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Ask Bee: What NOT to do While Shopping for Make-up in Jeddah

For the fairer sex, make-up shopping can be a bit of a dilemma in Jeddah for several reasons. There are no female sales persons, there isn’t a culture of giving out make-up samples, and generally customer service isn’t top notch. Add a ‘yet’ to all that. All these factors could lead to a situation where you end up deciding against your better judgment.  Our last query for Ask Bee was about make-up shopping. We told you that randomness isn’t a problem with Bee, and she’s tried her hand at everything from belly-dancing to website designing and everything in between. Turns out she has been struggling with make-up and make-up shopping issues herself.  In her dictionary, for this chapter, the pitfalls to avoid are more important than the rules to follow.  She is happy to share her list here, so that you can learn from her mistakes, and avoid walking around like the bride of Frankenstein like she did.

If you have any questions for Bee, send us a message at with the title Ask Bee.

About Bee

Bee is a 30 something mother, wife, corporate consultant and a bona fide prodigy in the art of shelling out unnecessary, unsolicited and often useless advice. The kind people at her office actually pay her for doing this on an hourly daily basis and she returns the kindness by making them lose sleep over random pointless issues. She currently lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her very sane husband (he takes after his mother) and her two not very sane children (they too take after their mother). Her own personal hell would be to have nothing to do with no-one paying her for pretending to have nothing to do. 

“Now my next frustration is about make-up. I still haven’t got it in my system to apply make-up except for special occasions. Now that I am in my early 30’s and I am applying for work, I would like to have a decent make-up kit (& more or less learn how to use it.. haha). In my home country, you just need to go to the department store and ask for a demo or consultation so you’ll know which ones works for you. Here there are no girls to do that for you and you just rely on samples dabbed on your hand. 😦
Do you know of make-up stores which have this service? Or has an all female staff here in Jeddah?”
  Make-up Newbie

Even though I consider myself a veritable authority in all things Jeddah (or life in general), makeup is one area where till about one year ago I was ermm…not quite an authority. So what did I do? Did I go around looking like the bride of Frankenstein? Yes, and no. According to my last estimate, I have spent about 2,500 riyals on a total of 17 useless make-up products. I still have half-used bottles with me if anyone is interested. What these products gave me was a mix of pimples, burn marks (true story) and a lot of unnecessary attention from random people on the street. In order to save you from the same nightmare that I went through before I became make-up savvy, I am giving below my list of things NOT to do while shopping for makeup in Jeddah.



Create your own Bible for make-up shopping. once you master the do’s and, more importantly, the don’t’s, the whole experience can turn out to be not just joyful but very productive.

  1. DO NOT listen to the salesman: The last time I did that, he sold me an overpriced bottle of foundation that made me look like a cross between a sunburned transvestite and a plastic surgery victim. The sales man is there to do his job, but you are smart. DO NOT follow him no matter how persuasive he is, and  make your own logical decisions.
  1. DO NOT buy on a whim: sometimes when you enter a store, you see a gorgeous-looking woman staring at you from a poster, beckoning you to buy that magic potion which will make you look as photo-shopped as her. DON’T buy that stuff. She looks so great with a clever mix of graphic, forgiving camera angles, lighting and a dozen other products.

Keep your sense of reality intact when buying make-up. That thing on the wall is a poster. It is not real. Repeat that to yourself. A lot more than a simple product purchase went into the dazzling look of the model.  Just because the two things are physically close to each other, it doesn’t mean there is a logical connection between the two. Although they’re trying hard to dupe you into believing so.

  1. DO NOT buy without trying: Since Jeddah is this weird place that does not offer samples of makeup products; I have created a hack to get over this limitation. All you need to do is to leave your inhibitions at home and bring a pill container with you. Yes, those plastic pill containers with days of the week printed on top. These are great for taking small amounts of makeup especially foundation from makeup counters. Instead of squeezing out a drop on your fingertips, put 2 (or 4) in your container and write the brand and shade on the section. You can get at least 7 different samples that you can try at home and decide which one works best with your skin and lifestyle.

Unlikely saviours? Think practical, think effective, and work your way around obstacles. So what if make-up samples don’t exist here (yet)? Why not put empty pill containers to good use?

  1. DO NOT believe the packaging: The packaging is meant to MAKE you buy that uber expensive item. Be smart; don’t fall for this age-old trick.
  1. DO NOT try on your hand:  Makeup of any kind especially foundation, blushers and lipsticks don’t look the same when you put them on your hand. Carry a pack of wipes (to wipe the item and your face after usage) with you and try every item on your face to know how it will work with your complexion. Foundation is best matched when applied on your jaw line toward your chin and cheek. If it blends well there and looks like second skin, that is the right shade for you.

Whatever our mothers and their mothers might have believed about trying make-up on the hand, it’s useless. The face. That’s where the action is going to be, and that’s where you should be trying on your foundation shades. 

  1. DO NOT buy without reading reviews: This is my holy grail of makeup tips. I have made a commitment to myself to not spend a single penny unless I know how other people feel about it. For real people reviews, the following two sites are the best:  Makeup Alley and Makeup and Beauty Blog (mostly MAC product reviews but a great site for newbies too).
  1. DO NOT buy without knowing how to use it: I have a few pots of stuff that have their names in French (or Greek, I don’t really know the difference) and I have no clue what to do with them. I bought them because they looked pretty and I hoped they would make me look pretty too…if only I knew how to use them. Get my drift? Watch these two amazing women that I have learnt a lot from and you will have most of your questions answered. And if these two don’t use it, don’t bother buying it.

Let the gurus guide you: When someone is wiser than you, just concede it. These two women know more about make-up than most of us ever will, so just take their word for it.

If you would like to read past columns of Ask Bee, simply Google her or click on the ‘Ask Bee’ tag in the right-hand column of Jeddah Blog.

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3 thoughts on “Ask Bee: What NOT to do While Shopping for Make-up in Jeddah

  1. Pingback: Ask Bee: Young and Single in Jeddah | Jeddah Blog

  2. Pingback: Top Makeup Tips from Bee | Jeddah Blog

  3. This was helpful. Thanks.


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