My friend Karen is preparing for her wedding and wanted makeup tips. Like a lot of women, she knew she needed fresh, new makeup but she didn’t really know how to go about choosing anything. When she asked me where I thought she should go, I immediately suggested Sephora. The glaze in her eyes was likewise immediate. Instead of sending her alone, I opted to go with (which was more fun anyway 🙂 ) But what do you do when you don’t have access to a Pro Makeup Artist?

Makeup artists love shopping at stores with LOTS of products. Be it the big stores like the Sephoras and the ULTAs, or the little gems that seem to have everything like Ricky’s, give us a lot of product and we’re there. This doesn’t always translate well to the consumer, however, particularly a woman who doesn’t wear makeup often. That’s a lot of stuff if you don’t know what you’re looking at. So how do you go into a vast makeup store and not be completely overwhelmed by the choices? Let me help break it down for you…Here are tips for non-pros on shopping like a pro! 🙂

1) Research, Research, Research! – Do not go into a store without some knowledge of which brands are which. Makeup stores prey on the unknowledgeable and next thing you know they’ll have you believing you need everything. You don’t need everything. Allure, Lucky, InStyle and Marie Claire in particular are very good at breaking down trends for consumers.

2) First time out, plan to build a complete Makeup Wardrobe – When Karen wanted to update her look for her wedding, she told me she basically had a few random products that didn’t completely do what she wanted to do and she felt she was in a color rut. i.e. – I knew she needed a full overhaul of her makeup wardrobe. In my opinion your basic wardrobe should consist of

* Foundation
* Concealer
* Powder
* Neutral Eyeliner
* Mascara (I use black on everyone including blondes but if you’re gun-shy go with a brown)
* Basic Neutral eyeshadow palette (I strongly advocate buying eyeshadows in coordinated palettes rather than having a bunch of individual colors floating around…save that for subsequent “accessories” makeup trips).
* Blush (just stick to blush… don’t try to venture off into contour and highlight and all that…)
* Lip Color (a girl should have a zillion lipcolors as far as I’m concerned 😉 , but to start look for one everyday that’s around your same natural lip color and one that’s slightly darker/more dramatic)

That’s it. All this shimmer, highlighter, primers, notions, lotions and magic potions are great, but they aren’t the necessary building blocks of a solid makeup wardrobe. Having a completed makeup wardrobe makes it easier on subsequent makeup shopping trips to…

3) Know what you want and don’t deviate from the plan. – Just like Grocery Stores, Makeup Stores are set up in such a way to make you look at more product in the hopes that you’ll buy more. Extraneous purchases are usually the ones that sit in the back of the makeup drawer never to been seen or used again. Just say no.

4) When you need help, go to the RIGHT person. – One of the main reasons I avoid shopping with clients at department stores is because department stores are sales pressure-cookers and not a conducive environment to really learn about product. The employees are on commission, thusly they have a sales quota to meet and can be aggressive about meeting it. Likewise, too many of these employees have NO makeup knowledge beyond whatever training they received from the cosmetics line for which they are working. They have the best of intentions, I’m sure, but this is a recipe for a bad sale. Stores like Sephora are better – the store staff aren’t on commission and most are aspiring to be in the field so you can find some jewels in the rough. My suggestion, however, is that at stores like Sephora, Ulta or the professional makeup stores is there are usually artist representatives who work for a specific LINE not the store. These are full-fledged artists who have training and experience beyond just selling cosmetics. More often than not, they are freelance artists and working for the line is one of their freelance gigs. These are the folks who can really make a difference between picking a right and wrong item, telling you if a product is out of stock or discontinued or helping you find a secret stash of an item that isn’t on the shelf. The Line Artists are your friends (when we were in Sephora Santa Monica we were helped immensely by AJ who is an artist for Nars. Thanks, AJ!)

I’ve sent many of my friends on successful solo makeup shopping trips using this formula. However, if you find you just can’t walk into a store without going into a tailspin, Makeup to Go provides guided shopping trips and private client shopping services. So if you need pro help, feel free to give me a call… 🙂

Article title taken from the lyrics to “Once In A Lifetime” by the Talking Heads

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