This is how it usually goes down. You are at a store. You see a top or dress that interests you. You take it to the fitting room, where you notice a ring of some exasperating woman’s foundation around the collar. You are repulsed. You then ask a sales associate if she could please find you a clean one. There are no more in your size. You throw a fit—on the inside.
Finding someone else’s Laura Mercier—or worse, fluoro pink Urban Decay something-or-other—on a shirt you want to buy is super gross and inconsiderate, but it’s not like I can just pull a Henry IV and issue a worldwide Edict of Go Shopping Bare-Faced or Else. Until I have that authority, here’s the next best thing: seven brilliant tips from a retail expert, a fashion-show dresser, and a makeup artist on how to slither in and out of clothes like you were never even there. Because if we don’t watch out for one another/one another’s potential Zara buys, who will?
Set your makeup
Cream products don’t dry completely, says Laramie, makeup artist and founder of Book Your Look, which is not great unless you’re aiming to give a blazer lapel (that you don’t own) a dewy look. To prevent transfer, apply thin layers and follow with a translucent powder and setting spray. And to make any lipstick impossible to smear, use this old Kevyn Aucoin trick: Separate a tissue into two layers, and press powder over the tissue onto lips. (But better not wear anything ultra bright just in case.)
Or just go waterproof
If you know you’re going on a shopping excursion, it might be easier just to choose formulas that won’t budge in the first place. Laramie recommends Make Up For Ever, which has an entire “Aqua” line, and Stila long-wear lip products.
Pack a scarf
Ever notice how models get their makeup done before they get dressed? Barbara Berman, owner of BB’S Backstage Fashion Show Dressing Services, says the secret is a silk scarf: Bring one along with you to drape over your face and head like a beekeeper’s mask, and make sure to fold it in around your lips. P.S. You could just tie one on your bag like so.
Have your floor routine ready
Gymnastics: There’s no way around them. The nicest thing to do is to step into garments instead of tugging them on over your head, says Klerlie Raymond, in retail sales at Nordstrom and an industry vet of eight years. If it’s a shirt, make sure the opening is wide enough to go over your head before attempting to put it on—otherwise, use the scarf trick. And in random-but-sort-of-related news, you know those awkward side-hugs you do to avoid smudging your face on someone’s shirt? When you go in for a hug, says Laramie, just contort your neck so your head doesn’t make contact. Problem solved. (But have these exercises ready, okay?)
Some stores have in-house alterations and tailoring departments, so a salesperson can simply have it cleaned and ready for the next customer, says Raymond. Plus, 1) it looks bad for the store if it goes back out on the floor and 2) how could you do that to your fellow woman, you monster?
Ask for a discount
It doesn’t hurt to try, right? Raymond says it’s a gamble that could pay off. This is how the stores see it: If you’re asking, you most likely already want the item, so if they say no, you might just be a little peeved but purchase it anyway. On the other hand, you’re even more likely to buy if they throw in 10 percent off.
Know that it’ll wash out
Raymond says makeup remover wipes will lift stains, as will—surprise!—dish detergent, which is designed to clean oil-based residue anyway. Shaving cream also makes a great pre-wash treatment.
You should also check out:
21 Genius Hacks for Fixing Ruined Clothes
The No-Bullsh*t Way to Find Foundation That Matches
The 15 Emotional Stages of Shopping