1. Google is your friend.
To find free stuff, just search using the keywords "free stuff" and your country, or the acronym for your country, if you live somewhere which is abbreviated like the UK or USA. There's a search button at the bottom of this page if you want to do this now. Once you find a site, go to the "Beauty and Health" section. The other sections are usually pretty rubbish unless you're a parent with a baby, they seem mostly filled with catalogues and brochures.
2. Some samples require a visit to the beauty counter.
I know! Horrendous isn't it! They actually want you to leave the house and go into a department store just to get a free sample! I don't want to have to spend ten minutes telling a salesperson that no, I don't want a free makeover or to try that new perfume, I just want my sample. Read the freebie list carefully. Usually they tell you whether the sample has to be collected or not so you only click through to the ones that will come through the post.
3. "Within 28 Days" means "Within two years, if you're lucky".
Free samples take a long time to arrive, if they arrive at all. Some sites will state in the terms and conditions that free samples only go to the first 10,000 applicants, for example. Sometimes stuff just gets 'lost' in the post. Be optimistic, but don't camp out by the front door for days and then waste time writing a complaint letter to the company. It's free, chill out, and don't count on it actually arriving.
4. Make sure you check or uncheck the right boxes.
You need to make sure you check the "I agree to the terms and conditions" box, but leave the "Yes! Please send my details to other companies that I might be interested in" type box unchecked. You do not want to have your information sold and start recieving loads of junk mail.
6. Use a different name.
Use an abbreviated or mispelt version of the name you usually use when you sign up for samples. That way, if you do get any junk mail, you'll be able to tell immediately from the name in the address box. Write "Return to sender" on it and pop it back in the post.
7. Be aware that foundation samples are always in their middle shade unless they actually let you choose, which is rare. Happened once.
I hate the middle shade. It always has some really stupid name like "sand", or one like "natural" or "nude", which is pretty offensive because most people's natural skin colour is nothing like that. I have no idea why they always send out their middle shade. It's a complete waste of time for most people, including me, as I am far too pale for it. "Natural" looks orange next to my skin! Frustrating!
8. Don't let the stuff go off!
Within the E.U., all cosmetics, including samples, have a little symbol like a opened jar with a number on it. This shows how many months the product will last before it expires. I don't know what the law is in other countries, but you should make a note of when you got the sample and make sure you use it before the date, and don't open it and leave it lying around.
9. Shampoo samples last for more than one use.
I have pretty long hair and I still manage to get three or four uses out of one shampoo sample. They are great for holidays, and you can always decant them into bottles.
10. Do a patch test.
Please avoid having terrible allergic reactions. Test it on a small area first and make sure it doesn't have any negative effects.
11. Sometimes perfume samples are on cards, sometimes they are liquid in tiny vials.
Read the page carefully if you don't want a card, but sometimes they don't tell you what you're getting, which is how I wound up with a few.
Some of the samples I have got include:
- Many different creams from Nivea - they all claim to do different things but have remarkably similar ingredient lists
- Dermalogica samples, which I haven't tested yet. I did a online skin analysis so they're personalised.
- A free jar of Rimmel's "Cool Matte" foundation. I won this in a random draw, actually. I'm glad I did, because now I know it's crap, and I might have wasted money on it otherwise. It's pretty terrible in my opinion, dries too fast and looks a bit crusty if I'm not careful! Ew!
- Many perfume samples. I have loads! Sitting on my shelf are: both Ghost perfumes (quite nice), Anna Sui's "Secret Wish" (alright) and a card sample of "Princess" by Vera Wang (revoltingly sweet).