If only life were that simple. Suddenly you’re overcome with… the fear. It creeps up on you like an impending smear test or the feeling that you’ve forgotten to hand your coursework in 10 years too late.
What if she can’t do me like I do me? What if she can’t paint my tiny lips like I can, or handle my brows like I can?
It’s the same inner monologue that plays out when we commit to a hair appointment. Suddenly our hair looks f*cking great. Never have our locks looked quite as superior than in that moment between writing it in the calendar and slipping into that cape. You know the one we never know whether to navigate like a coat or a sweater. In our experience, it’s nearly always like a coat.
Makeovers are cut from the same cloth, which is why we thought we’d trial them out so you don’t have to. We hit up eight of the best beauty brands on the high street to see what each of their in-store makeovers had to offer IRL. One brief. Eight brands. Eight very different experiences. This is what happened…
Holly – Mac
I remember the first time I ever got ‘proper’ makeup was from MAC and honestly I have been a huge fan ever since then so I jumped at the chance to go there for a makeover and they did not disappoint.
Details: 60 minutes, £60 to spend on any product (There for 90 mins)
I was that nightmare customer at first because I had to rearrange my first appointment, was 10 minutes late to the new appointment and needed to extend the session. But the customer service team and people in store were so helpful. The store was clean and everyone was very friendly and I felt so at ease instantly. Conversation flowed easily with the person doing my makeup and it was really enjoyable. She explained everything she was using on my face and asked my preferences, from coverage to colour and the type of brushes she was using. She also wrote it all down on a handy piece of paper for me to take away and consider what I might like to buy, with absolutely no pressure to purchase anything on the day.
I think because I gave a very vague brief (going out makeup) It gave the makeup artist quite a lot of legroom. I loved the makeup that was on my face and I am honestly tempted to go back there before my next big night out. I would probably have opted for a slightly less coverage foundation as it gathered in my wrinkles a bit and that is a pet peeve of mine but after 6 solid hours and a netball match and my skin still looking immaculate, I think I could put up with the coverage for my face to be that fresh 24/7. She made my eyebrows fluffy, no mean feat when I have zero eyebrow hair and the eyelashes she used looked very natural. I was a big fan!
I already by my lipsticks and foundation from MAC so I think it’s great value, especially if you need to stock up on a few products anyway. They also teach you a lot so I felt like I really got something for my money and have already started applying some of the techniques she showed me in life. Thanks, MAC, you’ll be seeing me again soon!
Lareese – YSL
So, I get the brand that gave us Touche Eclat and the Blur Primer of dreams and I’m not mad about it. I’ve only ever had a makeover at MAC before, so I was intrigued to see how a department store compared with a stand-alone store experience.
Details: FREE, no obligation to buy product. Approx 40 minutes
The makeup artist was really lovely and chatty and her makeup was immaculate, which is usually a good sign. I immediately felt safe in her hands and she made me feel comfortable, despite the fact that I was about to be sat in Boots bare-faced with my angry hormonal chin out.
We chatted about what look I wanted to achieve and I said I’d like a ‘soft glam’ look with a smokey eye, preferably using warm brown tones. She nods and grabs two taupe eye shadows and one with a gold shimmer, seemingly understanding the brief and sets to work taking my light everyday makeup off ready to begin the makeover. That detail is important because I feel it sets the tone for how I usually like my makeup. Ahem. At this point, my discomfort was around the 4/10 mark but that was purely down to the Westlife-Esque stool all 5ft 8 of me was attempting to sit on, nothing to do with the makeup. She’s lovely. I’m about to get my face tickled for 40 minutes. I get to call this work. Happy days.
She asked me all the right questions about what kind of finish I like etc to which my answer is always the same: dewy and glowy. I like my skin to look like skin – inject a bit of life into it. Please make me feel fresh out the womb again.
In between a few conversations about life and what products I like to use, the rest of the makeover sort of just unfolds around me. I had no idea what direction the look was going in, no reflective surfaces to catch a glimpse of myself before the big reveal. For the purpose of this review, I actually liked the fact that I had no idea what the end result was going to be. Give me all the impact!
