I Was Paid To Be A Makeup Guinea Pig

I Was Paid To Be A Makeup Guinea Pig

altYou don’t need to be a model or a sales rep to make money off cosmetics. In fact, you don’t even need to quit your day job. If larger cosmetics labels such as Revlon, L’Oreal, have a research center in your area, they may even pay you to wear their products. Congratulations, you’ve entered the world of cosmetics testing.

Turning Makeup Into Money

I’ve been a proud tester on and off for several years, and the products I’ve tested have run the gamut from makeup remover to eyeliner sets to deodorant. I luckily found a company I enjoy that lets me come and go as I please, so I can coordinate testing with my inconsistent schedule. Besides getting paid for each study, testers are also frequently compensated with gift certificates for the cosmetics brand, often with deals at warehouse-style stores found at the research center itself.

The Low-Down

You’re a happily paid guinea pig. You are required to wear or use a certain experimental product for anything from a number of days to weeks. The study will often involve several visits to the research center. You give them your honest feedback and receive a check in the mail for the payment amount specified for that study, calculated by the research center based roughly on the number of visits required and time spent at the center along with very basic adjustments for the product itself (hair coloring yields bigger compensation than mascara).

Testing Qualifications

Most women are qualified to test at least something. Being over 18 is a must. If you are pregnant and considering makeup testing while still expecting, speak to research representatives on an individual basis: Your qualification can vary from product to product (surging hormones can throw off the results of a liquid foundation study while a lipstick test might not be affected at all). When you begin testing at a new company’s research center, you will often have a quick interview and fill out a questionnaire on matters of personal health. These might ask you to list allergies and medications along with your skin type and eye sensitivity.

Where To Begin

Search for cosmetics or beauty companies with administrative offices in your area and see if any of these branches include research programs. Then, make a few calls to see if there are openings for testers. If you have a friend already testing, try to skip these steps by getting her to refer you, which usually smoothes the process. Go in, take the test and the interview, and get ready to start making some money. The researcher will detail the company’s particular system for contacting participants about upcoming studies – a telephone directory is one example. These systems are helpful for letting you choose to commit to certain days and not others and sign onto a study only when you have the time.

Use the initial interview to decide if cosmetics testing is right for you. You might find that having sensitive skin makes you cautious about testing face creams or that women with your eye condition often avoid certain products. Otherwise, don’t worry! This medical report provides a foundation for the researchers to assess the results of your tests.

Why It’s Worth It

Why, money of course! In my experience, all of the money earned in a fiscal year has been tax-free up to a certain amount (similar to secret shopper programs). Rarely do you get to keep the product you’ve tested, but you will probably receive rebates and store credit for other cosmetics. My friendly neighborhood research center has a discount store attached, so a stick of concealer that might cost eight dollars in the drugstore retails for only three in the store (and free with company credit). The only drawback is that the latest products are unlikely to be available in the store.

Additionally, it’s rare to find such and easy and fun way to pick up a few dollars every week. The center has several timeslots available for each product study, so one week I can go at 9 a.m. and another week at 11:30. Far better than mowing lawns in the summer and shoveling snow in the winter, I say. Grab a fellow LearnVester to make testing a social event: I persuaded my best friend to try it, and we spent one summer doing every study together.

As someone with an interest in makeup, it is exciting to be part of the process in developing new products. My body has never had a negative reaction to any of the testing, either. I like to think that for what it’s worth, my “too much gloss!” comment will play some part in influencing my favorite products, and I get to frugally sample what will be on the market next season. And hey, what lady will say no to a little bit of paid modeling?

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter! @Kaitlin_MB


Financial planning made simple.

Get your free financial assessment.

Related Tags

Get the latest in your inbox.

Subscription failed!

You're Now Subscribed!