5 Things You Should Know Before You Hit The Makeup Counter

by Brande Victorian

As fun as the idea of purchasing new makeup is, if you don’t go about it with a game plan the excitement you have about that new gloss or highlighter can quickly fizzle and end with you walking out of the store empty handed. Don’t let the intimidation of too many products and pushy makeup artists deter you. Knowing these five simple things before you even enter the store will help make sure you get exactly what you came for.

1. What you’re looking for: It sounds obvious but if you walk into a store like Sephora or a makeup counter all willy nilly you’ll get eaten alive. You don’t have to know every single thing you might buy but have a general idea of what you want. Are you due for a new concealer, do you just want to try a different type of eyeliner, or are you giving your makeup bag a complete overhaul? Be prepared with that answer because the makeup artist will ask.

2. What kind of coverage you want: If you’re at the counter for a new foundation, the artist is going to want to want to narrow the options she offers by knowing how much coverage you want. Sheer means you’re not looking to be too made up and you have skin that doesn’t require a lot of smoothing out. On the other hand if there are blemishes or discoloration you want to mask, full coverage foundations are the route to go and the artist can show you the best ones.

3. What kind of skin you have: Basically is your skin normal, dry, oily, or a combination of the two? This will help the makeup artist determine whether you should have a liquid- or powder-based foundation and whether you need any specific type of primer to help your makeup last longer like a hydrating base or something with shine control.

4. Do you prefer a natural look or color: Obviously this varies by your mood but if you walk up to a counter and just say, I want a new eyeshadow or lip color the artist needs somewhere to start. By knowing you want something more natural, the artist can pick out neutral shades that match your complexion, possibly with a little shimmer. On the other hand, if you’re open to bright colors or stepping outside of your makeup box, you two can experiment with bright mattes or paint pots until you find something you like.

5. How much you want to spend: In a store like Sephora or Ulta there are tons of brands to choose from and prices vary from slightly more than drugstore brands to high-end quality. Let the person working with you know how much you’re willing to spend so they can direct you to the best brands for your budget. The last thing you want to do is fall in love with a product out of your price range. There’s no need to break the bank when there are so many beauty lines to choose from.

  • Kacey

    Am I the only who’s scared to test makeup in-store? All I can think about is the multitude of people who’ve dabbled in it and that those tubes and pots must be veritable petri dishes of bacteria.

  • http://method2hermadness.blogspot.com girlformerlyknownasgrace

    two things I am trying figure out is eyeshadow and perfume. I feel like I can’t pick either.

  • apple

    I stopped looking for makeup because for the skin portion nobody knows what their doing white or black. I always kinda filled pressured to just hurry along while they smack foundation that’s too dark or the wrong kinda brown on me and hear them say “this is it” while I look in the mirror and see I went from beyonce to India arie . I have a light foundation in caramel from revlon and it’s a match I just wish it had more coverage in that exact color

  • CurlySue

    My tip is to avoid the MAC counter unless you want to leave looking like a clown lol. Because MAC’s “thing” is dramatic makeup, the subtle art of the barely-there makeup is lost on their makeup artists.

  • Yb

    You are not alone. It get so grossed out when I see digs and finger prints in the tester makeup.

  • Lady P

    When comes to foundation, it is hard to find a great match. It is either too dark or too light. I don’t like too much makeup. When you visit the makeup counter, they often over emphasis exactly what is needed.

  • iQgraphics

    I went to the MAC counter looking for a concealer… I came out looking like a whole ‘nother person.
    The sales woman covered any signs of darkness around my eyes, yes, but I have a ton of freckles so you can’t cover part of my face without it looking odd.
    So she covered my entire face with concealer.

    So… I just don’t wear concealer. Too much trouble

  • iQgraphics

    I saw a vid where JuneAmbrose stuck an entire tube of lipstick in solvent before trying on. The measures you have to take are extreme like that.

    People are nasty

  • OSHH

    Oh my goodness I had the same experience when I was thinking of doing more with makeup but chile MAC makeup is like stage makeup, and they covered my freckles, beauty marks and when I looked in the mirror I was like Harpo who dis woman LOL.
    The beat face is not for me, I love a more natural only a lil pop of color look

    I only do lip color, mascara, and eyeliners( in colors that pop and metallics)

  • liv

    get eyeshadow online! coastal scents & bh cosmetics have these huge palettes & even though its slightly overwhelming at first, its simpler than buying individual shades bc everything thing you’d want tends to be there. & they’re like $20

  • CurlySue

    Lol y’all need to see my post upthread. I’m with you. How is making me look like a ’40s pinup girl appropriate every damn day lol? And if you get that tube of gel gold eye color anywhere near me, I will punch you directly in the face and run away.

