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Hold Me Closer, Tiny Makeup

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,
I bought a slew of lovely makeup for my wedding — Laura Mercier, across the boards, on the advice of my friend the makeup artist. Thing is, I got married in 2001. I need to throw it all out, right?
Ok, ok, that’s not really my question. I know it all has to go. My question is, where can I find great makeup (I’m with you on paying for quality) in tiny sizes? Because, obviously, I don’t wear that much makeup. (Hello, I’m a telecommuting mom!)
Here’s my basic routine:
* Under-eye concealer, for the circles that are the inevitable consequence of being very pale and getting less than 12 hours of sleep per night.
* Blush, from a stick, applied with my fingers, so I don’t get mistaken for a goth girl (did I mention I’m pale?)
* Maybe a bit of chocolate shadow in the outside corners of my eyes, maybe a bit of lovely shimmery pink in the crease, or really? most of the time? a bit of blush in the crease.
* Brown-black mascara – CoverGirl, which I know enough to replace regularly!
And if it’s a snazzy event:
* Foundation primer/tinted moisturizer and/or sheer powder. The primer really just because the nice Laura Mercier lady sold it to me. What does it actually do?
* Old-fashioned black eyeliner, the kind you apply with a brush from a cake.
* Burt’s Bees tinted lipgloss, which is the only thing I’ve found that doesn’t make my lips crack up and fall off.
I hate throwing away expensive, perfectly good (ok, long expired) stuff. Do I need to splurge on something at Nordstrom’s and live with sample sizes? Or does anyone make small sizes of good stuff?
Thanks a lot, Amy!
Bare-faced and Frugal

Off the top of my head, I don’t know of any particular cosmetic lines that offer “tiny” versions of all of their products. Some offer travel sizes of a few of their best-sellers and some might offer a sample or two that you can score IF you buy a hefty serving of the full-sized stuff.
Sample sizes from the department store are probably too tiny (yes, even for you), since a lot of them are sized for one or two applications, tops. Plus you don’t get much say in the colors. (Anybody want a delicious Vincent Longo lipstick in a screaming orange red?) And oh yeah, the spending money on the full-sized stuff. They do kind of make you do that. All-in-all, I can’t think of a more frustrating and less practical way to build a makeup collection.
benefitconcealers.jpgThe other option is travel sizes or anything labeled as a “gift set.” Burt’s Bees . And since you aren’t too picky about the brand, peruse the “gift ideas & palettes” category (subcategory of “combination sets,” since you want it all) at Sephora and see if anything looks good. Perhaps this Laura Geller set? Or this one by LORAC? Or maybe just a travel-sized LORAC Sheer Wash (it’s a combo lip gloss/cheek stain)? Maybe a whole pack of different mini-concealers by Benefit?
Your third option (which you’ll see a lot of if you click on that Sephora link), is palettes. Other than a couple eyeshadow duos, I tend to stay away from palettes (you know, the little compacts with multiple shades of multiple products), because I usually end up scraping the bottom of one color long before I use the other less-perfect colors. There are a bunch of brands that offer a lot of different palettes, and yeah, most of them (think Too Faced, Sugar and Hard Candy) seem to cater to teenage girls who want lots of pink! and shiny! and glossy! and did I mention PINK! But some of them are actually pretty good (Benefit, Stila, LORAC, Sephora brand, etc.).
Now let me chew your ear off about one last thing and then I’ll let you be. Looking at your makeup routine, I’m seeing a lot of stuff that actually does have a decent shelf life. Mascara and foundation are pretty much the only things that need to be used or tossed within a set period of time. (Mascara lasts three to six months, while liquid foundation lasts six months to a year, provided you don’t use your fingers to apply it.) (Actually anytime you use your fingers to apply makeup you shorten its shelf life since yes, you are introducing bacteria and ooky stuff to the product.) I know some people are very gung-ho about replacing ALL cosmetics every six months or so, but unless you have extremely sensitive skin, I don’t think this is at all necessary.
So before you toss all that makeup out on principle, take a look at it. Has it separated or changed consistency? Does it smell funny or not go on smoothly? If yes, then YES. Chuck it. Otherwise…blah. Keep it. I won’t keep count of the years if you won’t. (And let me tell you about some as the old-as-dirt stuff I’m still holding onto.)
Going forward, if you can’t find Tiny Sizes of Stuff You Like, just do whatever you can to prolong the shelf life of the stuff you buy. Use makeup brushes, and WASH your brushes. Replace sponges and puffs regularly. Keep your makeup out of the sun and out of the car and store it in a cool-but-not-too-cool dark place. If you find your makeup is getting dried out and disgusting before its time, you might want to rethink where you’re storing it or take a good hard look at your tools.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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I recently discovered that one of my MAC lipsticks smelled like it had spoiled. I’d had it for a while (probably a couple of years!) but hadn’t used much of it. They exchanged it without any issue. I don’t know if other brands have that kind of policy, but it’s a good one if your makeup seems to have gone “off.”


I have to throw in my two cents… I know Amy doesn’t regularily recommend MAC products, but they’re all I use. Almost exclusively. Anyway, every season they come out with a series of palettes. They don’t last long because they’re so popular… but if there’s a MAC counter near you, they’ll have on display whatever ir currently out. I was there buying makeup the other day ($232 later… yeah, I am a bit of a junkie) and saw the sets they have out right now. There’s one set of warmer eye shadows and one of cooler. The great thing is… Read more »