The Beauty Test!

March 8, 2002

Searching for that perfect beauty cosmetic is like trying to find that perfect little black dress. A million in sight, but you’re only looking for that perfect one. Ever wish you could make sure the cosmetic works BEFORE you buy? When it comes to buying makeup, the best part about department store makeup counters is that you have the opportunity to actually test and play with cosmetics before you purchase. But do you really know what to look for? There are a few tests that you can do to make sure you’re buying a cosmetic that will truly perform.

1. Foundation

The Test:

Okay, it’s gotta stay on, be colour true and hide all those imperfections without looking like there is a lot on. I know, a truly tall order. There’s a lot to look for in a foundation. Here’s a few tests to start.


The easiest way to test coverage is to apply a dot on the inside of your wrist. If it covers the veins and skin tones on the inside of your wrist, you’ve got great coverage. If it looks and feels like water, you have a daytime sheer foundation that would work for that quick trip to the market or gym.


The only way to test for colour is to streak a dot on a piece of white paper. Bring a white note pad along with you. Look at the foundation undertones on the paper. Undertones is any colour besides the main colour. What do you see? Yellow? Pink? Gray? Green? Ideally you want to see a lot of yellow and just a touch of pink. If a foundation is all yellow, it can make some skin tones look pasty. Leave the gray and green (yes they’re in there) behind. Your skin will look tired in 20 minutes. You’ll find that yellow tones blend into your skin the easiest and has the extra bonus of calming down any pink or red areas.

Staying Power:

Apply a dot on the back of your hand, or along the side of your jaw. Later that night, check to see how it lasted. Is it still on? How did it feel? Did it fade? colour change? Give your foundation the time test before you buy.

Colour Match:

Okay, it has to match your skin perfectly. The only way to tell is to actually match it to your skin tone. Not your wrist, not the back of your hand, and not your neck, which is 3-5 shades darker than your face anyway. The best place to colour match is along the side of your jaw line. Why? The skintone along your jaw is the truest skintone you have your face. There are less breakouts, freckles, skin discolourations and veins along your jaw. If it matches the skin colour there, you’ll have a quaranteed perfect colour match.

2. Concealer


It has to cover, otherwise, what’s the point? Try stick foundations. More coverage than your normal concealer, but it’s also formulated to adhere better, so it lasts forever without disappearing on you.

Apply your concealer on the back of your hand and rub. Is it slippery? Greasy? A lot of oils in the product will make it crease pretty quickly. Is it a stiff feeling? It will cake. You want to go for a silky feel, that’s soft, but not slippery. If it has a slight stiffness in the spread of the product, it will last longer and you’re probably getting greater coverage as well.

3. Powder


You want a light, airy feel to the powder, with a soft yellow tone. Blow a bit of the loose powder into the air. Does it appear to float? Then you’ve got a great product. Why? You’ll barely feel it on, and it won’t cake. Meaning you can reapply it with no notice of a build-up.


You want as little fragrance or perfume scent as possible. Little red bumps on the skin are usually culprits of a perfume allergy, with powder being the number one reason.

4. Blush

Staying Power:

My biggest pet peeve is blush that looks great on, than disappears two minutes later. Here’s a great test to see if your blush will hold up. Pick up some colour on your finger and rub onto the back of your hand. Then lightly run your finger across the colour and see how quickly the colour fades. Does it take awhile? Your blush will last 3-4 hours. If it disappears within 2-3 rubs, it’ll last maybe, 20 minutes at the most. Keep your blush on longer by layering loose powder before and after you’ve applied your powder blush. Or, take a liquid stain or blush stick, and apply first. Then set with your coloured powder blush lightly on top. An extra step, but you’ll find your flushed cheeks will last hours longer.

5. LipstickStaying Power:

You want lipstick to last and not crease, fade, or rub off. Quick test, run the tube across the back of your hand and see how it applies. Slippery? There’s a lot of wax in the lipstick and you’ve probably got a creamy texture which will crease in no time. Aim for a lipstick that has a silkier feel, with less slip.

