Quest for the Perfect…

Review: Classified Cosmetics ERA FACE Spray On Foundation

… the best thing to come out of a can since Easy-Cheese.

I admit that I was slightly terrified by the spray foundation concept. It just seemed like there was so much that could go wrong. Like Homer Simpson’s makeup gun invention:

Homer: Now, this next one’s for the ladies. How many times have you gals been late for a high-powered business meeting, only to realize you’re not wearing make-up?

Marge: That’s every woman’s nightmare.

Homer: That’s why I invented this revolutionary make-up gun. It’s for the woman who only has four-fifths of a second to get ready. Close your eyes, Marge.

[Homer fires the make-up gun, which appears to be a shotgun with some containers of liquid attached, into Marge’s face. After the cloud of dust vanishes, she ends up with way too much on]

Homer: Now you’re ready for a night on the town. [holds up a mirror]

Marge: [gasps] Homer! You’ve got it set on “whore!”

Homer: [adjusts a setting] Okay, this time try to keep your nostrils closed.

[Homer points the gun at her, but she pushes it away from her face. A vaguely face-shaped blotch of make-up stains the wall]

Homer: Oh, look what you did. Now I have to go get my cold-cream gun.

Lisa: Dad, women won’t like being shot in the face.

Homer: Women will like what I tell them to like!

(script excerpt via wrongtown; image via goulcher)

 

Well, fortunately, this product performs somewhat better than that. Actually, a great deal better than that.

When push comes to shove, I’m not entirely sure there’s all that much difference between spray and liquid foundation. The directions for ERA say to shake well (*really* well), then to hold the can about 8 inches from your face and apply in an S pattern: across the forehead, diagonally down across the nose and the center of your face, and then round your chin up to the other side. Then they tell you you are supposed to buff it into the skin in order to set it and make it water-resistant. (I’ve tried buffing with a BeautyBlender and with my fingers, and I think that my fingers give slightly better coverage since they don’t absorb any of the foundation. I’ll try a brush also and see what happens.) So in other words, it’s not the spray equivalent of “set it and forget it.” If you have ever been inside a spray tan booth, well, this is NOT like that. In a spray tan booth, because there are multiple jets shooting a very fine mist, you get even coverage in a pretty foolproof way. Spray foundation is not yet so foolproof. The more you do it, the easier it will be, but the first time I did it I was decidedly blotchy. There is definitely a learning curve! If you don’t want to spray it directly onto your face, you can spray it into your palm or some other container and then apply with a brush, so it becomes exactly like a liquid foundation.

The product is oil-free and easily wipes off of eyebrows and hair (though they do advise that you cover your hair with something before use; I’ve never done this and haven’t had any trouble yet). They also advise that you can leave the foundation that landed on your closed eyelids as an eyelid primer (you will want to buff out any irregular patches that came from squinching your eyelids shut) and any that ended up on your lips as a lip primer. If you don’t wipe it off your lips right away, it will act as a nude lip primer whether you want it to or not, just so you know. I’m wearing it today, and it made my orange lip gloss almost colorless on my lips. It’s since worn off, after eating and drinking, but I was surprised by exactly how opaque it was on my lips.

In terms of weartime, it starts to look a little faded after about 5 or 6 hours. I haven’t yet worn it on a day when I had to be on display from dawn to dusk, so I don’t know about its extended wear. Coverage is medium. One day I would like to see if I can build it up to full coverage by putting it on, letting the first layer set, and then applying a second layer.

One of the things I’m most impressed with, though, is its shade matching. Most foundations are too yellow on me (second verse, same as the first), but this one is great. There are 10 shades, and there is a helpful “automatch” feature on the site that will allow you to tell it what color you are in another brand’s foundation and it will find you the corresponding ERA shade. Mine is R2 (“pale, light, rose-undertoned skin”) and I’m an NW20 in MAC. It blends perfectly. Seamlessly. Flawlessly. Wait till you see the hand swatches!

