Saturday, June 4, 2011

Estee Lauder Warehouse Sale Haul

Yesterday I was able to go to an Estee Lauder Warehouse Sale and wow, I've never seen anything quite like it. Three large rooms full of perfume, skincare and makeup at discounted prices in Markham, north of Toronto. These sales happen four times a year, are invite-only and invites are available to employees of Estee Lauder only, although they pop up on sites like Kijiji and Craigslist. Estee Lauder owns the brands MAC, Clinique, La Mer, Origins, Bobbi Brown, DKNY, Tom Ford, Lab, Aveda, Prescriptives and Sean John, among others. 

My friend Jenn (@j_real) and I headed up late Friday afternoon and spent three hours sorting through beauty goodies. Large room #1 held perfume sets, skincare, eyeshadow kits, blushes, bath products and makeup bags. Large room #2 held more perfume, foundation, brushes and eyeshadows. Large room #3 held more perfume, lipsticks and glosses, the $4 section, the charity bags and the cashiers.

I snapped a few photos on my iPhone, so apologies for the quality.

Large Room #1
The clever, although messy way the products are made available for swatching is shown below. Testers are plastic wrapped and taped to the table and labelled and numbered. You write down the numbers of the items you want on the slips of paper provided and you bring your list to another table where staff bring you your items. This way they can be swatched (no q-tips or sponges, you have to use your fingers) and reduce the risk of shoplifting, although I still noticed items that had been pinched. Kleenex is provided but your hands quickly get covered in product. These tester tables get VERY messy and the testers themselves take a beating. The next time I go I will bring my own Q-tips and wet wipes. 

Below is one of the powder, larger eyeshadow and blush tables. 

Other items are in boxes and you can select what you want but everything you select must be given to one of the staff members so they can be bagged and sealed. The staff also write down what's inside and the price (ie. 3 x $15) on the bag. 

If you bring an unbagged and unsealed item to the cash, they will not let you buy it. If you change your mind about an item, you must bring it to a special area for returns and have it unsealed. It's quite clever as items are grouped by prices and some items are sold at a special discount (buy one get one free) and eliminates shoplifting.

Some more photos in Room #1:

In line for my eyeshadow and MSF in Room #1 

Bagged and sealed products at the eyeshadow area in Room #1
There were lots of people when Jenn and I arrived but we did not have to stand in line to get in, as I've heard can often be the case. There was some difficulty trying to get to tables due to the number of people but we got to see everything and test everything we wanted to but we were able to move back and forth between the rooms.

Many shoppers appeared to be there for the perfume sets, and carried out boxes and boxes. Others were like us and looking for LE products and stuff we'd only heard about as well as the discounted prices.

Speaking of prices, this is as best I can recall:

Skincare (moisturizers, serums, body lotions and washes): $15-$30
Eyeshadow kits: $15
Perfume bottles and kits: $40-$55+
Lipsticks and glosses: $10-$12
Powders, blushes, large eyeshadows: $15
Smaller eyeshadows: $12
Brushes (sets and individuals): $15-$30 although one very large MAC kabuki-style brush was $60
Mascaras and concealers: $12
Makeup bags and tins: $5

The brands that were available were mostly MAC, but quite a bit of Clinique (especially skincare) and Estee Lauder (especially perfume). There were some Bobbi Brown items, some Origins skincare items and in the perfume sets, I spotted Donna Karan, Sean John, Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger among others. I wish I'd spotted some La Mer and Bumble and Bumble.

Room #3 in the lip product swatching area
The lip product tables were especially messy as you can see below. Lipsticks had been broken off and mostly smeared onto the plastic. It was difficult to swatch these, because you had to pick up the piece of lipstick to get any on your fingers.
One of the Dame Edna lipsticks. 
I almost bought Coral Polyp from the MAC and Dame Edna collection because I can't resist coral lipsticks, it seems. But I resisted.

At check-out, a staff member takes your sealed products out of your bag and lists out the prices for the cashier who rings them through. Jenn and I didn't have anything to return or rebag, so we passed by the sorting area. There is a limit of $500 on your purchases, but both Jenn and I were well below that. This $500 limit doesn't include the Charity Bags.


Jenn's bag of goodies

After we'd paid, we surrendered our invitations and received a free gift (photos to follow) and had the option of purchasing Charity Bags in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. 

I was happy with my purchases. It was my first time at the event so I didn't have a clear idea what to expect. Many of the products were items I suspect didn't sell as well as others in stores, so easy to bypass for me. Selection at these events varies so I imagine that if I get to go again, I might be more in the mindset to look for foundations and concealers and other base products. Also, I can do some research on some of the products I saw that I wasn't familiar with.

It was nice to get home and see what I'd bought under regular lighting, the makeup shades especially. More photos!

My haul, before de-bagging
I took some photos of the bags before opening them so you can see what they looked like. Some products came boxed and some didn't. 

