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Mythbusters: Cosmetic Saleswomen, Myths, and Outright Lies

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This post in a series of mythbusters is going to be a little bit different. It’s going to be a collection of the most memorable things people have said personally to me to try to sell me product.

It’s totally natural and right for women to want to take care of their bodies, skin and hair (think diet/exercise, skincare and haircare), to look and feel their best and be beautiful. It’s God-given. It’s not wrong. It’s not silly. It’s not frivolous. It’s not proud. It’s not shallow. It’s right. If it’s God-given and natural, almost every woman on the planet is going to eventually wake up to this desire to be beautiful and look their best. Some are more aware of it than others, some start caring at a younger age, and some of us are a little more obssessed! But every woman in every culture wants to be beautiful.

Therefore, products that help us do this (think diet books, exercise courses and videos, vitamins, skincare products, haircare products and stylists), are a huge industry. I have always been a product person and I applaud when a beautifully formulated product is sold with accurate information, exciting and even emotional advertising (there’s nothing wrong with that as long as the product lives up to its claims), and a price that is right and fair. I love products. I’ve always been fascinated with the science of ingredients, the beauty of good advertising (I’m a designer), and the seemingly amazing miracle of a product that works and does what it says. What astounds me is that when you find a product that actually does what it says in today’s beauty industry, it’s like you feel like you should tell the whole world, “Hey, look, here’s a product that actually works!”. Actually works? Why is anyone selling products that don’t work?

Greed, ignorance and money. It makes me sick actually. There are hundreds and thousands of companies out there wanting to take advantage of every woman’s natural God-given desire to be beautiful by selling overpriced over-rated inferior formulas that do absolutely nothing, or even worse, complicate or worsen a problem.

I used to feel guilty for the amount of time and money I spent on trying to solve a problem – whether that was thinning hair, acne breakouts, dull skin, etc. Then one day I woke up to a very simple fact. I was confused because it’s confusing. Not because I was either too unintelligent to figure it out or because I possessed an unhealthy desire to find the answers. I’m just a very determined idealistic person. Now that I’ve found some of those answers and heard some of the myths and lies, I’m passing that information along to you. Because I think we women want to solve the problems and then move on with our lives and do other important (notice I did not say more important) things.

Why do I get so emotional, almost affectionate towards a product that works? I think it’s because every time I reach for that product when I am getting ready in the morning, I remember the cash I blew through, the people that lied to me and the agony I went through until I found it.

Take minoxidil for instance. For years people told me that hair could be “healed” naturally and that if I could just find the right combination of vitamins and topical treatments my hair would be “back to where it’s supposed to be.” It’s true that nutrition plays an important part in our overall skin and hair health, but to think that a bunch of vitamins are going to heal a medical condition known as alopecia is misguided. Taking your vitamins and eating right will definitely enhance hair’s health, but if you have a medical condition that goes beyond nutrition, then be open to trying a medical solution.

And when a single brand contains more than a few solutions? I get attached to it.

So what are the myths that I learned to debunk along the way of finding these solutions?

Many and varied. I find that the salespeople at cosmetic stores (the ones that should know the most, right?), are sometimes disappointingly uneducated, at best, and downright lazy at worst.

“Those two products are not even remotely the same,” the lady at one such store told me. She was the manager, and had been there for years. She directed a junior sales partner to lead me to the “right” product. When I picked up the product, I exclaimed, “The ingredients are virtually identical!” The look on the girl’s face was almost shock. “How do you know about ingredients?” She asked.

?

What kind of question is that?

Another time I went to see a hair loss clinic. The girl sat me down in a chair and started playing with my hair. “What are we doing for you today?” I was surprised that I felt more like I was in a salon than a clinic. I had no idea what their services were and was asked to make an appointment for a consultation. “I don’t know – what do you do?” I replied. When I told her I was using Generic Rogaine and that I was really excited about the results, I was disappointed by her lack of empathy for me. “We don’t recommend Rogaine.” She said. Oh really? I also told her I was getting extensions. ” You can’t use Rogaine and get extensions. The chemicals in the Rogaine will make the extensions look like crap. You have to use very special ingredients on [human hair] extensions.”

I had never heard that before. I was pretty sure the generic Rogaine I was using was alcohol, proplene glycol (a conditioning agent), water and a very small percentage of the growth hormone. None of these ingredients are going to harm human hair.

I followed my instinct and got the extensions and used the Rogaine.

Guess what? I was right. My extensions, like my own natural hair, remained undamaged for a normal amount of time. What a bunch of bull! And you know what? I feel like she told me this so that my hair would fall out and I would have to come to her expensive hair loss clinic and get a prosthesis. Can you think of a better reason? I scoured the internet for an hour after she said that to see if any dermatologist or expert anywhere has published that information. They haven’t. You can’t find it anywhere. She either said that off the top of her head because (again) she expected me to believe it and wanted to sell me her product, or she was being told to say that by someone very close to her with the same agenda.

It’s very hard to be a customer in the beauty industry without feeling really insulted. I feel insulted almost every time I walk into one of those places, and have resorted to my own research, online ordering, and a few trusted brands and salons.

Read more Mythbusters: Myths, Ignorance and Outright Lies.

11 thoughts on “Mythbusters: Cosmetic Saleswomen, Myths, and Outright Lies”

  1. I understand your irritation with these people. The same thing can apply to purchasing electronics, cars or whatever. Jerks with no sense of fairness or morality, doing anything to make a buck. You are very wise!

    1. 🙂 It’s taken a ton of research to get to where I feel like I can choose my own products wisely!! Paula Begoun’s resources have really helped! And you’re right, every industry is like that. Did you know that the only industry with a higher markup than cosmetics is the drug industry?

      1. Wow, cosmetics are marked up that much? That’s huge! These dang drug companies use the R&D aspect to unjustly ramp up the costs of their drugs as far as I see. I understand it takes money to do the research but then there is a difference between making a profit and outright theft. And the Fed is in bed with them. Grrr….

    1. : ) 🙂 See I already have the URL – Wear Your Vitamins. And I fantasize about the branding all the time. I’d LOVE to start my own line! 🙂 Thanks for the vote.

  2. I hate speaking with beauty associates for product info. I know I am being “sold.” Now, I just turn it into a fun conversation to make it more enjoyable asking for new product launches info, but I do not listen to them talk about ingredients and whatever marketing spiel they are giving. I can imagine how much worse it would be with pricier services and products connected to hair loss. One of my sisters suffers from a perm type of female hair loss and she just cut off all of her hair once she realized it was a perm condition for her and not a temporary issue she now rocks a few different styles of wigs in between when she feels adventurous. Ironically, she does more with her hair now than she ever did before she started losing her hair.

    1. Wigs are so much fun!! I love them. You can have such beautiful hair. 🙂 I would like to try some better and shorter styles some time. 🙂 I also am going to try some shorter pixies and short bobs for awhile to see how I like them. 🙂 Does your sister only wear wigs sometimes?

  3. Oh lots of people treat their job as just a way to get money. It irritates me like crazy. I see it at my job, see it everywhere. I love that you mentioned the feeling that goes with using those products… 😛 glad i’m not the only one. If I know they bribed me into it, even if it DOES work, if I know they used tricks to get me to buy it anyway, or to buy other products to go with it, i’ll just hold a grudge till infinity.

    1. Oh my goodness I feel the same way!! I’ve returned products that worked just because I was irked at the way they were sold to me, only to buy them online! Guilty.

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