Makeup Shopping: How to enjoy the process and not feel overwhelmed

High Five for Friday

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken with women who feel uncomfortable shopping for makeup or hair products in a beauty store. So if you feel that way, know that you are not alone!

While I don’t know everyone’s unique situation, I think a lot of the time it’s a combination of unfamiliarity and uncertainty. If you don’t know what you need, it’s hard to shop for it. It’s also hard to trust the employees of a beauty store to sell you what you need if you don’t know what that is.

Here are a few things to consider if you are aprehensive about shopping for beauty products:

1. Have a rough idea of what you are looking for before you walk in. Are you in need of foundation or an eyeliner? Knowing what you need, instead of being open to whatever the employees may tell you that you need, is safer and easier to shop for. At the very least, start with the product you intend to purchase. Then, if the employee shows you an eyeliner or lipstick that she thinks would be great on you, hang onto it as a consideraiton. 

2. Know what you are willing to spend on and what you’d rather save on. For me, I’ll spend on foundations, primers, and other things that touch my skin. I typically go for drug store mascaras and a combination of high end and drug store lip products. To avoid emptying your wallet at, for example, Sephora, make a mental list of what you are willing to buy from said store.

3. Trust the employee. Typically, anyone that works at a beauty store has at least some level of interest in beauty. They should be able to lead you in the right direction. But makeup is personal. We all have preferences and things that we like/don’t like that are different from other people. So gather a few options and test out the samples on your hand or arm. Get a feel for the product. I was recently shopping with my friend Allyson and the makeup artist grabbed a sage/olive green eyeliner and began applying it. In my head I was thinking,”oh that may be a little too dramatic” but after she was finished, it gave Allyson’s eyes a beautiful pop and worked really nicely with the brown shadows she was wearing. She ended up buying a similar liner at another store since it looked so great! 

4. Ask about the return policy. You simply can’t know whether a product will work for you until you try it on the following morning. Ask about the store’s return policy so you can see how long (or if) you can test the product out.

5. Kindly decline help if you are simply there to browse. Some employees of retail stores can be a little too aggressive. It’s challenging to work in retail, and I get that, but it is totally okay to tell someone that you are simply there to browse and that you’ll find them when you have a question. They should get the hint that you don’t need to be asked questions at this time. If for some reason they won’t leave you alone, it’s okay to be direct and say, “Thank you but I don’t need any help right now.” Respect that it’s their job to try to help you, but you can also protect your need to feel comfortable and have space when shopping. 

I wrote a few makeup posts awhile back to break down what the “average” makeup collection may contain. If you are interested, you can read those posts Here, Here and Here.

I hope this helps you feel a little bit more confident and comfortable when you are shopping for makeup! 


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Michelle Ash Latham says · 10.14.13 Reply
Lins - Domesticated Working Woman says · 10.14.13

This is so spot on! The first time I went to Ulta I walked out having spent wayyyy too much money and had buyer’s remorse within days. Now, I know I want mineral foundation so I spend on that. I’ve since tried Ulta’s eyeshadows and found I love them as well and they are so much cheaper than the Stila I was previously buying! I also stick to a drug store mascara and have found I don’t like waterproof. It stinks that makeup is so much trial and error, but at least there are less expensive options!

Annie Lindsay says · 10.14.13

Wow, I can’t imagine feeling uncomfortable in a makeup store and that’s probably an indication that I have waaayyyyy too much makeup. But I totally agree, you have to enter with a mission. Know what you need or have a budget.

Ashley says · 10.14.13

I follow these steps all the time, it’s definitely important!!

Sincerely Miss Ash

Laura Bakewell says · 10.14.13

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an overzealous employee at my Ulta store. I’m like, “Hey, I’m here to spend money, can someone help me please?” And it’s like I can hear the crickets chirping…

I am consistently impressed with the Ulta brand products. They’ve replaced some of my expensive brand name favorites.

Caroline Hurley says · 10.14.13

I don’t get so overwhelmed in stores like Ulta and Sephora because there isn’t pressure to buy. Now when it comes to department store make up counters I’m scared to step within 3 feet of the counter in fear of their sales pitch…and I work in retail! On top of that whenever I’ve bought foundation from those beauty counters they just talk about how pale I am…like geeze I got it already!

