What to Do When a Product Isn’t Working For You

You can read every review on the planet, every product summary and every bit of information available on a product. But there’s always a chance that a product won’t work for you. And I get it, it’s absolutely frustrating, especially when it’s a really expensive skincare or makeup product. I’ve been there, combing reviews and making sure that it would be worth my time and money. Sometimes though, the stars just don’t align. And there’s a lot that could cause that! I touched on a couple skincare mistakes in this post, which you might want to check out. Because today is all about makeup.

It can be discouraging to realize a product isn’t working, and to imagine the money going down the toilet. Believe you me, I wouldn’t want to just trash a $40 foundation or a $60 eyeshadow palette, even if it did suck on the first try. So, pop a squat and let’s figure out what may not be working, and how we can try and fix it before we decide to trash it (which, admittedly, can be tempting). These are all really easy things to try, but they’re so easy to forget when a product is frustrating you.

You may need to try a different application.

Sometimes, a lot of the time, it’s user error that can make a product go haywire. Whether it’s using the wrong brush for a particular eyeshadow formula, or using a primer formula that clashes with your foundations formula. There are a lot of things, largely having to do with the primary medium of the formula, that can make a product challenging to use.

There are a lot of cases where a product is formulated specifically for use with a particular brush or tool. Loose powder eyeshadows are a great example of this, certain brushes simply work better with them. Sometimes using a brush wet, a beauty blender dry, or adding a beauty oil can work wonders!

You can also try different brush materials (synthetic instead of natural hair), or different brush designs, like a buffing brush or perhaps one of those oval brushes? Maybe use a sponge, or a silicone sponge. And hell, if you’re sanitary about it then use your fingers! Try whatever seems like it could be practical, but don’t be afraid to get creative. Use different formulas with different applications, and see if there’s a way you can get it to work better! Some of my foundations apply best with a buffing brush, and sometimes I prefer a beauty blender! All give different finishes and work with products with various effects.

Have you tried using a primer?

I know. This is one of the most repeated pieces of makeup advice since the beginning of forever. Honestly, I didn’t even start using primers religiously until lately, partially because I didn’t think they were necessary, and also because I hadn’t found the right one.

This is probably most relevant for eyeshadows, but also can help mitigate some minor annoyances when it comes to foundation as well! If a foundation seems to be settling into lines and pores, or if it’s rubbing off easily, primers can help with a wide range of foundation pet peeves.

For eyeshadows, it can help with ensuring that the product comes out more true to color, and stays longer. Also, if your shadows are transferring, this is also a useful step!

The product was not made for your skin type, so let’s get creative.

This happens a lot with foundations and skin products in particular. Have you ever noticed that foundations are described as dewy, demi-matte, or any other wide range of finishes? Well, sometimes that can indicate it works best for certain skin types. Something that happened a lot when the NARS Sheer Glow foundation came out was that a lot of folks were noticing that it didn’t seem to work really well for combination or more oily skin (with exceptions, obviously). As it turns out, it says on the site that this foundation was formulated for particular skin types!

So when you’re shopping for foundation, first check to see what skin type it’s intended for. This is a preventative measure, obviously. So what if you’ve already bought the damn thing?

You have a couple options! Try a primer intended for your skin type (hydrating, mattifying, whatever), similar to what I mentioned above. This may mitigate some issues, particularly with finish or wear time. Also, try a setting powder (if it makes you shiny) or a setting spray (if it makes you too matte, but there are mattifying setting sprays too). You may also try mixing it with a foundation or product that you know works well for you! This can help give you a compromise between two finishes, and can be nice if you want a dewy finish, or if you want to customize the color a bit. Added bonus.

Did you read the directions?

I don’t mean this badly at all, because I have absolutely not read the damn directions (my initial struggle with the Colourpop SuperShock Shadows comes to mind). But there are a lot of products out now that due to their specialization, experimental nature, or sheer fancy-pants-ness require particular steps in order to get the best results.

An example of this is the Urban Decay Velvetizer, which is a super cool product that I’m itching to try. While it can be used as a setting powder, it’s actually meant to be mixed in with your foundation. You heard me right. However, if you buy it on a whim, you might not know that off the bat and you may not get the results you were looking for. So whenever you buy something, always read  the instructions if you’re getting weird results. Companies often have recommended steps or sister products to use with it to ensure the best performance.

Try it for other things!

You know how everyone says there are no rules to makeup? This is the part about it that everyone forgets: that goes for how to use products too. An eyeshadow is not just an eyeshadow and an eyeliner is not just an eyeliner. There’s a lot of flexibility with how you can use products, and it’s not always for its intended purpose!

This is especially helpful when there is an issue with colors. Sometimes, a shade will pull differently on your skin than you thought. (Which is normal by the way!) Personally, this happens for me a lot with blushes. But when a product isn’t the right shade or if you don’t like how it looks when worn a particular way, wear it another way. I’ve seen people use liquid lipstick as eyeliner, blush as eyeshadow, eyeshadow as blush, highlight as eyeshadow, eyeshadow as brow powder… The list goes on.

The only thing you need to check is if certain ingredients are safe to use around eyes or other parts of the face! There are certain ingredients in lipstick aren’t safe for use around your eyes, which became an issue when color correcting with lipstick had its fifteen minutes of infamy. Just be safe and double check, especially if you have sensitivities!

And if all else fails…

It may just not be the product for you. It’s crazy annoying, but there are some instances where a product just isn’t going to work. However, I really only recommend kicking a product to the curb if it’s caused an allergic reaction, or if you’ve tried everything else. (Or if it was really inexpensive and you don’t wanna deal with the hassle. I’ve done this.) Due to everyone’s unique biochemistry, variations between batches, and sheer dumb luck, there is always a chance that it’s not going to work for the sake of not working.

And if that is the case, I’ll be doing a follow up post on what you can do with unwanted makeup! Because I have a lot of it. Embarrassing amounts of it. But, have no fear because it does not have to be destined for the garbage bin.

I hope that this was helpful to you, because I know how frustrating this situation can be! Have you had a situation where you managed to make a product work? Let me know in the comments!

Love and light, y’all.


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