A UNIVERSITY professor was nearing the end of his transition from male to female. In his enthusiasm about becoming a woman, he asked a friend of his to tell him all the things she loved about being a woman. Not one to mince words, she responded: “Don’t get attached to any particular makeup item. As soon as you do, the company will discontinue it.”
We can relate. Managing Editor Nancy McKeon is still pining for Agnes B.’s L’Embelliseur Abricot /Apricot Complexion Enhancer that worked magic on her face and her sister’s, despite their different coloring. LittleBird Stephanie Cavanaugh is mourning the loss of L’Occitane’s Honeysuckle and Linden scented solid perfume, while Pittsburgh poet and painter Judith Robinson sorely misses Laura Mercier’s Rose Petal Blush. Chanel stopped making its Cristalle lipstick eons ago, but every now and then I still look for it. Although it hasn’t been discontinued—in fact, the company brought it back several years ago—La Mer’s Reparative Tint in my favorite shade (light medium) disappears during winter when I need it most. The notation says “out of stock,” but when I call and ask when it will be back again, the representative invariably gives me a vague answer. Note to self: Buy several when available.
It sounds silly but when you find a product that brightens up your face or boosts your confidence, it feels like a personal rebuke when it vanishes. Not that you should be surprised. According to a MAC makeup artist, brands typically discontinue products to make space for buzzy trends and new technologies.
One recourse is to write to the company and urge it to bring back your beloved. A storm of requests on social media platforms has been known to move companies to reinstate a product. Failing that, scour some discount clearing houses on the web.
Sites that often carry excess stock of recently discontinued products include BuyMeBeauty, with major brands like L’Oreal, Revlon, Maybelline and Elizabeth Arden; Overstock Cosmetics offers products from big labels like Covergirl and Revlon, as well as smaller ones, such as Becca and Smashbox. Discontinued Beauty, founded by a salon owner, has the most inventory in phased-out hair products from Aveda, Bumble & Bumble, Davines and Method. Also, it pays to try eBay or Amazon (we found two lost lipsticks). But read the fine print and make sure the product is new, as advertised. Don’t buy anything that looks lumpy or in which the liquid has separated.
Estée Lauder’s Gone But Not Forgotten program works a little differently. You can’t just click and order. You first must send an e-mail to customer service (consumercare-US@gcc.gbnf.estee.com) and then their team will “search high and low for a discontinued product, and if we find it, you may purchase up to six pieces depending upon availability.”Aramis, Bobbi Brown, Bumble and Bumble, Clinique, Darphin, DKNY Fragrances, Donna Karan Cosmetics, Estée Lauder, Glamglow, Jo Malone London, Lab Series, La Mer, MAC, Michael Kors Beauty, Origins, Tommy Hilfiger Toiletries and Tom Ford Beauty all participate.
If you happen to have saved a small sample (the size and thickness of a dime) of your discontinued blush, lipstick, concealer, powder, eyeliner or eye shadow, Three Custom Color Specialists can recreate your favorite shade, and they’ll keep the custom recipe in their files. If you haven’t a jot left, you can search their archive of 15,000 discontinued shades dating back to the 1930s. You enter the brand name and color you’re looking for and if it appears in the results box, that means they have matched that shade previously for another customer, and the formula is on file. Caveat: Color can change slightly from batch to batch, so the sample they have might differ from the color you want.