Confess: Are you one of those who get’s overwhelmed when you shop for makeup, and the mere sight of the racks of lipstick give you anxiety? OR are you the ‘gave in to pressure’ type, buying makeup that’s hyped and doing the rounds in social media? Either way, shopping for makeup is not as simple as you would think.

Here are some tips that have worked so well for me when it comes to shopping for makeup.


Before you go shop for makeup, its important you know, first and foremost, WHAT is is exactly you want to spend your money on. Going shopping blindly with no plan in mind is an epic makeup disaster, trust me! I’ve had so many shopping regrets in my lifetime, purchasing makeup that didn’t look good on me, or worst, makeup that – after only one use – I never used again.

So lets set you up for success and shop like a pro! Here are 3 things you need to settle first before going on any makeup shopping spree!

Do Your Research

The internet is your friend. A quick Google search can lead you to in-depth reviews about the product(s) you want to buy. It also gives you additional perspective on how the product(s) looks/performs on other people with similar coloring/concerns as you may have. Don’t forget YouTube! There are plenty of video reviews on makeup products that you can watch to see how the makeup performs on people. If you have makeup junkie friends, hit them up and see what they think about your planned purchase.

Inventorize Your Makeup Stash

Before you shop for any makeup, you have to open your drawers and really hit yourself with the hard question: “Which ones do you REAAAALLY use?” Answering this basic question will save you from burning money on makeup that you will never use. If you see that you already have 10 red lipsticks, please make a mental note that you don’t need another one that will just occupy space. When shopping like a pro, its all about shopping smart.

Set Your Budget

Lets be honest – we all wish we had unlimited funds when going on any makeup shopping spree! But the reality is our wallets are only so deep, and you never want to go overboard. This is especially true when you plan to buy a handful of makeup – you have to be clear which products you are willing to splurge on and which ones you will need to save on.

Ideally, splurge on makeup bases like primer, foundation, concealer and powders because perfected skin translates to a beautiful makeup look. Also, look out for deals coming out of Beauty Rewards Programs. You’ll have more bang for your buck when you time your purchases during these deals.

Remember, when you shop for makeup, like any shopping, you don’t want to break the bank unless you are ready to do so.

What to BRING

OK – now you have a plan! But before going out that door with your cash/credit card in hand, here are some additional pointers on what you should be bringing with you when you shop for makeup. This is especially important if you are looking at purchasing brands/products you have never used or are unfamiliar with.

Don’t let your first purchase be your last purchase!

An Honest BFF

Sales associates will always be biased. No matter how much they help you in your purchasing decision, remember – they are sales associates for a reason – to make a sale! You do not want your decision to be swayed by them. Not only will it be more fun to have a friend tag along, you will get unadulterated feedback like “Woman, you look like a high-class escort with that lipstick!” I also would recommend turning your shopping spree into makeup over sessions!

Stay Sanitary

Bring alcohol, makeup wipes and brushes. You should spray alcohol on trial products before you use them. Makeup wipes come in handy to sanitize the product itself or your arm after you’ve gone crazy in swatching products. You would also do yourself a favor by bringing and using your own brushes when trying on products. Do not think for one second that these trial products are regularly sanitized.

Be A Beauty Girl Scout

When you shop for makeup, be sure to ALWAYS have these handy items in reach:

  1. Contact lens case or any small container
  2. A mirror
  3. A portable camera (i.e. your phone would do)

I’ll explain later why you need these, but for now let’s move on…

At The Beauty COUNTER

You’ve made it this far! You have a plan, you’ve prepared yourself and now your going to spend your day trying on all those beauty products. Here are some additional tips to help you make the right purchasing decision.

Start Early And Start Clean

Come by the makeup counter as soon as it opens, especially when you’re buying a makeup base (primer, foundation, concealer, powder). This allows you test how the product performs all-day. You can do a check on the 3 or 4-hour mark (depends on your average time that makeup starts melting off), as well as end of day assessment. When you go to counters early, you also have the sales associate’s full attention.

This is important: Don’t even bother putting on makeup at home; go at the makeup counter fresh-faced and makeup-free.

Test Products Within Usage Conditions

If you’re planning to buy your everyday foundation, you should be wearing your skincare underneath (because you always apply skincare daily, right?! Right?!) If you’re on the look-out for a makeup base when you have troubled skin (hello, PMS!), then it’s best to time your purchase when your skin is acting up. If you’re looking for a long-lasting color (blush/eye shadows/lipsticks), then plan to test it on YOUR real-life situations.

We all have different definitions of what a long-day is. That’s why when some people claim a product to be their holy grail, don’t take it as the Bible. Only your judgment matters.

