Here's my suggestion to you - read online reviews. One of the best things that department stores and online beauty stores have started doing on their sites has been posting buyer reviews. Sure, you're probably not going to agree with everyone but try to look at demographics. Most sites allow women to choose which age range they belong in and where they are located in the states. Therefore, if you have really dry skin you may not want to listen to the woman who loves a product but has very oily skin.
The best experience I ever had with a beauty counter was the Kiehls Department at the Nordstrom at the Fashion Mall in Indianapolis. I came into the store looking for a new foundation. Personally, I do not like heavy make-up...I prefer to feel like I'm not wearing any. However, I thought that I would like Bobbi Brown foundation based on a few reviews. Well, the Bobbi Brown counter person was missing and Kay from the Kiehls Department decided to help me out. As we began talking about my skin, she suggested that I go with a tinted moisturizer. Kiehls had some that she recommended, along with a skin care line she recommended. I immediately was turned off. "Great," I thought, " another sales lady to bully me into buying a ton of stuff I will end up not liking or not using." Well...I was wrong. After agreeing to have her demonstrate the products on me she surprised me by not asking me to buy anything. She explained that she knew how expensive investing in a whole bunch of new products was, so she gave me a weeks supply of all of the products we had used, and told me to use them and see how I liked them. If I felt like the products were beneficial, then she would be happy to help me again. If not, then she would be happy to help me find something that did. I was shocked. I could not believe that she wasn't going to ask me to buy all of these products. It was amazing and I left feeling really excited to use the samples.
For the next week, I used the products. A few of the items I did not think were for me, but overall I loved the Kiehls line. My favorite product ever is the Kiehls Overnight Biological Peel, below:
One thing I have learned from my experiences with beauty counters is don't feel pressured to buy something. It's okay to say no. However, if you really want to try a product ask for a sample. Any counter person who refuses to give you a sample is crazy. It's totally normal for someone to want to try something before they purchase it. I do this any time I see a new beauty product I want to try and I've never had someone tell me no. Now, if you get a dirty look because you ask for a month's supply...don't be surprised!
Also, provide feedback. I used to be afraid to tell people what I really thought of the product because I felt like I should like it. However, the more honest you are the more able someone is to help you.
So in short, the next time you walk into the beauty department of your favorite make-up counter walk with confidence and know what you need. If you just want to look - tell them! And if they try to sell you on the latest and greatest, tread lightly. Only engage if you really think what they are telling you sounds fabulous. And if you try it out and don't like it - don't buy it! Trust me, if you just invest in a few great beauty products you love - your body, and your wallet will thank you for it!