I was in a department store yesterday skulking around a big-brand beauty counter listening in on a conversation between a shopper and a member of staff (call it eavesdropping, I say homework!). It went a little something like this:

Shopper: 'I saw this lipstick in a magazine but I'm not 100% sure the colour suits me. Can I try some on?'
Staff: 'Sorry madam we don't have a tester in that shade: you can always buy it and if you don't like it you can give it to a friend.'
Shopper: 'Oh, erm, not to worry. Thanks.' [wanders off in bewildered embarrassment]

SERIOUSLY?! There are so many levels of wrong here I don't even know where to begin. I was reminded that it takes a big commitment for someone to invest in a lipstick, blusher or eyeshadow: at £14+ a pop you want to get it right and it can be so off-putting if you have a bad experience like this.

In my dream world one could buy miniature versions of everything that would give you 2 or 3 doses of product so you can trial it out before buying. It happens with foundations and moisturisers - why can't it happen with lipsticks and eye liners? Unfortunately it's probably too expensive to create Sylvanian Family-sized make-up, so another suggestion would be to try out the same type of product in the same(ish) shade but from a cheaper brand. For instance, if you're toying with the idea of pillar-box red lips, silver eyeshadow or navy blue eyeliner on your wedding day, have a go with a less expensive version and if you like it, then invest in the big luxe brand.

When I received a press release about Poundland's new make-up collection a couple of weeks ago I practically laughed out loud, but after my experience at the weekend I take that back and shouldn't have been so dismissive and snobby. Whilst it's not really the place to buy your ultimate make-up wardrobe it does offer a perfect opportunity to experiment with colour and practice a few looks you've always wanted to try but haven't been able to afford. It's a great way to build up your confidence and technique in applying, judging and buying make-up to suit you, so that next time you're faced with a predicament like the shopper above you can visualise the product on your skin and make an assured decision.

It doesn't matter how much you earn: all hard-working women understand the value of things whether it's a £400 pair of shoes or a £16 blusher. So give yourself a break from the beauty aisle pressure and play around with cheap and cheerful versions first. I for one will be buying their black liquid eyeliner (£1) to test out feline flicks at home before moving onto Guerlain's stunning version (£22.50) which I won't want to waste a single drop of.
As well as Poundland, check out the impressive Evie Glam make-up range at Peacocks store (£2 to £4), Primark Make-up (from £1) and if you want to experiment with nail art and fashiony polishes head to Superdrug for Andrea Fulerton's Nail Boutique range (nail colours £4.99 each).

Who knows, plum lipstick might really suit you and look gorgeous on your autumnal wedding day, but it's not worth risking £18 to find out!

Pictured: Vitamin Enriched Lipsticks, £1 each, by Chit Chat at www.poundland.co.uk