But now I have the mirror in my hand – my discomfort’s at a solid 10/10 and this time it has everything to do with the makeup. Savage I know! I’m sorry. At least I’ve learned to tolerate the stool by now, that’s progress.
I usually like my makeup to look quite light and natural, even on a night out, so this was a lot heavier than I’m used to. The eyeshadow was darker and cooler than I expected since I requested a warm brown smokey eye. Gulp. I could see my contour in my peripheral vision and I also had a red lip up to my nose… how do I handle this tactfully? I sheepishly asked her if she’s happy to swap the red lip for a nude just to tone down the look a little which she was happy to do. Overall, I think if you’re into full coverage, hella glam, last-all-night kinda makeup, then you’d be in good hands here. Unfortunately, it just missed the mark for me and my penchant for barely-there slap.
Despite the obvious, I do think getting a full face of makeup for FREE is exceedingly good bang for your buck. If you need to feel fancy for an evening or simply want to branch out with new products and don’t know where to start, this is a great budget-friendly way to experiment!
Danielle – Bobbi Brown
I’m not sure what I was expecting from an in store makeover, especially one from Bobbi Brown as I usually wear quite a lot of high coverage makeup and BB are known for a much simpler more natural face.
Details: 60 minutes booked in, £40 to use against any product
For my makeover I booked in for 60 minutes “glam” and when I sat down she asked what kind of thing I wanted to go for. I had great fun in store and got on really well with the makeup artist who did my makeover, I could tell she was good at her job and I was not worried about her skill set at any point. I didn’t think that there was going to be a full-blown tutorial on what was taking place but there was absolutely no chat around what she was doing at any point or if she had any advice for how she thinks certain products should be applied to my face. I was most surprised at the lack of education on products as she didn’t really try to ‘sell’ me anything which is good because everyone hates being sold to, but I was left scratching my head not knowing what to buy after. I ended up just going for a basic powder as this was something I ‘needed’ instead of getting something we had talked about during the makeover.
Although it was quite light, I loved the makeup that was done for me at BB, the skin looked great, there weren’t any harsh lines and the eye makeup was gorgeous. However, if you are looking for high coverage Kimmy K contour full-face makeup, Bobbi Brown is not the brand for you! I could imagine a lot of people veering towards BB for wedding makeup as it natural and gorgeous.
I think if you are going into Bobbi Brown to buy something you know you need you might as well book in for a makeover as you do get a full face, but other than that I’m not sure it was worth £40 and as there isn’t really an education element it’s harder to justify the spend.
Zoe – bareMinerals
I actually couldn’t tell you the last time I went and had my makeup done at a beauty counter and if I’m honest, totally forgot that most/if not all makeup and beauty counters offer some sort of makeup application that you can book in or just sit down during a spot of shopping. It’s such a fantastic way of seeing which products suit you the most and to get an overall feel for the brands without just grabbing something and taking it home only to be confused as to how it’s used and discover it’s not the correct shade. I opted for a Bare Minerals makeover as I already knew I loved the brand and a fair amount of their products are already in my makeup bag, so it was more just to see how they would use them and if I could find something new I hadn’t tried before.
Details: Bare Minerals offer a full face of makeup lasting around 45-60 minutes with a £50 minimum spend on product which is probably a bit more suited to someone who is looking to revamp their makeup bag or are already fans of bare minerals but want to discover new items or stock up on their favourites.
I had the lovely Jasmine do my makeover but all three girls in the Brighton store were helpful and friendly. The store itself is clean, well thought out and easy to navigate too. Jasmine started by cleaning my face using skin care products which I thought was a lovely touch. I wasn’t expecting a mini facial before the makeover began but it was relaxing and I loved learning a bit more about the skincare products the brand sells. Once my face was prepped, Jasmine asked me what sort of makeup I was going for, and as the team brief was “glam” I told her the more the merrier! Jasmine made sure I felt comfortable with all the makeup choices, asking me if usually wore blush, checking I was happy with the amounts of things and the colours of product and was very careful not to make me feel out of my comfort zone makeup-wise which I really appreciated. She also explained each product in detail and was brimming with Bare Minerals knowledge which just made me love her and the brand even more than I already did.
