6 Makeup Tips That Will Seriously Improve Your Shopping Experience

Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
If we had a dollar for all the makeup we've bought that wasn't the right match for our skin tone, we'd be pretty rich by now. Sadly, a cursory glance at the color-coded end of a lipstick, or through a foundation bottle doesn't always give the best representation of color. And while there are technologies designed to help you shade-match, like MatchMyMakeup and Sephora's Color IQ, you may want to really see and feel the product on your skin. This is where swatching comes into play.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, swatching is essentially applying a sample of product (like foundation, eyeshadow, or even eyeliner) to your skin to demonstrate its color and finish. At places like Sephora and Ulta, where tester products run rampant, this method of makeup sampling can save you a lot of time and money.

But swatching isn't always so easy — a combination of good lighting, placement, and a keen eye is essential to choosing the right hue for you. So, in an effort to totally ace our swatching game, we called upon Sephora Pro makeup artist Shawn Lumaban to share his expert tips. Check 'em out in the following slides.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Whether you're a lipstick aficionado or novice, you've likely noticed that lipstick in the bullet never looks the same when applied to your lips. That's why it's so important to swatch a prospective lip purchase to check out its true color.

While it's always best to test lipsticks on your actual lips, that's not always an option — so your hands are the next best thing. But contrary to what you may have been taught in the past, your wrist or back of the hand is not the prime spot.

Lumaban says swatching color on the slightly pinky area of your fingertips is actually the best place to test out lipstick. "It has the most similar texture to our lips," he explains. "Then, after watching, you can hold your finger over your lips to see if the shade looks good with your skin tone and easily feel the texture and finish."
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Foundation & Concealer
Instead of testing foundation or concealer on the back of your hand, trace a bit of product along the lower part of your cheeks to your jawline. Doing this will help you see if the foundation matches your neck and face, as you'll want your base product to match both areas.

Lumaban adds that the synthetic lighting in most stores can be deceiving, so looking at foundation or concealer under natural light is extremely important. "[This can be] by a window, or better yet, outside in daylight," says Lumaban.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Eyeshadow & Eyeliner
Eyeshadow and eyeliner can be swatched on any smooth surface of your body that doesn't have a lot of body hair, like the back of your hands or inner forearms. If you want to try the product directly on your face, though, Lumaban stresses the importance of proper sanitization. "Sharpen pencils thoroughly and use a tissue to wipe the top [layer] off of eyeshadow [at least] three times," he says.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Eyebrow Pencils
Although eyebrow pencils are best tried on your actual brows, swatching a tester on the back of your hand can help you see if the color will match your hair. "As a rule of thumb, if you have darker hair, your eyebrows should be one to two shades lighter than your natural hair color," says Lumaban. "If you have lighter hair, your eyebrows should be one to two shades darker."

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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
If you want to see the quality, color, and finish of a highlighter, testing it out on your inner forearm will do the trick. "But if you want to see how it looks, I suggest sanitizing the product and trying it on," says Lumaban. Dust the product over your cheekbones (and anywhere else you'd like to highlight) using a clean brush or fingers and then find a light source and tilt your head up toward the light. "Light usually hits the higher planes of your face [where you'd] apply highlighter," says Lumaban. This will help you see the effect it has on your face.

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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Blush & Bronzer
"The inner forearm is a great place to swatch blush because it generally doesn't have hair," says Lumaban. "The smoother the surface, the better you see the quality of the product." If you normally apply your blush or bronzer with a brush, Lumaban also suggests grabbing one to aid in the swatching process. "[You] can see the quality by using your fingers, but you still need to see how it applies using a brush," says Lumaban.

The same approach can be applied to bronzers and contouring products. But Lumaban warns that it's important to understand the difference between contouring and bronzing. "Bronzers are used to give warmth to the skin while contouring products have cool undertones to mimic shadows and naturally define your face," he says. Always keep this in mind so you know what you're paying for.

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