The Half-Half Rule

If your looking at a brand/product your unfamiliar with, let the beauty associate teach you the best way to apply their product, but only on 1 side of your face. You have to be able to replicate it on the other half. A product is only as good as how correctly YOU apply it. The common rant of women is coming home to use the product, only to be frustrated that the product seems to perform differently.

Makeup nowadays have a lot of technology behind them and sometimes the products require some special handling (i.e must be buffed on the skin versus painted, etc).

A word of caution: if it takes too much effort to make a product work, then consider passing up on it.

Request Samples

A lot of high-end brands willingly offer you product samples of products they want you to try. Take advantage! Remember I mentioned to bring a contact lens case or any small container? If you’re interested to try a product, dispense a fair amount to your to-go container. No shame here! You should never feel pressured to instantly buy the full-size without any assurance of compatibility with your needs.

Swatching Is Not Trying

While it’s perfectly alright to swatch colors on your arm/hand because it gives you a broader range of shades to choose from, always base you purchase decisions on products you actually tried on your face. Unless you plan to use your lipstick on your forearm, then swipe that lipstick on your pouty puckers please!

Decisions, Decisions

So you’ve tried them all, and still not sure which ones to splurge on and which ones to save on? Or are you still confused which product will best suite your skin type/color or lifestyle? Or are you feeling that inner pressure to ‘buy something’ else your efforts to shop for makeup becomes an epic fail?

Don’t fret! When shopping like a pro – you should never make any rash purchasing decisions. Remember – its all about shopping smart. You want to be sure the products your buying, especially if its brands/products your venturing into, fit your lifestyle and meet your expectations at the bare minimum.

Here are 3 things (I consider them buying habits) you should consider when its time to make that decision.

Never Buy on The Same Day

Never buy on the same day – especially makeup bases like foundation, concealer and powder. You need to subject the products to 3 tests:

(a) Natural Light test: If your makeup is the wrong tone and shade, it will stick out like a sore thumb in the most honest lighting: sunlight. You have to step out of the mall, whip out your compact mirror and check any tone/shade anomaly. If its night time and you have no access to natural light, use the whitest (harshest) light you can find to see how the product looks on you.

(b) Flashback test: If you are looking for a photogenic face base (i.e. compatible to high definition photography), set your camera’s flash on and take a shameless selfie. If your face flashes back with a white cast, that foundation is a no-go.

(c) Allergy test: The worst allergies creep up within an hour of application: your skin gets itchy and red. Most of the time, you discover you’ve developed a break out upon removing it the end of the day. If you gave in to the purchase right away, you’d end up with a product that you will never use again unless you want hives. Yikes!

Play With The Product

Assuming you are able to bring home samples of the products you’d like to buy, you can test the product on other real-life scenarios, making your purchase more justified – especially if it comes with a hefty price tag!

If you’re testing an everyday foundation: test it with and without primer underneath, test how long it stays on your face without needing a touch up, test how it applies using different application techniques (brush, sponge, fingers). If you’re finding that you’re are not 100% satisfied, change some application variables – maybe you should use less of it OR maybe you need to use a different powder to set it with.

Product Showdown

How does that product compare with similar products in your current collection, which you already love? Did you want to try other products in the same category (i.e. with the same claims)?

If you’re a collector and you’re just fueling your hoarding tendencies, then nobody’s stopping you to drop the ball already and buy a new ‘baby.’ But if you’re looking for a #holygrail product and a real investment, then there’s value to think things thru even more.


Truth be told, I’m not the most practical person when it comes to shopping. But I woke up one day, realized the amount of makeup I amassed and realized what a waste to not use more than half of them. Makeup is the closest thing to what I consider a ‘vice’ for myself, and since then, I promised to indulge wisely every single time.

I hope you keep these tips handy the next time you shop for makeup!

If you enjoyed this post or found it useful, share it with a friend!

  1. Me and my wife we went to makeup heaven in korea, myeongdong if i remember correctly. There are so many skincare shops there.. I was literrally waited for hours from shop to shop… Luckily for me, there are many cafe i could stop by while waiting.. Your tips is definitely useful for my wife. Thanks

    1. Hello Jonathan, Yes Myeogdong is correct! Haha. Your wife is very lucky to have you patiently waiting for her. Yes please — would love to see your wife check out my website and disccover new things about beauty. xx, Bev

  2. Hi!
    I’ve been in front of the camera quite a bit lately so might need to invest in some makeup you’ve listed above. Great article, I enjoyed reading through it.
    Definitely returning in the future to check out more.
    -Will 🙂

    1. Hello Will. Now that you mentioned it, I will write a blog post about photogenic makeup (i.e. makeup that looks great in front of the camera). Thanks for stopping by, come back to see future posts. Thank you. xx, Bev

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