Women may be wearing less lipstick in the age of the face covering, but during boring weeks stuck indoors, a splash of bold colour is cheering and helps many of us feel temporarily back in the game. Finding the right classic red, wintery berry tone or 90s chocolate brown (a huge trend online) can be risky without testers, so make the most of modern tech by using virtual try-on tools. MAC Cosmetics allows visitors to upload a selfie and try on as many of its uncomparable 800 lipsticks as you fancy. Bare Minerals has a similar service for its lipsticks, while Bobbi Brown extends the idea to eyeshadows and L’Oréal Paris to entire makeovers, on their respective UK sites. All fun, useful and with zero commitment to buy.
If you’re not sure where to start, several brands have attempted to preserve on-counter jobs by diverting as many of their artists as possible to an online space, where they can provide video or live-chat consultations on skincare and makeup. Most of the big brands have this facility on their e-commerce sites, as does multi brand retailer Cult Beauty (10am-6pm). The SpaceNK website invites you to throw your question out to the wider Space NK community of customers, while large beauty enthusiast groups on Facebook (mine is Sali Hughes: Get The Look, but there are hundreds to choose from) are a font of ideas and personal recommendations.
Foundation is the trickiest product to choose online, since a woeful number of brands still provide little more than a thumbnail swatch of colour that varies from screen to screen. Life would be infinitely easier if they ditched the oblique, single-word shade names and adopted the MAC, Nars, NYX Cosmetics, Estée Lauder and Bobbi Brown approach of describing undertones and depth, eg “medium deep with cool undertone”, allowing online shoppers a better stab at a match.
As a brief guide, cool undertones are pinkier/redder with bluish veins and look better in silver jewellery. Warm undertones are yellow/more golden, have greenish veins and suit gold jewellery, and neutral undertones are neither pink nor yellow, have mixed shade veins like a map, and are flattered by either metal. If you’re still nervous about choosing, you can try foundation matching software, which chooses a shade from an unfamiliar brand based on those you already own.
The IlMakiage.com claims its Power Match quiz can find your perfect shade in 90 seconds (it worked well for me on shade, but less well on formula and finish). Of the multi-brand online foundation-matching tools, like findation.com, temptalia.com and Slapp App, I find the latter to be the most consistently accurate. But when it comes to judging undertones across a modern (large) array of shades, an algorithm is simply is no substitute for face-to-face, hygienic colour matching by an expert on-counter – so do please support your beauty professionals by visiting them.