Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Testing New Makeup: Tricks for All Skin Colors

Like most everyone else, I always tested new products by going to a department store and trying them on, but sometimes I'd get home and be really disappointed. There should be a law against the kind of lighting used around makeup counters. If I had absolute rule over the makeup kingdom, I would ban ugly yellow lights and put makeup on the top floor under skylights. And each counter would have at least one giant three-way mirror.

Until that day, I deal or bail. But I have picked up a few tricks along the way.

In dimly-lit areas, I'll ask for a hand mirror, tilt my head all the way back, and then hold the mirror over my face (a face that is now pointing up toward the ceiling), This helps get rid of shadows. Sometimes I take the mirror the the store entrance (one that leads outside).

I no longer bother to test lipstick on the back of my hand--at least not as any indication for how it will look on my face. Sure, it's a great way to see a lipstick's true color, but my lips are not flesh toned. A slightly more realistic view of how a lipstick will look on me (if I don't want to try it on my lips) is to swatch it on the fleshy part of my thumb. Since my lips are fairly pigmented, I'll even squeeze the skin beneath where I applied the lipstick to cause more blood to rush to the surface. Big big difference. Suddenly a clear pink has lots of blue and red undertones, and it isn't the same lipstick at all.

For items I have purchased online, I start with a completely bare face and only try one item at a time. For example, I'll try a lipstick on--without a stitch of other makeup--and then inspect the results. I generally look down, and then look up into the mirror in good, natural daylight. I don't over analyze. It either looks good or it doesn't. Life is too short for OK makeup. Why look OK or just good when I can look great?

Here's what I look for when I test a new lipstick or eyeshadow or blush or foundation:
  • Bad colors make my skin look ruddy, sallow, accentuate fine lines, or create shadows. Green eyeshadow is evil for me. Instant facial redness.
  • Good colors are face brightening; they smooth out the skin and sometimes give the appearance that I am wearing other makeup, when I am not.
The naked makeup trick never fails.


  1. You are absolutely right. I just wish I didn't have so much trouble finding those "good colors". But I know one when I see one!

  2. OMG! Great idea about swatching on your thumb! I'm totally stealing that (with proper credit BTW)!

    you are so RIGHT! life is way too short for OKAY makeup! We deserve perfection (or as close to perfection as we can get) at these prices!

    Fab article! x jeanie


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