Have a matte lipstick and are afraid it will dry out your lips? If you have a hard time getting any colour to adhere on your hand during your test, you definitely have a dryer lipstick. A quick way to remedy is apply your chap stick or lip balm first. The moisture in the balm will let the lipstick glide on and last longer.

Colour pick:

We’re big fans of lipstick, being the number one cosmetic item that we’ll buy, even when our budget is low. And it’s also the number one item sitting in the back of your drawer as well. Why? The colour just doesn’t look right on.

How to tell before you purchase? Easy. Do the white paper test. Apply a streak to your white paper and look at the undertone. For example you’re looking at a pink lipstick. Your undertones would be any colour you see in the lipstick besides pink. Can’t see it? Apply two different pink lipsticks next to each other. You’ll really see it now. So why is it that some colours just don’t look right? Basically because there’s too much gray in the shade. Gray tones can make your skin look tired and can also change colour on your lips as well.

A few hours later, you could have sworn your now mauve lipstick was pink. See? Gray is the first colour to stay away from in makeup colours (unless you’re looking for gray eyeshadow….) and the first colour that you’ll find in makeup colours. No, you don’t need a new skincare routine, you just need to cut out all the gray tones in your cosmetics.

Lipstick undertones that will work?

Browns are warmer, softer than gray and works with a wider range of skintones. Yellow is also a great warming tone, but can look too yellow with skin tones that already have a lot of it. Red undertones are sharper, crisper, brighter, and blue is also more dramatic but can look dark after a while. White undertones brighten, makes skin tones look fresh and awake.

6. Pencils

The Test:

Okay, are we asking too much here? Pencils that go on, don’t run and smear and draw on easily without killing your eyelids. Is that possible?

I think pencils, for both lips and eyes are by far the hardest makeup item to find.


Quick test:- run the pencil between your thumb and forefinger. How it applies here will tell you how it will feel going across your eyelid. Hard, stiff pencils that don’t go on without a lot of effort will feel even more uncomfortable on your eyes. Does it bleed and smear too easily? It’ll smear super fast under your eyes. You want a pencil that will apply with the least amount of pressure smoothly.

7. Eye Shadow


The same tests for blush also apply to eyeshadow as well. But there’s an extra test for eyeshadow. The Crease Test. Rub eyeshadow between your finger tips and see how fast it disappears. The constant motion of your fingers mimics your eyes blinking. If it fades fast, your eye shadow will more than likely fade fast and/or crease as well.

8. Lipgloss

Staying Power:

Okay, we want lip gloss that looks great, stays on, isn’t gloppy, and doesn’t smear all over your mouth like a 2 year old. The test here is to find a lipgloss that’s slightly sticky, but not so sticky you feel like you’re applying taffy. The stiffer the lip gloss is, the longer it lasts, so avoid the ones that feel runny and watery. They disappear the quickest and the colour also tends to bleed easier with those types as well.


Lipglosses look great, but sometimes it feels like you’re wearing the world on your lips. Just too heavy feeling on. Quick test: Apply on the inside of your wrist. Can you feel it? Then it’ll bother you on your lips as well. If you can’t tell it’s on, you’ve got a great lip gloss.

9. Shimmer Powders

It’s Just Right:

Shimmering looks are hot and just a touch on the high points of the face and you’ll swear you look 10 years younger. A little hesitant? Try it out only at night time on that hot candlelight dinner date you have coming up. Watch out for shimmers though that have too much sparkle in them. It can make you look like you’re sweating. Not the look you’re going for. A quick test is to apply on the back of your hand and see how much shimmer you can see. If you have to move your hand in the light to catch a glow, then you have the right amount. If it looks like a light show going on, you have way too much frost.

About Elke

Elke Von Freudenberg is the Editor of The Beauty Newsletter ( and creator of The Makeup Video Collection ( Elke’s vast amount of beauty knowledge comes from her day job, as a top editorial makeup artist ( to such clients as Allure, Calvin Klein, Neue Magazine, Detour Magazine, FW magazine and many more.If you have any questions, send in to and Elke’s answers will be posted on the site in subsequent weeks.

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