The makeup was great, I loved it! I particularly liked the skin, I already use the original mineral foundation, but her application was brilliant. I also loved the colours she used for the eyeshadow and her technique was very professional. I was ready to hit the town afterwards! (Who am I kidding? Haha)
I think £50 spent on products after a full makeover is great value! Although some counters offer a free service with no obligation to spend, I do think the girls in Bare Minerals go above and beyond to give you the best experience and actually teach you how to use the products so I can’t imagine you’d ever want to walk out without a completely fresh makeup bag anyway! I’d definitely go back and would recommend!
Darcey – Fenty
I had never had an in-store makeover before, but I was particularly excited to be having my first by Fenty Beauty as it’s a brand I have loved for a while now. I was slightly apprehensive that I might not like how they do my makeup, mainly because I’ve always done my own and know how I like to do it.
Details: 60 minutes booked in, free of charge with no obligation
I had booked in the week prior, and the girl who pencilled in my appointment let me know that she would be doing my makeup. She asked me a few questions beforehand and jotted them down. When I arrived the following week for my appointment, she greeted me at the Fenty Beauty stand and went back over what I was wanting from the makeover. She asked me lots of questions, which was great as she really got a feel for what I wanted.
I went for a ‘night-out, soft-glam look’ with a brown smokey eye and a bronzed glow. My MUA was super chatty throughout and friendly, she made me feel really comfortable the whole time which was really great. She did every part of my face step-by-step, showing me what she was using and why. She started with my brows first, and after she was finished got me to look in a mirror to make sure I liked the way she did them (they looked great btw).
She repeated this process throughout the makeover with every product she used, she even asked me if I would prefer a mousse or powder bronzer! Little details like this made the experience feel even more personalised. She showed me a lot of their products, explaining why she liked them and why she thought they would work well with me. However, at no point did I feel any type of pressure to buy any product, she actually said to me she thinks makeovers are a great way to trial different products and so you can see how they sit on your face over a prolonged period of time (aka, going on a night-out for me). Altogether, I had an amazing experience with Fenty Beauty, the staff were so nice and they really listened to what I liked!
I think she smashed it with the makeup, I loved every part of it! Even the brows, which I was most nervous about, but I’m going to be taking her technique forward, as she did them better than I do! She did exactly what I asked, it really was a soft-glam, brown smokey eye look, with a good amount of bronzer.
Amazing value! It’s FREE, you don’t have to buy any products and they do such an amazing job! You could tell all the girls working there really love their job and the makeup. It’s great value if you are wanting a night-out look or even just wanting to trial some products!
Maddie – Spack NK
I’m not particularly brand loyal when it comes to makeup and let’s face it, you can’t go too far wrong with Space NK when it comes to anything across the beauty category so I thought it would be the perfect choice for me.
Details: 20mins makeup refresh appointment, free of charge
I’m not particularly brand loyal when it comes to makeup and let’s face it, you can’t go too far wrong with Space NK when it comes to anything across the beauty category so I thought it would be the perfect choice for me. It also helped that it was completely free of cost and only 20 minutes so if you’re time poor (like me) it’s a great option.
I came out of a blustery, very wet outside looking incredibly dishevelled, hair all over the place, you get the picture but I was instantly made to feel completely comfortable and at ease surrounded by all the gorgeous brands that stock the shelves. I was offered a drink by the lovely MUA and took my seat next to the Nars counter. Nars is known for their beautiful, extremely wearable makeup and I’ve always been a big fan so I was excited to try some of their new collection. Their new Afterglow eyeshadow palette caught my eye instantly, I have the mini Wanted palette already and this just looks like it’s slightly sexier cousin. I think the lady must have caught me eyeing up the palette and asked if I wanted to try it, UM YAH.
She layered up a mix of shadows and liners, showing me at every stage how you can build it up to make a more dramatic glam look. The palette has a couple of pink shades which is a colour I’d usually avoid, one really bright electric pink and a softer pastel which she used to blend the more coppery shades to make a really lovely warm smokey eye. She matched a blusher and a light pink tinted lip balm to tie the whole look together.
