For beauty lovers, swatching makeup becomes a “tool of trade” for us. It has to. How else can we tell what products look and feel like? Plus there’s something very satisfying about those first swatches . . . Aaaah. But the truth is, as fun and essential as it is, swatching cosmetics doesn’t really give a true reflection of their look and wear. And here’s why:
1. When it comes to things like eyeshadow and lipstick, initial swatches are on our hands, not our eyes or lips. While when can get a general idea of what payoff and textures are, the skin we test on is so different. The complexion on our arms doesn’t usually match our faces, neither does the skin type i.e. eyes and lips. Then there’s things like the sebum release on different parts of our bodies, hair follicles of our arms, pores etc that play a part in how the final look will be.
2. When we swatch eyeshadows and powders we use our fingers and then we go and use brushes and other tools to apply the eyeshadows on our eyes. This means the way we pick up the product and the way they get transferred on the eyes as opposed to swatching will definitely show up differently. Plus we lay down primer/concealer/foundation before we start packing on our shadows/powders and that really makes a difference in the final output.
3. We tend to swatch single shades. Always individually. But when we wear the products we end up using different shades together to create our looks. We mix eyeshadows and use lip liners with the lippies and things change. How the shadows play with each other and how the colours blend into each other never look the same as swatches.
4. Blending is key when doing makeup but when we swatch we always pack on the same product on the same spot over and over again to see if we like the color/finish. The intensity we use on swatches is rarely the same as on actual application.
5. It’s not common for us to let swatches live and breath on our arms but when we wear a look we basically live in it for several hours. So of course we don’t really know the real wear of products based only on swatches.
All these reasons make it evident that swatching is great for a first impression but isn’t a reflection of the reality of a product and how it will look and feel on us. But that doesn’t take away from the value of swatches, most importantly when all you have to go on for a new release that’s not on hand is online swatches by someone else and their initial thoughts on it. Which I must say help a lot. Especially being a woman of colour in a predominantly light skinned beauty scene, seeing the latest products swatches on another black girl go a long way in showing me if it will work on me or not, for the most part. For dark girl friendly swatches I adore the dedication out in by people like Ofunne of Cocoa Swatches and Kimberly of Pink4Passions. So while we love and enjoy swatches, we should always know in the back of our minds that the real performance will invariably vary from them. Have a lovely week ahead.