Cosmetic shopping: Vlogs, value and revitalizing your supply

The New Year means a dressing-table sweep: out with five-year-old sunscreen, unused pans of heavy-shimmer eyeshadow, the expensive lipstick that dried my lips.

Interested in joining in?
Before restocking, browse beauty and makeup vlogs made by and for grown women. While makeup has changed, many products are made for a young market; I bought a gel eyeliner that indeed glided as smoothly as Alina Zagitova landing a five-jump combination, but laid down an unalterably thick line that was way too aggressive.

This Guardian article lists links to vlogs for us, though I shall avoid the Korean woman's method of curling her eyelashes with a heated toothpick.

Vlogs are way better than articles; you can see the correct application and judge whether you have the eye-hand coordination and patience required. (If any "look" goes beyond four steps, I'm outta there.)

Today, tips for makeup shopping, regardless of price point.

Mascara: Any brand from budget to luxury dries and thicken as it ages, even in the package.
Three ways to get it fresh:
1. Check the batch code for the production date or PAO code for expiry date. PAO codes are standard on European cosmetics; batch codes are more common with North American-made products.
2. Ask the cosmetics salesperson for the latest batch; they usually see what's just been restocked.
3. No salesperson? Reach way to the back. Like milk, the older stuff is shelved to the front.

Lippie: Try it on unless you like the roulette-wheel thrill of buying from a colour swatch. Walk outdoors to look at it with your little purse mirror, because the store lights will distort the hues. What looks vibrant under florescence can change dramatically in natural light. This tactic is important for any colour-intense makeup, like blusher, eyeshadow and pencils in anything other than neutrals. (It may be a pain to exit a mall, but worth it.) Oh, and put it on the body part where it goes.

Skin care: Once you find the skin care system that works for you, use it faithfully; do not stray to the newest miracle someone blogs about. That's how you end up with a nest of barely-used bottles. By this time you probably know what it is.  If not, it will be lots of trial and error; see "At the counter".

A consultant can help, but I grew wary of skincare-expert bloggers: conflicting advice and product recommendations that compensate the writer or are her own brand.

At the counter

Before you are enveloped in an estrogen haze of girlfriend bonding with a makeup artist, here are some pointers:

1. First, the praise: professional advice is is terrific because various products perform differently depending on the climate conditions where you live, so local makeup artists can be more accurate than vloggers. For example, Montréal can be so cold that some lipsticks have actually hardened to a shell on my lips.

Current crush: L'Oreal Color Riche Shine, sitting prettily between lipstick and gloss, emollient enough for our harsh winter, and in a pretty case you don't often see at that price point.

I look for the oldest associate at a place like Sephora or MAC; if no one looks over twenty-three, I ask how long they've been working in the business. Yes, I am being ageist, but a young artist may not realize how differently older skin accepts certain effects. I applaud the MAC makeup artist, Kim, who politely told an acquaintance that the dark purple eyeshadow she liked would be all wrong for her.

Then, push them about performance. The prettiest shade of lipstick is a bust if it lasts twenty minutes. Forget the sleek packaging, the scent, the sexy name. How does it wear? No tube-type lipstick lasts all day; here is a good tutorial in getting the most out of the one you love, and it mentions my favourite universal beauty item, Arden Eight Hour Cream.

2. Skin care products can be tippy-top dollar and still not deliver for you.

At specialty and department stores, request free samples and assess at home, away from the seductive setting. Sephora give samples of any product supplied in a tube or pump bottle. (If you are dissatisfied, they will accept a return within 30 days if you've only used a little.)

At drug stores, samples are usually limited to on-site application from a tester, but there are occasional vendor events where they'll give samples.

3. For exfoliating, body moisturizing and makeup-removal products: look up the DIY version first and if you can make it in an hour or less, whip it up. This stuff is ridiculously overpriced.

Why spend $35 on a body scrub when there are excellent recipes (ten easy ones are here) that cost less than a takeout coffee to make? You can even concoct your own all-natural mascara. I haven't tried, but I've made scrubs, makeup remover, lipstick/gloss and masks.

