How To Buy Lipstick

Half lesson in purchasing decisions and half swatch post. Some of you will recall that a few months ago I tweeted asking what the best nude lip for an NC42 would be. Mind you, this was back when I was still trying a nude lip (i’ve since determined the look is not for me) and when I still thought I was an NC42 (I’m an NW30-35.) The results were many and sometimes I wish i’d gone with them. Cherish and Hug Me were the prompt replies from lovely ladies like JC of Makeup Diary and Mercedes of Mercedes Makeup Obsession  – but when I tried them on I found they were near invisible on me due to my very pigmented lips. So I went the drastic route…what were the results? Viva Glam Gaga 2 (I think you can all remember how THAT went) Pink Plaid and Honeylove.


Pink Plaid and Honeylove

I purchased these lipsticks after my disastrous turn with my first MAC lippie, Viva Glam Gaga 2. Honeylove was its replacement and Pink Plaid was supposed to give me the “nude, peachy lip with a touch of pink” look I requested after deciding a nude lip might not work on me. Neither was successful, so i’ve decided to compile a list of rules to abide by when purchasing a lipstick.

1. Know your skintone

Like I mentioned above, at the time I thought I was an NC42. I am in fact an NW30-35 (35 right now). These are DRASTICALLY different shades with completely different undertones (yellow and pink respectively.)

Pink Plaid’s MAC description is “Dirty blue-pink.” Knowing that i’m an NW35 now would be enough to prevent me from having purchased this. It’s way too blue and way too cool on my lips. What was I thinking?!

MAC Pink Plaid On My Lips


2. Swatch, Swatch, Swatch (and know where to do it!)

I understand that some people are iffy when it comes to testers at a store (more on that later.) If you don’t like the idea of trying on the lipstick then at the very least swatch. I did this to a point…

Wrist Swatches (Pink Plaid on Top and Honeylove on the Bottom)

However on that day my wrist was considerably paler and more yellow toned than my face. I SHOULD have swatched on the back of my hand….

Back Of Hand Swatches (Pink Plaid on Top and Honeylove on the Bottom)

Had I done so I would have immediately dismissed Pink Plaid as too cool and Honeylove as too concealer-y.

3. Just try it on!

Most counters will have alcohol and wipes to sanitize a lipstick before you try it. If you’re particularly squeemish you can sanitize AND use a testing brush. Really there’s no reason not to try a lipstick. I promise there’s no crazy person out there licking the testers just to give you oral herpes. …Okay maybe there is but some alcohol sanitizing wipes will take care of it.

4. Here Comes The Sun

Regardless of whether you swatch or try on the lipstick, there is no reason not to step out of the harsh fluorescents of the sales floor and into the sun. Sunlight makes a world of difference when it comes to color and skin – so go for a quick walk and confirm the color really is as great as it looks under the humming, blue-tinted lights of LIES.

5. Pictures Speak Louder Than Words

More often than not, you’re just browsing. But occasionally there is an image so strong that it commands you to the counters to buy your lipstick. You go, you describe it to the best of your abilities, they give you the lipstick in question AND…it’s not even remotely similar. Has this happened to you? That was what happened with Honeylove.

My search for the nude was inspired by a makeup session I had done a few weeks prior. I know now that the shade used on me was a pale peachy coral…but at the time It just seemed “like…a light…nude with maybe some pink?” At least. those were the words I used when Honeylove was suggested to me. To the counter lady’s credit, she was spot on. Honeylove is described by MAC as “Light beige toned with rose.” Pretty darn close to my description. But nowhere near what I wanted.

MAC Honeylove on my Lips

Does that look peachy pale to you? No. But it’s what I asked for. Take the extra five minutes and bring the glossy, magazine page or the printed image with you. It’ll make the lives of you and the SA so much easier.

6. Bring a friend…with an opinion.

I’m not much of a girly-girl socializer offline. In fact, Bucket (my boyfriend) is the only person to ever accompany me on a makeup run. We all know what good a friend can make when you need a reliable person. But make sure that the friend you bring HAS an opinion. Bucket’s non-commital “It’s okay I guess.” To both PP and HL should have turned me off the lipsticks, but this is a man who can’t describe the color of his shirt let alone the colors on my face. Bring someone who’s opinion you trust and make sure that you can trust the opinion they give is relevant.

