’t going to buy anything then I had to leave. I mean, REALLY?!? Im a 15 year old girl, and the worst crime that happens in this area is someone stealing a flowerpot from someones porch. Hopefully in a few years I’ll look older and this will stop.

Susan Avatar

Oh definitely. If I am wearing full makeup and have just come from work I get treated like royalty. Usually I shop on the weekends when I wear no makeup and casual clothes – shorts, jeans, etc. I get looked over. That is fine. I just laugh and think if only they knew how much I had available to spend on makeup (I am older than dirt) they would bow at my feet and leave the teenagers alone. I prefer shopping without assistance because I often know more than they do.

Catherine Avatar

I definitely have had that happen. Between my age, 18, and, if I have no makeup on, I have had severalu instances where salespeople have ignored me or talked down to me, especially if I’m in a department store.

doroffee Avatar

In my country, I haven’t experienced really rude behaviour, just, in some higher-end stores, the sales associates tend to think I don’t know anything about make-up or my looks if I don’t wear make-up. Which I kind of find weird, because what if I wanted to test out a foundation? Should I wear foundation just to show off and then have it removed at the store? It’s pretty non-sense to me.
Anyways, at one particular store, they really thought I was a make-up newbie, and they even asked whether I have realized how dark my under eye cirlces were… thank you captain obvious, of course I haven’t, I haven’t looked into a mirror for 15 years, of course…

Elle Avatar

Yes, there’s a difference. I usually refuse to go out in public sans makeup or allow someone to take off any reapply my makeup due to longstanding insecurities about having acne, scars, broken capillaries, you name it. What’s seems to differentiate my experience in going to look at cosmetics though is when I am sans makeup I am the ugly duckling that needs extra help and to be given lots of attention because clearly I don’t know how bad I look. It’s very hurtful and certainly doesn’t make me feel better about myself, but I can imagine this type of approach sells products when customers are feeling vulnerable about their looks.

Heidi Avatar

Actually I don’t think I notice. I don’t often go out in public without makeup on. LOL
However, I do notice whenever I am looking at makeup and ask for advice they often give me that look like I “should know” what to get.

Wenz Avatar

Oh gosh! Where do I start!?!
Logically I would think that if you are shopping in a make-up store with no-makeup on then that should be a sales associates dream empty canvas to show/ apply etc…but oh no complete opposite. And I barely pass for a college student so they completely judge.
Once I went to Sephora to try out a foundation/BB cream. I asked the SA to apply product to my neck first she said “oh no sweetie I have to match your face”….There went my 1st eye roll ! Needless to say the shade was so wrong like 2-3 shades lighter then she tried to sell me on a darker powder. (insert 2nd eye roll) I stopped her, asked for makeup remover wiped it all off, walked away took a squirt of moisturizer tester, applied it in the mirror & out the door I went! It wasnt even worth the energy to stay pissed.
Sephora’s SA are notorious for ridiculousness above & then some! But I have found a few good ones so if I don’t see them out on the floor & I ask & wait if possible. Light at the end of the tunnel 😉

Tiyah Avatar

Most definitely! Especially at MAC. They treat me like I have no idea what I’m taking about or I’m not serious. But let me walk in there full face they’re willing to help, friendly & asking me what I’m wearing.

Terri Avatar

Judging by my experience today at Nordstroms, I would say they treat you well either way because I literally jumped out of my pool, slapped on cc cream and ran out to mall. The woman at Nordstroms was excellent, like they always are. Trust me, I was NOT looking my best. And my Sephora? Same as usual… they really would rather you just don’t come in and bother them. But, like I said, that’s nothing new!!!

Brenda Avatar

GAH – I just hate going makeup shopping anymore, period. I’m 33 but look 20 and find I have to be very careful how I dress and apply makeup in order to get either taken seriously and have help offered or allowed to browse and not be stalked like a criminal about to steal the cash register! That has been my experience for probably the last decade.
My last trip to the Oshawa Sephora was fine so maybe I just look old now LOL.

Liz Avatar

I do feel that I am treated differently if I am wearing makeup at the beauty counter. One time I went to go to be matched for a foundation at a particular counter and I intentionally wore no makeup to be accurately matched. As I walked in the store a sales associate from a different counter said as I walked by “You want to buy some makeup.” in a very sarcastic way. I just looked at her incredulously and kept walking to the counter I was going to. I should have said something in retrospect. Another time when I was wearing makeup shopping I heard an associate who was busy ask another one to “help the lady whose makeup is absolutely beautiful” and she was referring to me because the associate she said this to came right up to me to help. Sales associates always seem to give me much more attention and treat me nicer when I wear makeup.

VickyM Avatar

I wouldn´t know since I always wear makeup when I go shopping and all the sales associates know me already, I only buy on Chanel, Guerlain, Mac etc counters, so even if one SA doesn´t know me there will be another that does know me. They always treat me the same way, in a very nice manner, although SA from other brands that want to sale perfume can be a little annoying.

Jessi Avatar

I’m not treated badly if I’m not wearing makeup. The only thing that is different is that if I am wearing makeup usually someone will compliment some aspect of it or ask you what you’re wearing.

