Notorious NYCK
Earth Shattering Beauty, Style and Health News from a Neurotic New Yorker

I won't get Fooled Again

by Notorious NYCK February 4

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it takes several minutes of deep breathing and thinking happy thoughts to convince myself that Apple was not put on this earth  to make my life a living, breathing hell.  I Tunes Updates seem to screw me at every turn, making it progressively more complicated and frustrating  to play, transfer and download music; and I can’t even begin describe the chaos that occurs every time I am prompted to update my IPHONE.

samplescropLately, I am also peeved at retailers who seem to be making big deals out of so-called “gifts-with-purchase”  promotions that in reality fall way short of anything remotely exciting or useful. In the last month two beauty behemoths were offering online gifts with purchases—12 and 16 product samples, respectively--if you spent a certain amount. The prospect of free products is as thrilling to me as it gets. So even though I really didn’t need anything, I made skincare purchases on both sites, just to receive my “free” gifts. I was thinking back to a similar Bergdorf Goodman promo several years ago. The prize? A super-cute beach tote filled with generous travel sizes and just a few not-so-generous samples of skincare and fragrance products. The “gift”  offered just enough variety and substance to make me feel like I really scored!  So I had high hopes for these other two promotion. Times, however, are a-changing; just about everyone seems to be cheaping out these days.

My first “gift” was housed in an astoundingly unglamorous ziplock baggy and what was inside was even more depressing—a slim pile of those crummy paper packettes and one or two teeny fragrance vials. I recognize that these packettes are inexpensive and portable ways to deliver skin care samples. But they are so woefully inadequate in every way. First off, they never have enough product in them to help you judge if they are a good fit for you. Secondly, once you open them you have to throw them away, because any leftover product gets all over the place. But what really irritates me about these samples is that you can’t open them if they get wet because they become insanely slippery. And odds are you will get them wet, since, if you are like I am, you will use them at your sink. 

So now I have all of these free paper samples lying around that I feel guilty about not using and, heaven forbid, throwing away because in reality, I paid for them, since I had to buy products to procure them. I thought about giving them to a less picky friend (and pretty much everyone is less picky than I am so it wouldn’t be hard to find someone). But then I’d be giving said friend useless crap that I don’t like, which doesn’t seem like a particularly  friendly thing to do.

The second freebie was marginally better since  it came with a pretty decent-sized makeup bag. Unfortunately  it was a horrible teal color and made out of pleather. But still, it was way nicer than the other gift’s ziplock baggy. The second promotion also included decent-sized travel versions of products in real containers and far fewer packettes. Hooray! But, alas, these petite bottles and tubes mostly contained products that I had no interest in trying.

The upshot of these two freebie-induced skincare shopping sprees is that I am basically cured of my need to buy products to earn so-called gifts, unless they are true travel sizes (look for the words, “deluxe sample” in the description) and I know what the offerings are in advance. I realize I am pretty much doomed to disappointment  when the wording on the website reads “samples may include products like” and “we reserve the right to substitute products at our discretion.” You may think I am crazy (and I can’t blame you if you do) because after all, this is free stuff. And free is free. But free is useless if it means getting stuff you don’t want—especially if it coerces you to buy products that you don’t really need.

Sometimes Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Murad and  Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare give you realistically-sized samples when you shop online. Even at Sephora, king of the paper packettes, you can trade in some VIB points to get samples larger than a speck. The best freebies I’ve received are from actual cosmetics counters at retailers when I actually ask for them.  I typically say something like, “Do you have any little gifts for me today since I am spending all of this money?” I am well aware this may mean I am becoming my mother--maybe even my grandmother, who took Sweet’N Low packets from the diner and put them in her purse. So this tactic does feel a little awkward; but it works. The wonderful Bobbi Brown associate at the Saks Fifth Avenue in Union Square in San Fran, for example, scooped out five-day supplies of foundation, eye cream and moisturizer into actual portable glass jars.  And I’m pretty sure it worked out for the company, too, because after I ran out of the eye cream sample, I purchased the $68 full-sized version of Extra Eye Repair online. I know I need to get another hobby besides obsessing about skincare products and free gifts with purchases. But think of the invaluable information you’d miss out on if I took up another sport.

Ciao for now my friends. Stay happy and healthy.


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