Beauty 911: How to Locate Your Favorite Discontinued Makeup Products

beauty products against a white background

Damon Fourie

You know how people say you never really appreciate things until they're gone? Well, if you stroll up to the cosmetics counter, request another tube of your signature lipstick, and receive word that your shade has been discontinued, then you'll know exactly how that feels. While we always have access to an infinite amount and variety of products, there is nothing like our classic go-to's.

Discontinuations are a sad reality in the beauty world, especially when it comes to products that have become your signature, whether it be a perfect shade of lipstick, your fail-safe foundation, or the cleanser your skin has come to crave. But if you do find out your longtime cosmetic confidant has been discontinued, don't give up. We've highlighted five strategies to find your favorite discontinued cosmetics and restock your beauty arsenal, including tips from celebrity makeup artists Joey Maalouf and Quinn Murphy. Read on to learn how to find discontinued beauty products. 

Scour Discount Sites

Your first stop on the search for your beloved discontinued product? The Internet. Scour the discount clearing houses and you may just find what you're looking for. Sites like BeautyEncounter.com, BuyMeBeauty.com, Overstock.com, and OverstockCosmetics.com often carry excess stock of products that have been recently discontinued. You can also rely on sites like eBay or Amazon.

Be mindful of expiration dates and product consistency: lipsticks usually have a 12-18 month shelf life, foundation is six to 12 months and anything powder based can last up to around two years. If the formula looks lumpy or the liquid has separated, return the product for a refund.

Ask a Friend

influencer putting on makeup
@chrisellelim

Talk to Direct Consultants

If you really are in love with the product, one of your friends probably tried it, too. If you're lucky, he or she won't be as attached to it and will gladly hand over the coveted cosmetic. As makeup experts, both Maalouf and Murphy affirm they can always text another colleague to check. It also never hurts to make friends with your cosmetic counter sales associate. If they've been with the brand for a long time, they may have a personal stock of products that they don't use.

makeup products

Jazmin Quaynor / Unsplash

Some brands and direct sales cosmetics companies like Mary Kay and Avon are sold through consultants. So you can check with the same brand representative that you bought your makeup from or reach out to other consultants through Facebook or Instagram using hashtags or niche groups. "If you're lucky, this friendly salesperson might also have an old box of samples or overstock that can hold you over," says Murphy.

Reach Out to The Brand

eye pencil urban decay
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil $22 $10
Shop

If your take-it-to-the-streets approach fails, turn to the experts. Estée Lauder Companies' Gone but Not Forgotten program could have the solution. The team will search high and low for any product discontinued in the last 24 months from one of its 18 participating beauty brands (including Clinique, Bumble and bumble, and MAC). There's no guarantee, but if the team's super-sleuths find your favorites, you can purchase up to six products at a time. "Some sites have a section on their website for items on the way out like Urban Decay's Gone For Good section," Murphy notes. Another approach is to call or email the brand's customer service asking about a product no longer available. "There's nothing wrong with trying to reach out to the brand's PR or Global Director directly," says Maalouf. That's one nice thing about the age of social media: everyone is reachable and everything is possible with a viral hashtag.

Get It Customized

pink lipstick bite
Bite Outburst Longwear Lip Stain $24
Shop

Even when you think all hope is lost, we promise you that it's not. As long as you save a small amount of the discontinued cosmetic, there are services that can re-create your missing makeup shades. Send the specialists at Three Custom Colors a dime-size sample, and they can recreate any color with the same texture and coverage as the original in about three weeks. "They have been around since the late ’90s and my go-to in NYC. They had a counter at Henri Bendel I would frequent when I needed something custom created. They can make literally anything," says Maalouf. Didn't save the last of your discontinued shade? Check the archive. TCC has over 10,000 commonly requested replicas already logged in it.

If it's a lipstick you're after, try Bite Beauty's Lip Lab (located in several major cities and now available online). In just about seven minutes, a blending specialist will whip up the lip color of your dreams. They'll get the shade and finish just right for under $60.

If you need your discontinued face makeup to be brought back to life, try Prescriptives. One of its PX Beauty Geniuses will hop on a video chat and work with you to create your perfect, custom-blended foundation or powder (they're temporarily out of stock, but you can sign up to be notified via email when it's available). As you can see, when it comes to your favorite makeup, hope is never lost. 

Related Stories