If you're looking to inject a little luxury into your life then get with the programme - any good loyalty programme that is. It's one way to ensure you are treated as a valued customer with bonuses beyond routine marketing promotions.
How valued you are considered will come down to your spend - or your celebrity status if you have any - but if you are spending a lot on one brand then it pays to concentrate it in one store so you can reap some rewards. Sometimes schemes require a minimum initial purchase, but with some rewards quickly accruing at the rate of 10 per cent of spend it's not a bad deal compared with the likes of Fly Buys.
Even if you are shopping with a brand that does not have a formalised loyalty programme such as My Lancome or Shiseido's Camellia Club, individual beauty counters may have set up their own incentives system and chains such as Life pharmacy have storewide loyalty schemes. Do ask what incentives can be offered to you as a regular customer, so at the very least you get to hear early about good promotional deals and get invited to in-store events.
Prestige brands in good retail environments - the likes of La Prairie, La Mer, Estee Lauder, Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent et al - nurture their best regular customers with invitations to try new products, enjoy facials or meet visiting guest makeup artists for a seasonal update. This sort of activity is also on offer at specialist beauty stores such as Mecca Cosmetica.
My Lancome takes its nurturing a step further with a regular newsletter and prize draws for members. It has a platinum tier for big spenders and offers all club members a choice of rewards. Shiseido's scheme runs along similar lines and from time to time both companies feature redemption items that cannot be bought across the counter.
The country's biggest beauty club is undoubtedly at Farmers. This loyalty scheme, now with a million plus members, started in 1999 and last year morphed from beauty to general purchases with the Beauty Club card replaced by the Farmers Club card.
The department store operates a simple system, earn 200 points and get a $20 reward voucher. Points value does vary across Farmers' departments, but for beauty purchases every $1 spent earns 1 point. Reward vouchers must be spent on beauty or lingerie items, making Club card redemption a treat rather than a chance to stock up on socks or sheets. This savvy approach goes some way to explaining why Farmers has become such a dominant player in beauty retailing. It offers club members extra enticements to spend, with shopping events, prize draws, bonus points offers and exclusive gift with purchase deals, often communicated through targeted email and catalogues.
At its bigger stores, Farmers also runs beauty VIP evenings and is introducing spa-style treatment rooms.
THE LUST HAVES
Here's a few things I have in the house which I consider among life's little luxuries, defined by giving me satisfaction beyond expectation each time I use them. I could come up with long lists of various other good makeup items, skincare and fragrance, but by the simple definition of what I would hate not to have on hand, these are clear winners.
Guerlain L'Heure Bleue eau de toilette $150
This fragrance named for twilight is 100 years old and, yes, it is redolent of another age with its elegant bottle and powdery finish, but the intense almost astringent top notes and aromatic complexity are truly compelling. It's a love it or hate it number, but I wouldn't be without it. (From Smith & Caughey's and specialist fragrance stores).
Jo Malone Red Roses Bath Oil $185
My daughter recently spilled a bottle of this heady mix in the bath, the air was thick with my curses and the most divine smell. Sadly it was a limited edition so I will substitute Red Roses Oil on my Christmas wish list, (From Jo Malone, Britomart, or ph 09 309 4418.)
Dr Hauschka Lemon Lemongrass Body Moisturiser $55
Aromatic lotions are a lovely way to moisturise and Dr Hauschka does five botanical blends to match your mood and skin type, including this zingy uplifting one. A more intensive option are Body Oils of which my personal favourite is Blackthorn, this is meant to be good for pregnant women and stretch marks, but anyone can benefit from encouraging extra elasticity in the skin. (Selected pharmacies, department and health food stores.)
Sans Lip Balm $26
I have this by the bedside and use it night and morning. There's plenty of good balms about, but I like that this has a mild exfoliating action from its active ingredients, leaving lips feeling smoothed as well as hydrated. (From Lucy & the Powder Room at the Department Store, Takapuna and Stephen Marr Salon, Newmarket).
* Regular readers will know I am also a big fan of Karen Murrell's moisturising natural lipsticks.
Eco-Store Hand Cream $12.49
Ideal for every day, this comes in Light Moisturising and Extra Moisturising formulas. Both use jojoba oil which is easily absorbed by skin for a non-greasy hydrating finish. Being from Eco-Store, the product contains no unnecessary ingredients and is in recyclable packaging. (From supermarkets and online.)
Lancome Teint Miracle $82
This foundation is my favourite, I've tried some that come close, but this is the one I use daily. It covers my fair skin's tendency to redness while retaining a reflective quality that looks natural. I'm also a long-time fan of Lancome's mascara. (Lancome counters.)