I currently work at a makeup counter and I see a lot of people who come in who aren’t wearing makeup for various reasons. A lot of time people don’t wear makeup especially if they are planning on trying foundations or really any other kind of makeup. I’ve noticed that sometimes I will get people who will say, “Oh I’m sorry, I’m not wearing any makeup right now” and act kind of embarrassed. It always kind of shocks me because to be honest I don’t really notice when someone ISN’T wearing makeup. I’m more likely to notice when they are wearing makeup that I think looks good on them. But it’s the same if I like their hair, nails, clothes, jewelry, etc. I think maybe people are just more self-conscious without makeup and think they are being judged when they really aren’t.

I’m not sure why anyone who works in cosmetics would judge based on if someone is wearing makeup or not anyway. You get such a huge range of people that shop that to focus on such a minor detail is silly. You get all ages, attractiveness, body types, and yes, even genders. Plus, most counters focus just as much on their skincare and fragrances, so it’s even less of a big deal to not be wearing makeup.

Valarie Avatar

I have gone into a MAC store wearing mascara and lip gloss, they would ignore me or act like a pure Snob. After being treated like that on more than one occasion I started getting my MAC from Nordstorm or Macy’s they are more friendly.

Megan Avatar

I’ve experienced this all the time! I remember a particularly bad experience at the Chanel counter where the lady seriously looked at me like I was gum stuck on the bottom of her shoe. I have not been back to that counter, and if I’m going to purchase Chanel, I’ll just do it online to avoid women like that.

I’ve also had experiences at Sephora and MAC where they ignore me for a long time when I go in with very little makeup on. However, I’ve had the same experience when my makeup is fully done. I guess it just depends on the sales associate!

Hanny Avatar

Oh yes, definitely. When I wear make-up the counter girls actually treat me like I’m there and a legitimate costumer. When I don’t wear make-up it’s like I’m invisible, and when they do pay attention they expect me not to know anything or buy anything.

Alison Avatar

I can hardly believe it – that’s terrible! I actually visit my local counter without makeup so I can TRY on makeup without any interference from my own products! You would think it would be a common situation that women go without makeup when visiting a counter.

Jeniel Avatar

My experience so far is if I don’t wear any makeup, I have a hard time getting help. If I am wearing make up, I can easily get help. I’m blessed to have a friend who works in the makeup section of Nordstrom. She treats me like a queen even if I look like I don’t belong there.

Jaime Avatar

It may be because I live in a pretty small city, where people can’t afford to be snobby, but the local MAC/Chanel counters in the mall and the various brands at Ulta here have always been nice and helpful towards me, regardless of my appearance. I tend to wander through MAC in particular after I’m off work for the day, which means I’m half in uniform, my makeup’s all rubbed off, and my hair is in a sloppy bun, and the artists will still stop and chat with me – even if I don’t buy anything.

On the other hand, I went to the MAC in Lenox Mall in Atlanta, which is a bit more upscale, wearing a tank top, capris, and flipflops (and if I was wearing makeup, it probably wasn’t more than a swipe of eyeliner and lipgloss), and they couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge my existence for well over five minutes, even while I was standing at the register, looking around – until I touched a blush to test in the mirror, at which point I got the hairy eyeball and a brusque “Can I help you?” I walked out of there and waited til I got home so I could give my money to people who stop and say “Hey, I’m ridiculously busy right this second, but I know you’re here and just let me know if I can get something for you.” In that case, I don’t mind waiting for a few minutes!

Elena Avatar

Yup, people should really get a mirror lol and have a very in depth training in how to treat costumers in general, they judge every little detail, GOD, it’s insane. If you are a SA or work at a counter, don’t judge, jeez!

Jan Avatar

I never thought about it that way. I rarely wear makeup to a cosmetic store in order to save them some time in removing it before they weigh in with products and colors I “should” try.

I often find them intrusive. They rarely peg my skin type or color correctly. I used to think it was me and that I really needed to change my look. Bu friends agree that I have a weird color skin. While the counter sales people try to be helpful, they often don’t provide me time to look and explore before they want to place me in a chair and try a single foundation, a single blush, a single eyeshadow set, etc. Then they try to convince me it looks good when it rarely is.

I am trying to find “personal” reps for each of my favorite brands who can keep a card on what I really end up liking. They know the routine – come in bare, leave looking like I’m going out to a red carpet event.

Cayla29s Avatar

I find that in expensive department stores I get approached all the time when I’m wearing makeup. In Sephora, they seem to just leave me alone.

Sierra Avatar

Only at certain places. It’s fine at Sephora because I’m in there so often, they all know me on a first-name basis. But in places like Nordstrom, especially at the MAC counter, they’re definitely very condescending towards me if I’m not wearing any makeup. I think that’s also partly due to the fact that I’m only 17, but I look even younger. One time I was checking the MAC counter to see if they had the Hayley Williams collection in, and the sales associate asked me if I was lost and needed help finding my mother. 0_o

Mary Avatar

I have experiences with this from the customer and salesperson perspective. When shopping, I do absolutely notice that I’ll be treated differently depending on if I am or am not wearing makeup. I went to Ulta one time with no makeup on and could not get helped for 30 MINUTES (I finally just left without buying anything) as the girls were standing around gossiping. I’m a makeup artist with Estee Lauder in a Dillard’s, and there is no customer who goes unnoticed and that does not get excellent service there, and I’m very proud of that. Being behind the counter and seeing every client the same (with or without makeup) I think it’s preposterous to get treated badly at some places. It’s ridiculous.

