From Sephora to Nordstrom and Back Again

A couple of months ago I ran out of concealer and I realized my foundation made my skin look like an oil slick. Since I came to my realization the foundation has been a permanent resident of makeup drawer waiting for its notice to vacate to the trashcan once it was replaced. Unfortunately the replacement process has been slow and steady, a complete novelty for me in the makeup buying process. Usually I am the first person to read about a new product or be convinced by the person at the makeup counter that this amazing product from the company they work for is totally the product “I HAVE TO HAVE”. Well this year, after last year’s Smashbox’s tinted moisturizer debacle, I refused to end up with yet another product that never got used. Time and experience had taught me to be cautious in my “complexion” makeup purchases, no more buying products I don’t use, AKA making donation to corporate giants. Heading to the makeup Mecca, Sephora, I started the process armed with recommendations from “experts”, actual users, and my pocketbook.

First of all walk into a Sephora store with a face devoid of any product except moisturizer and you might as well have the word “patsy” written on your head in Urban Decay eyeliner. The sales associates take one look at you and think you are going to listen to every wild suggestion they might have for a new “makeup routine”. All the talk of primers, color correctors, concealers, eye shadow bases, setting powders, pigmented powders, mineral powder, cream shadows, etc. etc. forever and ever, will make anyone’s head spin. But this time I wasn’t going to be swayed I wasn’t walking out of the damn beauty store which might either be a girlie heaven or hell with something I didn’t go in there intending to buy. I was buying tinted moisturizer, concealer, and color corrector for my panda eyes, period.

Of course, my resolve was soon tested. It is practically impossible to go in that store and not act like a kid in a candy store!!! All of a sudden my eyes got bright and shiny when I looked at all the pretty colored eye shadows and eyeliners and nail polishes…I wanted EVERYTHING! My head was swimming! I started trying out blue eye shadows, then greens, but I forced myself back on track, I was going to spend at least $100 on the other stuff on my list, I couldn’t add more unnecessary eye shadow to my collection. So then, focusing on the goal I did the unthinkable…I asked one of the “Product Consultants” for help. I have a theory about advice from makeup stores and makeup counters, its kind of something we forget when we are listening to all these makeup “experts”…trust your own judgment…after all it’s going to be on your face. So when the Sephora Product Consultant recommended the Makeup Forever (MUFE) #4 concealer palette with five different concealer shades that can be blended to create the perfect shade…I dismissed her recommendation immediately and stopped listening to her advice shortly thereafter.

I am sure she had great stuff to say and good advice on something, but when you recommend I buy a $36 concealer palette in which the lightest color is more than a couple shades darker than my skin tone, we are not on the same wavelength or maybe you are just clueless, either way I channeled my inner Cher and gave her a mental “AS IF”! Seeing my disinterest I was soon passed off to the Stila guy who was there shilling for his brand. He had his hair done up, looking very 50’s, very Grease with a 21st century spin, and I thought, oh yeah, this dude is gonna give me some great product advice etc. Ten minutes and a lot of blinking later due to his attempts to apply concealer way too close to my lash line instead of just having me do it myself when he saw me tearing up, I was horrified. One eye was done in concealer and I looked like a tired panda, and the other eye that was done in some sort of base looked like a panda that didn’t know their colors yet. I was definitely NOT falling for the Stila makeup. Realizing he wasn’t going to make a sale for Stila he passed me off to the lady who was there shilling for Cover FX.

Let me start this out by, I hate to be mean…but…I didn’t want the Cover FX lady making any sort of recommendations for anything. When I walk up to a makeup counter, I want the person with the best looking makeup to ask me if I need help. Not the person whose makeup is just a total and utter tragedy. In the makeup-selling world, I really think it is all about the look of the makeup that counts! Seeing absolutely no tactful way to get out of it, and hoping maybe she did other’s makeup better than her own I let her get started. She first picked out the darkest concealer color she could find, and soon realized there was no way that was going to work. Another trial and error session later she finally landed on the best color when she tried the third tube. Taking a look at her work a couple minutes later colorblind panda and tired panda were definitely gone…I now looked like dry flaky, gross under eye skin panda. My eyes were looking bloodshot from all the irritation of people apply concealer under my eyes, and I was getting really frustrated with this whole process.

Instead of standing around and getting more frustrated I walked to the Bobbi Brown counter at Nordstrom. I have heard great things about Bobbi Brown concealers in the past, so I was definitely going to see if the sales people at the counter could do better than Sephora. As I walked up to the counter, there was a girl with impeccable makeup, yay!!! There was also an assortment of concealers covering every surface of the counter, double yay!!! Five minutes later, double boo. Some other sales associate, not the one with the impeccable makeup, but someone with questionable makeup, had applied color corrector under my eyes and by applied I mean there were literally chunks of color corrector glopped under my eyes and then there were chunks of concealer glopped around the color corrector. With a satisfied look, and a lot of self congratulating the sales associate told me the prices, making some quick excuse about wanting to walk around the mall for a bit and seeing how the concealer looked after I had it on for awhile I hightailed it out of there swearing never to go back as long as she worked at the counter.

My hightailing meant that I retraced my route back to Sephora. Back in the store, the pretty colors and shiny objects all around the store did not completely not enthrall me as they had before, no, I was on a mission and I was going to complete it. Plus I was getting hungry, I was tired of walking around, and I have to be in a wedding in two months and Mrs. Fields was looking better and better every single time I walked by it! Twenty minutes, lots of indecision, and lots of consulting my own council later I had a color corrector, concealer, tinted moisturizer, and no mas! Now after a weekend of wear and very close inspection I can officially recommend the following three products:

– Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer; it feels great and light on your skin.
– Makeup Forever HD Concealer, spendy, but it does conceal!
– Makeup Forever lipstick #40 used as an under eye color corrector, weird, never would have thought of it on my own, but strangely it works! (Thank you for the recommendation Sephora Rancho Cucamonga Product Consultant…you were awesome!)

So yes my process of research, trying, waiting, researching some more, and not going with the first thing someone said looked “good” on me was frustrating and in the end was expensive. But I have learned the hard way the most expensive makeup is the stuff you buy and never use.

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