There are no three words that strike fear into a woman quite like "it's being discontinued," but let me rewind a couple of years to when I found The One—the perfect nude lipstick—not too beige, not too pink (I think you can guess where this is going…). It glided on effortlessly perfecting the natural tone of my lips and magically lighting up my face. Creamy but not shiny, it would stick by me for hours with little need to reapply (despite me being a self-confessed coffee addict). I was happy, content.
I knew something was wrong on that ill-fated grey and drizzly Monday morning when, doing some online research for a feature, I clicked onto my beloved Kiko Luscious Cream Lipstick and my stomach did a flip-flop—it was sold-out. Don’t panic, I thought. Slowly I clicked on each shade in the line… sold-out, sold-out, sold-out. The words jumbled on the screen in front of me, as the sudden realisation hit me—it's probably being discontinued. I’m being melodramatic, I know, but finding your lipstick soulmate is hard. Really, really hard. “It’s fine,” I mumbled to no one; I had two on-the-go, and I would simply head to Kiko the next day and stockpile the rest. “It’s going to be fine!” I said in too-chirpy internal voice. Keep scrolling to find out what happened next. (Hint: It wasn’t all plain sailing).
I burst into Kiko on Regent Street at 10:01 a.m. on a Tuesday, just as it opened, and made my way over to the lipsticks, madly scanning for my favourite. All gone. I know the store well (if you haven’t been, it is a beauty girl’s dream), so I made my way downstairs where they have another stand of lipsticks. No joy. I bent down nosing around in the drawers and found a bunch—11 of them sat there waiting for me! They were on sale, a bargain. I bagged all 11 for just shy of £25. They’d easily last me— what, five years?—if I kept them boxed in a cool, dry, dark place. I even had a little joke with the cashier about why I was buying so many. Happy days! Except panic does funny things to the mind. I had snapped up 11 of the shade 501. Trouble is the number always rubs off the bottom of my beloved lipstick, I always forget it’s shade 502. Two! Not one! I was now the not-so-proud owner of 11 very beige-looking lipsticks. Things were starting to look desperate. So I tried every conceivable trick in the beauty book. Keep reading for my discontinued SOS plan of action. If you ever find yourself in the same position as me, read, learn and don’t buy 11 of the wrong shade— that’s lesson one…
First things first, check that the product you love (whether it’s a lipstick, blusher, eye shadow or something else entirely) is really being discontinued. Head to the Contact Us page on the brand’s website, often they will have an online form, email address or phone number. Drop them a line. Sometimes brands sell off products because they are revamping the packaging, while the formula and shade housed inside will still be the same beloved product when it’s re-launched.
If this is not the case (gah!), then speak to them, see if they can track some down and get them sent to you direct. Also, you may find you’re not the only one panicking, beauty brands do listen to their customers, and if there is enough of an uproar then sometimes, if you’re lucky, they will bring back your beloved product back permanently or as a limited edition. So be vocal.
I much prefer chatting to people in person, so they can visibly see the sheer terribleness of the situation etched on your face (again, I know I’m being melodramatic, but bear with me). I headed back to Kiko the next day. I was in denial but within seconds of speaking with a very lovely but very honest sales assistant, it was confirmed without a shadow of a doubt that the line my lipstick was in had been replaced with a shiny new collection (it literally comes in gold packaging). Why me?! Lovely as the new ones are, the texture is slightly glossier, and the shades that were similar were not near enough to the shade I had come to love. Being a fairly quiet morning, the assistant kindly helped me mix a few different shades to reach something that looked and felt a lot like my lipstick, but who has time to layer and mix three products every morning?! I begrudgingly bought all the lipsticks anyway and left.
I would never usually recommend buying beauty products off eBay or other such sites, but in desperate times it’s worth a look. Always do your research and check whether the eBay seller has good reviews. If you find your beloved product on a website you have never heard of, then run the name through trustpilot.com—this will help you to gage whether the website is safe and worth shopping through.
Cosmetics a la Carte is a cosy little beauty emporium just off Sloane Square in London. They can custom-blend foundation, lipstick, blusher and eye shadows, in fact the genius team there can create a product shade based on a swatch of fabric, a photo from a magazine or the remnants of a beloved lipstick. You can post your product to them, and they will mix up a doppelgänger, sending it back to you along with your original. I went into store to see how it’s done. The assistant painstakingly sat hand-mixing lipsticks to create just the right shade. The Design Your Desire service costs £250, but once they have the formula on file, repeats cost £55. They posted my new lipstick out to me a few days later. It was the exact same colour, but the texture was just slightly too glossy, so it didn’t have quiet the same look and longevity as my Kiko lipstick.
For £500 you could opt for the Bespoke Creation service, where a team in their London lab will re-create your product from scratch to ensure both the colour and texture are spot on. I was ready to put this service to the test when I decided to go back to basics before shelling out…
I headed to Fenwick Bond Street with my lipstick. I started at the MAC counter since they have such a large range of colours and textures. I showed the sales assistant my lipstick and straight away she said, “ah that looks like Faux, come with me”. I followed her over to the lipsticks and she picked out said lipstick (£16) in Faux. In the bullet it looked pretty similar; she applied it to my lips and it was a good colour match. A little more matte than what I was used to but not bad. That same day I also found a Burberry Full Kisses Lipstick (£25) in No.529 English Rose, which is quite similar, so I snapped that up too.
Now that the initial shock and sadness has ebbed away, I am finding myself wearing my Kiko lipstick less and letting new lipsticks into my life. The MAC lipstick is a definite hit, since I only have two half-used Kiko Luscious Cream Lipsticks left (I need to make them last, people!), I am turning to the MAC more and more. The Burberry lipstick is a real winner, too. I like the Cosmetics a la Carte option now summer has arrived, as I’m finding myself drawn to shinier lip textures. I’m no longer weeping while clutching 11 beige lipsticks and two tattered overused ones (I’m only half-joking), instead I’m embracing my new finds. And it is only lipstick, at the end of the day.
Have you ever had a favourite beauty product that has been discontinued? What did you do? Sound off in the comment box below.