I think I am talking for the majority here when I say that generally no one is aiming for the ‘pumpkin’ look when choosing a new foundation. When I say ‘pumpkin’, I’m referring to the distinct orange hue; gorgeous and fitting for Autumn, doorsteps and mantle pieces but not for your face!
If you are of a similar era to me then you’ll remember the first foray into make-up and foundation during the 90’s being akin to that of plastering a wall; every inch needed covering and if in doubt, slap on an extra layer! Thankfully (given that nobody has the time or energy to keep that sort of maintenance up) things have moved on and these days there’s a huge shift toward natural healthy glowing skin, with enough coverage to even out but not mask what’s underneath.
However, for many of us, the world of foundation colour matching, swatching and finding the perfect colour is still problematic, with many people being unaware of beauty counter etiquette when it comes to sampling or too shy to ask, which often results in walking away with upwards of £30 spent on a foundation that you’re not quite sure is right and sits unused.
‘…for many the world of foundation colour matching, swatching and finding the perfect colour is still problematic…’
When it comes to foundation sampling, I’m generally talking about the higher end brands who produce foundations around the £20 mark upwards. I’ll take a risk on a Rimmel or Maybelline foundation where the initial outlay is that of a couple of Costa Coffees. What I’m not prepared to do is shell out a significantly higher amount on a product that I have no idea is right for me, and (quite rightly from a Health and Safety perspective) can’t be returned or exchanged.
Over the years I’ve learnt to be able to identify my shade in foundation pretty accurately just by comparing them on the back of my hand however what I’ve also learnt is that how the product interacts with my skincare and skin PH is just as important – and the ONLY way this can be fully tested is by having a sample to use at home.
Have you ever experienced putting on a foundation which initially looks like a perfect match only to look in the mirror several hours later to find that the shade has completely changed? This is the product oxidising on your skin – it’s trial and error as to which brands’ products will oxidise on your skin but generally you won’t know this unless you can do a whole day’s test drive away from the store.
‘It’s trial and error as to which brands’ products will oxidise on your skin…’
So, with this in mind here are my headline tips to be aware of when looking to purchase a higher end foundation:
- Strike up a conversation with the counter assistant and explain from the out that you would like to be colour matched to a particular foundation with a view to taking a sample away. If the brand doesn’t support sampling then they should tell you at this point – my advice would be to vote with your feet and take your business elsewhere.
- If you really want to try a particular foundation and the counter has said they don’t provide samples try the same counter in a different store. Policies seem to vary from store to store rather than be consistent across a brand. I experienced this recently with a brand who wouldn’t provide a sample on their counter in Boots but happily did in John Lewis.I voted with my feet and will purchase again from John Lewis…sorry Boots!
- If you have sensitive/allergy prone skin explain this to the assistant – sometimes forming a quick relationship and sharing your skin concerns can help. Not all beauty counter assistants are gate keeping the samples – some just need a little prompt in the right direction to understand you are doing your background research rather than just angling for a freebie.
- Never feel pressurised into making a purchase that you are not 100% sure about – you wouldn’t buy an outfit without trying it on so why should you buy a foundation without fully road testing it. This is your hard-earned money.
There are brands out there that have brilliant foundation sampling policies; Clinique, YSL, Clarins and Bobbi Brown are always great at talking through the choices and then sending you off with a sample that will last you a good few days – and not surprisingly see the customer often return for a full sized purchase a few weeks later.
I’m passionate about informed beauty purchasing, from an environmental perspective as well as a purse friendly approach. No one benefits from a bathroom full of unused products – choose wisely, do your research and ask for a sample!
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