ERA will set you back $55, which is not cheap; however, you do get 2.25 oz of product for the money, and since most foundations come in 1 or 1.7-oz. containers, it’s a better bargain than it may first appear. So long as you like it, of course. I got mine at half off through a Good Morning America promotion, which made it considerably less painful for my removable wallet.

Photos and swatches!

Impressive height, eh? Unfortunately, half of it’s just lid. Why? I don’t know. Here’s how it really looks:

 

Hand swatch — when first applied, very wet:

During the blending/drying process:

After product has been fully blended and is dry:

 

You can’t even tell I have it on. Pretty darn awesome.

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ERA FACE Spray On Foundation: $55 for 2.25 oz.

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair.

Purchase again? At full price? Mmmmmaybe. I’m not sorry to have tried it, though, and I’ll definitely use it up.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)


 

 

Review: Kat von D Foiled Lipstick in Adora

Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estee Lauder, once opined that women buy lipstick during shaky economic times as a quick and inexpensive way to make themselves feel better. (I think he meant “inexpensive” as compared to, say, a fur coat, not an ice cream cone.)

Although things now are economically better than they were a few years ago, retail makeup therapy still works an awful lot of the time, especially in or after stressful situations. I recently had one of these, and we don’t need to go into details except that it involved me and three other cars and everyone is OK. Also, buy Toyota.

So after a harrowing experience, I think it’s totally natural to have indulged in a little lip splurge, even though yes, yes, Sephora is just about to have a VIB 20% off sale and wouldn’t it have been smarter to wait until next weekend. To which I say, “Pthhhhbbbttt,” and “Pffffffft,” and “shut up, I was just in a car accident and I will buy whatever I like.”

This lippie wasn’t originally on my to-buy list, though I did swatch it in the store when I did those red lippie swatches a few weeks ago, but it was awfully cheerful, and the person I was with swore it wasn’t too bright for me. (You may make your own decision below. Most of the time I’ll end up buffering it with a gloss of some sort, because really it is very bright.)

Kat von D “foiled” lipsticks are so named because they have a metallic finish. It’s a pity Kat wasn’t making these in the 80s, because I think Pat Benatar would have happily worn this onto the battlefield, or at least in the music video. I think she and Joan Jett might have gotten in a catfight over them.

Adora is what I would call a light red. That is not the same as pink, although in both the hand and lip swatch photos I took, it pulls distinctly pink. When I look at myself in the same lighting, it’s clearly red. Yes, it’s a blue-based red, but it’s definitely red. The metallic finish not so much a frost or a chromelike gleam but rather a sheen, like stainless steel. Because of the finish, I can’t call it either matte or glossy. It’s neither drying nor particularly moisturizing on the lips.

I haven’t given it an all-day go yet, but these foiled lippies stain like nobody’s business, so I would be very surprised not to get several hours’ wearlength out of this. The swatch I put on my hand for the picture below was on my hand for maybe five minutes in total and left a pink stain that hours later I haven’t been able to get rid of even with diligent scrubbing. On the lip, after I removed what I’d put on for a lip swatch, I got beautiful results by putting balm over the remaining stain. Although it looks terrifyingly bright when applied full-force, it turns out to be surprisingly versatile when coupled with other products. It would also make a gorgeous, gorgeous blush if you needed a quick touch-up. (You will, obviously, want to apply very lightly!)

Swatches!

Hand swatch:

(This definitely pulls pink in the swatch. In real life it is redder.)

Naked lip:

Lip with Kat von D Foiled Lipstick in Adora:

(Sorry, I was a little crooked there. Oops.)

 

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Kat von D Foiled Love Lipstick in Adora: $18 at Sephora

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. Less expensive than many other similarly-positioned brands.

Purchase again? Sure, if I found another color that worked for me.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)


 

Some Red Lipstick Swatches

For those of you from Over There who have been asking about red lipstick, I thought I would swatch some when I was at Sephora the other day. After seeing all of these on my hand, the friend who was with me said something to the effect of, “you know, they all look pretty much the same, don’t they?” and I had to say “yes, yes they do.”

