I love being able to try new beauty products, but I hate having an excess of products that I never use. I’m a paperbag princess. I’ve learnt that my money is better in the bank than on my vanity (shout outs to Gail Vaz-Oxlade). Instead of wasting money on products I would barely use, I look to samples a way to try luxury beauty brands before committing. For example, I went through two 5 ml samples of Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Serum before buying the full-sized product. That way I’m more certain that the product is worth the price and that there isn’t a drugstore brand equivalent. By doing so, I’ve actually saved. For example, I’ve been using the same bottle of a luxury-brand facial cleanser for 6 months (expiries at 12 months) and still have plenty left. In the past, I would have spent more money replenishing a drugstore-brand every month. You can have nice things; you just have to be smart about it.
I always have a stash of samples to pass on to friends or to carry a little bit of luxury with me when I’m travelling. But finding luxury beauty samples in Canada can be a challenge. And I find that the subscription beauty boxes we have access to do not have the selection of samples that I would want to try. So here are my tips for finding the luxury beauty samples you actually want.
Join Sephora Beauty Insider
Most of my deluxe-sized samples are from Sephora’s Beauty Insider program. In my humble opinion, it is the best beauty loyalty program on the planet. I’ve obtained samples from brands like Glam Glow, Origins, Fresh, Becca and Bobbi Brown. Plus, a handful of miniature perfumes just by redeeming points. Deluxe product samples are usually 100 points and perfume miniatures are usually 250 points . On top of redeeming points you earn from purchases, you also receive a free birthday gift (this year it’s two NARS mini lip pencils) and you also have access to exclusive offers online and at in-store events. The online offers usually require a minimum purchase amount, so I save items on my wish list and checkout only if the offers are worth it. And all orders come with 3 free samples. Sephora is particularly generous with samples at product launch events. At an Atelier Cologne event, for example, I received a full 85 ml bottle of their Magnolia Sud fragrance along with a monogrammed leather case with my purchase.
Follow Your Favourite Brands on Social Media and Join Their Mailing Lists
Now that more brands are embracing social media as part of their promotional plans, you can find links to product sample giveaways directly from the brand (but you have to move quickly). L’Occitane Canada is a good example. In the spring, they offered a duo of mini hand creams to Twitter followers who filled out a short online form and tweeted the hashtag #loveloccitane. After doing so, followers could pick up their deluxe samples in-store and receive an offer of % off an item from the line if they decided to make a purchase. I’ve also been able to get free samples from brands like Chanel and Eve Lom simply by being on their mailing list. Retailers like Hudson’s Bay, Holt Renfrew and Shopper’s Drug Mart also send out emails about samples when they are preparing for a new product launch. Being on a brand’s mailing list also gives you access to promo codes for exclusive gifts with purchase. Brands like Bobbi Brown and NARS are very generous, sometimes giving miniature eyeshadow palettes or 3-piece miniature sets.
Visit Brand Websites Often
Shopping through the beauty brand’s online store can get you access to exclusive samples or gift sets that include “free” miniatures that you can’t find in-stores. Some brands also have travel-sized products available for purchase as an introduction to their products. The Japanese beauty brand, Tatcha offers both. With my first Tatcha purchase, for example, I was given a generous 25 ml sample of their Pure Camellia Cleansing oil for free. Tatcha also sells travel-size options of signature products like the Polished Rice Enzyme Powder ($15US) and Indigo hand cream ($8US). Other luxury beauty brands who offer samples or travel-sizes for sale online are Codage Paris and Atelier Cologne . And according to Instagram May Lindstrom’s eco-beauty brand will also offer travel sizes in the near future.
Attend Beauty Events
From what I’ve seen Hudson’s Bay Queen Street flagship puts on the best beauty events in Toronto. In addition to the mocktails and hor d’oeuvre, there are generous gifts with purchases and sometimes even 10% discounts. With this in mind, I usually wait for an event or the holidays to make bigger beauty purchases like perfumes so I can get the most for my money. It also helps to get to know your beauty counter staff well so they can keep you informed of up-coming events. According to my source at the beauty counter, Hudson’s Bay Queen Street’s next beauty event will be held September 17th, 2015. It will be a “Giving Back” event meaning, those who make a donation to the charity of the night will receive 10% off purchases. I haven’t seen any emails or signage to confirm this yet. So it’s best to follow Hudson’s Bay on Twitter for the details directly.
At Sephora, you can usually have the staff make you a sample of any product that you want to try before buying. And at L’Occitane, you can usually get a few samples at the cashier with your purchases. Holt Renfrew does offer samples without you having to make a purchase but samples aren’t always available. Right now, Holt Renfrew does not give refunds on beauty purchase so it’s best to ask for a sample to take home before buying anything there just in case. Each season, Holt Renfrew also offers a beauty bag filled with luxury beauty samples for about $45. In addition to the samples you receive a voucher for $10 off your next beauty purchase. I’ve purchased two so far and the best samples in those bags were from Hermes (miniature Terre d’Hermes cologne and shower gel set), Erno Laszlo (Timeless Serum) and Chantecaille (Jasmine & Lily Healing Mask).
If you'll like to stay updated on sample offers, feel free to follow me on Twitter or look out for more "A Little Bit in Love" posts here on the blog.
This is not a sponsored post. The thoughts expressed are honest and my own.