$10 Plushglass lipgloss
$25 Buy 1 Get 1 Free Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oils

And here's my haul unbagged and unboxed. In total I spent just over $200 (including the Charity Bag). 

Free gift: MAC Vintage Vamp nailpolish
I was excited by the free gift as I used to wear this shade all the time years ago. It's a fantastic dark red-brown and these deep vampy colours are my go-to polish shades. Unfortunately MAC polishes and I have had a falling out recently. Their polishes are the only polishes I've tried in the last few years that start to chip within a few hours on my fingernails, even with top coat. All other shades last at least three days before chipping but MAC's often start to chip immediately after it's dried. They last not so badly on my toes, but I can't bring myself to buy MAC polishes knowing it'll be a waste of money. Sad face. Vintage Vamp is part of the Permanent Collection and is a great shade. 

$5 Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Charity Bag
This is what came in the $5 Charity Bag - MAC Plush Lash in Brownette, MAC Cremesheen Gloss in Partial To Pink and MAC Pigment in New Fixation (from the Stylishly Yours collection).

$15 and $20 MAC brushes #249 and #165
I need some new brushes so I was very happy to see an assortment of MAC brushes available for purchase. Many were the shorter brush sets that are released with collections but I wanted some of the full-size ones since they tend to be of better quality.

$12 MAC Mixing Medium
I grabbed a bottle of Mixing Medium since this is a great product to have in your kit. I already have a bottle but it's so handy for thinning cream and liquid products and using with pigments, Scatterrays and Stackeds. 

Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil
These I'd heard about before the sale, so I had my eye out for them. Hurrah, they were selling them two for the price of one! This is a light cleansing oil that removes makeup, dirt and oil but doesn't mess with your skin's natural pH. Read about it here. These and the Origins moisturizer I bought are the only non-MAC products I came away with.

$15 each - MAC Cleanse Off Oil and
 MAC Charged Water Skin Hydrating Mist
These two products I'd also heard much about on the internet so I snapped these right up as well. MAC's Cleanse Off Oil works similarly to the Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil, as I understand it. MAC Charged Water Skin Hydrating Mist is just what it sounds like. You spray it on your skin to provide a good adhering base for your makeup and can use it throughout the day to freshen your makeup. This product has been discontinued but I've heard raves about it, so I wanted to try it. I, like many MAC fans, tend to bypass MAC skincare products, despite the fact they're not bad at all. I guess the makeup is just so exciting, we don't care so much about the skincare?

$20 Origins Starting Over Age-erasing Moisturizer with Mimosa
This was the first item I picked up upon entering the sale. It's all very overwhelming with people clustered around tables and carrying heavily swinging bags and boxes piled everywhere. I had to start somewhere, right? I'm not too familiar with Origins products so I thought this might be a good place to start. It's part of their anti-aging moisturizer line and smells pretty. You can read about it here. It also goes to show you that these giant sales aren't just about unloading unwanted or discontinued products. Many of the items on offer are popular products.

$10 MAC Plushglass in Plus Luxe
This gloss looked right up my alley and the lighting in Room #3 where the lipsticks and glosses were was particularly poor, so exact shades were tough to see on the tables and when swatched. I stuck with what I knew would work on me - bright pink gloss. I like the Plushglasses as well since they tingle when applied.

$12 each - MAC Pigment in Antique Green and
 MAC Frost Eyeshadow in Prepped for Glamour
I'm a sucker for green eyeshadows and I love me a MAC Pigment so Antique Green was a no brainer. It's a dirty-green-teal and I like the muted goldy-brown-green-teal of it. Prepped for Glamour eyeshadow was one of the few neutral brown shadows from MAC available and it reminded me of one of my favourite shadows, MAC's Satin Taupe. 

$15 MAC Mineralize Skin Finish in By Candlelight and
 MAC Mineralize Eyeshadow in Under Your Spell
By Candelight rang a bell as soon as I spotted it on the tester table in Room #1. I'd seen it in stores when it was released with the MAC Warm & Cozy collection in 2009 and recall the buzz about it. I love the Mineralize Skinfinishs soooo much, By Candlelight is my third. Under Your Spell is from the 2009 Magic, Mirth and Mischief collection and a very pretty cool silvery-purple with glittery copper. 

Whew! There's my haul. My review of the sale is that if you get the chance to go and have some cash to spend on beauty products or are looking for products you may have missed in MAC launches, you should try to track down tickets. 

I promise to do posts on all the products I hauled! Any requests for which to review first?



  1. wow i love how detailed this post is. thanks it makes me prepared for the sale!

  2. oh. my. god. I would have died, this is HEAVEN!!!!

  3. Great haul. I would have resisted Coral Polyp too, the tester is so disgusting! Such a turn off!


  4. Thanks Michelle! What did you get at the sale?

    Pamela: It wasn't quite heaven, but it was pretty unbelievable! If you get the chance to go to one of these, do.

    Haha, Jill. Yeah, I did swatch it though. It felt so good to wash my hands afterwards.

  5. Ah great haul. Discounted MAC makes me happy!