There are a couple of pictures in different lighting, none of which are studio or light-box quality. For reference, my skin tone is NW20 in MAC, which is medium fair and pink-toned.

 

 

The third picture (the unlabeled one) is probably the one that shows the texture/opacity of the various shades the best. The two on the far right on the bottom “row” (I use the term loosely) are the two foiled lipsticks from Kat von D. Adora is a bright but light red; Beranice is pinker. Of all of these, those two left the most stain, even a full day and several hand-washings later.

I know these swatches are messy and untidy, but I thought they might be useful. And I do intend to buy one of these that I swatched, but you’ll have to guess which. ;)

Review: Guerlain Kiss Kiss Lipsticks in #521 (Red Strass) and #525 (Folie de Grenat)

I had a few other products next in line for review, but none of them came from Sephora and I figured that since the F&F sale was still going on, I ought to do products that are available at Sephora in case any of you want to pick any of them up for 20% off.

My love affair with the red lip continues (and will probably last through early January). These are two lovely red lippies by Guerlain, from their (less expensive) Kiss Kiss line. As I remarked elsewhere, I hate the Betty-Rubble-esque packaging, but the products are quite nice.

Both of these shades are blue-based reds, and neither one is what I would call a “starter” red lippie along the lines of the Shiseido Natural Red or a red gloss like Lancome’s Rouge Magnificence or 3CC’s Candy Apple. These are definitely lippies for red-letter days, or, as I like to call them, Tuesdays. #521, Red Strass, is a festive, cheerful, happy, look-at-me! lip color: a vibrant red with just-noticeable-enough gold shimmer. #525, Folie de Grenat (pictured at top), is its more sophisticated, slightly darker, unshimmery older sister: the Beezus to 521’s Ramona, the Jo March to its Amy, or Elizabeth Bennet to its Lydia.

(This is not to say, of course, that if you wear #521 Red Strass you are liable to find yourself ruining other people’s birthday cakes, falling through thin ice into a freezing pond, or running off scandalously with a dashing but unsuitable scallywag. Or if you do, don’t blame it on the lippie.)

These lipsticks are moderately creamy, and I find them neither moisturizing nor drying. I haven’t noticed any feathering BUT they are quite bright and so I have always religiously used a lipliner and primer with them. Wearlength is about average given the intensity of the color: about 3 hours plus some staining.

Swatch-a-roonies!

#521 Red Strass:

Naked lip, and lip with #521 Red Strass:

#525 Folie de Grenat:

Naked lip and lip with #525 Folie de Grenat:

They don’t look as different in the swatches as they do in the tube, but Folie de Grenat is definitely darker and more sophisticated, while Red Strass is lighter and less serious.

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Guerlain Kiss Kiss Lipsticks in #521 Red Strass and #525 Folie de Grenat: $31 each at Sephora ($24.80 each during F&F sale!)

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good.

Purchase again? Yes, I’d try other colors.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: Jane Iredale Circle/Delete (Shade 2)

Ah, concealer. Whene’er thy sweet siren song reaches my ears, I cannot help but be seduced. I think someone is going to have to lash me to the mast and stuff cotton in my ears in order to stop me from succumbing to the lure of each new concealer I pass by.

Today it’s Jane Iredale’s Circle/Delete, and it has gone to the top of my list for vanquishing undereye circles.

The gimmick of this product is that you can control and mix the colors yourself, and if you’re a control freak like me like me, then this will be right up your alley. Lots of products offer these sort of mix-your-own-shade options (I’ve reviewed the Redpoint and DuWop versions already), but where the Jane Iredale edges both of those out is in the color and texture of the two creams. They’re opaque enough to cover but not look plasticky, and when applied over an emollient eye cream (right now, it’s Skin Nanny), they soak right in, blend nicely, and don’t settle into fine lines.

