Beauty Department Fear for Women Over 50

It’s true there are women who fear going to a beauty department for several reasons:

  1. The beauty technicians will make them look too made up
  2. The beauty technicians will make them spend money they do not want to spend
  3. They will not learn anything new and it will be a waste of time

These are the reasons shared with me by friends and readers when I ask if they have ever been to a beauty department. Of course, the other half go by the counters often and love it. I confess it took me a long time to finally begin to go.   Not long after my 50th birthday, I was in Nordstrom during the late summer. They announced over the speaker for any teachers who wanted a makeover to come by the beauty department and get one. I thought, “Hmmm, why not?” I did not believe they would makeover a teacher to be too garish…and you know what, they didn’t. In fact, I had a great time and learned so much!  I do not think I spent a dime that day, but I did later.

A few years later, I worked for Soft Surroundings for six months to learn more about retail and to learn about the shopping decision-making process for other women over 50. That was when I discovered the secure, beautiful, intimate world of the Soft Surroundings beauty department. It is far less intimidating than a huge department store setting. In fact, you can call a store near to you, and make an appointment with the beauty consultant and go in for a fun time to ask all of your questions and learn to step out of your comfort zone (for me, that was into the world of purple eye shadow).

It is a great way to face your beauty counter fears, if you have them. I have also had fun at the department store counters for Bobbi Brown, YSL, and Guerlain. I always try something new and learn something new. Look to make note of when a major department store is having a beauty event…this is always a fun time to go in and usually you will come home with a goody bag of samples.  Soft Surroundings also has beauty events done by the brands they represent and again these are perfect for someone who doesn’t want a department store crowd.

Now, back to Soft Surroundings. One of my favorite make up brands there is Jane Iredale.   She formerly worked in the entertainment industry, where she discovered makeup was contributing to problem skin which threatened the careers of actresses and undermined the confidence of any woman.  So, she worked hard and began a mineral based makeup line which is cruelty-free, and part of a holistic approach to responsible, healthy beauty. She is one of the trustworthy brands creating products which are actually good for our skin. I use several of her makeup products daily and have included them in the slide show below….

However, I highly encourage those lucky enough to live where there is a Soft Surroundings store to make an appointment, and go in for the beauty consultation. You will not regret taking the time.

Does anyone here avoid beauty counters and would not mind sharing why?

Thanks for being here everyone…the comments lately have just been amazing. I love how we all learn from one another.



Disclaimer:  I have been provided a few samples and products from Soft Surroundings, but the words are my own.


  1. What a timely post,as I have been thinking of going to a beauty counter to get make-up advice and buy some new products.My last experience at a beauty counter was in a department store and it was not very positive.I felt like I was asking too many questions and then being forced to buy a particular product.

  2. Try to go this time with just a few questions and with a determination to listen to what they say. Be prepared to say no to any product push. Just tell them you are researching all of the products to determine what is the best. Have a goal to walk away with one or two ideas of how to up your game. If you call to make an appointment, ask for the best technician to work with women over 50. I hope this helps, Julie

  3. I have always avoided them, going so far as to walk far away down other aisles! The women working at the ones I’ve passed too closely to, stand there and immediately start asking questions as you (try to)walk by, and I find that to be very pushy. One time I did stop and asked some questions, and sure enough, products were brought out and pretty much pushed at me, and the promise of never finding a better price, etc. When I didn’t rush to make a purchase, interest in me as a customer evaporated. For this reason I avoid them. I’m sure I’m missing out on some great products this way, but that’s why I read your blog! 🙂 There is a Soft Surroundings about an hour from where I live, so maybe this would be a different experience. I see their products in the catalogs and think that trying them out before buying is a great idea, so maybe a trip up that way is in order! I did have a very positive experience at an Aveda store, tried some of their makeup with the help of the beauty consultant, and she invited me to look around after and didn’t push anything on me. I made several purchases with no pressure. I’ve gone back many times.

  4. What a timely post for me. I went into an ULTA store for the first time two weeks ago. I’ve never worn makeup and, at almost 65, I figured it might be time. My son’s girlfriend took me, so I didn’t ask any questions. She knows me and knew what I was after. I was blown away at all the choices. Now my daughter wants to take me, too.
    I bought some – I don’t even know what to call it – liquid face makeup and still haven’t tried it. I’m working up to it. Hahaha.

