Can’t Find Your Favorite Product? Don’t Panic! Here’s What You Can Do


As we all (painfully) know, beauty products get discontinued all the time. I remember when I had to deal with the fact that one of my all-time favorite lipstick shades went missing. Hunting for it in the aisles of my local drugstore, I realized it wasn’t on the shelf. Anywhere. None of the matte shades were! Panicking, I asked the makeup aisle associate where it was. “Oh, the matte collection?” she said. “We don’t carry it anymore. It might be discontinued.” She delivered this news to me in a calm, unruffled way, not realizing she was talking to someone highly dangerous—a makeup fanatic who has spent a decade of her adult life searching for the perfect, non-drying, non-caking, stays-put-and-looks-perfect red lipstick. I let her walk away, but just barely.

There are lots of different reasons products get discontinued. Sometimes it isn’t selling as well as it should, sometimes a particular ingredient in the product has been declared unsafe or environmentally unconscious, and sometimes a particular ingredient’s price skyrockets, rendering production of some products. There are short-lived celebrity lines (Fergie’s Wet N’ Wild Collection or Nicki Minaj Viva Glam for M.A.C.), there are animal-rights concerns about ingredients, there are new makeup executives who have decided to “update” collections to “breathe new life” into a brand. All of these factors can affect whether or not we’ll have lifelong access to our favorite nail polish shade.

In short, we’re screwed, and we have no say. But we’re not powerless, because we have the internet. If your most-beloved foundation or lipstick has gone awol, don’t freak out! There are literally tons of websites devoted to helping with this exact problem, and there are other options, too.

The first place to check? Discount clearing houses like Overstock or Discount Makeup. These websites carry excess stock (often at a lower price!) of products that may have been recently discontinued, and may quite possibly have the blush or facial mask you’re seeking. If you can’t find your makeup at discount websites, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and hit the big one: ebay, where you can almost always find whatever it is that’s been discontinued in the past few years. (Just a heads-up, though: remember that certain products, like foundations and concealers, have a shelf life.) Often you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for, unless it’s a cult product and beloved by thousands of people who have already snapped up the extra supplies floating around the web. You know, people who have the same criminally good taste as you.

Still no luck? Guess what you can do? You’ll never believe this, can pick up the phone and call someone to ask. Yes! Sometimes companies hang onto their discontinued stock and sell it to makeup fans who call and beg for it in quietly pleading, desperate voices (Revlon and Almay are two that do this! Call 888-882-5629 to reach both). There’s also the Gone But Not Forgotten program, a listing of companies—among them Estee Lauder, Clinique, MAC, and Bobbi Brown—that help link up frantic consumers with their discontinued favorites. Basically, you call 800-216-7173 and request particular items, and a team of people combs the universe looking for them. Once they get their hands on them, you can purchase up to six discontinued products at a time. Genius.

Makeup discontinuations happen all the time, y’all, but we don’t have to fear them! Fight back! Take to your phones and keyboards! Find your long-lost product besties! And learn from my mistake: if you love something—I mean LOVE SOMETHING—buy multiples if you can, because any day on the shelf could be its last.