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IS DUTY-FREE SERVICE-FREE? Check Your Bag!

Posted by 01.23.10



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*Note all of the products in this article were PURCHASED

These days with travel being what it is, I often find myself roaming Duty Free shops for beauty and grooming essentials I either forgot to pack, were confiscated by the friendly folks at the TSA or security in a foreign land, or I just couldn’t be bothered to pour into 3 oz/50 ml jars so I left home.

London Heathrow has become my number one airport HUB FROM HELL – superceding even the infamous Paris Charles De Gaulle where Delta once sent my Tumi suitcase with some of my favourite pieces off to Chenai in an erreur that necessitated a quick trip to Galeries Lafayette to find something suitable to wear for under a zillion Euros in order to give a presentation to 100+ doctors!

On my last visit across the pond I decided not to trek along my must-have Estee Lauder Maximum Cover Camouflage Makeup for Face and Body SPF15 because it is a conspicuous deep blue tube that is surely considered a dreaded liquid by anyone’s standards, which translates to having to either pack it or stuff it in my overflowing 1 ounce ziptop plastic bag, where cabin pressure may cause a small explosion. As I was nearing the end of the particular tube of Maximum Cover that lives in my makeup bag (I have a few spares in other places that I dont carry around), it seemed reasonable to replenish along the way. BIG MISTAKE THAT WAS!

In the rundown and ratty Terminal 3, I was on a mission to flag down a sales assistant to help me get what I needed. I specifically requested Creamy Vanilla, which she balked at with a grimace. (I have been wearing that shade for ions!). Reluctantly, she agreed to get it for me, if it was in stock, which she claimed it was upon inspection. While I was there, I decided to live bravely and try some of the other Lauder concealers that could be tossed in a makeup bag and go unnoticed (possibly if the jail wardens in uniform at security were not paying too close attention, or were chatting among themselves when I passed through).

I had not tried Estee Lauder Resilience Lift Extreme Ultra Firming SPF15 and I liked the idea of a small sized stick, and the word ‘LIFT’ in the name greatly appeals as well. I also do rate the other Resilience Lift products as luxury so this was right up my alley.  As I was not sure of my shade and had zero confidence in the sales lady’s judgment so early into the relationship,  I hunted for a tester. No testers to be found in Light or Light-Medium. I ever so gently suggested that she make a new tester by opening the box of one of the concealers for sale. Request denied with a curling of her upper lip. It only comes in 4 shades – so she had a 25% chance of getting it right. She recommended that I take the Medium – and I requested Light-Medium, which was thankfully in stock (or so I was led to believe) so we proceeded to the till (as the Brits say) with my Amex and boarding pass.

We exchanged lukewarm ‘Cheers’ and I walked away with my little bag of concealers, ready to face my flaws boldly, armed to the teeth with powerful weapons. Many miles and electronic walkways later, while sitting at the gate waiting to board, I opened the bag to get rid of the boxes and package inserts. Lo and behold, she had gotten it wrong on both counts!! I had received a Maximum Cover in Light (which is practically Porcelain, and I had insisted on Creamy Vanilla), and instead of Resilience Lift Extreme in Light-Medium, I got Ideal Light Brush On Illuminator (like Lauder’s version of the cult classic YSL Touche Eclat) in Light-Medium.  Oops! Double trouble – she got one shade wrong, and one product wrong but the shade right!

On the plane in 12A, my mind pondered on whether this was just some latent passive aggressive personality disorder rearing it ugly head on my account…(These are the moments when you know you are truly too jet lagged to go another frequent flying mile.)

The moral of this story is two-fold:

#1 DON’T ask for assistance in Duty Free because the staff is not always well trained, English speaking (or whatever language you do speak) or helpful in the least.

#2 ALWAYS double check your purchase if you do decide to buy because there are a lot of out of stock products, so selection is paltry…..and it’s a long, long way from the gate back to Duty Free. You may miss your plane in the process of making an exchange or risk having to go through an extra security check.

Having gone through this exercise, here are my reviews of the Estee Lauder concealing range:

Estee Lauder Maximum Cover Camouflage Makeup for Face and Body SPF15 –As close to opaque coverage for flaws, veins, blemishes, scars, birthmarks, post lasers, peels and injections, also for spider veins on chest and legs – good SPF coverage – feels light but a little goes a long way. If you use too much, you tend to look pasty. Definitely apply moisturizer first, and it is suitable to be mixed with foundations or moisturizers as well. I LOVE it, personally, and it is very handy to keep around – as you never know when you’ll have something to be covered that shows up without warning.  I would give it a solid RDW (run dont walk) – No woman should be without at least one tube!

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay in Place Concealer SPF 10 – Lovely, easy to use wand with sponge applicator. I think it would be quite good for oily skin and in humid climates, as it does indeed stay in place well. Extremely portable and easy to throw in a bag for emergencies.  Personally, I wish it had SPF15, because less than a 15 is pretty useless, especially around the delicate eyelids where crow’s feet are just waiting to appear.  It gets a GGI (Gotta Get It).

Estee Lauder Ideal Light Brush On Illuminator  – I must admit that although this is certainly a nice product, and I am sure it is great for many women, it is not my first choice and does not really conceal well enough, at least for my dark circles. I would consider this to be a highlighter or light reflector, rather than a true concealer.  I personally prefer Touche Eclat or Dior, if you are looking for this particular type of product. My daughter (age almost 18 and flawless) however, is happily enjoying it. For me this is an ICW (It Can Wait).

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Photo Credit – www.esteelauder.com

Regrettably, I still have not tried the Estee Lauder Resilience Lift Extreme SPF15 but will report back when I do, as it is on my list, and rest assured that I won’t be buying it at the Duty Free shop anytime soon!


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