Bespoke beauty: the customisable make-up promising perfection

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Amy Swales
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Do you love your foundation colour but wish it had more of a matte finish? Or that you could magic your beloved moisturiser into a tinted one? Or perhaps the shade isn’t right all year round or that eyeshadow looked so much more intense in the pot than on the eye?

If so, you might want to meet the beauty buys at the forefront of customisable cosmetics: the gels, drops and concentrates to change up what’s already in your make-up bag.

The idea of creating your own ‘perfect’ make-up isn’t new – consumers have been able to order custom blends from old-school celeb favourite Cosmetics à la Carte in London since 1973, for instance – but now there’s a wealth of products available to customise and be customised at home.

Whether to create the product you’ve never found off the shelf or something easily adaptable depending on how you feel, there are beauty add-ons to adjust not only colour, but texture, finish and benefits.

So if you’re always seeking something new because your skin’s needs change, you want something seasonal or you just haven’t found The One (or you did find The One and then The One was discontinued just because that’s what sadistic heads of cosmetics companies like to do), see below for our round-up of the innovative, transformative products on the market right now.

The Base

Illamasqua’s Skin Base Mixer (£26, comes in four shades to allow you to tweak your existing foundation for colour correction or matching. Use White to lighten, to add brightness to foundation or as a highlighter, while the darker Chestnut can deepen a shade and balance any ashy tones in dark skin. Amber is designed to reduce redness and even out olive skin tones, while a few drops of Terracotta can reduce pigmentation and add warmth.

On a similar tip, Marks and Spencer’s Autograph Custom Colour range and The Body Shop’s Shade Adjusting Drops are also designed to modify foundation or tinted moisturisers. Custom Colour (£12, comes in four variants: Light and Dark to adjust the shade, and Green and Purple to adjust the tone (green reducing redness and purple combating sallowness).

The two colours of Shade Adjusting Drops (£10, do much the same job: Lightening is intended to help neutralise yellowness while lifting the shade, and Darkening uses a concentration of black and red pigments to darken the shade while avoiding ashy tones. One drop equates to half a shade in the desired direction.

Cover FX’s Custom Cover Drops (£36, take that precision mixing one step further. Not only are they designed to be added to anything liquid – as well as foundation, think moisturiser, serum, oil or primer – enabling you to tint your favourite product, but, being super concentrated, also allow you to control the level of coverage depending on what you feel like. More drops = better coverage. There are 24 shades, so for the price it’s probably worth matching in-store before shelling out.

The brand’s Custom Infusion Drops (£40, continue the theme with variants designed to add particular benefits. For instance, dry hungover skin might benefit from Radiance or Hydration (£40) mixed into foundation, day cream or serum – the former provides a hit of Vitamin C and Lemongrass to liven up dullness and the latter contains Vitamin F and Neroli for moisture.

Speaking of skincare, Pure Prai Customizable Concentrates (£69.50, is a set of three concentrates designed to ‘supercharge’ your usual skincare with different benefits – ideal if you love the feel of your current moisturiser, but want to add something for skin elasticity, say.

Meanwhile, Perricone MD’s No Foundation Foundation (£49, is designed to work with the range’s No Bronzer Bronzer (£29) to customise your shade day-to-day. The foundation base itself – more of a sheer tinted moisturiser in terms of coverage – only comes in the fair and medium tones of No1 and No2 (which can obviously be mixed together too), but more of the bronzer can be added for darker skin, and all three products contain SPF.

The Finish

If you love the idea of a radiant, dewy foundation but find the reality just doesn’t work for you, you can reduce shine with Cover FX’s Custom Blot Drops (£34, They can be used before or after make-up, or mixed with any liquid product (foundation, moisturiser etc) for a matte finish: the more drops, the more matte the result.

Conversely, if you wish your current foundation or moisturiser had a bit of oomph, in summer or generally, and you fancy an illuminated finish with shimmery metallic tones, the brand’s range of Enhancer Drops (£34, can add glow with one of four illuminators (there are also two bronzers) to be mixed with make-up or used alone.

The high-end answer to this (and when talking gold tones, there’s always going to be one) is MZ Skin Lift & Lustre Golden Elixir Antioxidant Serum (£210, – a rich, hydrating formula, with hyaluronic acid and flower extract, that can be mixed with foundation for a luxury luminous touch.

And customisation isn’t restricted to the base. Perricone MD’s No Blush Blush (£29) can be mixed with the bronzer for a bespoke cheek or lip colour, and there are a couple of products on the market that promise to turn one of your favourites into another.

Illamasqua Sealing Gel (£8,, for instance, is one of the original cult transformative products and turns powder eyeshadows into liner, creating a more intensely coloured, quick-drying paste and adding longevity at the same time. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you sweeping it across the whole lid for a bolder look. Sothys Mix Solution Powder Transformer (£9.50, 01303 262666) promises similar, though we recommend adding it to the brush, not directly onto the product, as it sticks around.

And lastly, for those who feel like no amount of adjusting and tweaking will replace that favourite lipstick, long-sought but quickly discontinued, Bonnie XO (recently showcased in subscription box bettybox) is a relatively new brand offering customised lip colours, from shade to texture to fragrance (£10,

Time to make up your own make-up?

Main image: iStock


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.