I use the salmon-colored one for undereye circles — I apply it immediately after eye cream and let it soak in with the eye cream. If, when I’m putting on my makeup 15 minutes or so later, I find I need to apply a bit more or blend it out, then I do. Often I can just let it soak in and it blends itself out just fine. At first I tried to come up with a custom blend of the two colors but the more I use it the more I realize that the salmon color all by itself is pretty much the shade I need. It does dry with some lingering shine, so you will want to run a brush over it before leaving the house — I use an Ecotools mineral eyeshadow brush that I’ve already used with an eyeshadow (MAC Brule) to set my MAC Painterly paint pot; the tiny bit of Brule on it is enough to mattify the undereye without depositing loads of powder.

I find the beige concealer better for evening out skin tone in areas than for covering up blemishes. It’s a bit too creamy for blemishes for me and it tends to slide off, even when set with setting powder.

Just so you know: The product comes in only 3 shades: two for lighter skins (one yellow-toned, one pink-toned) and one for darker skin (which looks to contain both a pinkish brown and a yellowish brown if the swatches are accurate).

Swatch, showing the two colors separately and then blended together in roughly equal proportions:

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Jane Iredale Circle/Delete in Shade 2: $29 at SkincareRX and other retailers (you cannot purchase from the Jane Iredale website)

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent. The product performs very well.

Purchase again? Yes.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: Shiseido Perfect Rouge Tender Sheer Lipstick in Natural Red

For some reason I’ve been on a red lipstick kick lately. While out of town I picked up two red Guerlain Kiss Kiss lipsticks (reviews to come as soon as I can swatch them) and just yesterday I got a lipstick sampler with two red lippies in it. I now have more red lippies than I know what to do with.

Fortunately for me, red lips are super-hot this fall, so at the very least I will be trendy. Poor, but trendy. Students will pass me on campus and say, “Pfft! Typical absent-minded professor, wearing threadbare clothes from 1972 with holes in them. Nice lipstick, though.”

One of my favorite recent buys is the Shiseido Perfect Rouge Tender Sheer lipstick in Natural Red. Wasn’t someone asking a couple of months ago about whether or not there was a sheer red lipstick that would be a good starter red for someone who wasn’t yet red-dy (ha!) to take the plunge to a full-on scarlet? This is the answer to that problem: a sheer, gorgeous, mistake-proof, you-cannot-possibly-go-wrong-wearing-this-lipstick red.

That I even investigated these at all is purely due to the good PR that Inthelab gave Shiseido, which made me think maybe I should reconsider my former not-interested stance towards the brand. She should get a commission!

Shiseido’s Perfect Rouge Tender Sheers come in four colors: Tender (sheer petal pink), Natural Red (sheer deep red), Pout (sheer mauve rose), and Natural Wine (sheer burgundy wine, which I really want to try now). Natural Red looks terrifyingly dark in the tube but it really is sheer. One coat gives a slightly red glow to the lips, and two coats makes them positively pop.

Because it is sheer, it doesn’t stain as much as an opaque lipstick does, so expecting more than three or four hours out of this lippie is as futile as expecting Lindsay Lohan to stay out of jail for longer than six months at a stretch. After the shine has worn off, it leaves only a light stain, but the upside to that is that there’s little chance of it feathering or bleeding into fine lines. There is no scent that I can detect, and it feels very moisturizing. It fades evenly and doesn’t get crusty, so frequent touchups (while inconvenient) are not unpleasant or troublesome.

Close-up and swatch!

Naked lip:

Lip with two coats Shiseido Perfect Rouge Tender Sheer in Natural Red:

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Shiseido Perfect Rouge Tender Sheer Lipstick in Natural Red: $25 (at Sephora, online only)

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. Price itself is excellent, but I wish it had a longer wearlength.

Purchase again? Yes.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: Tarte Rejuvelash

A Biologist’s recent comments on the Wall about mascaras flaking got me thinking about this product, which I don’t think I ever reviewed.

Tarte’s Rejuvelash is an oddball little product that I can’t manage to either like or dislike. It’s a clear, moist gel with aloe and vitamins that you can use later in the day to refresh your mascara if your lashes have started to dry out and get spidery. It declumps and helps make lashes feel softer and more natural. So you could do a day at the office and then use this to refresh your look before going out at night instead of swiping another coat of mascara on and possibly making your lashes either clumpy or more spidery.

