Makeup

Take the Guesswork Out of the Makeup Counter

Our guide to swatching and swiping your way to perfectly matched makeup



Spend any amount of time in Sephora, and you'll gather that the average woman's makeup testing process goes something like this: smear a glob of foundation over the back of one hand, swipe a lipstick shade over the other, think "close enough," and purchase.

Finding the right makeup shade is hard work. As editors, we're surrounded by products every day, and even we have a tough time finding that perfect match.

Well, it turns out there's a foolproof way to find the perfect shade -- from lipstick to foundation -- the first time, every time. You just need to know where to swatch. Makeup pro Rebecca Restrepo, who, in addition to creating looks for First Lady Michelle Obama and actress Gwyneth Paltrow, designed a 40-shade lipstick collection for Elizabeth Arden, gave us the details on the right way (and place) to test every cosmetic.

To find a lipstick shade you love so much you'll use it right down to the bullet, Restrepo suggests testing the lipstick on fingertips. We especially love this piece of advice because it eliminates having to use those germ-filled testers anywhere near your face, and saves us the trouble of applying (and removing) several shades of lipstick. But if you need further convincing, Restrepo swears this is better than the back-of-the-hand method because skin is much thinner on your fingertips, giving it the pinkish color that's so similar to your lips.

For foundation, Restrepo likes "the classic jawline," and what she refers to as "the second opinion" spot, the clavicle. Whether you're on the hunt for a liquid or powder, if the foundation looks invisible on either of these places, you're good to go.

When it comes to concealer, Restrepo says there are no short cuts. "The best place to put it is exactly where you need it: under the eye, right by the inside tear duct and the bridge of the nose," she told us, adding, "a slightly peachy undertone is what you're looking for."

The rest of your makeup, according to Restrepo, is really just preferential, though she does suggest choosing a blush that's in the same color family as your lipstick.

Her number-one tip for choosing the right shade (especially for eyeliner and eye shadow)? Go to the light. "If you love it in actual day light, you love it in any light," Restrepo says.

Editors' Top Selections

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