Monday, 4 January 2016

Questions to ask when cosmetic shopping

We worked as retail makeup artists for a lot of years and between us we have probably clocked up around 20 years of assisting customers with their makeup choices and purchases.
 We totally understand just how daunting it can be to walk onto a makeup counter. It's busy and loud and there is so much product to choose from that it is absolutely impossible to make a decision on what you need. 
 When we worked in retail there seemed to be less pressure than there is now. It used to be all about creativity and spending time with your customer, giving them confidence in their makeup choices and encouraging them to perhaps try something a little different. Quite often these days retail artists are bogged down with admin and are under pressure to hit their ever increasing targets. It's a real shame that their artistic licence has been taken slightly because this has had a knock on effect on the amount of time they are able to spend one to one.
 Likewise, speaking from a retail artists point of view, it can be really hard to point a customer in the right direction with products when they have zero idea of what they want. 
 We have devised a list of things to think about before entering a makeup counter and also some questions you can ask to get the most out of your shopping experience.

 You are reading this blog so there is a good chance that you watch You Tube tutorials or read about makeup products. Social media is perfect for getting ideas about which products you would like to try and can help you narrow down exactly what it is that you want to shop for..awesome you're half way there. What you have to remember is that not all the products you view online will work for you but if you have seen something you quite like then write the name of the product down and head to a counter for advise. We say write it down because there were so many times we had customers trying to explain a product or colour without knowing the name. When you have around 30 brown eye shadows to choose from it makes it much easier to have a name.
 Foundations are the hardest product to choose. If you walk onto a counter and ask for a new foundation you will be immediately asked a string of questions which as a customer may seem intrusive or annoying but most brands have at least 3 types of foundation so it's important to narrow the selection first before deciding on the colour.
 Here are some typical questions you will be asked...

Foundation shopping

What coverage would you like?
This means how heavy do you want your foundation to be. A tinted moisturiser/BB Cream will be the most natural and will only naturally even out the skin. A light coverage will even the skin out and help to blur out dark circles. A medium cover will do all of this but also cover redness, pigmentation and blemishes. A full cover is for people who want a serious amount of coverage.

What is your skin type?
Important for the retail artist to know because if your skin is oily then they will advise a foundation that won't shift over your oily patches. If your skin is dry then they will show you a moisturising foundation. 

How do you want your skin to look?
 Obviously we all want our skin to look perfect but you may be someone who wants a light cover but just needs blemishes concealing. In this case you would be advised on a light cover foundation but recommended a separate concealer.
 Also, just because your skin is oily doesn't necessarily mean you want a matte skin, you may want a matte foundation to combat the oil but also want some radiance. In this case the artist will advise a foundation and maybe a highlighter to use on the high points of the face. 

Do you have any ingredient sensitivity?
 Important to know so that you can be advised on making product choices that are not going to irritate or inflame your skin. Every brand will know what ingredients their products contain so it's no drama for them to quickly check for you.

What type of finish do you like?
Do you want matte or satin, radiant or natural. If you are not sure on the finish you prefer then take in a picture of some one whose skin you want to replicate. The retail artist can then inform you on the finish of their foundation.

With regards to the shade of foundation it is down to the retail artist to select this for you. You can then check it and say if you want it darker or lighter. Always take a mirror outside to check it before you purchase and if you are ever in doubt then always select a shade slightly lighter. It's much easier to darken it up than it is to lighten. Don't feel pressured into making a purchase if you are unsure that the colour is correct. Ask for a small sample and if they can't provide this then get them to apply it so you may wear it and check it later at home.

Concealer shopping

Which area do you require concealing?
Depending on the area you require concealing, you will be given a different concealer. Under the eyes will generally be a liquid or light reflecting concealer. Blemishes and scaring will often require a hard cream concealer.

Brow product shopping

How do you want your brows to look?
If you're a fan of the natural brow then you will be given softer powder or pencil brow products. If you like a full on sculpted brow then a hard pencil or gel will be shown.
 The colour choice you will be shown will also vary depending on how  dramatic you like to wear your brow.

Eye shadow shopping

What colour do you have in mind?
Usually you would have an idea on colours you would like so don't be afraid to share your ideas. A good retail artist will be honest and advise you if they think there is something which would suit you better but they will need a basic idea to work from.

