Are you familiar with Murphy’s Law of Makeup? The pricier it is, the more likely you’ll break it (cue Bobbi Brown compact dropping out of purse) or unwillingly waste it (cue cursing woman slamming a near-empty bottle of Giorgio Armani foundation into her palm like a bottle of ketchup).
Just like you wouldn’t throw away a pricey silk blouse simply because of a small tear, there’s no reason why you should toss expensive cosmetics before their time, just because Murphy got the better of you. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your cosmetic investments and make them do double-duty, even when you think they’re beyond repair. Keep these in mind and remember: Whatever can be fixed, should be fixed!
If your compact powder or blush cracks into several pieces after you drop it (and if this hasn’t happened to you yet, trust me — it will), there’s no reason to banish it to home makeup drawer duty, where you’ll feel obligated to use it out of thrift, yet get annoyed all over again every time you use it.
Instead, salvage it: Using a finger wrapped in clean tissue, arrange the powder chunks back in place in the compact pan. Add a few drops of rubbing alcohol to the pan and smooth the surface with a flat knife. Allow to dry overnight; if you’re in a rush, blast the pan with a hairdryer set on low for a few seconds. Then bring it back out on the town!
Of course, this assumes the breakage occurs in a closed compact. Life’s too short to be picking your makeup off a dirty floor.
My makeup brushes don’t get all the love they should: They get jammed together in my small brush holder and aren’t washed as frequently as suggested. So it shouldn’t surprise me when I pull out, say, my blush brush, and it looks like it went on a three-day bender in Mexico. Instead of tossing the poor thing, it’s time to reshape it with a bar of soap.
Take a dry bar of soap (soap soap like Ivory, not Dove), and sprinkle with a drop or two of water. Swipe your misshapen brush across the damp surface until the bristles are completely saturated, adding more water only if necessary — you’ll want the bristles sticky, not wet. Mold the brush back into its original shape and trim any errant bristles that insist on sticking out. Let dry overnight until hard, then rinse the brush thoroughly with water and let dry.
Expensive liquid foundation can be like a really pricey, painful pair of shoes: It seduces you with a substantial frosted glass bottle that screams “luxury!” every time you open your medicine cabinet, but reduces you to tears when you try to wrangle every last dollar of product out of its narrow little neck.
Unfortunately, breaking the foundation bottle isn’t an option, but you can get more out of your investment by partially submerging the bottle in a bowl of hot water. The foundation that was stuck to the sides will slide to the bottom, where it will be easier to remove with a Q-tip or small brush. If your foundation comes in a pump, you should be able to remove the pump and get to the remaining foundation by rocking the pump back and forth or prying it off with the edge of a small knife.
Some brands of high-end eye shadow tend to be pretty soft, which means they may not travel well. If you open an eye compact to find a pile of crumbles, try the modified powder repair technique: Add a drop or two of rubbing alcohol to the shadow pan, then press down firmly with a clean coin to set the shadow in place and let dry.
If you’ve been suckered in to a pricey shadow that looked great at the cosmetics counter but is waaay too bright or strong in the everyday reality of your mirror, don’t hand it off to your adventurous niece. Instead, repurpose it as a liner: Add a drop or two of water to the pan, swipe with an eyeliner brush until you get the intensity you want, then apply along the base of your lashes. If you want to create a liner with more staying power, replace the water with an eye makeup setting liquid.
Lipstick can be one of the most fragile things in your makeup bag: It melts, it breaks, you close it incorrectly and get those little sticky bits on the outside of the tube that end up on everything else. Still, you keep wearing it, and will pay good money for the perfect color. What’s a girl to do?
She gets MacGyver on her lipstick: Is it a melty blob in the tube? She sticks it in the fridge for an hour or two. Is it broken? She softens the bottom of the broken-off bit with a lighter, sticks it on to the base and leaves it in the freezer for a bit. (If she’s particularly crafty, she’ll smooth out the sides of the repaired lipstick with the lighter as well.) Has she hit the end of the tube, but there’s still a good chunk of inaccessible color left? She scoops it out with a Q-tip or lip brush and stores it in a small pill box or plastic container.
And in a pinch, she’ll use that remaining lipstick as blush.
What’s worse than overpriced mascara? Overpriced, gloppy mascara. Actually, gloppy mascara at any price is a bad thing, but as long as the glop factor isn’t due to the fact that your mascara is past its three-month expiration date, it’s something you should never have to deal with. Just add a drop or two of contact lens solution or eye drops to that offending tube of mascara and stir gently with the brush to combine. (Never “pump” the mascara brush in the tube — that only invites air into the product and may have caused the problem in the first place.)