Turns Out Those 'Free' Samples and Returns at Sephora Are Actually Costing Us an Arm and a Leg

In Depth

And here we thought we were getting away with something. According to beauty industry analysts, ingredients in your makeup often only account for around 15% of the cost. The rest is packaging, marketing, and the luxury of working with sales associates and then tricking them into refunding a half-used compact of NARS Orgasm blush because you are just so over it, not because there was anything defective about the product itself. Marc Bain at Quartz.com reports:

Where the makeup is sold matters […] which is evident when you consider the difference between upscale brands carried at retailers such as Sephora and Ulta and mass-market brands sold at drugstores.
Karen Grant, the global beauty industry analyst at research firm NPD, says they’re two different models, and consumers pay for that difference. At higher-end stores, you “pay for the display areas and the people who are helping to sell the product, whereas in a mass environment it can be sealed up behind a package and sit on a shelf,” she says. High-end shops also often make tester items available, and may accept returns even on used items. It simply costs a retailer more to be profitable in that environment, and those costs are factored into the price tags on the products.

Looks like the jig is up.

Not really related: Where does the idiom “an arm and a leg” come from? The internet cannot decide.

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Image by Bobby Finger; blood via.

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