While it's certainly not as devastating as a breakup, pink slip or rained-out vacation, finding out that your favorite shade of lipstick, eye shadow or foundation has been taken off the market can sometimes feel like a terrible loss. When I discovered Clinique had discontinued my favorite line of eye pencils, Quick Eyes, I was devastated. But a little research revealed that Clinique, along with other Estée Lauder brands, sells its discontinued items directly to the consumer. And they're not alone. Other cosmetic companies, like Hard Candy, Benefit and Revlon, send theirs to outlet stores and discounters. And a little Web surfing turns up closeout and auction sites that offer out-of-stock makeup. Even if you hit a dead end with those options, there's still hope: The store called Three Custom Color will duplicate almost any cosmetic, except pencils and nail polish, from a tiny sample.
To find products from Estée Lauder brands
(e.g., Clinique, Prescriptives, Stila, Bobbi Brown, MAC, La Mer, Aveda, Origins, Jo Malone, American Beauty, Good Skin)
The Gone But Not Forgotten program offers discontinued items via Global Consumer Communications, (646) 602-7800. (They accept credit cards only). Prescriptives.com has a Last Chance page, and MAC has a Goodbyes page for about-to-go products. Stila's customer service line, (866) 415-1332, will try to find a similar product to your discontinued favorite '- or they may even tell you that it actually still exists: "Sometimes a color has been given a new name and package."
To find products from Revlon, Almay, Ultima II
Discontinued items are sent to Cosmetics and More company outlets in North Carolina, (888) 882-5629, and Arizona, (888) 465-5592, or made available through CosmeticsAndMore.com.
To find products from Physicians Formula
The company sells discontinued products directly to consumers; call (800) 227-0333.
To find products from Hard Candy
The company outlet store in Sawgrass Mills mall in Sunrise, Florida, sells discontinued stock. Call (954) 846-0057.
To find products from Borghese
The company may be reached at (866) 267-4437. (They accept checks only.) The company welcomes feedback '- discontinued items are often brought back by popular request.
To find products from Nars
NarsCosmetics.com offers items unavailable at retail locations on its Vintage section.
To find products from Chanel
Customer service, (800) 550-0005, will search its boutiques for the discontinued item and will call within 24 hours if it's located.
To find products from Benefit
Discontinued items are sent to Makeup.com.
To have products made by Three Custom Color
This Manhattan company will recreate your favorite item from a dime-size sample, or custom-blend a shade to match a photo or swatch in seven to ten days. "We match color, texture, coverage and effects like shimmer," says cofounder Chad Hayduk, whose products are unscented and formulated for sensitive skin. Did you run out before you could save a sample? Their archive of products (which is heavy on lipsticks) dates back to the 1930s and may have it. Your item will be catalogued once you order for future purchases. Their prices are $50 for two lipsticks or lip glosses; $47.50 for bronzer or loose powder; $37.50 for blusher; and $36.50 for pressed powder, brow powder or gel, cake eyeliner, shadow or concealer. Visit threecustom.com or call (888) 262-7714.