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The Do’s and Don’ts of Testing Makeup

Based in Washington D.C., Ayren Jackson-Cannady is so savvy that we wished she lived closer to NYC so that we could swap products with her. This beauty writer knows what’s up (she’s written for Fitness, Glamour, and Gloss Daily) and we’re excited to have her sharing her know-how and multi-culti beauty expertise as a contributing editor.

(Photo: allure.com)

I went to the makeup counter the other day, and was playing with a few liners to see how they’d look. While I was drawing the different shades on the back of my hand, a makeup artist came over and asked if I’d like to try any of them on. I said (in my I’m-a-beauty-blogger-know-it-all voice), “No thanks. I get the gist of the colors on my hand.” She then told me that trying liners, shadows, and lipsticks there is one of the biggest makeup testing mistakes I can make. “We don’t wear makeup on the back of our hands, so why are we always trying it on there?” And I responded “You’re so right, (and I’m so embarrassed)!” Here’s why colors should get a trial run on your face, not your hand, plus other makeup testing do’s and don’ts.

Don’t Compare Colors On the Back of Your Hand

Hands are often a completely different color than the skin on your face. “They’re usually darker or redder,” says celebrity makeup artist Rachel Wood. Test foundation on your jawline so you can see how it blends between your face and neck. Lipsticks, mascaras, liners and shadows should be tested on lips and eyes—where you’re going to wear them. If you’re worried about germs, ask the salesperson to disinfect the product and then use a disposable brush or wand to apply the color. 

Do Get a Better Look

After you try on a makeup product in the store, grab your compact mirror and head outdoors to get a look at the same product in daylight. “Many stores have fluorescent lighting, which is super unflattering and color distorting,” says Wood. “Natural light is the best, most accurate light for testing colors.” 

Do Use Fresh Testers

If the tester looks all gunky and gross, don’t be shy about asking the salesperson to open a new tester. “If he or she wants a sale she’ll happily oblige,” says Wood. A lot of counters are stocked with mini, one-use testers that you can take home—so don’t forget to ask for those also.

Not convinced that you need clean testers? Lookout: 1 in 5 makeup counter products has something growing on it!

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