Sue posted today about her current dilemma choosing makeup. My answer was getting far too long in her comments, and I thought there would likely be some others out there who may be interested in the answer.
When I’m looking for a new colour, I always go to department store makeup counters. The people who work there are usually skilled in finding both a colour and application that is flattering to your personal style and colouring. Because they’re brand representatives (instead of generic drugstore cosmetics counter staff) they’ll also have a good grasp on which of their products will best suit your skin type. I’ve got a strong Clinique bias, but any counter at Holt Renfrew or the Bay should be able to help you.
Things to consider when choosing a brand: Do you have sensitive skin/allergies? What’s your age bracket? (Lancome’s key target is the 40-50 year old woman, while Clinique is geared more toward the 25-35 age group – this affects products, pricing, and occasionaly seasonal colours.) How much can you afford? Some brands will definitely be pricier than others – never be afraid to ask how much something is, and it’s ok to say it’s a bit out of your budget.
A lot of hair & beauty salons will have a cosmetician on staff who will be happy to give you a makeup application and lesson for around $35. That is a huge ripoff, and is really only intended for teenagers going to the prom whose cosmetic repertoire consists of lip smackers and clear mascara.
NEVER pay for help selecting cosmetics. You’re already paying for the product. The only exception is if a counter says you pay $10 or $15 for the application, and receive the equivalent amount off of your purchase of cosmetics. You are obligated to purchase something for getting the application done – but that’s what you’re there for anyway, right? Another hint, find a brand you think you like, and try to go at bonus time – that way you’ll get a little extra bang for your buck. Keep in mind that if you’re just looking for a new eyeshadow, you can walk up to the counter and ask to see & try the colours. If you’re wanting a whole new face, you’ll likely have to make an appointment.
Make sure the product rep gives you a tear sheet when you’re done. This will be a picture of a face with colour smudges and product names, along with some basic instructions on where everything goes on your face.
ALWAYS return cosmetics that don’t work out – for either colour, or skin reaction. They cost too much not to (though you can usually avoid that if you get help with your colours). It’s like any other product – the manufacturer expects returns, and the salespeople are usually pretty accomodating.
Another thing I thought I’d toss into the mix is how often you should replenish your cosmetics. If you’re like me, they run out before they wear out – but others who don’t use makeup daily may have expired product laying around. This should also be of note when deciding which brand to go with: how much will you end up throwing away?
A general rule of thumb is that anything powdery or dry (powder, blush, eyeshadow) should be tossed no later than 1 year after purchase. Anything liquid (foundation, cream) should be kept no longer than 6 months. Lipsticks can last a little longer (8 months to a year) if the colour isn’t hideously out of style by then. Mascara should be kept no longer than 3 months at the absolute outside. You should also never ever share it. There’s far too much bacteria around your eyes, and it all gets sucked up by that little wand, shoved back in the bottle, and redistributed on your eyes (or the eyes of anyone else who uses it – ew!) every time it’s used. If you ever have any sort of eye infection (pink eye, etc.) you need to throw away your mascara immediately.
Hope that was helpful, and if you’re interested in hearing about tips for selecting & applying specific products, comment and I’ll construct new entries as requests come up.