A lot of things are no-brainers to buy unseen — like probiotics, puppy pads, and a book about cats, according to our recent order history on Amazon. Cosmetics shopping, on the other hand, is often still best-done brick-and-mortar style. It can also be a trial-and-error exercise rife with variables: the lighting, the retail environment, the dwindling patience. So, we asked: What’s the best way to skip the try-on step?
We sought the advice of Abraham Sprinkle, a celebrity hair and makeup artist at Kate Ryan, Inc. in New York City, who tells us that the key to finding wearable shades is to think outside your traditional palette. “Neutrals aren’t an automatic safe zone. A universal color can be hard to find because we often prioritize shade over texture,” he says. “Consider the sheerness of a product when buying. It will allow your natural skin to show through and develop into a custom hue that harmonizes with what is naturally present.”
One of Sprinkle’s favorite rules of thumb is to follow no rules at all. “Pigment is pigment. If a cheek color looks amazing on your lips, don’t be deterred by the label,” he says. “There are no real rules in the makeup game.”
While items in the face category — foundation, concealer — usually work best when purchased in-person, it’s fun to find colors for eyes, lips, and cheeks, sans testing. We’re sharing Sprinkle’s go-to shades, new and classic, that you can add-to-cart, restrictive return policies be damned.
Eyelids can have natural underlying blue tones that make us look tired. This mineral eye color, a warm metallic copper shade with peach undertones, helps. It neutralizes blue-ish pigments, delivering a sheer wash of color and healthy glow that complements any eye color.
Pat McGrath Labs
This peachy nude gloss has a sheer texture that allows lips’ natural pigment to blend with it. Because of its versatility, it can read subtle or bold depending on your skin tone.
It’s a venerable favorite among makeup artists — and one that’s been on endless best-of lists. Here’s what else to know: “This blush has a cool base with a warm reflect, so depending on your underlying pigment, it can read cool or warm,” says Sprinkle. “It magically blends into any skin tone.”
This golden peach hue “creates instant brightness without the worry of contradiction,” says Sprinkle. “It gives light skin tones a warm glow and darker complexions a cool champagne reflect.” Mango, coconut, and avocado oils deliver a dewy sheen; meteorite powder, a more obvious shimmer.
Some black eyeliners can read navy or gray. “This gel liner is one of the blackest on the market and 100 percent universal to create an abyss on any eyeline,” Sprinkle says.
Fun to say, even more fun to use: This powder body luminizer “gives skin a slightly dewy quality, and because of its sheerness, develops into a flattering rose gold veil over any skin tone.”
Rosy tints are almost always a good idea. This bright shade gives a just-bitten look to the lips and works with their natural shadowing to create subtle plumpness.
So many things can go wrong with bronzer: too orange, too shimmery, too muddy looking. This one is foolproof and multi-functional. It can be used on the eyes, as a blush or to create a slight contour, and has gold reflects throughout that give every skin tone a gilded overlay.
This is a skincare product, right? Yes, but: “This cult cream has been used by almost every makeup artist to sub in for a highlighter, lip gloss or eye gloss,” says Sprinkle. “The slight amber tone has such a high reflect that it gives skin a healthy, modern shine.”