Rebecca Smith says · 10.14.13

YES! I totally agree. I go to Ulta all the time, but those makeup counters… those are terrifying.

Molly Fishburn-Matthew says · 10.14.13

This post had perfect timing. We just got an Ulta and when I walked in I had no idea where to start!

Megan {Willow Way Blog} says · 10.14.13

Love this! I remember being so overwhelmed the first time I walked into Sephora 🙂 Now I’m a pro!

Leslie: DowntownHaute says · 10.14.13

I’ve worked at several beauty counters over the years and I know that walking into a beauty store can be very overwhelming.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Navigating all of the MANY products can get so much easier if you ask and have an idea of what you’re looking for.

Casey Ray says · 10.15.13

I also think its important to speak up when you either don’t like the finished product, or know there is a reason it won’t work for you (too dramatic/not dramatic enough/ too many steps/etc).

Saying “I just don’t think this is ‘me;’ can we try a more natural/dramatic/colorful look instead?” or “I am really only comfortable using two shadows and a primer for my everyday look” is important if thats what you want. It took me a long time to get comfortable doing this, and now that I have its much easier to (1) ask for help and (2) walk out with something I won’t return the next day.

I also try to tell them what I have at home so they know I won’t be spending $100 for a total eye look. For example, if I want suggestions for a natural eye I might say that I have an eye primer I love and a great brown and a great black shadow to use as a liner, so I’d like products that complement them or stand alone. Then they aren’t piling products in front of me (mascara, highlighting pencil, etc.) so much that I get overwhelmed and know I can’t afford it all.

Dirty Blonde Ambition says · 10.15.13

You have some great points and advice. Sometimes sales people are so aggressive that even I feel uncomfortable, but it’s hard to tell them “I’m just here to play [browse].” 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!

xx Lauren
Dirty Blonde Ambition

Susan C. says · 10.15.13

The worse habit I have is knowing what I’m going in Sephora for and coming out with 5 other items along with it! I don’t think this will ever change for me.

Susan | Susan Loves…

Kate says · 10.15.13

Me too!

Unknown says · 10.15.13

Does anyone know if target takes makeup back?

Kate says · 10.15.13

As long as you have your receipt they will!

Unknown says · 10.15.13

Thank you!

Abby says · 10.15.13

I love these tips, and I totally agree… know the return policy!! It’s so nice to be able to take something home and really try it out… see how it reacts to your skin, and then decide if it works for you. Thankfully most places have good policies that make it easy.

xo, Abby @ Always, Abby

Caitlin Phillips says · 10.16.13

Hey Kate! I wanted to ask you about BB creams- I have combo skin/oily and I can’t seem to find a good BB cream that lasts… I got a sample of Dr Jarts premium in my birchbox and it looks and feels fantastic!! But about half way through the day I just want to wash off my face and it looks splotchy and a mess. Do you suggest any BB creams for my kind of skin?! Thanks!

Glitter Grace and Texas says · 10.16.13 Reply
Sisterino says · 10.17.13

Great ideas! My town doesn’t have a makeup/beauty store, and I have to drive at least an hour to hit a Sephora. When I make it inside…aahh…the angels sing and I hear the Hallelujah Chorus in my head. Then I look to my heart’s content and wish I had a million bucks to spend!! haha

veer singh says · 10.18.13

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Erin @ Isaboo Designs says · 10.18.13

Another tip is to save your receipts! Especially at places like Sephora and Ulta, they have very generous return policies. I keep all the packaging from products after buying because I dont like to keep things I hate. And sometimes it happens. I only keep what I love. I should probably love fewer things…cause I have too much makeup!

bilal yousuf says · 10.19.13

Thanks for the great tips for makeup shopping!

Ravi Shankar says · 10.21.13 is a young and vibrant fashion and lifestyle online store. Enjoy free delivery on shopping for any amount. Jabong delivery time will not take more than 48 hours. So get set go. Happy Shopping.


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