How to choose skincare & make-up online with virtual tools

One of the perks of the pandemic has been the rise of virtual appointment. Instead of having to hang around in a department store, you can sit in the comfort of your own home and get a virtual consultation. It also replaces being able to try products in-store particularly make-up which makes choosing products very tricky. In this respect, QVC is great as they offer a money-back guarantee if you don’t like products, even if you have used them. Currently, you can try QVC products for 60 days before returning them if you are not happy for a full refund (minus postage).

More and more companies are offering this service, sometimes free of charge. Others are offering product demos and group sessions. I attended one with Space NK to see one of their new mascaras being demonstrated live. This gave me the chance to see it being used in real life to decide if I wanted to buy it or not. I could also sneak off when I got a bit bored partway through the group session without worrying about being rude!

There are two main types of consultations – a virtual video appointment or an ad hoc chat. On top of that, there are also online tools to recommend the best products for you.

Video appointments


Elemis very recently launched a complimentary Skin Wellness @home consultation service with an ELEMIS Elite Skincare Specialist. The service takes 30 minutes via Zoom during which you will receive personalised recommendations for your skin care based on your needs and concerns. Sessions are available from early January onwards with a range of times to choose from.

You can book your free session here.

Charlotte Tilbury

Launched last month, Charlotte Tilbury now offers a one-to-one virtual consultation with their skincare and makeup experts. They have been trained by Charlotte herself, and they will help you find your perfect makeup match, gifts for everyone, and advice on your skincare routine.

It works slightly differently to some of the others as you have to book a specific type of consultation, such as ask anything, gifting, flawless foundation or skin care tips. 15 minute consultation are free or for a more in-depth 30 minute session you will pay £25.

You get a link in an email to your video consultation once you book.

You can find out more here.

Trinny London

Trinny London is a very different make-up brand in my limited experience with some of their products. The make-up is designed to be portable and stackable. Forumlations are mainly cream based and can be applied on the go with fingers if necessary.

Some of their products can be quite unfamiliar for many people, so having a consultation is a good idea before you chose your purchase. Sadly appointments are not free. However, you do get the money back against any product purchases, so it’s ideal if you have something in mind.

A Pro Makeup Artist will take you through their Match2Me tool to find your perfect shades, show you how to do a smoky eye, perfect your blush, enhance your lips, and create a flawless complexion.

You will need to have a bare face, so be prepared! Each appointment costs £25, which is redeemable against product, will last for 30 minutes and uses Zoom which you can access for free on any device.

You can book your appointment here.

Virtual foundation matching

Il Makiage

This review is by Jersey Girl, a.k.a Katie who also writes the occasional great article for our sister travel publication Turning left for Less.

With department store beauty counters closed at the moment, trying new make up can be daunting.

Until now, I have been inclined to stick to my tried and tested favourite brands – these include Laura Mercier, Charlotte Tilbury & Bobbi Brown.

I’d seen advertisements for Il Makiage on Facebook and Instagram but wasn’t sure if it was for me.

I’m always suspicious of products that go for expensive, in-your-face advertising and I wondered if the quality would measure up.

I decided to go onto their site and have a look for myself.

My first thought was – how on earth will I know what shade to buy?

Your computer screen is hardly an accurate representation of how it might look on your skin – especially a screen covered in 10 months’ worth of working from home fingermarks.

It turns out that they have devised quizzes to colour match you for foundation and concealer, so I tried both. They also give you 60 days to then try the products risk-free.

Once you have chosen the correct broad tone – fair / medium / dark – it then takes you through a series of questions, such as asking you to identify whether have warm or cold tones.

I don’t know about you guys, but I had no idea about this – apparently it can be determined by whether gold or silver jewellery suits you better, and the colour of your veins on your wrists.

You then have to choose the closest match to your skin from a series of faces. I recommend a handheld mirror and natural light for this one.

I was eventually recommended the “Woke Up Like This” foundation (£36) in shade 60 and the “F*ck I’m Flawless” concealer (£24) in shade 3.5.

However, when I saw the concealer shade on screen I felt it looked a little dark and modified my choice to shade 2.5.

I also chucked in some of their “No Filter” primer (£28) as I’d seen a lot of positive reviews.

Total spend: £88 – new sign up offer code 10% = £79.20

The products arrived quickly and in suitably glamorous packaging.

First of all, I have to say I am not in love with the primer.

It is basically a clear gel without any sort of moisturizing quality so it literally does just fill in your pores. I also feel it could be a little clogging.

I think I’ll stick with my Trinny London BFF cream – that stuff is AMAZING.

I was really impressed with the colour match on the foundation – I will definitely be able to wear it for both daytime and evenings.

It has a luxurious texture and the smell isn’t too overpowering.

The coverage is buildable – it was more medium coverage initially despite being labelled as full coverage, so it needs a couple of layers for full glam look.

I think I would buy this again, although I am probably still going to keep Laura Mercier silk crème as my #1 favourite.

With the concealer I have to admit that I was wrong and shade 2.5 was far too light for me.

Products displayed on wrist (L-R): Concealer, foundation, primer

It does have a lovely thick quality to it with good coverage, without looking too caked on under your eyes.

I will give this a fair chance and re-order shade 3.5 and provide an updated review.


Value: 3/5

Quality: 4/5

Colour match accuracy: 5/5

Overall score: 4/5

You can find the foundation quiz here and the concealer match quiz here.

Other companies that do foundation matches

Estee Lauder Foundation Finder- a quick quiz about your skin type, type of coverage and foundation style gives you a recommendation. It didn’t recommend the foundation or shade that I am currently using by them and really like which is disappointing!

Findation is a clever website that allows you to inout your shade from many major brands such as MAC, Urban Decay and Lancome and then will match it to another brands shads. Hassle free colour finding.

MAC was one of the first companies to use augmented reality to allow you to try on makeup using your phone. They also now have a scanner that will tell you which foundation you should choose. Sadly it is only available for their Studio Fix Foundation but you can then obviously use that to match to other foundations as well. I tried it and was pleasantly surprised with how you could alter your match. Often I find that they recommend rosy shades for me when I am trying to counteract my rosy complexion.

With this tool, you go to the Studio Fix product page and click the “Find Your Shade Match” camera icon. All you need to do is position yourself in good lighting (ideally daylight) and it will perform the match. The thing I liked best was it then showed the recommended shade on your skin which was a touch dark I felt. Then there were buttons along the bottom of the screen where you change the foundation to lighter, darker, more rosy, and more golden. A very clever piece of technology that I thought worked well. One tip is to actually wear a foundation shade that you really like if you want to match that rather than your skin tone.

You can also try on to try on different lipstick shades, blushers, and eyeshadows virtually.

What virtual or online services have you used to choose products? Let us know in the comments below.


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