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Please stop asking these questions at the makeup counter

Illustration by Twylamae
Words by Nicole La Ruffa

I beg you.

If you work in retail, you would have met either of the following customers Mr/Mrs. Right, or Mr/Mrs. Right Now. Some of us have even met Mr/Mrs. Right-Or-Else-Get-Me-The-Manager.

And while these people might enjoy being right 100 per cent of the time, what they don’t know is that every stupid question of theirs gets converted into an epic dinner story, or group chat subject. Or, if they’re really lucky, a whole jam-packed feature article.

Working at a makeup counter (an adult play centre, basically), I’m almost desensitised to the very (ahem) unique things people come in and do like using our testers to get ready for a night out, or applying a mascara wand straight to their lashes before dipping it back into the now bacteria-infested tube.

But questionable habits aside, there are still some very interesting questions that I and my fellow coworkers must respond to on the daily.

If you have caught yourself uttering one of these lines, or any iteration of sorts, don’t fret. I once tried to return a pair of shoes with a band-aid still stuck on it. Could be worse.

Low and behold, the 9 questions us makeup workers are secretly laughing at behind the counter.

‘I want dewy skin, but I also wanna look super matte – can you do both?’

Which one is it? Dewy or matte? I don’t approach a barista and ask for coffee that’s also lemonade. You’re going to need to give me a couple of minutes to work out the greatest conundrum known to man.

‘Which lipstick shade should I wear?’

Shall I pick out your underwear as well? It’s a super personal choice. That question is going to depend on so many factors: what you like to wear, what you don’t like to wear, your overall style, how much you identify with the ’80s as a whole, etc. I need a little something to work with here.

‘How come your skin looks so dewy?’

That’s sweat. I can’t sell that in a bottle (unless you’d like me to go out the back and squeeze some out of my pores).

‘What do you think looks good?’

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 500 Days of Summer. Oversized knits on a cold day. It doesn’t really matter what blush shade I like to wear (‘Warm Soul mixed with a tiiiny bit of ‘Peaches’). It’s your lovely, unique face. You can’t stitch mine onto yours well, you probably can. But don’t, please.

‘What’s the best product in this store?’

Yikes, okay. Whatever we use to clean the countertops? Again, try to be more specific. A category perhaps? Like face products? Even then I might need you to start a rapid-fire of facial features – Cheeks, nose, forehead!

‘So I’m thinking a Kim K-esque smokey eye, with heavy contouring and a bold purple lip. But like, natural, ya know?’

As much as you wanna try and angle it, the look you’re describing ain’t natural. You can DM Kim K’s makeup artist and ask him yourself if you like. While you’re showing me pics of Kim at this year’s Met Gala, I’m trying to unpack your logic in my head. Nope, still have no clue what you’re after.

‘Can you tell me who did my makeup here eight years ago? I want them again’

Eight years ago? In 2010? I still had a side fringe then. I packed two juice boxes for lunch. How do you even remember that?

‘My creamy lipstick melted in my car, can you replace it for free?’

Perhaps a crash-course in basic science is what you’re really after. You wanna know what happens to things in heat? Turn on any kids’ show. I’m sure they explain it in song.

‘Can you find me a red that’s not too red?

Come again?

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