What finish do you want from your eye shadow?
Do you want a shimmer or do you prefer a matte. Do you want a cream eye shadow or a powder or would you prefer a stick eye shadow?

How confident are you at applying your eye shadow and how much time do you want to spend doing it?
 If you never wear eye shadow then purchasing 5 colours and attempting to blend them will probably put you off. Go for a natural base and a complimentary colour to sweep over the lid. If you are someone who likes to experiment then let them know this so they can show you different products which can enhance what you already do.

Mascara shopping

What type of brush do you like?
Do you prefer a plastic, thin wand which is good for short lashes or do you like a big chunky brush? If you like definition then a brush with spaced out teeth will be more effective. If you like volume then go for a large bushy brush.

Do you want waterproof?
 Self explanatory 

What colour do you want?
Black, brown or a coloured mascara. There are even clear ones if you don't require colour but just separation.

Blush/Lipstick shopping

Both are near impossible to choose for you. It's so personal what you like to wear on your cheeks and lips that you need to sit down and try some on. Some questions you may be asked are...

What colour do you like?
 Narrow it down for them. Pink, red, brown, orange etc..

What finish?
Do you want it shiny or matte?

Do you want to re apply your lip throughout the day?
 Depending on the longevity required they will offer you a different texture. The more moisturising lipsticks will wear off quicker than a dry texture matte lipstick. There are also lip stains which may be more suitable. You may also be offered a lip liner for definition or a gloss if you want a shine.

Don't be shy in trying different shades, you never know what it will look like until you get it on and it's only makeup, you can just remove it if you don't like it.

Hopefully this rough guide will give you some ideas on what it is that you require so you are armed with the answers once in store. Knowing the answers to these questions will make your shopping experience less stressful and will be greatly appreciated by the artist trying to help you.



  1. Thank you for this blog post its very helpful!

  2. Write it down!!!! Haha, so many times I go to buy something but forget the exact product name.
    The Beauty Bloss

  3. This is so useful! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. This is such a helpful post! The amount of times customers have just asked me "what's the best foundation" - I totally agree that it's usually just because they don't know how to phrase what they're looking for :) x

  5. This is such a helpful post! The amount of times customers have just asked me "what's the best foundation" - I totally agree that it's usually just because they don't know how to phrase what they're looking for :) x

  6. Amazing tips which are sure to make cosmetic shopping a lot easier :) X


  7. What's going on with the blusher in the picture? Not being rude, genuinely wondering as I know you do crazy looking stuff that when finished looks good.

    1. Oh it was for an editorial shoot we did, not a standard blush look!

  8. Great info!! By the way, I was thinking if you can do some review for Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani pallette. �� love from Malaysia

  9. Thank you very much, you're the always :)

  10. I would also add:-) : which ingredients do you want to avoid?

  11. This is very helpful, thank you for sharing :) x

  12. A very helpful blog. Thank you

  13. such a good, good post! thank you :)

  14. This was such a helpful post! I get quite anxious when I got in to buy makeup and get extremely flustered when I get asked questions! I went into Mac for the first time and could feel myself starting to get nervous and before the lady started asking question I explained to her what was happening and I was so shocked and grateful with how she responded! She was so patient and helpful going through all the products with me! And no panic attack which was great! Made the experience so nice and I left Mac with a gorgeous new lipstick! Em xx

  15. Great post! Very helpful dear!! Thanks for sharing!!
    Love from {a lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food blog}

  16. Amazing post. The best I've read in monts about make-up.
    I'd like to turn back time to work for customers when everything was more creative for our jobs, and the targets were affordable. It's great to have a lot of products you can choose, but some (sometimes quite a lot)can end at the end of your make up case because you've not choose them well. Sorry for my english ;)

  17. This is such a brilliant and useful post - I'll definitely be sharing this.

  18. Very helpful. But what about shopping for makeup online?

  19. Really useful post! Especially for people who are not sure what they are looking for. Brings back memories of retail days...

  20. So helpfull!

  21. This was so helpful, my biggest worry is whether the foundation will match. I'm such a worrier when it comes to this...idk why! haha

  22. Lots of helpful advice, thank you


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