So you purchased the wrong lipstick anyway. Now what?

We’re lucky in the States. Drugstores will often take back lipsticks just because you don’t like them (double check with the register before you buy to save yourself a headache!) So will most counters. At the very least, you can exchange the lipstick for another shade. But what about those abroad?

1. Swap It

There are tons of reliable forums out there (Makeup Alley springs to mind) that host legitimate and safe swapping for ladies of regret. Give it a shot!

2. Sell It

Blogsales are a girl’s best fiend. Just remember to sanitize it before you send it out!

3. Scoop’n'Save

MAC lets you turn in any 6 empty cannisters of lipstick, blush or shadow for a free MAC Lipstick. If you don’t want to swap, sell or toss it – then you can scoop it out and save it to turn in on that fateful Back to Mac day!

4. Make it work

Pink Plaid and Honeylove have never earned a place in my beauty regimin…alone. But check out this awesome ombre lip I did with Pink Plaid and NYX Spellbound the other day!

Pink Plaid Ombre Lip (with NYX Spellbound)

Play around with your shopping regrets. Honeylove makes a great primer when blotted and can be used to tone down some of my more vibrant shades. The latter is true of Pink Plaid as well. And i’ve used both to create an ombre/gradient lip.

5. Donate It!

This tip comes courtesy of Vijaya from Fierce Nerditude. Women’s shelters will be happy to receive women’s makeup. <3

6. Toss It

Yes it’s money in the garbage. But better than garbage on your face. Toss it and move on!


So what are your biggest lipstick regrets? Which of the above steps do you like most? How cool are ombre lips?! Can’t wait to hear from you!

<3 EA

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10 Responses to How To Buy Lipstick

  1. Vijaya says:

    Rather than toss it, one of the better things to do is to donate it. Women’s shelters love getting makeup products.
    Vijaya recently posted..Final Fantasy Inspired: Fang

  2. Great tips! Especially the back of hand swatching. I always do that now. My regret is any nude beige lippie. I just can’t do them. My lips are too berry pigmented and they don’t suit me. I need to have some pink in my nudes.
    Tracy@Beauty Reflections recently posted..Monthly Misses September 2011

  3. Mercedes says:

    I love your Ombre lip!!! I also bought Pink Plaid about 3 years ago after a MUA did my makeup for an event. she did a smokey eye and used Pink Plaid instead of a regualr nude lip. She put a beige gloss over it… I forgot the name :-/ and I LOVE it! I still wear the combo once in awhile. Maybe try that? I also only dab the lipstick on so its very very pale.

  4. Larie says:

    Yay, great post! I think I tend to be a bit brave when it comes to buying lipsticks, but not with the actually wearing them part. Haha.
    Larie recently posted..Foodie Friday! #3: Favorites Feature!

  5. Stacey says:

    Thanks for these great tips Eden! I usually try a lipstick that I’m might purchase when I’m at the counter just because I think that’s the best way to see if it really suits me. And I strongly agree with point #4! I’ve had too many experiences where the lipstick shade ends up looking different to how it was at the store just because of the lighting!
    Stacey recently posted..Sleek Makeup Haul & Review Pt.2

  6. Thank you Ava! These are very useful remarks! The Pink Plaid Ombre Lip looks magical!!! soooo beautiful!
    ねこちゃん recently posted..Chiho Aoshima

  7. Awesome tips!! Love your ombre lips, hun! Love the idea of playing abound with your shopping regrets…xoxo
    Thebeautifier recently posted..Dot Ditty Dot- It’s Polka Dots!

  8. Misato-san says:

    I love this post… but I can’t understand… if you have pink undertones why are you scared of blue based lipsticks?
    I’m a fair neutral (NW15 or a bit less than 15) and I do rock really cold lipsticks like Violetta and Show Orchid…
    Misato-san recently posted..Scroccoprove: MAC mascara False Lashes Extreme Black

    • Eden-Avalon says:

      While there are theories about what colors look good on who – I overwhelmingly find that blue shades tend to wash me out. I favor lipsticks on the warm side, particularly when it comes to reds and pinks. Cool oranges, for example, look great on me.

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