Is This the End of In-Store Makeup Testers at Beauty Stores?

Getty / Hillary Kladke

Germaphobes have long side-eyed makeup testers, even before a global pandemic shuttered beauty retailers’ doors around the world. Communal lipstick used by 138 other people!? No, thank you very much. Still, for most people (86 percent, according to a study by Base Beauty Creative Agency), sampling a beauty product before making a purchase is a critical component of in-store shopping. How else can you know for sure how well a foundation or moisturizer works with your skin tone and type without physically trying it on for size?

That, amid the recent store reopenings across the country in the last few weeks, seems to be the million-dollar question.

The problem? Despite the strict parameters around store hygiene procedures, there is no set guidance from the US government for beauty retailers on what to do about product samples. That means companies are left to weigh their options individually, keeping in mind that consumers have adopted a newfound focus on cleanliness.

“This is the thing that I’m working through the most, because how are people going to test beauty products before they buy them?” said Jess Richards, founder of Brooklyn-based retailer SHEN Beauty, which reopened this month.

The possible answer: they don’t. While avoiding in-store makeup testers completely may not be the answer, retailers are experimenting with a multitude of alternatives. What that looks like across the board is uncertain, but one thing is for sure: change is looming.

In-Store Testers Will Be For Display Only

As a result of sanitary concerns amid coronavirus lockdowns, big-name retailers like Ulta Beauty and Sephora are nixing traditional beauty testers in lieu of display samples as they begin reopening their doors.

“As we reopen our stores, our goal is to provide guests with a safe shopping environment without losing the unique experience of Ulta Beauty,” the retailer’s chief merchandising officer, Monica Arnaudo, told POPSUGAR. “In-store testers will be for display purposes only, so guests can have a visual sense of colour and textures.”

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