Recession-proof Makeup

A makeup application created by author Emily Katz. Photographer: C. Paige DePonte
A makeup application created by author Emily Katz. Photographer: C. Paige DePonte
C. Paige DePonte, photographer

There is so much buzz all the time with new launches, new seasonal color trends … it can become overwhelming. So how do you help your clients navigate through all these products when the economy isn’t as abundant as the amount of cosmetics beckoning at every turn?

The key is to help clients identify what they really need and want, and what they can get extra mileage out of in this economy. My grandmother liked to say, “A girl will buy a tube of lipstick, no matter the economy.” And it’s true; lipstick is a great quick fix to feel like you’re doing something for yourself that doesn’t break the bank. Women want to be as beautiful as they can and they always want to look like ladies. Lipstick does that, and it’s a lot cheaper than a pair of Manolo Blahniks. Here are some tips to help you guide your clients through the vast maze of makeup products out there, identify what they need, what they can afford, and still help them enjoy a little splurge and an update.

Support the client

Start with identifying the products that are the basics in order to pare down the expense. See Makeup Basics for a complete list. Then, ask the following questions:

  • How old is your client?
  • What does she want?
  • How much time does she have to devote to her makeup regimen?
  • How much can she really comfortably spend?

Sometimes it’s not as much about getting the big sale as it is providing good education and the right product. Don’t make your clients feel as if they have to buy everything you offer. Either due to regret, lack of money or disinterest, the client will more than likely return the products or shove them in a drawer, never use them, and never to return to the person who sold them, due to embarrassment or pressure factors. Even though it is all about the dollar, you’ve got to support the clients to ensure their loyalty and your mutual good feeling about the whole affair. Education will win at the end of the day and the rest will just come along.

Have your client carefully consider what she really, honestly uses on a daily basis. It may be pretty much the same stuff, which is not necessarily a bad thing—no ruts encouraged here, however. See what she really does use and like, and stay with that as long as it looks current and fresh. Sometimes it’s the application of the products that make a look more au courant than continually changing products. If your client does need a change, go ahead. Find a new color that looks great and makes her feel like a million, but make sure she really loves the colors so she’ll use them.

Help her assess what she really needs to buy. There are a number of products that do double duty, such as shadows that work well wet as liners, cream lip and cheek products, bronzers that work as shadows … it’s fun to get creative with products and see where they can go. And your clients will certainly appreciate the thought that you have put into their makeup application and their financial restrictions.

The complexion

Successful makeup and skin care go hand in hand. Encourage your client to keep her skin as beautiful and healthy as possible. Remind her to clean off all traces of makeup before going to bed. The healthier her skin, the less base she may need because there are fewer problems to cover, and whatever makeup products she is using will be less likely to irritate her skin. Recommend that your client purchase the highest quality skin care products she can afford and take the time to help her explore the different textures of bases and powders to see what’s what.

Tinted SPF moisturizer. Consider suggesting a tinted SPF 15 moisturizer to do double the work in just one product. Unless your client is exposed to a lot of sunlight, the combo product may work out. It often comes in a range of SPF factors. The product must include an SPF of 15 or higher to have any efficacy as a protectant. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied throughout the day during exposure, and that would wreak havoc on a makeup application, so recommend a stronger separate sunscreen if your client lives in a sunnier climate.

Moisturizer/sunscreen and concealer. If her skin is even-toned, she may prefer to go with a moisturizer/sunscreen that works all day, and just use concealer to even things out under the eyes and as a spot check. Help your client find a concealer that works well with her coloring and ensure that it blends seamlessly. If she needs two different colors or formulas—for example, one for under the eyes and one for blemishes and discolorations—it may still be a way to shave off some extra dollars by bypassing the foundation.

Powder and blot papers. Does your client use loose or pressed powder, or maybe both? She may prefer to set her original makeup with a very sheer loose powder and touch up with blot papers and pressed powder—it’s an individual thing. If she wants a pressed powder, provide a sheer formulation so she can set her morning makeup with that. Blot papers can be inexpensive and can work even if there’s not a mirror available. Unless she has combination or oily skin, she can get away without much powdering during the day, and advise her to use that blot paper before reapplying powder. If she favors powder foundation, encourage her to use blot papers, as well. Don’t allow your client to be self-defeating in order to save money.

Blush. Cream blushes often make good lip colors. If your client prefers a cream blush, look for those that complement both her cheeks and lip tone, and advise her to use it. Some companies have compacts that have a glossier color in them to enhance the cheek and lip color. If she’s a powder blush girl, find a color that works with her skin but is not too red. With this, you can accomplish a sweep of eye shadow-like enhancement on the lids. Bronzer is great for this, too.

Eyes and lips

It is important to remember to not use lip products around the eyes, unless such use is specifically indicated as safe by the manufacturer. There are certain iron oxides, pigments and base carriers that are not OK to use around the eyes. But eye liners and shadows can be safely used on the lips.

Eye liner. Find one that your client will use all the time—be it gray, brown, black, green-brown—whatever it is, you can always supplement it with other colors now or later, but find that one that works no matter what. If it will be useful as her brow color, too—this doesn’t happen often, but it does once in awhile—then you have another multiuse item.

Eye shadow. Keep it simple at first and help your client identify a few colors that are really great for her face, skin, eyes and hair. Choose a light, medium and dark option; she won’t need a lot of colors, just ones that she loves. Wet the dark one, or any of the colors, and use it as eyeliner. Then add a couple for nighttime boosters, such as shimmers, brights and darks. Eye shadows are sometimes even good blush colors. Find one your client likes and see if it works.

Mascara. For many women, a lash curler is a must, and for those who get the under-eye mascara drips, a sealant is as well—it’ll save your client a world of hurt and result in less touchup time. Some mascara sealers, put on after mascara, keep the look fresh longer and the mascara in place, which is well worth the investment. Sealants can also be mixed with a powder shadow to make a soft liquidlike liner that will have staying power. She may want to save money, but time is a valuable asset, too. Remember, for safety, mascaras need to be tossed after two to three months at most.

Lips. Help your client choose a couple of lipsticks she adores and will depend on, including a daytime and nighttime shade, and then add to that stable as her budget allows. Sometimes an eye pencil can be used on the lips … but please, no big outlines! Just another multitasker.

Her needs

Many women only want the five-minute makeup job … find what she really does and doesn’t depend on. Remember, help her find what she needs and loves, and the rest will take care of itself.

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