Oddly, you can also use it as a sort of primer and apply it to bare lashes before putting on mascara. Which is kind of counterintuitive — if it’s supposed to soften mascara, it seems like it would be kind of a bad primer. But it’s not bad. It doesn’t lengthen lashes at all (then again, it doesn’t promise to), but it does make mascara go on with fewer clumps.

I think I just don’t wear nearly enough mascara for this product to make a real difference. I also think I’m OK with that.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tarte review if (in spite of how much I like their products overall) I didn’t pick on their marketing language. Ready?

Quoth Tarte: “This unique lash exhilarator uses a blend of natural emulsifying agents in combination with our patented flexible bristle brush to gently eliminate clumps.”

Lash “exhilarator”? Really? When I put it on, are my lashes going to jump up and down with excitement? Someone needs to scour the Tarte offices and remove every single thesaurus they find. I bet they have ’em hiding under plants and stuff.

By the way, “flexible bristle brush” means that the joint between the brush tip and the shaft bends crazily when you try to push it back into the container because the flange around the opening to the container is really tight and the stem of the brush doesn’t really seem quite strong enough to push the brush into the container. (Yes, innuendos abound here. But it would be vulgar of me to mention them.) And the bristles themselves aren’t really flexible, and even if they were, your lashes hardly provide enough resistance to make them bend.

Tarte also cites the “Skinvigorating ™ ” ingredients that Rejuvelash contains:

• Aloe leaf extract (I’m all right with that one)
• Provitamin B5, a “vitamin B derivative that treats and thickens lashes” (I’m all right with this one too, although the “thickens lashes” part is always an iffy claim)
• Vitamin C, an “antioxidant that fights free radical damage and prevents oxidative stress and premature signs of aging, while brightening skin.” OK, here we get into trouble. Do I really have free radical damage on my eyelashes? Are my eyelashes prematurely aging? And vitamin C brightens skin, maybe, but I’m putting it on my lashes.
• Water, because “pure water delivers and retains moisture.” ::eyeroll:: Water delivers moisture? Who’d a thunk it? And water retains moisture? ::beats head against wall:: And we’re not even getting into the “pure” issue. Really, Tarte is the only company that is trying to spin the leading ingredient in almost every single skincare product we buy into a unique brand-specific value-adding component.

OK, enough. It’s all right. It does help mascara look fresher at the end of the day. And if they didn’t make all these fabulous claims for it, I probably wouldn’t even be tempted to snark about it.

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Tarte Rejuvelash: $16

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): I’m wavering between “poor” and “fair” on this one. For the price, my lashes aren’t nearly exhilarated enough. I wouldn’t say they’re anything beyond “mildly pleased.”

Purchase again? Nah.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: BareMinerals Matte SPF 15 Foundation

Part of the ongoing Foxalicious Fundamentals: Foundation series!

By now, of course, BareMinerals is the grandmama of mineral foundations.

“Back in my day, we didn’t have mineral foundations. If we wanted to have minerals on our faces, we’d go roll around in the dirt!”

“Back in my day, we didn’t have these hoity-toity kabuki brushes. If you couldn’t put it on with a trowel, we didn’t want it!”

“Back in my day, we didn’t have swirl, tap, and buff. Stop, drop, and roll was good enough for us!”

Since then, other mineral makeup companies have come on the scene, each with their own twist on the idea (talc-free, bismuth-free, organic, fair-trade, genetically enhanced, and what-have-you). But unless you have sensitivities to certain minerals, BareMinerals is still an excellent choice for a mineral powder foundation. This is particularly true for their most recent offering, a matte SPF 15 powder foundation.

The original, more “dewy” BareMinerals foundation is still available, but I always found it to be a touch too oily for me. I know it seems weird that a powder can produce an oily effect, but nevertheless. Because the foundation left skin with a slight shine or “glow,” BareMinerals also developed and offered Mineral Veil, a mostly translucent matte setting powder that would reduce the shine left from the foundation and leave a soft-focus finish.