  • CelineElise_MUA

    Please know that all products in a cosmetic store are “supposed” to be cleaned with alcohol before and after you try a product to prevent the spreading of germs.
    Please know that when you go to try on something such as a lipstick, first use a applicator (lip wand etc.) then dip or wipe with the alcohol they have provided there (you will see in on aisles in sephora) and then use the product.
    @iqgraphics that was alcohol she dipped in it.

  • iQgraphics

    I knew it was something… but wasnt certain it was just make-up remover that’s why I simply said solvent.
    Thanks for the info

  • CurlySue

    I have the hardest time finding foundation that doesn’t look cakey. I have combination skin and when I put foundation on, it tends to dry me out. I use L’Oreal’s True Match brand and I love the shade, but if my face is even the tiniest bit dry, the makeup just augments it.

  • CelineElise_MUA

    I totally understand your issue. I’m a makeup artist and you can cover someones face. Some artist dont understand that freckles are not something to be covered but embraced. When picking a concealer just apply under the eyes or in your trouble areas. No need to cover the whole face. (that artist should have know that… side eye) but use a light sheer loose powder to set, and use to sheer foundation to the rest of the face. If you have nice skin no need to cover with foundation!! just use a loose/ pressed powder to get rid of the shine.

  • OSHH

    I cosign Celine, you absolutely have to clean/disinfect the sample products before using them

  • iQgraphics

    @CurlySue YES! a clown… and… I’m scared of ‘em

    @ OSHH

    “Harpo, who dis woman” — DEAD
    I’m at my desk and literally BURST out laughing

    My issue is, I LOVE MY FRECKLES.
    I have soooo many, they are not a part of my face, they are my face.
    I looked like an Asian woman

  • CelineElise_MUA

    you should always moisturize before foundation and maybe your not chosing the right kind of foundation. If your skin is oily use a oil-free moisturizer,then use a primer. Primers are always good before you apply your foundation. if you realize you are still cakey try a pore-minamizer to help reduce the size of your pores so makeup can sit on and not in your pores. You have to remember makeup is trial and error. The more you try the more you will get comfortable with it, and will be able to apply it better and faster. Good Luck sis!

  • iQgraphics

    @CelineElise_MUA
    I just gave up.
    I wear lips and cheeks and shadows…
    and my natural face.

    I find that more shimmery and wet looking shadows look better with a natural face.

  • CelineElise_MUA

    well be careful bc too much shimmer can tend to look like an oily face.
    You can try a face powder to get additional shine off. Makeup is trial and error so use what your comfortable with try something different every now and then, you will do well. Stay beautiful!!

  • http://method2hermadness.blogspot.com girlformerlyknownasgrace

    @CelineElise_MUA how do you pick out an eyeshadow that is specific to your skin color? I am like lauryn hill’s or gabrielle union’s skin color. And how do you pick out a lip color. I am scared of MAC too..don’t like looking clownish.

  • Insight

    I think we might be similar skin tones. Try bare minerals, mac, or smash box.

  • CurlySue

    Thanks! I have a Smashbox primer. I will start using that more. Yeah, I might be using the wrong foundation because I do apply moisturizer but the foundation seems to find the slight dry parts around my nose and forehead. I’m thinking of upgrading to a higher-end product. I do believe you get what you pay for when it comes to makeup.

  • Insight

    I know what you mean, but I think they are forced to do that for work. I always give them a double look before I ask a question. The last time I was there I saw them all wearing the same exact blue eye shadow (it was definately not a color for everyone).

  • CurlySue

    Lol, yes. Please keep the blue eyeshadow away from me. I haven’t worn that sh*t since I was 15 lol.

  • MarloweOverShakespeare

    Does any gal here use Fashion Fair? MUST check out their stuff next time I decide to shop for cosmetics. They seem to have foundations/concealers in every skin tone for Black women (I was with my G-Ma last time we shopped and she got hooked UP!)

  • CurlySue

    For anyone interested in a good eyeshadow palette that’s natural-looking, I would suggest Too Faced’s Natural Eye collection. It comes with three looks (nine total eyeshadows), Day, Classic, and Fashion. I love it.

