Know When to Say “No” to a Free Sample

I love getting stuff for free (doesn’t everyone?!?!) and take every opportunity I can to try new things.  However, I’ve learned about the evils of free samples – the hard way…


When to Say Yes

– If the product is to “augment” an already-purchased supply of a product.  If you’ve fallen in love with something, there’s nothing wrong with getting some more of it for free, if you can.

– If your skin tone has changed.  Getting a little “color” can make your foundation obsolete.  Go get a free sample of a darker shade at a department store beauty counter or Sephora store.  They’ll usually give you a 10-day supply, which can tide you over for a while – especially if you get a 10-day supply from multiple sources.

– If you need a small amount of the product for traveling.  Sample sizes and “bonus-sized samples” (bigger than normal) can be perfect for travel or for an “emergency make up kit” to keep at work, the gym, wherever.

– If you have sensitive skin.  Getting a free sample is a great way to make sure you don’t have a reaction to any of the product’s ingredients.

– If you’ve been considering buying the product.  Obviously, the “try before you buy” concept is the best reason to get a free sample.  You might be genuinely interested in a product that isn’t perfect for you after all.  A free sample is a great way to find out without the financial committment.


When to Say No

– If you can’t afford the product and you think you might fall in love with it.  We know why free samples exist.  It’s to get us “hooked” on products so we’ll go buy them.  Check the price before you use the sample and ask yourself “Am I willing/able to pay for this product if I love it?”  If the answer is no, you might not want to try it.

– If the sample is a “free gift with purchase”.  Sometimes, you’re already buying stuff and there’s an offer that allows you to get something for free. Tempting, right?  But, if you’re having to spend more than you normally would to get the free item, you need to figure out what you’re really paying for it.  If you have to spend $50 on Brand X’s stuff, and you only needed a $30 item, you’re paying $20 for that sample!  Yes, you’re getting another product, but you might be inclined to buy something you don’t need (or exceed your “beauty budget”) and may not even like.  Sometimes the sample might not even be something you want, but the idea of getting something for “free” makes you feel compelled to spend more to get it.

– If the sample size doesn’t prove how the product works.  Many products (especially anti-wrinkle/anti-aging ones) take up to 8 weeks of daily use to show results.  (Some are as little as 2 weeks, but still…)  If you’re not getting a sample that will last 8 weeks, you’re never going to know if it really works.  It can be a good way to make sure you like the fragrance and don’t have an allergic reaction.  Beyond that, the sample is kind of useless.

– If the product doesn’t “match” your shopping conscience.   If you normally only buy cruelty-free, vegan, paraben-free, etc. and the product you’re “sampling” doesn’t meet your normal criteria, you probably shouldn’t bother with it.  You might find that you like the product enough to compromise your principles.  (Actually, you’re compromising your principles to use the product in the first place…)  We all have enough reasons to feel guilty – we don’t need to add guilt to our beauty regimen.


In Summary

Getting free stuff is great – except when it causes a moral dilemma, is pointless, or causes you to spend more money.  🙂


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