The Do’s and Dont’s of Shopping for Makeup

Hello Readers!

So today I thought I would share with you the ‘Do’s and Dont’s’ while shopping for makeup. I have compiled this list after doing my fair amount of shopping both in store and online, as well as in large stores in comparison to small boutiques.


1) Ask for help.

It surprises me just how many people don’t ask for help. Whether it be social anxiety or lack of patience to deal with a clingy sales associate, there is nothing to lose by just asking a question. I understand that it can be really intimidating walking into a MAC counter or a Sephora and feeling completely lost and helpless. Truth is, those people who work there, it is their job to help you! The worst thing that can happen is the Sales Associate isn’t able to answer your question, or is too stuck up to give you their time. If that is the case, you probably don’t want their help anyway. We all know the feeling of coming home to a product that wasn’t what you were expecting. Don’t sacrifice your happiness of bringing home a new product over something so silly as not asking for help!

2) Test products in the store. 

Any open area of skin (except your face) is fair game. Swatch, swatch, and swatch! I like to swatch and then walk away to find similar products in the same category to really figure out what would work best for me. If you are swatching things similar in color/ tone try to keep track of which product is which. This comes in handy I have noticed while testing foundations/ concealers as some of them will oxidize  (change color) or change formula the longer you leave them on. If you would like to try something on your face, refer to no. 1 and ask for help. If you prefer not to ask for help, find the sanitary equipment and sanitize and use the tester applicators that are provided. This will change based on what kind of product it is that you would like to test. If it is something like a mascara, ask the Sales Associate if there is a similar test brush (to the one that actually comes with the mascara) or if they only carry the universal one. If they do carry a special test brush it would most likely be located under the brand’s island in the roll out drawers.

3) Ask for samples.

If you swatched something and just aren’t sure or if it is something you would like to try in your own home, ask for a sample. Stores like Sephora and Ulta are really good about giving a sample of just about any product that they carry. Specialty stores and boutique shops most likely do not give out samples unless you purchase something so don’t go in there expecting anything. There are limitations, for example things like blush, eyeshadow, ect, cannot be divided up in store and sent home with you. Things like concealer, foundation, skin care products, and loose powders can easily be made into samples.

4) Go with a list. You are on a mission. 

I don’t know about you but I walk into a Sephora or MAC and just get overwhelmed and go crazy. I can easily spend 2 hours in my local Sephora perusing the aisles and testing products. Once you are already in there it is easy to get distracted by things you don’t need and you end up just throwing your budget out the door. What I found that works, is to go in there with a list and a budget. This way you remember what you want/need and don’t end up leaving forgetting the thing you really wanted in the first place.

5) Shop around and do your research.

By this I literally mean shop around both in store (if possible) and on the web. You want to be sure that you are getting what your money is paying for. Also make sure to look up what it is you want to purchase ahead of time on the web for swatches and reviews. If you didn’t do this, I wouldn’t be typing all of this right now!

6) Be aware of any upcoming promotions and sales. 

This plays into no. 5 ‘Shop Around’. A good way to be aware of any upcoming promotions and sales is to sign up via email for a e-newsletter from some of your favorite brands. You will get emails with various promotions, discounts, and offers. Also when you sign up for their newsletter or make an account, you are likely to get some kind of discount as a welcome gift!

7) Keep an open mind.

Don’t hate something until you have tried it. Keep an open mind while shopping and you may be surprised.

8) Treat yourself.

Had a hard month or two? Completed your New Years Resolution early? You deserve it, TREAT YO’ SELF!

9) Be friendly.

I know, many of us have a case of ‘Resting Bitch Face’. Lets just try to consciously rid ourselves of that and walk in there with a smile. If you are friendly to the Sales Associates, they are more likely to be friendly with you and make your experience that much better. These poor souls are working long shifts and dealing with hundreds of people a day. If you have ever worked in retail you know just how tiring it can be. A good way to get what you want is to try and make their day worth it and that much better.

10) Know what you want and what you deserve. 

Like I have mentioned, it is easy to get intimidated as a customer in a business as superficial and based on appearances as Sephora or MAC. It is sometimes easy to get pushed around, talked out of, or convinced. The best way to conquer this is to know what you want and what you deserve. Be knowledgeable of the companies customer service policies. If the store is having some sort of event, know what you are supposed to get out of it.



1) Throw away your receipt. 

Don’t ever do this until you know you are in love with a product. If you find yourself making excuses for an inanimate object  that doesn’t do its job correctly, it’s got to go. I f you are not completely 100% satisfied with something, don’t compensate for it and just return it.

2) Apply products directly to your face.

I can’t ever get over how much this bugs me. This is probably the one thing on this ‘Don’t’ list that I thought of immediately. I don’t think I actually saw anyone do this before until I was in Sephora for the VIB Chic Week Sale. I watched, jaw dropped, as this woman applied a Bite lipstick directly to her lips…wat. No. No. No! DO NOT PUT STUFF DIRECTLY ON YOUR FACE! It is highly unsanitary for you, and for all those people who use it after you. If you want to apply something on your face, ask a Sales Associate for help.

