Skin Care Free Trials – Good, Bad & Ugly?
You don’t have to look very long or hard online to find a “fantastic free trial sample offer” for skin care creams, serums, moisturizers, eye gels, foams, cleansers, masks, anti-wrinkle lotions and many other cosmetic beauty-related products.
Our tediously tall task here is to safely guide you into clean and clear “free” skincare product opportunities by ‘keeping it kosher' on how you can identify the good and avoid bad and downright ugly free trial samples that are flooding the internet under many different names, brands and labels.
Unfortunately, as the “fountain of youth anti-aging beauty market” continues to explode with unprecedented exponential growth, some unscrupulous manufacturers have unknowingly taken advantage of the unsuspecting consumers by offering scammy free trial samples that are supposed to allow you to “try before you buy”. But this is where the ‘fine-print waters' get muddy and murky and where we hope to help you make informed, educated decisions based on your skin care needs and wants.
Let's review why most (but certainly not all) free trial skin care samples aren't exactly as free as advertised.
How Do These Sample Trials Work?
Let's start by saying not every free trial offer is created equally or rests on the same laurels. However, most of these skin care product scams proceed in a virtually identical way and follow the same format and structure (which ideally makes it easier for you and us to avoid).
And before we dive deep into these glowingly troublesome free trial offers, we must mention the fact that “by law” most of these companies (no matter how bad or ugly it looks), are only charging you what you actually agreed to in the fine print.
So this post from here on out is not to blame or shame any company or product outright, but more designed for you to get sensible and knowledgeable about how these are conducted and carried out so you can make your decision with more upfront resources.
Because after all, the try before you buy model can truly create a win win for both you and the company if done with ethics and transparency.
What To Look For When Buying “Free Offers”?
First, you’ll come across a hot new advertisement about a new product being sold online. That product may advertise itself as the next biggest thing in the beauty industry. It may call itself a top-quality alternative and “Better Than Botox”.
Some also advertise themselves as Hollywood’s best-kept secrets and will post stock photos of people who are supposed to be celebrities.
Step 1) Potential Website Tricks For You To Be Aware Of
Having viewed hundreds of skin care scam websites, I’ve spotted some common trends between all these scams including getting you to think the skin care cream, serum or eye gel is in high demand. What else – plenty:
— The websites feature very little information about the ingredients used in the skin cream and they don’t explain how the product works.
— In other cases, the site may try to overwhelm you with scientific jargon to make you think the formula is more advanced than it is.
— The sites make enormous claims about the benefits of the cream, like saying they reduce wrinkles by 84%, without actually providing any evidence to back up these claims
— The websites may feature information about how major media outlets featured the skin cream, like news sites like CNN and NBC or magazines like InStyle and Allure. You may see the logos for these media outlets on the main ordering page.
— The manufacturer will explain that “due to recent media attention, we cannot guarantee that [Skin Care Product Scam A] will be in stock”. Other warning signs across the page will reinforce this scarce supply.
— Then, the website will list something that says “As of [Your Date], we have confirmed [Skin Care Product Scam A] is in stock. Lucky you!
— These false supply/demand thing is created to trick you into thinking you need to purchase the skin cream as quickly as possible. In reality, the skin care product manufacturer will never run out.
— In many cases, these manufacturers will pay affiliates to promote the product, which means you can Google the skin cream and find multiple reviews on the internet reinforcing the product’s benefits. This can make it a little more difficult to separate scams from legitimate offers.
For this we suggest our most recommended anti-aging skin care products being the Beverly Hills MD product line or Abella Mayfair.
Step 2) You Will Be Pushed Towards a “Free Trial” or “Risk-Free Offer”
The goal of the website is for you to enter your contact information and move onto the next step. Typically, there will be a contact form on the right-hand side of the page. That contact form will be surrounded by graphics that say “Free Trial” or “Risk-Free Trial” or something along those lines.
You’ll enter your name, address, and phone number and then move onto the next step.
Step 3) You Accept the Terms of the “Free Trial”
Once you’ve got to the next page, you might be immediately prompted to enter your credit card information to pay for the shipping and handling fee.
The manufacturer will explain that they can’t just give away skin care products for free – they’re being such nice a nice manufacturer that you should at least be expected to pay shipping and handling.
If you’re the type of person who falls for these scams online, then you probably think it’s acceptable to pay that shipping and handling fee.
