Want to go shopping for makeup during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here’s what you need to know.

By Percy Mohn 

Elm Staff Writer 

For people who wear cosmetics, buying makeup in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic has proven difficult. Due to health and safety concerns, going to shop for makeup at a physical location is still inadvisable and instead, many have turned to buying their makeup online. 

Makeup stores offer test samples for customers to test swatches on their hand to see what their makeup would look like when applied. But that is nearly impossible with online shopping and you could possibly end up with makeup that does not work for you at all. 

However, all is not lost, as there are a few tips for how to purchase your makeup online. 

One of the hardest products to buy online is foundation. In a world where testing makeup is currently impossible, finding the right match can be difficult, as health concerns mean that returning makeup is increasingly challenging. You might end up wasting money if you do not know what you are looking for when buying foundation. 

Lauren Rearick from Nylon Magazine offers some websites, including Slapp or Findation, that allow you to match your foundation using your smartphone camera. By taking a quick selfie, or uploading a similar photo of yourself, these apps provide different foundations from a wide range of brands, including Bobbi Brown, Charlotte Tilbury, and Fenty Beauty, that match your skin tone. 

However, if you are unable to use foundation mapping software, Rearick said that one of the most important things to note is that you need to know your undertones. Your skin has different undertones, ranging from warm, cool, or somewhere in between. If you do not know your undertones, there are some tricks to figuring it out as stated in Rearick’s article. 

“Cooler toned individuals usually look better wearing silver jewelry, while warmer toned tend to look best in gold. Another helpful trick is looking at the views in your wrist. Blue veins signal cooler skin tones, while green veins usually occur in warmer tones,” Kori Fields, the Lip Bar Product Development Coordinator, said in Rearick’s article. 

Instead of in-store test swatches that you can do in makeup stores, many brands offer to send little samples of their products for you to try, which are usually much cheaper than the full product. While you cannot send these products back, it is more cost-effective to pay for a sample that does not work than wasting an entire product you cannot use. 

In fact, these individual samples will likely be even more prevalent in a post-COVID-19 world due to complaints that arose from the unsanitary nature of in-store samples well before the pandemic. 

However, these samples are not sustainable, since most containers that makeup products come in are made of plastic. Small samples of various products, while not eco-friendly in their use of plastic, can help reduce the amount of product returns, creating “mindful and calculated” methods to lessen the waste, according to Romain Gaillard, founder of cosmetics store Detox Market based in New York City, NY.  

“We never push clients to buy something, we push them to try something,” Gaillard said in an interview with Allure’s Jessica Defino. “When you sample, you’re less likely to return products.” 

The one thing that you must be wary of when shopping online is the influx of fake products and scammers. 

“It’s common to come across local sellers with international beauty names that aren’t available in the country as [of] yet, especially on Instagram, that promises genuine products. Since these sellers aren’t authorized, there’s no way to know that you will receive an original product with quality standards intact—steer clear and wait till you can get them IRL,” Vogue writer Anjan Sachar said. 

Makeup in a COVID-19 world is strange and difficult, but there are still ways to buy your products from safe and reputable sources. As with anything you buy online, make sure to check the reviews and do your research before buying your makeup. 

And if you find buying makeup during COVID-19 too challenging, you can at least take comfort in the fact that most of your face is covered by your mask.

Featured Photo caption: If you’re looking to step up your makeup game, here are a few extra tips as to what to look out for when shopping for beauty products during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Izze Rios.

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