  5. You are a great example, Karen of why so many women run. But you also have had some success. I do think it helps to make an appointment and request samples. But, I also think you would love the experience of going to Soft Surroundings. If you do not make an appointment, call and confirm a beauty consultant will be there on the day you choose to drive over. It is much less intimidating and more instructive to go there. That is why I wanted to put it out there. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  6. You made me smile and good for the young ladies in your life. Just remember with your foundation or liquid makeup to go light…thick settles into places we do not want to accent. Good brushes are just as important as the makeup. And have fun…don’t take it too seriously or get frustrated.

  7. I’m just now (at 56) getting on the BB and CC cream “train” because of a sample I received – I loved the soft sheerness of the formula as well as the even coverage w/out looking “made up”. I’m getting to be not-so-afraid of trying new things skincare-wise and LISTENING to experts instead of mentally dismissing them. That being said, I know what I want/don’t want and stick to my goal, so saying “no thanks” isn’t difficult. Thanks for the post, Pamela!

  8. You are welcome, Michele. Sounds like you are listening, researching and then applying what you believe it best for you. That’s it!

  9. This immediately came to mind…I look at the Beauty Consultant’s makeup to determine if I want to stop by on my way thru the dept. store! The consultant that reeks of cigarette smoke (and no, dear – no amount of spritzing at the perfume counter can cover that up!), whose makeup is not done very well, is OVER done, unkempt looking – keeps me passing on by! Once about every 10 times I pass thru do I even slow down…There is one particular foundation I use that I go there for. I have had a few makeup applications/tutorials – but 9 out of 10 were disappointments. I find myself watching YouTube these days! Just search the makeup brand and name (applying Estee Lauder Double Wear Makeup)and watch the videos! And yes, I know these are not professional Hollywood makeup artists – just ladies working retail at the makeup counter – maybe we have “glamorized” them to ourselves, I think. I’m positive there are lots of these folks who are helpful, knowledgeable and wonderful at their jobs…apparently, they aren’t working at my stores! (Oh! I also feel guilty if I do not purchase anything after they’ve spent time with me! :/

  10. Don’t ever feel guilty about being wise with your money. Your points here are very good ones. The beauty consultant at our local Soft Surroundings is a woman over 50 and is always done just right. I also have a wonderful Bobbi Brown consultant at our local Nordstrom and she is about my age and always looks just right. They are out there…it might take a little work on the phone or talking to friends, but you can find them…and avoid what you are mentioning here!! I always ask…who do you have that works with and understands the skin issues of women over 50?

  11. I have always trusted the Bobbi Brown consultants. When I am in a department store for another purpose, I always stop at the Bobbi Brown counter to ask what’s new. Sometimes I buy, sometimes, not. Remember that we all need to change mascara every 3 months to avoid infection. No one mentioned that!

  12. I was never afraid of beauty counters, because I used Clinique products from a young age. But about a year ago, looking to upgrade, I stopped by the Chanel counter. The young woman talked me into letting her do my make up. When she showed me what she did in a mirror, I was horrified. All of my lines were exaggerated and I looked like a hag. I think I bought a lipstick so she wouldn’t feel bad, but I headed to the ladies room to wash my face. I couldn’t bear that anyone thought I purposely did that to myself. I’m sure it would have looked wonderful on a younger woman, but I felt like it aged me 10 years.

  13. I’m not intimidated by makeup counters and love to poke around. I only go to the cruelty free ones so that limits which I stop at. I don’t like how others do my makeup but it’s always fun for a change. Love Jane Iredale products. Her stuff is fabulous.

  14. I’m not intimidated by beauty counters and shop anytime I need something new. I like to know what’s new but know what I like as well. I too have hazel eyes and was told at a beauty counter several years ago to use dark purple eyeshadow as eyeliner and have done that ever since. It definitely brings out the green in my eyes?

  15. I am certain many of had the same experience…that is why I encourage women to make appointments. It’s good that it can be washed off. Thanks Elsie.

  16. Yes it is…such a good brand. It can also be found on the Soft Surroundings website.

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