Sample Sachets: Handy Or Useless?

by Gio

are sample sachets a reliable way to test skincare products

There we go again.

I slowly approach the Estee Lauder counter with a friendly smile on my face. I cheerfully greet the SA and tell her how much I love the brand. The lipglosses are the best and I am so excited to explore the rest of the line. Especially their skincare line (total skincare junkie here, in case you haven’t noticed 😉 ).

My excitement rubs off on her. She’s already thinking of how far she can push it and how many things she can sell me. She has her eye on a big commission.

I already know what’s gonna happen next. She won’t like it. I gently ask for a sample. Her face drops slightly, the thoughts of the extra money quickly vanishing away.

I try to let her down gently. So many products made me breakout in the past, I politely explain to soften the blow, and I want to be sure that won’t happen again before I hand over the cash.

What I really mean is, I want to make sure I won’t waste a lot of my hard earned money on an expensive luxury that doesn’t deliver. There’s no return policy in Italy, so if you get stuck with a dud, hard luck. She knows it too.

That’s when she handles me a sachet sample. Two, to be precise. Now, it’s my turn to feel the stinging bite of disappointment. Sachet samples aren’t completely useless, but they won’t be enough for me to know if the serum really works.

I want to say something, but I know it’s gonna be useless. I thank her and leave, knowing I’ll never be back. She lost a sale. I gained two sample sachets. Guess I’m the winner, after all.

Here’s what I’ll do with them (and why I don’t like getting them):

Sample sachets are handy for travelling

Whenever I get a sample sachet, I’ll put it into my skincare travelling stash. With all the limits imposed on liquids these days, bringing full-size products with me is too much hassle.

If I’m away for a week or more, I’ll decant my favourite skincare products. But for short trips, I just stick a bunch of samples in my beauty case. They don’t take up much room and I don’t have to worry about them being confiscated by airport security.

Related: Pack Smart: Skincare Tips For Travelling

Sample sachets allow you to test textures  and scents

Let’s face it, girls. Results aren’t everything.

A serum may contain the most beneficial ingredients in the world, but if its texture is too thin/thick/greasy/uncomfortable for our skin type or the scent stinks, there is no way we’re ever gonna use it.

That’s something we discover the very first time we use a product. So, if that’s all you want to know, you’re gonna find sample sachets very useful.

Sample sachets can’t tell you if a product delivers

Samples sachets will last us only one or two uses. Three, if the brand’s been generous (not that that happens often).

That’s not enough to tell us if the serum or moisturizer is going to do their job. Most skincare products need to be tested for a month before you can judge the results. Why that long? Cos that’s how long it takes for skin to renew itself.

With superpowerful products, like retinol serums, you can see the results much sooner. Within a week even. But the sample sachet won’t even last you that long.

There’s one thing a sample sachet will tell you, though. That’s if the serum will irritate your skin. Skincare products may take their sweet time to work, but when they irritate your skin, that red rash shows up straight away!

Related: How Long Does It Take Skincare Products To Work?

What about you? Do you find sample sachets handy or useless?



Icaria September 6, 2013 - 7:30 pm

I agree with you, for shorts trips when you know a product works for you or for texture and fragrance. I would never write a review based on a few uses unless there was something terribly wrong with the sample recieved.

beautifulwithbrains September 7, 2013 - 1:27 pm

Icaria, I think if you are sensitive to fragrances, or prone to allergies, then trying a sample can be useful. Negative reactions show up straight away, but whether a product really does what it claims takes longer to determine. Writing a review based on a small sample is a no-no, although I’ve seen bloggers write posts about their first impressions of products they tried this way. As long as they clearly state it, that’s ok. But a full review, certainly not.

Ana September 6, 2013 - 9:57 pm

I love the idea… but I never get around to using them 😐 .

“Oooh, this is a fancy super special cream, and I can only use it once or twice, let’s save it for a special occasion!”
5 years and a lot of dust later…

beautifulwithbrains September 7, 2013 - 1:30 pm

Ana, I do that too. I once won a sample of an expensive cream, thinking it would be a small jar/tube, but it turned out to be a sample sachet that could be used only once or twice. I wanted to wait for a special occasion too, but then forgot and the product was then reformulated. That should tell you how old the sample, which I still have unused, is… 😳

Viv September 6, 2013 - 9:57 pm

It’s funny, I’ve been pondering this. I’ve recently been away for a few events – mostly involving the children. I have saved up lots of samples, but fail to actually use them. All events have necessitated taking the car, and to be honest, it’s no problem to take my normal products – I don’t have to carry my bag too far, and it is actually easier to take them with me! I react badly to so many things, I prefer to try new things at other times than a few days away.

beautifulwithbrains September 7, 2013 - 1:34 pm

Viv, I’m sorry you react badly to many creams. If you have sensitive skin, it’s definitely better to try new things at home, when there are no special occasions coming up. I prefer to take my full size products too when travelling by car. I wish we could still bring those on planes too, but with the new laws, we have to make do with samples.

BebeTaian September 7, 2013 - 12:50 am

You know, I bet a lot of domestic violence shelters would love those samples you aren’t using! Especially since supplies for people who had to leave everything can be hard to come by.

As for myself, sometimes I love them; sometimes I hate them. I always ask for samples at store counters if there’s something I want to try and specify that my skin breaks out a lot after a few hours if it’s a product I can’t use… but I haven’t isolated an ingredient in cream products yet. I’m also finicky with oily/overly moisturising things. Sometimes my retinol cream is amazing! And sometimes, my skin hates it, depending on how dry it was to start with. x.x But then places like Keihls give me a million samples of every cream they carry! Ack! So I donate them or give them to friends to try.

America also gives samples of odd things sometimes, I think. Like one small box of laundry detergent, or a razor when the Venus first came out. Anyone who had the original pink razor got it in a sample box in the mail, unsolicited. Occasional creams. I think I even got some oatmeal cereal once, although that one I think I signed up for. So makeup samples are welcome, but I don’t always end up using them.

beautifulwithbrains September 7, 2013 - 1:44 pm

BebeTaian, that is a wonderful idea! I know they are always looking for unused products, but I never thought of donating samples too. 😳

If you don’t know what ingredients to avoid, trying samples can be very useful. You don’t want to invest in a cream, especially if it is expensive, only to find out it breaks you out. By the way, have you checked if the products that break you out contain Palmitates and Myristates? They are very common and very comedogenic. Isopropyl Palmitate is one of the worst. Whenever I use it, my face turns into a war zone.

I think it’s great that you get to try samples of so many different products, although it’d be better if they were solicited. Otherwise, they can end up unused. But I guess you can always give them to someone else. 🙂

Annabella September 20, 2013 - 10:15 pm

I personally find them useless! I accumulated loads over the years too and then I go back to get something to try and its never something I want. I’ve started giving them away now so that someone gets some use out of them!

beautifulwithbrains September 21, 2013 - 8:08 pm

Annabella, I think they can be useful in some cases, like for travelling or if you have sensitive skin. Otherwise, there’s no much point in using them. It’s nice of you to give yours to someone who appreciates them more. 🙂


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