There’s a monster under my bed. I have that Ikea bed with the storage drawers, and one of those drawers is filled with last-resort toothbrushes from my dentist, socks without twins, and a gallon freezer bag filled with free beauty samples I will never use.
I spend a lot of time at the cashier in Sephora thinking about which freebie I want, and then I tell myself I’ll pack it on my next weekend trip. Oh it’ll be so great to have this tube of shimmery lip gloss when I’m sitting by a lake in Michigan, not wearing any makeup whatsoever. But haha! Who travels anymore? Who has frivolous, in-person commercial transactions anymore? The world is upside down, so this is the perfect time to turn that bag of samples upside down and use them. One tiny packet of possibly expired moisturizer at a time.
Here are the samples I opened this week, and my dutifully honest reviews. It felt both productive and entertaining, like when people lie about doing sit-ups while watching TV. No one does that! But this—this is achievable.
A Tiny Pouchy Chanel Le Volume Mascara
There was a supposed beauty sale at Bloomingdale’s last year, so I bought two of my beloved Chanel tinted moisturizers to reap that 15-percent off. The salesperson slipped this adorable mascara sample into my bag as if it was a special treat I’d earned. I just spent $76 for cream that makes my face look slightly more like my face...thanks for the bonus? But that mascara is great. My lashes look like daddy long legs, and isn’t that the dream?
This is keyboard cleaner for your face. At first I was afraid of it, so I closed my eyes when I pressed down, missed, and got expensive serum on my ear lobe. You’re supposed to shake and spray the cold, oxygenated liquid onto your face, massage it in, and watch the fine lines smooth out before your laugh-wrinkled eyes. Or try to. I was pretty sure the signature creases on my forehead softened, but like Post Malone’s hotness, it might have been a trick of the light.
This was my birthday gift from Sephora, but if anyone from corporate is listening, I’d prefer cash next year, thanks. This thumb-sized stick in the shade Werk (OK) was a meh. I thought it would enhance my cheeks so that I’d appear healthy and maybe even recently sexed but no, same ol’ me. Drab and chaste.
Shout out to my friend’s mom Lisa who works at the beauty counter at Neiman Marcus. Queen Lisa bestowed this delightful little jewel upon my unworthy ass. This décadent (if we’re playing the accent game) night cream goes for $550, which is insane. It’s buttery like room temperature cultured cream from Eataly—not fridge-hard Land O’Lakes bullshit. I love it immensely, and will never, ever pay for it.
Pearlescent pink goo, where did you come from? I haven’t worn actual makeup that would require primer for weeks, and between you and me and the dog peeing outside my window—I think primer is a placebo. I need another layer of makeup to keep the makeup on? I already did serum, moisturizer, and keyboard cleaner! The Stellar does go on velvety like the OG SmashBox primer that made primer a whole thing. However, I remain unconvinced.
I’ve been staying up late watching TikToks of bored teens dancing in their parents’ McMansions, so my eyes could use all the help they can get. In this case, a thin layer of white cream that illuminates them as if by a flashlight while telling a scary story. LOVE IT. I AM RADIANT. I’VE SEEN GHOSTS. Would maybe even buy again, if I ever get through my 37 other eye cream samples.
I was also slightly scared of this because I haven’t dabbled in retinol too much and hear horror stories of people’s faces melting off. Or maybe just flaking. I used this a few nights out of the week and can’t say it did anything as dramatic as Good Genes did for me—gonna stick to that one. And thankfully, my face didn’t flake, melt, or otherwise spontaneously combust.
Hard to top the wonders of eating a fatty avocado, but this mask valiantly tries. You have to use ⅓ of the baby container, because the other 2/3 feels like leftover Jell-O. Take a ton in your palm, rub it until it emulsifies, and then slather on your face like you would freshly toasted sourdough. Similar to my unsubstantiated primer theory, I’ve always thought moisturizing masks were a scam because you wash them off. WHY NOT JUST USE V THICK MOISTURIZER IF YOU’RE SO DRY? But I like the way it made me look like the Wicked Witch of the West (if she’d had a condition where her skin chunks off—leprosy?), and my cheeks did feel nicely hydrated after. Obviously I followed this up with a packet sample (one of 3,000—Kiehl’s samples are known to reproduce spontaneously if left unattended under the bed) of Kiehl’s daily moisturizer, which was light n’ creamy.
Smells like the unmistakable shampoo. For a few days, my shower filled with the sexy scent of Côte d’Azur... I guess, never been. Then I’d hop out of the shower into a fresh pair of sweatpants and remember: I’m not going anywhere.
Photo via the author.