Makeup is the essence of the feminine world; it has been found at Egyptian sites dating from 4, 000 years B.C. When you're restocking, choose at least one item that makes you feel like a fabulous creature. Don't feel bad if the packaging is part of it, this is your thrumming pleasure centre calling.

Resisting every splashy-flashy product will permit that indulgence; in my case, it's fragrance, a whole other world.  And don't keep it for 'good'. Wear that lipstick in the elegant case, massage a satiny cream into your winter-roughed skin—and enjoy the ritual.


Laura J said…
What a good self-care post for January! Eye issues mean I no longer use even liner and while I think I should wear lippie this child of the 60s finds it hard. BUT never fear I am a skin care and fragrance fan. My goal to have the minimal elegant lineup of stuff for the face. I look only for cruelty free brands to ease the choices. Ruthlessly weeded odd bits of stuff during last move. :). And I love a good facial!!
Madame Là-bas said…
I am always interested in adapting makeup for the older face. The Tricia Cusden page on the Guardian link had some ideas that I could use. Some older women look like caricatures of themselves because they continue to use techniques that served them well in younger years. I've cleared out but I think that I need to do another sweep. Makeup is either used or not. There seems to be little point in holding on the old makeup because I paid a significant amount of money for it. We need to see real women in their 60's, 70's and 80's in advertising.
LauraH said…
Skin care is my focus, more so than makeup. Coincidentally, I did a major re-assessment of my needs and spending this fall and have switched to less expensive brands for some products. That said, I began wearing lipstick/gloss several years ago and now won't leave the house without it. Funny how habit takes hold. I'll check out the tutorial, thanks for the link.

Skin care products can be pretty pricey as you mentioned, so I always hack open the containers or cut the tubes when they are 'finished' Amazing how much is left inside. BTW if anyone want to try this, I suggest doing it over the sink and keep the container away from your eyes. A pair of fine needle nosed pliers comes in handy!
Duchesse said…
LauraJantek: Since there is no photo next to your comments, I don't know what you look like without lipstick (and I include gloss, whatever). However, I too did not wear any lipstick during the day until I was around 40 (another child of the '60s, and ate it off anyway, so quickly). But past 40, felt I needed it in my professional life, and now with grey hair if not wearing at least gloss, don't think I look as healthy. What skin care line is your favourite?

Mme Là-bas: That's it precisely, makeup is "used or not". I have pretty much moved beyond impulse buying but can still get a kick from a new lipstick as the season changes.

LauraH: Some skin products may be worth the price, especially for skin issues. I have normal, boring skin and I saw that but lots of moisturizers and exfoliants are easier to make than a cake, and as a bonus, I sometimes scent them (but I am not anywhere near going DIY with perfume). Thanks for the tube tip!
Jane said…
Duchesse, I hear you on finding the oldest clerk in Sephora. Problem is, they are all a third of my age! I feel like they are looking at me and thinking "What is she doing in here?" "She's hopeless!" I am not proud of my attitude, just stating how I feel! So much conflicting cosmetics advice on the internet! -Lily
LauraH said…
Wow, you make moisturizer? Never thought of that though I have made masks. Time for an internet search:-)
Kare said…
I love Dr.Dray on YOUTUBE,she has saved me lots of $$$$. Before I buy skincare products I check her first. you tube is a great resource for cosmetics and for application. Her 2018 review of favorites is a great list of products.

Barbara said…
As for Mascara: I use "Kanebo Sensai Mascara 38°" which can be removed by only using warm water (it's a Tube Mascara). It dries too, but one drop of lukewarm water smoothes the Mascara and so it lasts about six month. Additional bonus: the brush is a small one and it's easy to apply the Mascara to my spare lashes.

My favorite skincare products come from "Roche Posay" and "CeraVe". CeraVe does a wonderful Moisturizer with Niacinamide and Ceramide which is helpful for dry/aging skin.
I don't think that the use of any cream can avoid or remove wrinkles, so my goal is just a good skin texture.

