Miscellaneous, Personal
Comments 24

On samples and GWPs

I’ve been thinking about samples and GWPs (Gifts With Purchase) and it made me wonder if you were more likely to buy something if you knew you would be getting something you might want along with it, for free. I wasn’t really ever a sample-hungry person. Often, I found the sachets a nuisance I wouldn’t even bother opening. Fast forward to today, when I carefully tear open a small hole in sachets so I can use them sparingly if it turned out to be a good product, or scramble to find a small empty pot I could decant some product into so I could savor it.

I wasn’t really one for that kind of thing, until I wanted to try anything and everything.

Personally, I just get extra frilly feelings if I know I’m going home with a buttload of samples to try out after dropping a lot of dough. I don’t usually let it drive me to make a purchase, though recently, my Sephora birthday purchase was inspired by the birthday GWP. I’ve always wanted to try Benefit’s They’re Real mascara, but I wasn’t about to buy it after I pledged to try and be cruelty-free when it came to cosmetics. So there. That is the process of my logic.

Between you and me, my favorite counters for samples and GWPs are NARS and shu uemura. Provided you spend a ton of $. After a rather inspired trip to NARS, I received two small tubes of the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer (neither of which I used up), a pump or two of the NARS Illuminator in Orgasm, and a moisturizer.

When the shu uemura x Karl Lagerfeld collection was released, I lost all sense of logic and bought a shit-ton of items. (I liked all of them, mind.) I got a shit-ton of items back, most specifically skin care (♥!) in tiny bottles which I use on vacations, and a super-cute Mon Shu makeup bag that I have since retired. I am currently using a NARS pouch—also a GWP. On another visit to shu uemura with my mom recently, we got a skin care travel set, and two full-sized eyeshadows. UM. Yes, please.

MAC never gives me anything. I even had the gall to ask once, lol. To be totally honest, NARS and shu uemura are the only notable sample-givers here, in this country. I don’t really blame them, because some people here are kind of abusive jerks about that kind of stuff. But, even if I didn’t get any free thing, why would it make me feel bad? I wondered. I got everything I paid for, anyway.

I suppose it just feels nice, like a reward or a prize or something. I think that it really builds a relationship between the consumer and the SA or MUA just because there’s an odd feeling that you’re being taken care of by this person who is actually just selling you more things.

On the other hand, I have a lot of samples here that I will never use. I have seen many, many videos of Americans who are practically swimming in them, since they are more generous on that side of the world. Samples—a nuisance? You tell me!

Thoughts? Love/hate samples? Ever had a sample work so well, you bought the full-sized thing?


  1. I love samples and freebies! I even like them when they come with fashion magazines. I rarely buy high end makeup though and never from designated counters (I find clerks there too pretentious and pushy in that evil “I know better than you, so let me just tell what you need to buy” way). So I buy from places like Sephora, Marrionnaud and the like, where they let you browse around all you want. And since those are big perfume stores, I always get perfume samples 😉

    That said, if I get a sample of some skin care and I’m really not interested, it’s likely that it’ll just be gathering dust for a few years before I throw it out.

    • Ah, the high-end counters here have supremely nice people. 🙂 The drugstore salesladies are awful, lol.

      Same here, especially if it’s for skin or hair care. I have to constantly remind myself to use them up!

  2. I don’t expect samples when I purchase anything.

    However, I purchased a bunch of stuff from Laura Mercier recently, and the super nice SA loaded me up on samples voluntarily. I don’t appreciate the samples themselves so much, but what they stand for. It makes me want to come back because I know I’ll be taken care of.

    * Look for Chari at the LM Rustan’s Alabang counter. Really nice, helpful, not snobby, and won’t make you feel like she’s robbing you.

    • That’s so awesome! I’ve only ever made 1 purchase for LM, and didn’t get any samples but it’s OK since the item is my favorite eye palette of all time. LOL.

      Thanks for the tip, but I live way up North!

  3. ugh i think my comment just didn’t go through. anyway, too lazy to type it all out again but yay for using samples! i used to not use them either, until i realized there’s so many possible good ones and i was buying things i had samples of cause i wanted to try them lol. also yay for nars gwp, they used to do really good ones at the department store counters, but i haven’t seen if they’re still as good lately. 🙂

    • I’m so excited for your new de-sampling project. 😀 The last few times I went, they weren’t awesome with samples & GWPs, but I also didn’t buy as much as I did when I got that amazing sample explosion a few months back!