Megan Avatar

I’m so glad you brought up this topic. I’m 23 now, but people say I still look between 15 and 18 most of the time. Whenever I go into Sephora, regardless of my makeup or lack of, I’m treated very well. The SAs are very kind and helpful, but not bothersome in any way. They’re usually always really sweet. However, 98% of the times I have gone into Ulta, my experience has been poor. When I walk in the door, the cashiers just stare are me, and then greet the older women in front of or behind me. I don’t think the amount of money you spend should 100% affect the service you receive, especially when you have no idea how much people are willing to spend until they actually make a purchase; I don’t spend my life savings on makeup/skincare/etc. but I do spend a good amount, more than the average customer; just because I’m young doesn’t mean I don’t have any money, I work and save for what I want to buy. I usually have a purpose when going into Ulta, but I always feel like I’d rather just go home and buy it online from Sephora after the customer service (or lack thereof from Ulta employees I have come into contact with.) I just hope that eventually SAs could better address the issue of treating customers differently based off their appearance. I’ve worked in retail, and regardless of age, appearance, attire, etc. I always treated all customers with respect, and that worked very well for me. Being friendly, smiling, and greeting someone when they walk in the door isn’t a lot to ask, but makes a difference, checking back with a customer later to make sure they found everything they were looking for is good customer service, and offering helpful, but not condescending suggestions is great customer service. When it comes to makeup, just talk to me about it like you were talking to your friend, we’d both be happier. (And I’d probably purchase more because of the good atomosphere.)

Lauryn Avatar

I must admit.. i’m a freelance MUA.. and i understand both sides.. and what should not happen is lumping EVERYONE together. Just because a bareface customer kept you occupied for 40 minutes demonstrating product or technique and walked out with out thanks or buying a thing, doesn’t mean all barefaced people will do that. Personally, I don’t wear alot of makeup on the weekends.. My skin begs for the break! I’ve been treated poorly myself, however, the “shocked face” of the SA/MUA is always enteraining when i whip out my pro discount card.. be it at MAC, Smashbox or MUFE. Usually, after I’ve been to the same store a few times, they recognize me.. but I never forget how i was treated.. so I make a point to get the same SA/MUA that was kind to me the first time. if they’re not available.. i can always come back.. or shop online.

Victoria Avatar

Here’s the problem coming from someone here in the Philippines. I tend to get annoyed at SAs here cause frankly, they don’t know anything. I mean, I’m sorry but maybe some of them do but basically none of them have had any makeup training whatsoever. How do I know? One, I have a friend who worked part time at the cinemas of this major mall here and all these people know everyone. And she knows that these SAs rotate their “job”. Say last month this girl is assigned at the clothes section of the department store and then 2 months after, she’ll be assigned at the beauty section. Like what the?! Okay, maybe they’re going for versatility but how could anyone “master” that job if they keep rotating their post. And two, they just don’t know. You could just feel it that they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. There was this one time that I was looking for a foundation and stumbled upon the Revlon counter (yes, we have SAs even for drugstore brands here) and was checking out the Colorstay foundation. I have been up for more than 12 hours (night shift) so you can probably tell that my makeup has gone to sleep and left my face already so I basically look like I had no makeup on except that my brows are still on point. Anyway, I have heard of this foundation before but didn’t make enough research about the product (which is my fault but oh well). Apparently out of the 20 shades that the Colorstay foundation has, only 5 are being sold here. And to add to that, they are only selling the first 5 shades (from the lightest end). First of all, come on! Our country is known to have a majority of people that has medium to dark skin tones. So I really don’t know what’s up with that. Well for my lack of better knowledge, I didn’t know my shade. And the lighting at the department store is really bright so when I tried to swatch this one shade at my jaw line, it looked okay. Guess what, it doesn’t. The shade is Natural Beige and I am NC40 for reference so just do the research. I initially noticed that it was a bit too light and the SA was like “no ma’am it’s the PERFECT match for your skin”. This is not really about treating me differently when I don’t wear my makeup on but just basically how SAs treat people here in this country. They all treat us like we’re either all ignorants with makeup or just treat us “nicely” just so they could sell us a product–with or without make up on. But if you don’t have makeup on they’d be all up in your grill and try to make you over and more often than not, the person ends up looking like a clown with the over the top blusher (that wasn’t even blended correctly) and extreme eye shadow paired with a bright red or pink lipstick (I’ve seen this first hand). And if you have makeup on and these SAs notice that, they would try to sell you any product that they could think of. Without even asking if you have dry skin or oily skin or combination or sensitive skin just so they’d know if that particular product would actually work for you.

Really sorry for the long comment. Haha.

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