  • CelineElise_MUA

    @girlformelyknownasgrace Lets try to remember MAC is not the only makeup line lucky there are other great lines to try from. For your complection you can try Fine Fair, or makeup forever, face atelier or go to sephora and play!!!!!!!!! you can try drug store brands and return them with no problem. great brands are Iman, covergirl queen collection or black opal (what did she say? yup black opal girl!!) . Remember try and return if you dont like the color.

    if you really dont feel like trying to look for a color, try this use a primer then apply foundation over your eye (its your color right?!) and go. use a bold liner and great mascara!!! thats always a great look and very naturally glam pretty! I hope this helps sis.

  • http://method2hermadness.blogspot.com girlformerlyknownasgrace

    –LOL.. I know there are others apart from MAC, i was just agreeing with everyone else about MAC. I LOVE sephora, their eye shadows and lip glosses. (my inspiration for lips-lauryn hill –> http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_hLUKcmedEGE/TR4HLUepBwI/AAAAAAAACBQ/kHPr37B1-xw/s1600/laurynhill.jpg and http://fashionbombdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/lauryn-hill-530×360.jpg for the lips) I am specifically fond of the colors brown and deep purple for eyeshadow and plum for lip gloss. I found this deep plum color for lipstick, but I have big lips and I am not too sure if it flatters me. I want to try hints of red eyeshadow and some shade of red lipstick that is not too overwhelming, that will be the next color i will try when i go back to sephora.

  • LemonnLime

    Random question: Has anyone had any luck finding organic/non toxic makeup for brown skin? Everything they make is for white or light complexions as if black women aren’t interested in safe makeup. Gets on my nerves sometimes.

  • iQgraphics

    black radiance lipsticks are the bomb dot com

  • Velma

    I’ve tried to just keep it at eyeshadow, mascara and lipstick. I don’t feel women of color need foundation or blush for that matter; I like the nude/natural look. And when you try on make up at the counter, go outside to see how it looks in the “natural light” you’ll wear it in.

  • chanela

    omg YES! they make people look like drag queens cause they look like it.

    the thing i can’t stand about MAC is how the people who work there think they are the absolute SHIT because MAC is supposedly the best makeup counter to work for.*eye roll* they are so damn cocky and snobby its not even funny! even though their asses look like they just finished auditioning for ru paul’s drag race. SMH

  • chanela

    i absolutely LURVEE the blush by fashion fair! my mom had one she wasn’t using in the shade “chocolate chip” and its the only thing i use. i love how it makes my skin look. i tried using other blushes in a similar color but they make me look ashy as hell! the fashion fair one adds to my skin color and looks beautiful and flawless!

    another item i love is the bronzer by E.L.F its 1 damn dollar and its better than other bronzers i’ve used which make me look ashy as hell too.lol

  • Dalili

    @CelineElise_MUA: I thought I was the only one who swore by Iman and Black Opal lipsticks and lip gloss(don’t wear much else). Nothing like them!

    Revlon’s Coffee Gleam and High Tan Bean lip gloss rivaled them but they’re discontinued.

  • May

    I do have dark spots from acne (I get 1-2 pimples during my period), so I use concealer for special occasions. But on a daily basis, I use just gloss and maybe mascara. I’m never sure about how my makeup looks, which is part of the reason I don’t wear much daily.

  • Dalili

    LOL! The trick I found with Mac(or any other make-up counter really) is to have an idea of what you are looking for, I learned that the hard way when they literally used my face as a blank canvas using all the neon colors they could find. Never again!

  • Dalili

    +1. Blush especially. Something about it doesn’t look right on our varied hues….I find bronzer to be a better option.

  • C

    Heres a tip if anyone has oily skin

    Milk of magnesia in the original blue bottle only. Wash face and moisturize, then put MOM on the oily spots and you dont need a lot- it will keep your face matte and oil free for hours. After applying MOM then put on the rest of your makeup.

  • binks

    No, I stopped testing makeup products on my skin, I just swatch them on a piece of paper or something…lol because the last time I tested something on my skin my lips was swollen afterwards (I didn’t know about the alcohol trick then). So I learn my lesson the hard way so never again. But do anybody have tips on skin care I’m trying to build a regimen with skin care products but have no idea which brand to start with, I tried the drug stores brands but they don’t generally work for my skin or give my skin the desire affect I want.

  • 726MakeUp

    @Velma try Lamik cosmetics, it’s a eco-friendly makeup line for all skin tones!

  • Melissa

    I like tinted moisterizers because it is not heavy or cakey. If you have oily skin, get an oil free tinted moisterizer. Some come with SPF. I like Laura Mercier and Nars have a good collection too. I like to look polished but not too made up. I like to look natural looking. I always focus on skincare regimen so that makeup is optional. Hope this helps.

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