I thought this time would be different: When mall makeup goes wrong.

We’ve all been there. Sitting in the chair at a cosmetic counter while a perfect stranger strips us of our dignity makeup, and chatters away while creating an ah-maazing new look for us. She paints and piles, powders and fluffs, and then spins us around with a victorious gleam in her eye.

You get one look at yourself and want to yell “What the fucking fuck is this shit?! I can’t walk around like this! I look like a drag queen!” But you don’t. Instead, you look at the “smokey” eye that looks more blackened than smoldering and say “Yeah. That looks nice.”

Then, because you don’t want to hurt her feelings, or maybe you don’t want to be a waste of her time, or maybe because there was a minimum purchase associated with the appointment, you stand around and kick rocks, and finally pick out an item or three, knowing at least one is getting returned or sent back to the far reaches of your makeup drawer where it will not be seen again for months. When you do rediscover the item, you experience post-traumatic makeover syndrome and start beating yourself up.

Why didn’t I just speak up?

The good new is, you’re not alone. Almost every woman I’ve asked has had this experience. Just this past weekend, I too was the victim of a cosmetic assault. Despite knowing better, I signed up for the NARS beauty event at Nordstrom. My rationale was that if I had a chance to sit down with a NARS expert, I could really get to know the line, and maybe discover a product that was under the radar.

Reality and expectations did not align.

First, the woman who did my makeup did not even work for NARS. She was a MAC makeup artist, which is a whole different kind of bird. Let me be clear by saying that I have nothing against MAC – they have a beautiful product line and some of the most talented makeup artists in the industry. But MAC’s thing is dramatic, intense makeup. My thing is natural, pin-up makeup (natural skin and face with bright lipstick).

Despite me communicating my preferences to her, this makeup artist did her thing. And oh, how she did it. Stabbing at my eye with end of a makeup brush, she caked on eye paint, eye shadow, and eye liner, all in various shades of *sparkly* black, gold, and plum. Did I mention I’m allergic to red dye? Yes I did.  When she finished, my eye area was red and inflamed from the abuse of both the brush stabbing and the offending red pigment.

After seeing the damaged caused by the brush, she used her hands to slap apply foundation all over my face. The redness continued to grow.

Meanwhile, the other makeup artists are walking by and cooing “Ooohhh!!! Look at those eyes!” “WOW, are you going somewhere tonight?!” “OH MY GOSH, you have to go somewhere!”  I wanted to yell “NO BITCH! I’m not going anywhere! I look like a fucking deranged panda!!” But I mumbled something about not having a sitter.

Next she powdered, and bronzed, and contoured, and blushed, and powdered some more.

Finally, she brought down the house. Her coup de grâce was lavender lipstick. Because, apparently, I didn’t look dead enough with black eyes.

After she’s totally done with my makeup, she ask’s what I think about the lipstick. I politely let her know that I would probably not wear that color. She shows me a couple more crazy-ass colors, which I decline.

Then, she asks “What have you been dying to try? Any products you’d love to know about?” Ummmmmm, maybe you could have asked that an hour and half ago. Ya know, before the dermatitis. 

I get out of the chair and proceed to touch everything on display, as I normally would, except now I have to buy something. Keep in mind, there was a minimum $75 purchase (which would not normally be a problem). Every other item I’m interested in is out of stock. Finally, I settle on a lipstick I had picked out weeks ago, a blush, and a gloss.

On the way home, my skin around my eyes started to itch like crazy. As soon as I get home, I run to the bathroom to wipe the away the makeup and hopefully some of the shame.

For two days, the new items mocked me from their boxes on my bathroom counter. I know better than to buy items I don’t need (especially ones that look exactly like what I have). I know better than to let someone do my makeup. I know better. Period. There was only one way to heal from the experience- I had to return the offending items.

I skulked into Nordstrom and returned the little black boxes to the furthest counter from NARS I could find. I’d like to say that this experience was my first, or even that it will be my last, but I’d probably just be kidding myself. Truth is, it’s always enticing to try new things and maybe learn a technique along the way.

My only hope is that through my experiences, this blog, and others like it, I can save a few readers out there the discomfort of shopping at the cosmetic counter and help you find your true love (beauty products).


If you liked this post, found it helpful, or got a giggle out of it, please “like” and “share.”


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