  4. I love samples! I slip them in my bag when traveling. VMV Hypoallergenics gives you three free samples when you buy an item online (not sure if this is the same if you visit their stores). Beauty Bar gives samples when you spend more than a thousand pesos, I think, and I got my beloved Burt’s Bees night cream and Cure gel from them. I know from Krysty that Kiehl’s pretty generous with samples, too. Samples are the only way I can try products too expensive for my budget haha. And it’s a nice way to discover new brands.

    • That’s what I use them for, too. 😀 I NEVER get samples from Beauty Bar! How annoying! Yeah, Kiehl’s is pretty good with samples, but I don’t generally shop there—just my mom and sister. 🙂

  5. If you buy at any Korean beauty stores like Etude House, Tony Moly and Nature Republic you get GWPs. At first I was lured to purchase more because of the GWPs (I purchased P1k worth of items at Tony Moly just to get the 35ml CC cream that I really wanted to try but is out of stock) but as I accumulated more items I mellowed down.

    I think GWPs are great in general, I mean after buying shitloads it gives you a feeling of “redemption” (at least that’s what I feel when the freebie is soooo cool and totally useable) at the same time getting freebies is like the brands way of saying “thanks for buying”. That’s why I like my korean skincare and makeup brands because they all give freebies! (in seoul they give you TONs of samples)

    Nature Republic has the best GWPs in my opinion (vs Etude House) because they give out actual product samples and not just merchandise with their logo brandished. They gave me small bottles of their green tea emulsion which I liked so much I got a full size bottle!

    As much as I like getting GWPs I wouldn’t have the guts to ask for a freebie from brands that I know doesn’t offer GWP or freebies.

    Oops sorry for the long comment. 🙂


    • I know, that’s why I can’t wait to go to Korea! LOL I heard they just shower you with samples. I get full-size products from Nature Republic. 😀 Tony Moly seems A+ though I haven’t actively shopped there, really.

  6. I find Korean brands are very generous with samples. When I lived in Korea I got more samples (in weight) to actual purchases. The GWPs for premium brands are significantly more generous in Korea as well. Here it’s pretty easy to score samples from Sephora and easy enough to get a small sachet at department stores.

    I used to love samples and used to make big purchases to get the special sample bags from Barneys and such, but I found I never used them and they added to the clutter. Now I never try to score random samples and only ask for specific samples of things I’m really interested in trying out.

    • Hi Belly, sorry for asking, but are you Korean? 😀 I love samples and I don’t have a Sephora here, so I don’t really tend to accumulate a lot of samples, but it also scared me when I saw a person on YT de-clutter and purge her makeup collection and like, she had a mound of unused samples. D:

      That’s a good way to control it, I think! I have had a hard time, in the past, saying ‘no’ to Beauty Events offers online. I’m better at that now, though. 😀

  7. I love GWP, and I get them a lot from Korean beauty stores. I am also happy that the SA of Benefit gave me a sample size They’re Real Mascara that I gave to my mom because I have the full size one. 🙂

  8. I think one of the things that got me into makeup full-time was returning from Korea last April with a shitload of samples from my makeup hogging. If only I could go back sooner, I’d buy all the samples I got because they were amazing!

    I still have a few unopened samples from beauty box subscriptions mostly because I’m so lazy to use them knowing I’ll just be squeezing out a bit from the sachet. If it’s in a tiny bottle or a tube, there’s a bigger chance I’ll get to use it more.

    shu uemura samples made me come back for more. Although this year, I have not yet. I am excited to purchase something from NARS now because of this entry! I’m quite medium-tan, should I go for Orgasm or Deep Throat for blush?!?!

    • Wow, that’s awesome! I love Koreans! LOL. So generous.

      I want to actually buy those screw-top pots so I can depot samples and actually use them and not waste them. I’ve never tried Deep Throat, but best to ask the SA 🙂

  9. Hmmm, I realized something. I can always refuse the samples. Esp of bb creams. Anyway, laneige gives out a good amount of samples, bought a sunscreen and a makeup remover from them.

  10. Love samples! However, I think SAs need to tailor the samples they give, too. Some just give you whatever they have on hand, regardless of suitability to the customer.

  11. I bought a nail polish from OPI in Rustans and got a mini one as a GWP and I ended up liking the free one better. Haha! But yes, I only get freebies from high-end brands than drugstore brands. But in India, I got two freebies from Maybelline when I bought a few stuff –, a wallet and a brush. I don’t know if they’re better at giving away freebies or the saleslady just liked me because I’m a foreigner.

    • Ha, that’s interesting! I don’t think that’s happened to me. I haven’t gotten a lot of GWPs from drugstore brands here, though. Maybe it’s just not part of their protocol~

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