Remember that episode of Seinfeld in which Elaine, after finding out the Sponge is being discontinued, buys out an entire pharmacy’s supply? I’m sure we all had a good laugh at her frantic purchase—that is, until the next time we went to buy our favorite lipstick or face wash and realized it had been ripped from the shelves and out of our lives forever. Beauty products get discontinued all the time, but when you lose the one you love and rely on most, it can be quite devastating. Why are beauty companies so cruel, and, more important, what can we do about it?
Okay, so beauty companies aren’t cruel, per se; they’re just profit driven. There are a number of reasons why a particular product is taken off the market. It could be that it’s not a big seller, or it could be that a new and improved version is on the horizon to replace it. Either way, your beauty staple is no longer in your life. But are you just going to sit there and take it, like I did with my much beloved (and very much discontinued) Dove Sensitive Skin Foaming Facial Cleanser so many years ago? Or are you going to take one of these proactive steps?
Contact the Company
You could call and ask to speak to a customer representative, refusing to hang up until she agrees to your demands … or you could inquire politely into how customers can get ahold of discontinued products. Remember, companies want your dollars, so if they can make money off the products they planned on throwing out, all the better. The representative should also offer a few product recommendations if purchase isn’t possible. Visit the company’s makeup counter, bring the coveted product if you still have it, and ask for the closest alternative. If it’s from a drugstore line, go to any makeup counter; different lines often have similar products.
Check the Internet
Guess what? My beloved Dove facial cleanser is actually on Amazon! A little online sleuthing could help you locate the product you need, too. Some companies have sections on their websites devoted to discontinued products, and others, like Estée Lauder (owner of brands like Clinique, MAC, and Aveda), have programs designed to connect consumers to their deceased goods. Amazon and Overstock.com are good bets, and there are plenty of discount beauty websites worth hunting through as well. Just make sure it’s from a safe, legitimate source (i.e., not used lipstick on eBay). Don’t forget to check expiration dates, too.
When all else fails—meaning the manufacturer offers no alternatives and the product’s completely sold out everywhere else—you can find companies online that’ll actually re-create it, provided you give them enough information. Try Three Custom Color Specialists, which has a list of already made discontinued shades on its website. GIELLA also works with lipsticks, glosses, and nail polish that are no longer manufactured.
Clearly—and thankfully—all hope isn’t lost when our favorite beauty products flee the store shelves without warning. There are ways to track them down, and even if that’s not possible, there are people out there who will make them especially for us. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to reconnect with an old facial-cleanser friend on Amazon.