But a virtual make-up mirror promises to put an end to these expensive embarrassments.
The first of its kind in Europe, the 'magic mirror' can give you a full make-over in seconds, lets you test hundreds of different products in minutes, and does away with the need for make-up remover afterwards.
Created by Japanese beauty brand Shiseido, the simulator allows users to virtually apply make-up to eyes, lips and cheeks.
A camera on the device captures your face and works out where your eyes, nose and mouth are.
Using the touch-sensitive screen, you can choose from more than 50 different eye colours, around the same number of lip colours, and 12 blushers, bronzers and cheek tints.
You can whizz through a huge array of shades in a matter of moments, see how products change with more intensive application, and experiment with far more drastic looks than you might normally dare to.
The image you see is a perfect mirror image. If you squint to take a closer look at the eyeshadow you just 'applied', you’ll see it on the screen; turn your head slightly to see how that blusher looks and your mirror image will do likewise.
Once you find a look you like, you can take a still image. The machine can store a few of these, giving you an opportunity to compare different looks.
On the downside, while you know that the colours you've opted for will suit you, the mirror can’t give you an idea of product texture, or guarantee that you’ll be able to apply them well.
The make-up simulator is currently on a roadshow of department stores across the country and will return to Selfridges in London on May 27.