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Free Makeovers! Where Canadians Go for Gratis Glam

Jan 24, 2013 at 5:53 PM Chime in now



Looking good is a big, fat self-esteem booster. And yet, sometimes it’s hard to afford the glamorous life. Which leads us to the inevitable: why do women have to pay the price to feel pretty? The answer is: you don’t…at least not always. Here’s how to primp your way to a smoking-hot date, cocktails with the girl’s, a red-carpet event and your best friend’s wedding and still have change left for the cab ride home.


The Venue: The NARS counter at Department stores
The Look: Understated, but super sexy.
The Timing: For date night with your man. “NARS will make you feel like a million bucks,” says Sheri Stroh, a Toronto-based makeup artist who has painted the famous faces of Coco Rocha, Selena Gomez and Paula Abdul, to name a few. “Since it was founded and developed by a make-up artist, you know you are not only getting amazing quality, but also something that is steeped in creativity; it makes you want to have fun, go more fashion, but not take it too far so that you scare your date off!”
The Rules: Taking a 20-minute break from window-shopping the designer clothing racks at the luxe department (like Toronto’s Holt Renfrew) store and settling down in front of the NARS counter for a complimentary makeover is completely acceptable. Calling ahead to book an appointment is also welcomed.
Word to the wise: If you don’t want to spend, leave your wallet at home, otherwise you’ll be hard pressed to not purchase one of the brand’s gorgeous items. Trust us.
The Must-Have: NARS blush in Orgasm ($32)


The Venue: Sephora
The Look: Authentically, girlishly, you.
The Timing: When you’re heading out for cocktails with the girls and want to show off a different side to your personality.
The Rules: There really aren’t any. Sephora’s chipper staff will touch up your face for free almost any time so dropping in is acceptable. “Sephora is crammed with every type of make-up out there,” says Stroh. “It's not behind a counter either, so if you want help or an application or lesson, staff are around, but you get to test and try everything your heart desires for as long as you want without the pressure to buy.”
Word to the wise: schedule your pop-by for a time when you know the store won’t be bursting with customers.
The Must-Have: Benefit Cosmetics Fine One-One ($30): a sheer brightening cheek and lip balm that glides on in pink champagne, sheer watermelon and soft coral.


The Venue: M.A.C stores and makeup counters at The Bay
The Look: Va-va-voom glamour.
The Timing: When you have a red carpet or super-chic night out and need to look H.O.T.
The Rules: The black-clad makeup artists are happy to take clients who walk up to their counters, although phoning ahead for an appointment is preferred. “MAC was originally developed for make-up artists and thanks to this history and their involvement in fundraising, such as Fashion Cares, they have catered to basically everyone, not just women who want to look pretty and natural,” says Stroh. “They’re known everywhere around the world and it has allowed them to create ads and campaigns that push the limits and make people re-think how they do their make-up.”
Word to the wise: Touch ups like trying on a lipstick or adding a cat’s eye to your look are free. M.A.C stores will, however, ask for a fee for their makeovers (so double check when you book your appointment), while their makeup counters will anticipate you’ll purchase their products or a gift card. But it’s worth it. The artists take their time and when you walk out the door you’ll think you’ve never looked better.
The Must-have: M.A.C Viva Glam Nicki lipstick ($18).

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