Now that there’s a new matte SPF 15 version out, I thought I would pick some up to try as a summer foundation. I’m pleased to report that although shade selection can be surprisingly difficult — given how many shades there are, you’d think that everyone would fit neatly into one category or another, but no such luck — the texture and wearlength of the product are quite good and I think this will work very well a a summer powder foundation.

For my NW20 skin, I had a hard time finding the right color match, since most of the shades lean a bit more yellow than I can comfortably wear. So (as often happens) I ended up buying two shades and mixing them together: “Fair” and “Medium.” I chose these shades after some pretty extensive swatching at the store; I’m pretty sure that by the time I left, both of my arms were totally covered with slightly mottled shades of pink, yellow, and beige.

The powder is milled much more finely than my favorite drugstore mineral makeup brand (L’Oreal Bare Naturale), so it both feels smoother on the face and is easier to apply to moisturized skin without globs of powder sticking to where the brush first hits your skin and then being impossible to remove afterwards. I always wear it over a well-moisturized face, and I don’t find it drying, which I was worried about. It lasts well and removes easily at the end of the day.

I also have to note a major improvement in their packaging: the jar’s traditional sifter top now features a rotating window, which you can turn when not in use so that the product doesn’t sift itself out of the sifter top and then get all over your hands when you unwittingly open it up the next time. Little protrusions in the underside of the rotating top also line up with the sifter holes to prevent leakage of product between the two layers of plastic. This is a great improvement!

All told, this gets a thumbs-up from me if you like mineral powder foundations but didn’t like the dewiness of the original formulation. Some people are allergic to certain minerals, though — bismuth is a prime culprit — so you may want to see if you can get a sample via Sephora or (as one of our regulars recently reminded me) pick up a few samples from eBay to test for both color and skin sensitivity.

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BareMinerals Matte SPF 15 Foundation: $28

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. If you have to buy two and mix them, I’d wait for a sale.

Purchase again? Probably.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Beauty on the Cheap: Drugstore Red Lipsticks and Glosses

Last week, LadyStarlight posed the following perplexing puzzler:

So I was in my local WalMart looking at makeup (because I was alone, ie, no boys of any age with me) and saw Cover Girl lipsticks on sale and thought “I would like a red lipstick but… 1) How do I choose a shade that flatters me and 2) Are there any drugstore available glosses or lip stains that aren’t as…noticeable, I guess, as a lipstick?”

And so, I hitched the dogs to the sled, packed up provisions for the long journey, put my affairs in order, and set off on the quest to find some good drugstore red lippies.

(OK, I am being just a tiny bit melodramatic. I got in the car and drove to ULTA. Satisfied?)

I talked a bit about Question #1 in this post, and it fundamentally comes down to the warm vs. cool issue again, just like it does with foundation. If you are cool/pink-toned, look for a neutral-to-blue-tinted red. If you are warm/yellow-toned, look for a neutral-to-orange-tinted red. The true neutral reds, which are hard to find, can usually be worn by either cool or warm skin tones. It can be difficult to tell just by looking at a lippie by itself whether it is blue-tinted or orange-tinted (red just sort of looks red, after all, until you figure out what you are looking for), so I suggest you look at at least two lippies at a time for comparison. The white paper trick is also still a good one. Also remember that your lips are at least a little bit (and in some cases a lot) darker and more pink than your skin tone, so unless you’re planning on covering your lips with foundation before putting on lipstick, you can expect it to look a little different on your lips than on your hand.

It will also depend on the lightness of your skin; dark- and olive-skinned women can wear some gorgeous shades of red that are overpowering on my pale skin. (You lucky ducks!) As I mentioned in my last foundation post, I’m an NW20 — light-skinned, slightly cool. I look best in reds that are neutral to slightly cool. This is not a very wide range (others may have better luck), but within that narrow pie wedge, I can wear things from sheer to full pigmentation and in a range of tints from light to dark. So it’s less limiting than it sounds. I am still a big fan of buying some inexpensive lip palettes and mixing colors just so you can see what looks good on you; then you can take that color to the store and try to find yourself a match in a brand you like.

