Continuing with the theme set by my previous post of ‘value for money’, it seemed only right to consider samples. Personally, I think they’re an integral part of getting the best value for your hard-earned pennies. Few of us can afford more than one or two buys that just aren’t quite right. Organic and natural fans in particular need samples to help them decide on the best products for them. A lot of us have gravitated towards natural products and ingredients because of chronic skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea or allergies. The wrong product may be more than just an expensive mistake; it could mean a lengthy recovery from a reaction.
Discovering that I was allergic to orris root (extracted from the iris and a common allergen) taught me some hard lessons about the importance of patch testing. It taught me to be careful about ingredients and to do my research. But it also taught me that all that could have been avoided if I’d just tried out a sample. I would have been looking for a reaction and I would have picked up on it far quicker. Mistaking an allergy for an eczema flare-up was fairly catastrophic in the long run. As my skin got more irritated and started to dry out, I applied more and more moisturiser to compensate. It was only when I started to question how localised my reaction was that I realised my moisturiser might be to blame. Took my skin at least 2 months to get back to normal. Horrid.
So that’s two good reasons for getting hold of a sample before you commit to a new buy. And many companies are catching onto this; particularly those that have launched more recently. I always feel more favourably inclined towards companies who offer samples. It demonstrates a certain degree of confidence. “Have this, because we’re sure you’ll love it and you’ll be back for more”. Even paid samples are welcome. I’d far rather sacrifice a few pounds on something that isn’t right and I’m always pleased when companies have taken the time to consider the need for ‘try before you buy.’ And the samples don’t need to be big either. 1-2ml is enough to establish whether or not you’re likely to react to something, even if it’s not quite enough to assess long term effects.
Here’s a list of some of the examples I’ve found. It’s not exhaustive but it’s duplicated in the new ‘Shopping and samples’ page, which I will update with new discoveries and any recommendations that are passed to me along the way.
Victoria Health - although they don’t offer product samples as standard, there are occasional gems so it’s worth keeping an eye out. Recently, an £8 sample pack of NUDE Skincare products was added free to every order placed in June. See my NUDE review here.
Escentual - these guys are great for samples. They don’t offer them all the time but their ‘Try before you buy‘ page has a rolling selection of very generous sample packages from some of their key brands. They usually also work out free as the charge levied against the samples is offset by an equivalent value voucher that can be redeemed against a full size purchase from the line.
Aromatherapy Associates – with each order, you can add three free samples from a selection provided.
Herbfarmacy – Excellent samples service where you can choose a sample of most of the products available for the face. Each one will set you back 75p, although you are limited to one for each product available.
Liz Earle – Offers a range of great Try me Kits that enable you to buy mini versions of most of the products in the range, packaged by routine or theme. I’ve also had a lot of success getting samples from Liz Earle counters in the past. I have a troublesome scalp and while I was really excited about last year’s haircare launch, I still wanted to try it first. They had lots of generous samples available behind the counter and were happy to offer advice on which conditioner I should opt for as well.
Botanicals – Samples and try me kits are available. Some are postage only (just £1.95) while the more generous facial skincare trial sets are priced at £7.95. Although this seems a reasonable deal when you realise you’re getting two 5g pots and two 5ml bottles.
REN Skincare – Free ‘trial size’ samples available with every order.
Lucy Rose – Free samples available with orders as follows: 3 samples with £10 or more, 4 free samples with £20 or more, 5 free samples with £30 or more. There’s a comprehensive list of products available with the only restriction being that you can’t add more than one sample of a particular product.
Big Green Smile – Pretty decent selection of free samples available. Two can be added to each order over £10 (before P&P is added).
Lovelula – Good selection of trial sizes available across a range of brands, all of which are natural and/or organic. You can also select 3 FREE samples with every order over a very reasonable £5 minimum spend.
Ophelia Organics – Free samples available with every order. Val Bogle, founder of OO, confirmed to me via Twitter that if customers have specific requests they will do their best to fulfil them.
Beauty Bazaar – Good range of skincare, perfume and cosmetics testers ranging from free samples to trial sizes retailing from 20p to £7.