How to Choose Drugstore Makeup With No Testers

Shopping for makeup? We can help. Here's how to shop for makeup at a drugstore with no testers

Your guide to shopping for makeup at a drugstore with no testers

Unlike department stores where you are encouraged to sample cosmetics products, in the fluorescent-lighted aisles of your local Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid, you are on your own choosing makeup shades and colors. These drugstores usually have no testers for makeup, meaning you can't try before you buy. So how do you avoid getting home and finding out that the foundation you chose is much too dark, or too orange, or too thick for your skin type?

Here are some great tips to help you to better choose products from your drugstore that you will love. Or at least not hate.

Neck Check

When it’s time to shade-match, many people hold the bottle against their arm or hand to check for a match. But the skin on your arms and hands tend to be darker, and a different texture than the skin on your face. You can achieve a better match by holding the bottle against your neck and checking in a mirror to see if it’s a match. The flesh on your neck is generally a more evenly toned color than your face, and finding a match for your neck will work best for your face and also help to prevent a harsh makeup line on your neck or jawline.

Pack Your Purse

If you already have shades that you love from products you’ve purchased in more expensive stores, pack your purse with what’s left of your favorites. This way you can compare colors from the more expensive brands and find the closest match. This works with foundations, lip-colors, eyeshadows, bronzers, blush, and just about any product where shade is important. Just be certain to alert the store clerks that you’ve brought in some empties to match with so they don’t see you as suspicious when you are rooting around bottles and tubes inside your purse.

Know Your Tone

To find a good match, you have to consider more than just your outer skin color. To color match for foundations and concealers, it’s critical to know if you have warm, cool, or neutral undertones. You can test this by looking at the veins in your inner wrist. If they look blue or purple, you are a cool and your undertone is pinkish. If they appear green, your skin contains warm tones, meaning golden, olive or bronze. If they look gray or difficult to determine you are probably neutral.

Once you’ve identified your undertone, look for shades that contain the keywords for your particular undertone. If you are pink-toned or cool, look for shades that include words like cream, ecru, or beige. If you are golden-toned you’ll need shades that include words like buff, ivory, or tan which contain more yellow pigment.

You’re Not My Type

Not only is it important to know your skin’s color and undertone, but you also should be aware whether your skin is dry, oily, or a combination. If your skin is oily, you will do best to look for brands that offer matte coverage, or promise to be oil absorbing, non-pore clogging and noncomedogenic. If you have dry skin, you will need to look for products that promise hydration, illumination, and to be alcohol-free and non-drying.

Prefer the Powders

If you aren’t positive about what shade of blush, contour, or bronzer to purchase, make your best guess and then go with a powder choice rather than a creme or liquid. It’s much easier to adjust the shade and pigmentation of a powder product by applying lightly or more heavily than it is to adjust the coverage of a liquid or creme product.

Go to the Dark Side

If you are torn between two foundation shades, you should choose the one that you think might be a tad too dark for you over one that’s too light. Foundations tend to look lighter on your skin than they appear inside the bottle, so you are more likely to hit the right shade by choosing the one that looks slightly dark. It’s also easier to blend away a foundation that is too dark and diffuse it to a lighter color than it is to darken a shade that’s too pale and pasty for your skin.

Don’t Over-React

If your skin is sensitive to certain products and you are venturing away from the ones that have worked well for you, it can be risky to try new ones from a drugstore. Be sure to look for products that are labeled for use for sensitive skin, or are marked as hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested.

Baby Take a Chance on Me

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment a little and take a chance. Unlike expensive department store products, you don’t have a lot to lose if you take a chance on purchasing a new eyeshadow, lipstick, or nail polish shade in a drugstore. Generally those products  are inexpensive and you won’t shed any tears if you make a mistake. And you never know… you just might find yourself a new favorite!

Resources — Makeup.com, Allure, StyleCaster