There’s a whole world of products out there and sales assistants are only too keen to sell you what you don’t need and will never use. Here are a list of questions you need to ask yourself before making the purchase.
1. What do I really need?
Natasha Nischol, co-founder of the city-based make-up studio Fat Mu, suggests you take a long, hard look at yourself in a well-lit area before you consider a cosmetic purchase. “Look at your skin and features. Figure out whether you need to cover up dark circles, conceal discolouration or marks or whether you want to tone down or play up certain areas,” she says. Serious dark circles and uneven skin tone need heavy coverage. Dark circles may sometimes need a corrector and concealer. But if you see that you don't need it at all, you're less likely to be pressured into buying it. “The one thing most Indian women need but don't realise it, is concealer. It brightens up the face like nothing else.”
2. What’s my skin type?
Most women have a rough idea if their skin is oily, dry or in between. But many also have specific concerns like fine lines, sensitive skin and acne. “Knowing what your skin needs will help you get a better idea of what kind of products to buy,” Nischol says. Brands like Clinique have specific make-up for the wrinkly and blemish-prone, but for the most part, it’s creamier formulas for dry skin, powder products for oily skin.
3.What's my skin tone?
Slightly tricky this one. So back to the mirror it is. Look especially carefully at the colour of your skin. “Regardless of whether you're fair, medium or dark, you'll need to know your undertone,” Nischol says. “Do you see a subtle red, yellow or bluish cast?” Larger brands like M.A.C have separate products for warm and cool toned skins. They’ll test several shades of foundation on you to determine which looks most natural. “Carry a mirror, test the product on your jawline, not your hand (which is usually lighter), and look at it in daylight. If you can’t see it, you've got the right shade and tone.” Several women also tend to buy a lighter shade of foundation. “It won’t make you look fairer, but grey,” Nischol warns.
4. What do I need this stuff for?
Think about where you’re intending to wear your make-up most — to the office every day, on special occasions like weddings, for cocktails and dinners or when you're going clubbing. Then zero in on the items you see yourself wearing to them — muted browns and pinks at work, a statement lip for photographs, shimmer for evenings out and full-on glitter and bold colours for clubbing — so you won’t fall for a pretty shade you’ll never use.
5.What kind of life do I lead?
Are you too busy to do touch-ups? “You might want to consider an eyelid primer, waterproof gel eyeliner, cheek tints, longwearing lip-liner under the lipstick, and a primer to keep everything in place longer,” suggests Nischol. Make Up For Ever makes cream shadows that resist sweat, water and your 12-hour workday. Chambor makes twist-up eyeliners that stubbornly stay in place.
6. How much should I spend?
Of course, the more expensive brands are better pigmented (so you need to use less), are less likely to disagree with your skin and live up to their claims. But if you’re unsure about a product or shade, buying a cheaper version for trial may save you money. Nischol recommends heading to a place like Shoppers Stop, which has a wide range and a mix of high and low-end brands. “Make comparisons, try out brands like Bourjois, NYX and Lakme’s new range,” the artist recommends. “Don’t fall for fancy brushes unless they’re for eye make-up, and try not to pick up a limited-edition colour or product unless you’re in love with it. Permanent ranges are cheaper and likely to be around when you want a refill.”
Stock it up
Natasha Nischol picks the makeup every woman should own:
Concealer to cover imperfections.
Powder to set the concealer and finish a look.
Blush to warm up and add colour to the face.
Mascara and eyelash curler to open up and brighten the eyes.
Brow gel or powder because groomed brows frame the face and make all the difference.
A tinted gloss to add shine to your lips without the overdose of colour.
Oil blotting sheets to soak up the shine in the middle of the day and refresh your look instantly.