Will you purchase something that swatches poorly?

It would depend on the brand and type of product; if it was matte eyeshadow that had a weak swatch, but the brand’s formula tends to be buildable, sure. If it was a metallic eyeshadow that had a poor swatch, probably not. I’m less worried about blush, bronzer, and highlighter that swatch so-so because I find application results differ more often.

— Christine
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17 Comments

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I don’t buy most things based off of swatches. Swatches don’t tell how it applies and wears over time. Also, when we were able to swatch in store, I have no way of knowing if that poor swatch is bc of a poor performing product or the result of a product that has sat in the store and been sprayed with alcohol for sanitation purposes. I’m more interested in how that product works once I get it home and I’m able to play with it. Like said, some things have a buildable formula. I know many blush formulas swatch terribly but then apply to the cheek lovely so you never know!

It really depends on the swatch. I like buildable lipsticks and eye shadow, so even, but sheer buildable swatches are exactly what I’m looking for even if that kind of swatch doesn’t match the company’s description. Things that are patchy or flaky are a hard pass. It’s nearly impossible for me to judge foundation swatches online, so I’m very dependent on the description of application and wear by a reviewer.

Nope. Sometimes, like when it’s part of a palette or set and the other products are good, I’ll overlook it but otherwise, no. Years ago, MAC had a LE shadow – a lovely “greige” shade called Groundcover, that I was sure I’d want. I swatched it – or tried to – at the counter and at first, I thought “This has to be a dummy and not the real shadow” but it was the real shadow and the SA – a woman whom I otherwise trust – tried to convince me that using a 239 and digging away at it and then scrubbing away on my lid would give a great result. Sorry – NO WAY!

Sometimes the brush and the technique makes a big difference. An eyeshadow might swatch beautiful with fingers on skin, but blend poorly on the eye. Or swatch bad with brush on dry forearm skin, but apply beautiful with brush on primed eye.

But sometimes, like in your case, a product is simply bad and nothing can be done.

I have definitely bought liquid lipstick from colourpop for the specific colour that swatched terribly – also it was cheap and it was when my budget was much smaller. Now the market is so large I can usually find a decent formula in stranger colours!

I prefer buildable cheek products and I prefer e/s’s that are not too intense in pigmentation (more so for crease and transition shades). I will definitely go with something that swatches sheerly, but not patchy.. where pigmentation skips and starts; there’s no fixing that.

Not sure there will ever be personal swatch before purchase. Temptalia has become an even greater necessity during the Covid era. The question: in theory, no.

Having a trusted resource for swatches is indeed highly needed nowadays.
But the current pandemic is also the reason I prefer to stick to formulas I know, while relying on swatches just for color.

I won’t necessarily count it out. It all depends on how it works in actual practice. As you mentioned above, a matte eyeshadow that is of a buildable formula may not have an impressive swatch, but still works exceptionally well for those of us who appreciate that type of formula. This bodes true for some cheek and face products, too.

It depends who does the swatches and the formula.
If I’m in a store trying products (highly unlikely in the current situation), I would buy something that has a flattering color but swatches poorly only if I tried the formula before; sometimes testers get very dry due to air exposure (and swatch poorly) or get oily from fingers of others (and some shimmers or metallics swatch better).

With swatches online I mostly look at the color and opacity of swatches. I look for brush swatches, as I only use brushes and I don’t think finger swatches are always representative.
For me the big no-no on eyeshadow is patchy application for mattes and too glittery or too sheer shimmers.
For face powders, like blush, I look for non patchy buildable formulas; I’m not the best at blush application, so I need formulas easy to work with. While I would still buy eyeshadow that swatch poorly if I trust the formula, with face powders I take less risks.

Usually not. I live quite a ways from any stores and if I get it home and it doesn’t work it is not easy to return. If a review says it performs well but swatches poorly then I might consider it. I don’t mind building most products, especially cheek products but eye shadows I prefer a good application at first because too much manipulation on the lid is problematic given my heavy hoods. As I apply more it tends to bloom outside the area I am intending it to adhere.

No – generally I wouldn’t purchase the beauty item if it swatched poorly. I don’t wear matte eyeshadows at all and they can be troublesome, but if it were a shimmer or a satin, I wouldn’t purchase.
Even for lipsticks – I like a good, strong swatch. Those sheerer lipsticks are definitely not for me.

Yes. I’m pretty patient about making products work; I tend to have good luck with products that don’t work well for others; and there are so many tools and primers that can be used with products in so many different combinations that IMO there’s only so much swatches can tell you.

Judging performance from a swatch is tricky for me. Unless something is glaringly obvious I don’t feel I have enough experience yet to know how to take what I’m seeing in the moment and apply it to wearing the product for a day, especially when I know my application skills have a lot of impact on how even good things work. Instead, I usually lean on swatches to get a better understanding of how I can expect elements like color or texture will look against my complexion. That’s actually something I rely on a lot since I do nearly all of my shopping online. There is only one time I can think of when a swatch highlighted such poor product quality that I noped out of the purchase. It was a felt tip eye liner pen (from Too Faced I think??) and the liner bled so badly on my skin I could trace the lines in real time as it moved away from the swatch.

I might; some items look differently on than they swatch. This can especially be true of eyeshadows, and I find some funky-colored lipsticks can be like that, too.

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