At no point did I feel super up-sold to or that I had to buy anything at the end, in fact she encouraged me to go home and play with what I’ve already got to achieve similar results which I thought was really great. I personally hate feeling pressured into any decision, especially as high-end makeup has got a punchy price tag these days. It was the right track to take with me as she just let the products speak for themselves and I left feeling great, with zero guilt and a huge desire to purchase everything.
I really love the finished look and it really took all of 20 minutes to go from my everyday neutrals to pretty in pink. For £0 I think it’s an incredible service, you get to try before you buy which is perfect when you’re investing in premium products.
Lauren – Kiko
I didn’t know KIKO offered in-store makeovers so was intrigued to try as they’re cruelty-free and have quite a few vegan options too, plus they’ve got such a wide range of products from natural to vibrant that I was ready for any sort of look!
Details: 45 mins – 1hr booked in, £20 to use against any product
I was greeted by Stella who was so lovely and friendly throughout the process. She asked me what the occasion was, and I said a glam Valentine’s dinner look that needed to last until late (it was 1pm at this point) so I could really get a chance to wear the full shebang. She asked me a lot of questions about what base I would like, finish, eye-look, lip colour, so I felt confident that I’d be happy with the result even with her creative license, and the came back with a huge range of products that were all vegan too which I’d specified on booking so felt really happy that everything I was wearing was vegan-friendly.
Stella chatted to me throughout the session but also focused on making sure the look was a high standard, and she kept checking in with me that I was happy and made changes during the application (I was originally going to wear a red lip but it felt too much with the brown eye so she switched this out for me). She talked me through the products as she went along and at the end was happy to help me pick out the £20 worth of products that I thought I’d get the most use out of. All in all, it was a great experience from start to finish!
The finished look was pretty spot on to what I was hoping for, but actually I was surprised HOW good it was! The eyes were incredible, and my brows were bigger than I could ever imagine growing them so I felt very fancy and ‘done’ compared to my usual self. Obviously it’s a lot of makeup and the contour lines on my cheeks and forehead were quite heavy, but if I was going for a big night out or event, I’d definitely go back as I was so impressed with the result.
As KIKO is so affordable anyway, it’s worth booking in for the makeover as £20 gets you quite a bit of product, plus you’ll be able to see it in action so know whether it works for you. I’ll definitely be going back and would recommend everyone else tries KIKO too!
Charlotte – Chanel
Getting my makeup done by someone else is up there with a massage or facial in treating myself to something really special. I’ve never tried any Chanel beauty products before so prior to the appointment, the experience felt like it would be a really luxurious/special one!
Details: 1hr booked in, £45 to use against any product
The experience itself was very comfortable and I felt in control of the direction of the look throughout. I outlined that I wanted to try new products to get me out of the rut of using the same things day in and day out, and explained that I wanted a ‘night out’ look appropriate for evening drinks. The lady who did my makeup was extremely knowledgeable about the products used and as she applied each she explained the benefits of each item and how it would help improve the longevity of the look- something I’d highlighted as important as my appointment was at lunchtime and needed to last until the evening.
There were aspects of the look such as the brows and glowy base that I think worked really well and would definitely encourage me to incorporate Chanel products into my routine. The base was probably my favourite part- the foundation was well matched and although the coverage was lighter than I’m used to, I think the products used created a really natural but perfected look. I’m not sure whether it was the skincare/primer used or the foundation itself but the base did feel quite sticky even after powdering- a minor observation in the grand scheme of things but one that made me feel the base could have moved/worn more if the weather was warmer or I’d had a stressful day ahead.
Overall the one thing that I didn’t love was the eyeliner flick, but that’s definitely just because I do a flick every day myself and like it to follow the natural shape of my eye. The highlighter was gorgeous and I purchased this following the makeover as it was a lovely balance of adding noticeable glow whilst still maintaining a natural finish.
Given the long list of products that were used on me, I would definitely recommend the experience if you’re looking to try new products as nothing was off the table and the MUA was more than happy for you to ask questions and create a look that was very personal to you. Given that Chanel is a high-end brand with products on the luxurious end of the price scale, I think £45 is a fair price given the total cost of a full face look!