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06-08-11 | Posted by

Finding the perfect shade of nude lipgloss or the newest lash lengthening mascara can make any woman’s toes curl. The instant gratification factor can be very seductive. Even if you’re having a bad day, a sweep of a hot new bronzer or a smudge of  charcoal pencil for a smoky eye effect can lift your spirits and transform your mood.  Perhaps that explains why most women have medicine cabinets, makeup bags and vanities overflowing with must-have makeup products that were impulse purchases.

To get the most out of your makeup, follow our pointers.

Mix and match brands – Don’t get stuck in a rut of buying the same brand for years. Experiment with something fresh and new, or a change in color palette. Women tend to be much less brand loyal when it comes to color cosmetics vs. skincare. Keep your absolute favorites around, but trade up when you feel like your makeup routine has hit a wall.

Shop across channels, price points –  The most expensive products don’t always make the best ones for you. Prioritize what you are willing to spend more on – for example, foundation or concealer. You can find great products in all price ranges, and there are lots of bargains to be found to fill in from drugstores and online outlets. Maybelline Great Lash has been around for decades and is a fave of BITB’s managing editor, and the price is always right. $4.99, drugstore.com. And L’Oreal True Match Foundation is a secret must-have of a well-known editor (who will forever go unnamed). $10.95, lorealparisusa.com.

Go shopping with a bare face – If you are looking for concealers, powders or foundations, go shopping without any makeup on so you can test the shade on your bare, clean skin. At a beauty counter, it helps to try a shade right on your face or jawline to judge whether it is the right match. Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to see the shade in natural light to be sure.

Watch out for shimmer and sparkle – Many products can be deceivingly sparkly or glittery once you get them home. Avoid overly shiny cheek and eye shadow for daytime that can be over the top and send the wrong message. Go for matte finishes or just a hint of shimmer without full on shine. Save the glitter, deep jewel tones, and metallics for evening wear only. MAC always has a great selection of single pan matte shadows to choose from, $14.50, maccosmetics.com. That way you don’t have to pay for an entire palette, and end up only being able to use one or two shades.

Invest in the right tools – Invest in a good set of natural brushes and take good care of them so they will last well. When considering the brushes you need, match the mission of the brush to what you will be using (powder, liquid, liner, brows, cheeks, etc.)  Avoid cheap plastic brushes or sponge tip applicators for eye shadows that can attract bacteria. For good alternatives to expensive artist brushes, check out sephora.com brand brushes, target.com for Sonia Kashuk brushes and cvs.com for Essence of Beauty.

Use testers cautiously – It’s never a good idea to test lipsticks, lip gloss, mascara, eye liner on your face in a shop. It is too risky that you may spread unknown bacteria from testers that have been lying around and used by countless other women. Rather try out color cosmetics on your hand or neck to see how the color looks on your skin.

Sign up for a lesson – If you think your makeup could use an update, sign up for a makeup lesson. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Pros have a million tips to offer that can take your makeup routine from dull to drop dead gorgeous. Brand agnostic makeup artists can also help choose the right products and shades for you and save you from making bad choices and wasting money on passing fads. A few tricks of the trade can make all the difference!

Discontinued product search – We’ve all been there. Your absolute perfect lipstick shade or foundation is discontinued and you feel like the world is coming to an end. Don’t despair – there are lots of options. Many companies can now match a must have shade for you, or bring the color to a beauty superstore and see how close you can get to the ideal shade. Also check Ebay.com for discontinued products – you may find what you’re looking for from resellers.

Return your mistakes – If you buy a product and bring it home only to find that it doesn’t quite work for you, don’t be afraid to return or exchange it for something better. Most drugstores offer a full refund on cosmetics with the receipt, and department stores or specialty stores will often let you exchange the item for a different shade or formula.

Swap with girlfriends – If you find yourself with a stockpile of unused or barely used products in the wrong shade or formula for you, swap with your BFFs for something they can’t use that works great for you. Makeup hand-me-downs are always welcome too….hint, hint.

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