Manolo for the Beauty » Makeup Counter Confessions

Makeup Counter Confessions

By Glinda

The lovely klee stated in a comment:

Go get a free make-over at one of the beauty counters about once a year. It will give you new ideas, freshen your look (so you don’t fall into a time warp trap) and you’ll probably learn a trick or two.

That is an absolutely fabulous idea, for sure.  Everyone should definitely take her advice.

Except for me.

You see, I seem to have the “makeup counter curse.”

I have yet to be pleased with any makeover done at a makeup counter, and I’ve had quite the few.  I’ve had them done at high-end department stores as well as places like Merle Norman.  And if you can remember Merle Normans, then congrats, you’re a dinosaur just like me!

Usually my first indication that this isn’t going to turn out well is when the counter girl has apparently seen fit to apply practically all products from the line she sells on her face at the same time.   It’s too much, I tell you, and it frightens me.

Despite my inner alarm bells, I have proceeded with the makeovers, always with disastrous results.

I consider myself to be an attractive person.  I’ve got large blue-green eyes with long lashes, a nicely shaped nose, an oval face shape, and lips that are (to me) the perfect thickness.  I don’t really have great cheekbones, but I’ve long come to terms with my non-chiseled-ness.  But the makeup artists tend to see a blank canvas upon which they envision me coated with so much product, I don’t even recognize myself when they are through.  They always pay compliments to my features, even as they go about doing their best to sabotage them.

After my last visit to Sephora, which was an experiment to see what lip color the employee would steer me toward, I am sort of ambivalent about anyone helping me at all at this point.  She applied this very frosty, Barbie-pink lipstick on me, and I wanted to laugh.  I’m almost forty, and Barbie-pink doesn’t do me any favors.  I wore it twenty years ago, and trust me, it belongs in my past.

So for everyone else, makeovers are a great idea.

Me, not so much.  At least until I figure out how to counteract the curse.

7 Responses to “Makeup Counter Confessions”

  1. aurumgirl Says:

    I like the idea of approaching the beauty store’s employees to see what colour they’ll steer you to. I always get shades of pink, too–always far more suitable for the girl selling the product than they are for me.

    And then I always go back to what works: matte reds (like MAC’s Russian Red) or something like Clinique’s Pink Chocolate, which is not really a pink.

    I think the girls feel the pinks are the wallflowers of the makeup stock, and they really want those shades to get out there and dance.

  2. theDiva Says:

    I’ve had my makeup ‘done’ over the years. The only time I was truly happy with the results was when the (male) training director for Estee Lauder did it. I looked like myself, only better. All other times? Bah. A face full of m.a.k.e.u.p.

  3. Emily Says:

    Yeah, my experience is that store makeovers only work when I give the person really specific suggestions to work within. I’m fair with brown hair and blue eyes, so everyone’s first impulse is to put me in dusty pinks and browns, which I hate. I finally figured out I could just say “please, something other than pink and brown.” That artist put me in blue-based purples, which I loved.

    I also tend to enjoy makeovers more when I’m not trying to get a new everyday look. Provided you’re not afraid of looking silly, going to some super colorful counter like NARS and saying “do something fun and dramatic, I’m not afraid of color” is always a good time, and you learn neat tricks you wouldn’t get otherwise.

  4. Klee Says:

    If I may quantify my original Post, I usually wait until a special store or brand event, when the brand sends the more experienced make up artist. Unless you live in NYC or other large, fashion forward city, the regular counter person probably won’t be very good. If there is a brand you like or would like to try, sign up to be notified when there will be specialists visiting.

  5. Whitney Says:

    I agree with what Klee says in her follow-up comment: let the national or regional touring rep do the makeover. They’re not there to make a commission. I worked for years as the executive secretary in one of the top department stores in the country, and we had all of the big name cosmetic bays. The ladies all loved me ( I buy a LOT of color) and let me know when freebies were coming or new colors I might like were coming online, but they NEVER did my face. The touring artists for each line did it, and the bay ladies would occasionally show me a new shade pallette pack in between visits, working very specifically from what their own “stars” chose for me.

    I admit I was in a rather unique position, because no one in any cosmetic company wanted to piss off my boss, the manager of a $100 million store. But like any other customer should, I found a line whose general “look” (Lancome, as it turns out, though I play in everybody else’s pool) I like, established a relationship with the counter manager at the same time I got the pro makeover, made the counter manager my “agent” (the counter manager is less likely to quit or transfer than others on the counter, so you get consistency), and established a good client relationship with her/him.

  6. Glinda Says:

    @aurumgirl- Yes, I ask them because I’m willing to see if they know a shade for me that I might overlook. I think I’ve had success a couple of times, but by this time I’m pretty familiar with what works for me and what doesn’t. I can do pink, but certainly not THAT pink!

    @theDiva- I’m with you, sister!

    @Emily- I’ve not gone to a NARS counter, maybe I’ll try them next time, taking into account the advice given above!

    @Klee- I actually live in the entertainment capital of the world, so you would think they would know SOMETHING. I’ve not made a special effort to seek out special events, I will try that next time! Thanks!

    @Whitney- Uh, is it wrong that I am jealous of you?

  7. Whitney Says:

    @Glinda, nah, don’t be jealous. I admit that I was lucky that my job at the time gave me the opportunity to “hang out” at the makeup counters in a way that a paying customer never could, and I did learn a lot. So here’s my rules:

    1. Let the touring talent do your face; they’re usually there only to sell color, not the skincare.
    2. Schedule your appointment with the talent on the first day, especially if it coincides with a gift – odds are exceptionally good the counter manager will be on duty that day and he/she is the one you want to establish your relationship with. Get your name in *that* client book, not the rest of the counter team (please understand that I am not putting anyone down, I’m just saying that a counter manager is much more likely to be there for the long term).
    3. Once you’re in somebody’s client book, make sure they know what you do and don’t like and how willing you are to experiment. And once you get that relationship established, then start talking skin care.
    4. For the record, they’ll tell you that the skin care works best if you buy the whole line, but it’s hooey. Everybody’s skin is different, and everybody’s skin is different throughout the year. No one line can have everything for one face. I have three different moisturizers and two cleansers from four lines that get used throughout the year. Don’t let them sucker you. Try and get enough samples (and this isn’t easy) to use for two weeks.

    The best way to tell if you’re with the right person and company is the first time they offer a color/scent/skincare you don’t like. See how they react: if they move on or offer once more to let you try it (perhaps just for fun) and they’re obviously in good humor (bonus points for noting this preference in your client profile), then you’re in good hands. If they get pushy or act miffed or in any other way make you uncomfortable, move on and make sure someone higher up the food chain in that makeup line knows. There’s nothing worse than loving somebody’s products but walking away because you just can’t deal with the counter reps (Shiseido lost me forever that way, and it was my own store).

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