Can’t Swatch? Here’s How to Shop for Makeup Online


With beauty stores closed and ‘try before you buy’ tests and samples out the window, shopping online for makeup is our new reality.

But with apps and virtual appointments, finding the right makeup match has never been easier.

Covid-19 has forever changed the way we shop for makeup. With reports suggesting one in five people across the world are in lockdown, shopping habits have been affected.

In fact, beauty sales are down by 14% in the US, compared to last year, while Australian online beauty store Adore Beauty has reported a 24 per cent decrease in lipstick sales, with palettes close behind at a decrease of 21 per cent.

And when beauty stores do reopen, they’re going to look a whole lot different.

Sephora has approximately 240 stores in China, and most are beginning to re-open following country-wide lockdowns. But, in a recently released video by the makeup giant, in store buying is likely to be changed forever.

Sephora storefront
Makeup giant Sephora will look a little different once operations resume post Covid.

 Sephora China will be offering customers free face masks while also implementing compulsory temperature checks, and in-store sanitation has been bumped up to every two hours.

And while trying makeup on in store is likely to remain, it will look different. Swatching has gotten a little more complicated; with disposable and individually wrapped tools now the only option. Staff are also spraying products with 99% alcohol solutions in between customer use.

But as we anxiously await the days we can browse shelves packed with MAC, Anastasia Beverly Hills and Tarte Cosmetics alike, how one shops for makeup online is a whole new ball game to in-store visits.

One on one virtual beauty appointments

In response to brick and mortar store closures, many makeup brands are adapting and taking their services online.

MECCA is offering free personalised beauty consultations over FaceTime, where in-store hosts can walk you through products and make recommendations, just like regular browsing.

Clinique online appointments
Clinique is just one of many brands taking their services online.

Other brands such as Clinique and Sydney skin clinic All Saints are offering virtual consultations, where people can discuss their skin concerns and receive tailored advice and product recommendations. 

Take a quiz or use an app to reveal your ideal makeup choice

From the Fenty Face Shade Finder to Sephora online beauty quizzes, plenty of retailers offer questionnaires and advice on choosing the right makeup shade.

Fenty Face Finder Quiz
Fenty offer an easy and inclusive quiz, designed to find your exact foundation shade.

App technology has also become commonplace, set to be one of the biggest beauty trends of 2020 before traditional stores even closed.

Covergirl has been using app technology to allow customers to find their right foundation shade since 2017, years before Covid-19 was even a concern. The Custom Blend app uses “Tone Logic” scanner technology and 180-degree video to adjust the lightening to match any selfie, allowing the perfect shade to be matched to the skin. 

Other brands like Estee Lauder offer “Perfect Match Guarantees”, so that if you do choose the wrong shade, they’ll exchange it for the right match, free of charge.

Research online for recommendations

Social media, beauty editors and reviews are about to become your next best friend. When looking to purchase a product, simply google it and read reviews first.

Here you’re likely to find tried and tested responses to products, getting the real information that might not be normally posted on a product’s listing page.

Temptalia swatches
We’re obsessed with the website Temptalia, which helps to see what makeup actually looks like on the skin.

We recommend the website Temptalia, which literally swatches almost every new makeup product. They also feature sales from brands such as Fenty, Ulta, Sephora and Nordstrom, while also including helpful articles such as “Best makeup of Summer 2020”. 

Zoe Bradbury

Zoe is a self-confessed health and fitness fanatic. She loves working out and being active, almost as much as she loves going out for brunch and eating avo toast. If she’s not in the gym, you’ll usually find her online shopping, buying something she definitely does not need, or updating her Pinterest board with travel and adventure ideas for the future. Her other loves include dark chocolate, coffee and cats, all enjoyed while watching bad (or really good?) reality TV

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