Welcome to of our advice column where we try to answer all of your confounding “What The…?” questions. We’ll be getting advice from experts, but we may not always have the best answer. Feel free to share your own advice in the comments below.
Q: I’m beyond devastated. My favorite foundation ever — Chanel Pro Lumiere Professional Finish Makeup — has been discontinued. DISCONTINUED! I’m literally in shock. I’ve seen it online and know I can take a chance and get it on eBay or Amazon, but I’m not really one to go rogue for a makeup product. How will I know it’s the real thing?
So my question is, what do you do when a product you love is discontinued? I LOVED this foundation — it was the perfect color and texture for my skin. Is there a way to find discontinued products from legit sources? If not, do you have any tips for finding a new foundation that is similar to my beloved Chanel?
Any help you can offer would make me — and my face — oh-so-happy!
-Makeup-Less in Minnesota
A: We feel you. I was devastated when Urban Decay discontinued their Ink for Eyes Liner (NOT the version they sell now, but the gel formula that came in a cool, slim box along with a mirror and application brush). And Adrianna is still pining for Clinque’s lip liner in Port. “It was perfect for my red lipstick,” she says, “but disappeared, probably in the early 00s”.
So what DO you do when a brand pulls the rug from underneath you and discontinues a product you count on? We consulted celebrity makeup artist Rachel Wood to help us get answers and find some serious solutions.
1. Insider Secret: Companies “Trade” Formulas
The first good news Rachel gave us is that it is possible to find a replacement product with a formula similar to the one that you loved and was lost. “A lot of beauty lines are owned by the same big brands (Esteé Lauder owns MAC, Bobbi Brown and Clinique, for example), so often these brands use the same factories to produce products,” Rachel explains. “So when one line gets rid of a product, you will often find a very similar formula or the same type of product pop up under a different brand and name. So something touted as “brand new” by one line might pretty much be the same product that was discontinued by another.”
So it may be no coincidence that an “All New!” Lancome lipstick is incredibly similar to the Shu Uemura shade they just pulled from the shelves. (L’Óreal owns both of those lines.) Do some sleuthing.
2. Save Your Makeup to the Bitter End
“Make sure you’ve saved a good-sized sample of your old foundation when shopping around for a new one,” Rachel advises. “Look at the key words or ingredients on the label or how the product was described. If your old foundation was described as hydrating, illuminating and sheer, for instance, then shop around for a product that makes those claims as well.” You can also use your old sample to compare texture and quality.
Another good makeup habit to get into? Never toss makeup that still has some “stuff”’ left. “When products like lipsticks or glosses are down to the last dregs,” says Rachel, “you can scoop out what’s left and put the remains in seal-tight plastic jars.” Just because the tube looks finished, doesn’t mean that the product is. Plus, if that lipstick or gloss is suddenly discontinued, you’ll still have some left to help you search for something similar.
3. Browse the Web Regularly
Check your favorite brands’ web sites regularly to see which products may be getting the axe. Often they’ll have sections devoted to items that are on the way out (such as MAC’s “Goodbyes” and Stila’s “Phased Out Favorites”), so you can stock up on those ones you love before they’re gone for good.
As for buying discontinued items from sites like Amazon.com or eBay, “it’s usually legit,” Rachel says, “though you are taking a chance. Of course you can report items that are low in quality or straight-up fake, so you have do some protection. But I would use this option only if you are really desperate for your discontinued product and not ready to try a change.”
4. Use Your Friends
Got any BFFs in the beauty business? “If you are lucky enough to have a friend who works for a makeup brand [ask them about] their staff shop,” says Rachel. “In these shops are discounted and often discontinued products from all the various beauty lines owned by the company. You can only shop there if you are an employee of one of these brands, but if you know someone who is, ask them to be on the look out for the disappeared product. If it’s there, they can purchase it for you!” (Suggestion: stock up.)
5. Stock Up on Samples and Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New
If all else fails, and you’re going to have to move on and find a new product, “go out and get samples!” Rachel encourages. “Most companies provide samples or let you test their products. Or get a makeover at a beauty counter — you may find something you like even better than the product you loved before.”
It’s true, because while that one-and-only lipstick, foundation, blush or bronzer can come to feel like the only thing that works for us, sometimes change is a good thing.