Typically, this shipping and handling fee ranges from $3.95 to $9.95.
You’re expected to think: oh, so this trial isn’t totally free. But hey, it’s only a few bucks. That’s basically free.
You’ll need to enter your credit card to pay this fee. You’ll also need to check a box confirming that you’ve read and accepted the terms and conditions.
Once you’ve accepted the fee and moved onto the next step, the real scam begins.
Immediately after hitting the button to confirm your order, your credit card is pre-authorized for not just a charge of $5 to $10 for shipping, but also a charge normally around $100.
If your credit card cannot handle a charge of $100, then you will not be able to order the “free” trial.
If the pre-authorization charge goes through, then your “free” trial product will be shipped to your address. The package typically arrives within 3 to 5 business days.
The moment you confirmed your order on the free trial beauty product scam site, a clock started counting down. You’ll find out why that clock was counting down in the next step.
Step 4) You Have 14 Days to Try the Product and Return It Before your Credit Card is Charged
You’ve already paid your shipping fee. Your free trial of the skin cream arrives within 3 to 5 business days.
— Remember: we say business days. Not calendar days. That will become important in a little bit.
You may be surprised to find that the skin cream you received is a full-sized jar of skin cream. It’s a full monthly supply of the cream. When you order a free trial of anything online, you typically expect it to be small. That’s not how these scams work.
You have 14 calendar days from the date you ordered your free trial before you need to pay the full price. Some of the manufacturers are “generous” and will give you 18 days. But 14 days is the most popular trial term.
Within 14 calendar days of ordering your item, you’re expected to try it, assess its benefits, and decide whether or not it’s the right product for you. If it’s not the right product for you, then you’ll need to contact customer service and start the return process within that 14 day window.
If you don’t start the return process within the 14 day window, then you’ll be charged anywhere from $80 to $150 for the full-sized skin cream you’ve already received. That’s right: your “free” trial will actually cost you the full-size price.
Ultimately, this might mean you only have a day or two to try the product and assess its benefits before you worry about being charged. Let’s say you order the skin cream on a Tuesday. It takes 5 business days to arrive. Business days are only weekdays. If it takes 5 business days to arrive, then you might have to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday of the week after to receive your package.
By Tuesday or Wednesday, it’s been 7 or 8 calendar days since you ordered your trial. That means you only have a few days to start trying the product and decide whether or not it’s for you.
If you don’t return your product within the 14 day period, then the full charge that was pre-authorized on your credit card will finally go through.
But that’s not even the worst part of theses skin care product free trial offer scams.
Step 5) You’re Automatically Signed Up for a Recurring Monthly Autoship Program
This is where the beauty product manufacturers really dig their nails into you: instead of just taking your $100 for the free trial product, the manufacturers automatically sign you up for an automatic shipment – an autoship – program.
This program means you’ll continue to receive repeated shipments of the beauty product every month until you cancel. Your credit card will continue to be charged $100 every month (or whatever the price of the beauty product may be) and you will continue to receive a monthly order of the cream delivered to your doorstep.
Making matters worse is that most beauty product manufacturers will actually charge you shipping and handling as well: which means you’ll be charged $100 + $4.95 shipping and handling.
If you don’t cancel, then your credit card will continue to be charged until it’s maxed out.
Step 6) Customer Service Is Deliberately Awful About Canceling your Subscription
Do you think the manufacturers that perpetuate these skin care scams are going to have friendly call centers open 24/7 to help you cancel your subscription?
Of course they’re not.
Instead, you’ll have brief call center hours and horrible call center employees.
We’ve seen reports about a wide range of different customer service problems, including:
— Employees Refusing To Cancel A Subscription
— Employees Telling You Your Subscription Has Been Canceled, Even When It Hasn’t
— Employees Will Genuinely Cancel Your Subscription, Only To Sign You Up For Another Autoship Scam
In some cases, the call center employees are genuinely helpful and will cancel your subscription immediately. However, cases like this seem to be extremely rare.
More Than Just Skin Care Free Trials
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen autoship scams in the world of online marketing. They’ve been a major part of the industry for over a decade.
Free trial scams can be found in all of the following niches:
Is It Illegal? No, Because You Agreed To Everything in the Terms and Conditions
You may be wondering – why hasn’t the FTC or another organization clamped down on the scam artists running these operations?
At the most basic level, they’re not illegal: like a lot of scams, they rely on misdirecting people without actually performing any illegal actions.