I use make up regularly, but keep it simple.Foundation, Blush, Mascara, Gloss. Those lot of brushes and A product I can't live without is: "Avène Couvrance Correcteur Fluid. Fluid foundation corrector". It's not as high pigmented as normal Make up and gives a very natural and glowy look.

All those used brushes and concealers in Vlogs make me nervous;-)
Mardel said…
What a great post! I've gotten better at letting go of things I no longer use, despite their cost, and also buying/trying only one thing at a time, if I am looking to fill a gap. It is too easy to allow oneself to be talked into too much. I'll pay for a pretty package, if the color and product is right, but I'll also let it go when it no longer works for me.. I also make some of my own potions and that list might expand. I've been making my own deodorant/antiperspirant for years now and also my own cuticle oil as too many brands contain vitamin e oil which can be problematic for me. I used to make my own oatmeal scrub until my skin could no longer tolerate oatmeal. Then I tried new things. I admittedly bought a body scrub because it was pretty and came in a pretty jar, but the ingredients looked good as well. Instead of buying a second jar however, I knocked off the formula and refilled the jar with my own blend which I like even better than the original. I use makeup, but far less than when I was younger, and far more sparingly. I wear more lipstick than I did, and when I find a color that brightens my face without overpowering, I hold on to it. I feel too many colors are aimed at younger complexions.
sensitive poet said…
Yes for sure, it's crucial to update skin care products and makeup as skin and hair colour change (if you let it!). I made the decision to go "silver" (the term grey is verboten in our household) because my mother died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is statistically associated with the coal tar dyes used in the past for dark hair colour. My mother had beautiful black hair, and paid dearly for her decision to keep it that way into her 70's...
So I pay more attention to other parts - keeping the lips plump and moist with the Tatcha lip oil (a beautiful coral-red gloss which keeps the lips moist for 4+ hours, even in the worst of winter), or with the Chantecaille lip glosses, which have similar humectant properties. For face moisturizer, again anything with humectants. I also keep the hands plump and smooth with Cerave and I love the Dior clear Nail Gloss which allows you to do your nails once a week, and it fades gently away, never chips! Also see, a free website which posts honest consumer reviews (there are hundreds of thousands of them, so no single company could influence them) - the best thing about it, is you can search specifically for reviews in your age group. I am lucky to be in a profession where age/experience is an advantage, so I don't worry about the changes I see in the mirror. My grandchildren love me as I am (they've never seen me any other way!), and my husband loves me as I am (and no, he doesn't dye his hair either).
sensitive poet said…
Small correction - it's Dior Nail Glow, not gloss. Additional details: anything with hyaluronic acid will have water retaining properties - Vichy Mineral 89 has it, as does the Deciem product (cheaper than most other companies). For rough skin on elbows and ankles, 10% glycolic acid does the trick (any brand, although I use NeoStrata). Paula Begoun also has good, unbiased reviews on her free Beautipedia website, and her products are also quite good and reasonably priced.
JohnInWI said…
Montreal ladies, a reason to get dolled up and an early Valentine's date idea - Opera McGill presents Die Zauberfloet by Mozart. It looks magical (and there are subtitles!). -Lily
Duchesse said…
All: These recommendations are terrific and such fun for me to read. Also, I trust you!

As far as all makeup artists being a third one's age, as I said, ask about experience and also trust your own eye. Sometimes you have to give them some limits, e.g., "I want one of those sheer demi-lipsticks with a lot of emollient". The young makeup artists seem to have a thing for intensely-coloured mattes, which I don't like.

Mardel: "I knocked off the formula": perhaps a post on restingmontion?

LauraH: Here is one I like, take care not to overblend.

sensitive poet: Sally Hansen made a product, now d/c like that, and it was about an eight the price, so I stocked up and am hoarding the last bottle. The Dior Nail Glow would be a nice treat. Mostly, I buff my nails.

Lily: Thank you for the mention; the performance is Feb. 1-3, 2019. Opera McGill is not only a very good company, the tickets are extremely reasonable for opera, $46 for seniors.
Duchesse said…
Mardel: And all reading, that is "restingmotion", Mardel's blog.

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