Two products to pretty


The makeup counter makeover is about the best deal going. It’s like test driving a car, only, in this case, after the car dealer helps you pick out the perfect vehicle, she lets you ride around in it ALL DAY simply for the promise of buying a little Turtle Wax or tire cleaner. You’re obviously going to hear a sales pitch, and the cosmetic counters definitely want you to walk away with a little product, but it’s still relatively cheap compared to what you’d pay for professional makeup application at a spa or hair and makeup boutique (e.g., $55 at Neroli; $50 and up at Oasis Day Spa).

Having a pro impart some makeup wisdom—even if you’re supposed to buy a little something for her trouble—feels like a steal.

There are variations in policies and product-purchase minimums for the counter service, however. At Belk, for example, the Bobbi Brown counter has a two-product purchase minimum; contrast that with a $50 minimum purchase at the MAC counter. Clinique and Origins both told us makeovers are free (Origins even does free facials), but if you can walk away without even throwing down some cash for a little lip gloss, you have much more nerve than we.

In all, it’s a budget-friendly way to get a private makeup lesson, plus a pretty face for the day. Even the kids are doing it: Lisa Bloxsom, retail manager at MAC, tells us that hordes of area teenagers take advantage of the makeover services for their pre-prom primping. Apparently, a few coats of Maybelline Great Lash and some strawberry Lip Smacker doesn’t cut it these days.