The main “cop out” used by skin care product manufacturers is that you explicitly accepted the terms and conditions. You checked a box saying that you read and understood those terms and conditions – even though most people have done no such thing.
Most normal terms and conditions statements don’t force you to pay some huge amount of money. When you sign up for an anti-aging skin care scam, however, terms and conditions sections will outline all of the fees listed above. They explicitly explain the autoship program and all of the ways in which you will be charged.
In some cases, skin care manufacturers will actually put the relevant part of the terms and conditions on the main ordering page – the page where you enter your credit card information.
For example, some skin cream manufacturers will have a small section below the ordering form that says something like this:
“By accepting the terms and conditions, you’re agreeing to pay Beauty Product Scam Company $4.95 for shipping and handling today. 14 days after your order is complete, your credit card will be charged the low price of $84.95 for the full-sized product you just received. You will also be signed up for the Beauty Product Scam Company’s exclusive VIP pricing program. You will continue to receive orders of Beauty Product Scam every month at our discount rate $84.95 + $4.95 shipping and handling. If you wish to cancel, you can do so by calling 555-555-1234 and cancel at any time.”
Basically, this section outlines in full detail everything that will happen to you when you accept the terms and conditions. This is done exclusively to protect the manufacturer from legal repercussions.
Making matters worse is that these companies will often hide this information in light grey text, small font, or in some dark corner of the ordering page. It’s rarely listed explicitly upon signing up.
Anti Aging Skin Cream Refunds
Don’t expect to get a big refund from the companies that perpetuate the scams described above.
Typically, these companies offer refunds – but only if the bottle is unopened and returned in new condition.
In many cases, companies will also charge you a restocking fee. You almost always have to pay for your own shipping and handling as well. That means the shipping and handling fee you originally paid will not be part of your refund, and it also means you need to pay your own shipping and handling for the return package.
Skincare Products, Brands & Companies
Below we have listed (and will try to continue to keep up with) all popular skin care products and brands that have been reported to us via our visitors and readers that may be partaking in these fraudulent mannerisms.
- Hydrozone Celltech
- Hydro Restore
- Bella Hyaluron
- Elysian Brands
- Origin of Youth
- Vea radiance
- Cellvia eye gel
- Truve skincare
- Derma Sapphire
- New Age Advanced Anti-Wrinkle & New Age Neo Hydrate Gold
- Youth Forever
If you represent any of these companies or products and feel this notion is unjust, please reach out to us and we will remove immediately. We plan to regularly update this “watch list” as much as we can to help anyone considering any of these free trial skin care samples.
How to Avoid Anti Aging Skin Cream Scams
If you’re not careful, an anti-aging skin cream scam can leave you hundreds of dollars in debt. Here are some easy ways to avoid bad trial scams:
— Only purchase skin care products from reputable manufacturers with a proven history
— Always research skin creams and companies online before you buy
— Read reviews from real customers and don’t trust every customer review you see online – the same manufacturers that make skin care trials will often pay writers hundreds to post fake reviews on Amazon (even “Verified Purchase” reviews); plus, they often run affiliate programs that reward people with financial compensation for posting glowing reviews online
— Look up the product’s ingredients and only purchase from companies that provide real scientific evidence to reinforce these claims
— Buy products from companies that have performed high-quality clinical trials
— Never put your credit card information into unsecured online forms. Always look for HTTPS and other signs of secure ordering
— Wherever possible, purchase items from Amazon or other legitimate online retailers. In some cases, the companies that operate free trial scams actually sell identical products at a lower price on Amazon – and you don’t have to worry about the autoship program.
— If something sounds too good to be true, then it usually is. That’s doubly true online and triply true when you’re looking at anti-aging skin creams.
Ultimately, the most important way to avoid free trial beauty product scams online is to realize that nobody gives away stuff for free online without expecting something in return. Don’t think you’re special just because you stumbled across some website. You’re not lucky or fortunate: you’re just falling for a scam.
If you can keep these lessons in mind, you’ll never fall for a skin care free trial offer scam again. If you keep up to date with our website, you will see we have reviewed many skin care supplements and creams over the past year or more that have these scams. Check here first to see if we have done an extensive review on the product you are wanting to purchase.
Just remember, not every business rely on these scammy free trials. There are legitimate online supplement retailers out there that are good down to earth people that are willing to work with you.