Forget stalking your ex on social media—now is the time to put your Internet investigation skills to better use. Check out discount makeup sites like BeautyEncounter.com, BuyMeBeauty.com, and OverstockCosmetics.com, which carry surplus stock of marked-down products long after they’ve been cleared off store shelves. If your preliminary search is unsuccessful, eBay and Amazon are always viable options—just beware of counterfeits and products that are opened, used, expired, or look questionable in consistency. But whatever the source, if you do find exactly what you’re looking for, you’re going to want to stock up while you sill can. Here’s how to find the best lipstick for your skin tone.
Contact the company
Just because you can’t purchase your beauty BFF at its original retailer, doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. So before you scrounge through the sale bins at Sephora, ring up the company and explain your sitch. A representative may be able to give you leads on where to find the product, or suggest one that’s similar—and in-stock.
If you’re looking for an item under the Estée Lauder umbrella (i.e. M·A·C, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, and many more), contact the brand’s Gone But Not Forgotten program. A team of professionals will track down any product discontinued within the past 36 months, and if they find it, you can purchase as many as six pieces depending on availability. (Did you know that THIS is the most popular makeup brand in America?)
Check out sibling brands
Here’s a pro secret: Many of your favorite brands are owned by the same parent company, meaning that their products tend to be similar—if not the same. Get to know your product’s sister brands and look out for distinct resemblances in packaging and formula. A luxury product may be identical to its drugstore sibling, meaning you could go home with the exact product you’ve been vying for—just with a different label (and potentially a different price tag). And if you’re shopping for beauty on a budget, check out these celeb-approved drugstore lipsticks.
Find a good dupe
While the color and finish may not be exact, if you’re comfortable with a close-enough product, the beauty world boasts endless options. Surf through millions of dupe videos on YouTube, side-by-side comparisons on Pinterest, or reviews by MakeupAlley.com, and have faith that the perfect replacement is out there. If you prefer to do the investigative work yourself, take your beloved item to a beauty retailer (one where you can swatch to your heart’s content) and get down to business. If your hand isn’t a smudgy mess of colors by the end of it, you’re not doing it right.
Get it customized
Bring your makeup back from the dead with beauty customization services that guarantee to replicate your favorite product’s exact color and texture. Just be sure to save a sample of the product and send it off to the expert color matchers at Giella Beauty or Three Custom Colors, which also offers an archive of over 10,000 previously replicated requests that date back to the 1930s. For face products like foundation and powder, try the custom blend services at Prescriptives, which allows you to get involved in the process with a private consultation via video chat. If you’re on the hunt for lipstick, head to one of Bite Beauty’s three Lip Lab locations in New York, San Francisco, or Toronto, and re-create your favorite shade in a matter of minutes. Find out what your favorite lip color says about your personality.
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If you’re totally head-over-heels for a specific hue, you probably already have something like it in your collection. For colors that are slightly off, mix in other shades to find the perfect tone. It might take some playing around, but once you achieve awesomeness, you may even forget about your old favorite. If consistency allows (i.e. liquid and cream products), bottle up your new creation and jot down the recipe so it can be easily replicated. You can even add illuminator, moisturizer, or serum to take your custom product to the next level. And if you’re also into DIY-ing your skincare routine, check out these facial treatments you can safely do at home.
Swap your stash
If you have an overwhelming stockpile of samples, gifted makeup kits, and impulsive trendy purchases in your collection (let’s be honest… who doesn’t!?), chances are your friends do, too. Organize a beauty swap and trade new or gently used beauty items for products of equal value. Before the party, create a Facebook or WhatsApp group and encourage friends to list their most-wanted products and what they’d be willing to trade for them. You may find the exact item you’ve been looking for, or at the very least, take home a good replacement. If you’re still on the hunt, take your exchange global on swap site, Swapidu.com.
Embrace the change
Take a moment to fully heal from the heartbreak, but realize that this is your opportunity to finally explore new brands and shades—without feeling like you’re cheating on an old favorite. The world of beauty is more exciting and accessible than ever, and with perpetual advances, there may even be something better on store shelves since you were last on the market. So don’t be afraid to get yourself out there again and find the one that’s right for you. To get you started, here are 10 secret weapon beauty products from top makeup artists.