3) Shop by brand.

“Oh I only use MAC”, is something I have heard way to many times. What if I told you that there were other brands out there that make products that are similar if not BETTER than MAC? Just because a product has a label slapped on its packaging doesn’t mean it is the best at what it does. To find out what is the best, do your research and figure out what that something is.

4) Be stingy. 

This goes somewhat in hand by shopping by brand. I understand that a lot of people can’t afford high end and designer products (heck I can’t either!) but don’t let yourself compensate for a product that isn’t working. If there is something that you really need for an event, ect. don’t be stingy and get yourself something nice. You deserve it, and I guarantee when you wear it you will feel like a million bucks.

5) Buy something because the Sales Associate is pressuring you. 

This has happened to me, and I’m not proud of it. It was my first time visiting a MAC counter and I was so nervous that I grabbed the first thing she recommended and walked out. I feel like this is a common problem that comes up when you go in store to shop for makeup. If you feel like an SA is pressuring you, you wont hurt their feelings if you say no. You know better than anyone what works for you, or maybe you don’t and that is why you are asking for help. But if you have a gut feeling that it isn’t what you are looking for let them know and move on. They will appreciate your honesty and will not feel like they have been wasting their time.

6) Don’t get an attitude.

Whatever reason it may be for, don’t get in an argument or dis a SA. It will not get you anywhere. Even if you are feeling disrespected, its all water under the bridge. You are the customer and are entitled to spend your money elsewhere. If there was some sort of incident from where you felt very wronged, contact corporate or fill out a survey.

7) Buy something because of the freebies.

I find myself doing this. Sephora just announced a Laura Mercier 500 pt. perk and I find myself shopping around online trying to figure it what it is I want just so I can get this freebie kit. Bottom line, there is a reason why it is free.

8) Give into the cult.

There are a lot of cult products out there: NARS Orgasm, Urban Decay Naked Palette, YSL Touche Eclat, MAC Ruby Woo, or Stila’s Kitten eye shadow. It is a popular product and for most of the time good reason. However, just because it works for everyone else doesn’t mean it will work for you. In many cases you will find that there are similar better quality or cheaper options out there. For example, when I first got into makeup I really wanted to get my hands on NARS Orgasm blush. When I got to the store I realized just how much gold sparkles were in there and decided that it really wasn’t for me. Instead I found NARS blush in Deep Throat to be much better suited for my style and skin tone.

9) Purchase from unverified retailers. 

This is mainly in regards to purchasing online. Please be sure that you are buying whatever product it is from a verified retailer. Shopping from Amazon is usually okay, but once you get into eBay or Craigslist it gets sketchy. On websites like that it is very easy to scam you and send you a used, or knock off product.

10) Just because you have money, doesn’t mean you have money to spend.

Just some advice. As a student I don’t have very much money, and it is starting to dawn on me that I cant keep up my current spending habits and expect to take care of myself in the long run. Be honest with yourself and keep your spending in check.
So that is it! Let me know in the comments any do’s and dont’s you keep while going shopping for makeup. Also be sure to check out my Sephora Diaries; Vol.1 and Sephora Diaries; Vol. 2 for my detailed experiences as a Sephora VIB Rouge! My next Sephora Diaries post will be this Sunday so stay tuned!

On a side note, I thought you all would enjoy the 100 Thoughts We All Have At Sephora.




9 thoughts on “The Do’s and Dont’s of Shopping for Makeup

  1. I love this post!! I used a disposable spoolie for mascara at Sephora before… Never again… People use the ACTUAL WAND TO TEST! They don’t cut the wands off like they do at MAC. I never got an infection, but I won’t do it again. I honestly didn’t think about it until after I left too. I feel ashamed!!

    • Haha thank you! I think that they don’t cut off the wand because so many of them have ‘special’ brushes and they want you to see them. I agree though that its pretty gross. When I was speaking to my MUA yesterday she said she would see people actually using those brushes right out the tube! ACK!

      • Yeah that’s why I’m so sad that I sampled it even with a disposable brush!! I found out that I really want the buxom lash mascara though! Lol They should have a little paper with swatching rules to hand to guests! People don’t really think about stuff like that at all!

  2. I’d add on, don’t let the SA’s guilt trip you. It’s your money, you earned it. You are not obligated to spend anything because the SA’s are being pushy.

    Great list though.

  3. very useful!
    it usually takes me longer to decide whenever I shop online, because the internet is dark and full of review/swatches. online shopping is also tricky, because you can’t actually try them on yourself.. besides, it’s more likely to end up buying other unnecessary items when I shop online.. duh 😦

    • Thank you! I totally agree, I hate buying things especially makeup online but sometimes its the only way 😦 I recently found an Inglot counter near me so that cuts down one, but I really want some Illamasqua products too. Since Sephora stopped carrying it I can only order online now :p

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