I have accumulated a lot of sample sachets over the years. I rarely ask for them, but most sale assistants here will slip a couple of them in your bag whenever you buy something (if you don’t, they often claim to have run out of them ). And then there are magazines.
The latest issue of Vanity Fair featured a sample of the new L’Oreal Elvive Total Repair Shampoo and, as I was about to throw it carelessly, as I always do, into the red box where I keep all my sample sachets, I realized I needed to figure out a better storage system for them.
The box was almost full and finding something in all that mess was a hassle. But as I was sorting out the samples by type, I noticed that some of them were very old. So old, in fact, that the products had been discontinued! Oops. That got my thinking… Why do I think I need to keep so many samples if I don’t use them?
Sample sachets are handy for travelling
My main excuse to keep sample sachets is that it’s much easier to travel with them. If I’m away for a week or more, I’ll decant my favourite skincare products, but for short trips, I prefer to stick a bunch of samples in my beauty case. They don’t take up much room, and when you’re done with them, you can throw them away, thus freeing even more space in your luggage for your new beauty buys. And if you travel by plane, you don’t have to worry about them being confiscated by security.
However, I only bring with me samples of shampoos, conditioners and selected creams. A lot of moisturizers contain ingredients that break out my skin, so they remain unused at the bottom of the red box. And samples of foundations are useless for me too. I get these mostly from magazines and they always come in medium beige shades that are way too dark for my skintone. I’d have to apply them all over my body not to look like I’m wearing a mask!
Sample sachets allow you to test textures, scents and colours
Sample sachets give you a chance to test the small things that can make or break a purchase. A product may contain the most beneficial actives in the world, but if its texture is too thin/thick/greasy for your skin type or its scent is unpleasant, chances are you’re not going to use it. If you manage to get your hands on samples of foundations or lipsticks, then you can also find out whether their colour is a good match for your skintone. Isn’t it better to know these things before splurging out on an expensive tube of moisturizer or foundation, especially if, like me, you live in a country where cosmetics can’t be returned?
Sample sachets don’t allow you to test the formula properly
Despite their pros, sample sachets also have a very serious limitation. They contain so little product that it will only last you for a couple of uses at most. And how can you tell whether something works if you only use it once or twice? Even the best formulated products don’t work overnight. If you like how a moisturizer feels on your skin you may be tempted to purchase the full size only to discover that it doesn’t really do anything for you (on the “plus” side, if a product irritates your skin, that’ll show up straight away, saving you money).
You’d have to gather enough samples to last you at least three weeks before you can say with confidence that something works (or doesn’t) and that’s no easy task. A lot of SAs are reluctant to hand out so many samples, unless they feel pretty sure you’re gonna come back to buy the full size. And that’s why most of my samples remain unused. Unless I travel, which I don’t do as often as I’d like, I don’t see the point in trying a new cream for only a day.
What about you? Do you find sample sachets handy or useless?