I can confidently say I’ve spent hundreds over the years on products that I’m too polite to say no to. Whether it’s in a department store concession when I’ve asked to look at a foundation and left with enough makeup to service Ru Paul’s Drag Race, or after a facial when I’m hard-sold a cleanser through bleary-eyed, relaxed vulnerability – I always seemed to get roped in because I sucked at saying no. 

I’ve been perfecting my exit-strategy over the last couple of years, and I’m now wayyyy better at leaving salons and makeup stands with nothing more than I came for. 

Also, quick disclaimer. Absolutely zero offence to beauticians here. I get that it’s their job to upsell, and I’ve had great experiences where I’ve genuinely been sold great stuff that I did want. But what I don’t agree with is people being put in the uncomfortable position of feeling like they’ll be judged if they don’t buy. This happens more in fancier salons and at more high-end concession stands in stores, but it’s not cool, and people are spending money they don’t want to spend!

1. Play the discerning product user card

Go down the route of being an expert skincare guru who only buys the very best. Either say you already have a cleanser/serum/eye cream that you love, or say you don’t want to mix brands so you’ll have to wait until you need more items. Try these:

“Thank you, but I really need to review the skincare I’ve already got before I buy anything else.”

“I like to stick to one consistent brand of makeup/skincare, so I’ll think about it when I’m ready to replenish my collection.”

2. Play the birthday card

Saying it’s your birthday coming up is a great way to tell upsellers to shove off. It pretty much shuts you off from buying anything, but you can still feign an interest in their serum/mascara/mystical potion by saying:

“That’s great, thanks. Can you write down the product name for me? It’s my birthday soon and my Mum is bound to ask if I want anything.”

3. Play the tester card

Ask if you can try a sample first. This is two fold because when you go back and they ask you how it was, you can always say it didn’t agree with you, or you didn’t like the consistency.

Try saying “I much prefer to try a product before I buy it. Do you offer a sample sachet I can try for a couple of days first?”

4. Play the firm card

I won’t lie, this is the hardest one. But if you’re feeling spicy and your capacity for other people’s bullshit is full to the brim, try being firm and simply saying no early on. The key here is to say it firmly, and early. Make it known that you’re not open to being sold in. 


“Thanks for the recommendation but I’m not looking to purchase products today.”

“I’m happy with my current skincare regime/make up collection, thank you.”

5. Play the eco warrior card

You can also try bringing your values into it, as that’s something people really won’t budge on. Explain that you’re very mindful of waste and therefore won’t be buying any products you haven’t set out to buy because of the product wastage.


“I’m really trying to be more mindful of wastage and I’ve got lots of products to use up at home, so no thank you.” 

6. Play the gift recipient card

Granted this only works in salons where you’ve gone for a treatment, but you can try saying that you came because someone bought you the treatment as a gift. By gently explaining that you wouldn’t have come if it weren’t for the gift, you edge yourself out of their target market.


“Oh thank you for the recommendations but my Mum actually got me this facial as a gift so I’m just here to enjoy the treatment.” 

Other tips

  • Memorise your facial routine before you go in. Even if it’s a teeny bit embellished, go in with a strict routine that you stick to, and be specific. That shows that you know what you’re doing and aren’t vulnerable to being swayed.
  • If you don’t want to tell them the products you use (or you don’t use any!), look up some fancy schmancy ones and name drop those. It’ll make you look like you’re already well-equipped and less likely to buy in. 
  • Be firm in your tone. I know it’s difficult and I struggle with this the most, because the impossibly beautiful and manicured facialist is of course pretending to be your best friend in those first few minutes. But stay strong and don’t use tone or language that makes you more vulnerable. Try not to say things like “oh yeah I’ve been looking for a good eye cream” because that is their absolute JACKPOT response. Avoid painting any kind of picture that you’re looking for products!

Had a beautician sell you in on something you didn’t want?! Tell me on Instagram.