Big mistake…huge!

A mountain of beauty productsThere are many positions of power to be found in society today. Politicians, judges, doctors and of course the monarchy. But one that is so often overlooked is the power held by the women found behind the counter in your local department store. Little does she know (or maybe she does) that the attention and advice she gives (or doesn’t give) can make or break a make-up shopping trip for anyone sighted, blind or partially sighted.

Case in point: I was out shopping in a departmemt store the other day with my mother; we decided that we wanted to try on some make-up. We approached a very glamorous looking woman standing behind a make-up counter; I told her that my mother has very sensitive skin. “Oh really” she said. I then told her that we needed a foundation, but could not see the right colour for my mum’s light brown complexion. She replied, “Oh dear, this all we have” right… thanks.

Now, at no point were we offered any alternatives… a lipstick, some concealer, a tinted moisturiser instead? Nothing.

The experience actually reminded me of a conversation I once had with a friend of mine. She said that the lipstick names found on lipsticks can be extremely confusing if you cannot actually see the lipstick colour – so true. Exactly what colours are Passion Kiss, Asphyxia, Bruise, Stray Dog or Fur? If you are blind and find yourself on a shopping trip with your husband, carer or friend are you supposed to ask them to describe each and every colour to you? Now couple this with aforementioned glamorous but unhelpful woman behind the counter and unfortunately what you have is a shopping experience from hell.

Here is an interesting comparison for all of those retailers out there…

I visited the Clinique counter in Selfridges and this is what happened:

  1. We were seated and asked what we were looking for and what specific skin complaints / issues we had.
  2. We were offered a range of products from cleansers to moisturisers to foundations, all for sensitive skin.
  3. We were given some samples to take away.

Result: My mother will ONLY use Clinique products.



I visited the Mac counter in Selfridges and this is what happened:

  1. I stood in front of a range of make-up for 10 minutes and was jostled aside by customers and ignored by staff.

Result: I left with nothing, never to return.

Nuff said.

What have your shopping experiences been like? Care to name and shame?


There are 3 comments

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  1. Gill Bramley

    II think it’s hard when it comes to shopping for make up when you’re visually impaired and have problem skin to boot. As I’ve stood at makeup counters with my guide dog in toe and been totally ignored. I’ve found that the nicest place I’ve been to is the body shop, they were really helpful and told me how to apply the makeup I’d bought, as I suffer from micro ophthalmia (small eyes), so putting on eye shadow and mascara can be a bit of nightmare at times.

  2. admin

    Hi Gill,

    Yes, I know what you mean. Shop Assistants don’t seem to realise the amount of resposibility they have to their customers…especially around Christmas time! I am thinking of contacting the Body Shop as so many people have spoken highly of their staff. If you want some tips on applying make-up, maybe you could contact Marion Mansfield our expert. Just drop her an email at

    Also, have a listen to Jill Daley on Insight radio, we were talking about Christmas shopping and customer service on her show on Monday. The link is below:

    We are right at the end of the show:

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