OK, let’s get to the goodies. I have four products to recommend; I’ll cover them from the most sheer to the most pigmented, starting with the glosses. By the way, the reason I’ve been in such a snit over my missing Lancome Rouge Magnificence gloss is that it’s a lovely, soft, sheer, subtle, neutral shade of red gloss that looks good on top of anything. If you decide to go high-end, I recommend it. I’m sure the lipgloss-eating monster under the front seat of my car would also give it a strong endorsement, since he’s had it for at least two months now. Stupid monster. I’m sure he looks very pretty.

#1. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in shade #80: Cherries in the Glow ($6.99 at drugstore.com)

OK, so pardon the horrible, horrible skin tone here. I appear to have been zombified when I wasn’t looking. The lighting was bad, I swatched it right over the tendons and veins on the back of my hand, and I was taking the photo with my iPhone;  in correcting the image to accurately render the color of the gloss, I have now made myself a candidate for the next Twilight movie. My apologies. Please don’t let it put you off; this is a good product!

This is, I think, an excellent “starter red.” Because it’s a gloss, it’s nice and sheer. It can be worn over bare lips or, if you’re feeling a little more bold, over another lipstick or lipstain to intensify and redden the color.

I think they’re undergoing a packaging change, but the product should look something like this (minus the “tester” sticker):

#2. Neutrogena Moistureshine Lipsheers in shade #50: Ruby Bliss ($8.99 at drugstore.com)

This is packaged like a lipstick, but has a sheer texture, like a lip balm stick. The color is more intense than a lip balm, though; it may be applied very sheerly or built up for more intensity, so it is a good “intermediate red.” It looks moist, like a balm, but does not have an obvious glossy shine.

I looked on a lot of sites and didn’t see any swatches that actually represented the color of the product, so don’t be alarmed if you go to the website and say, “uh, that can’t be it; it looks too pink/brown/green.” (OK, not green.)

#3. Revlon ColorStay Mineral Lipglaze in shade #545: Stay Ablaze ($8.99 at drugstore.com)

I love this. I very nearly bought all four of the products in this post, but this was the most tempting. This is a beautiful, rich red that is on the warm side, but because it is darker and not fire-engine bright, it will flatter many different skin tones. It has the shine of a gloss and the pigmentation of a lipstick.

(P.S. — Dear Revlon: Your website sucks. I will not send any of my readers there. Plz fix. Love, Voxy.)

Product:

#4. Cover Girl Outlast Double Lipshine in shade #265: 14-Carat Ruby ($9.29 at drugstore.com)

OK, now don’t be scared of this one, but if you are new to red lippies, you will probably want to work up to this one via glosses and less pigmented products, like those listed above. This is a gorgeous, gorgeous red. The Cover Girl Outlast Double Lipshines are double-ended products with a long-wearing lipstain on one end and a clear gloss topcoat on the other. I only swatched the lipstain side here. I was really impressed by both the shade and the amount of pigmentation. The only problem with these kinds of long-wear products is that sometimes the lipstain portion is drying (which is why you get the gloss; that’s meant to keep the lips moist). I didn’t test it on lips, so I don’t know. I do have some other products of this type and in general I like them a lot.

You can also “thin” the application of the stain if it’s too intense for you by putting on the gloss first. Then dab the stain on the center of your bottom lip; rub lips together. Dab additional dots where you need it; rub lips together. If you need more precision to get the cupid’s bow right, use a small lip brush.

Product:

So, there you go. Four good drugstore options for red lippies, from gloss to lipstains. Please let me know in the comments if you pick up any of these products and if they work for you, or if you have other drugstore reds you’d recommend!

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/weglet/ / CC BY 2.0

Review: MAC Mineralize SPF 15 Foundation (Cream)

Part of the ongoing Foxalicious Fundamentals: Foundation series!

It’s kind of unfair, I suppose, to lead off with the foundation I’m liking the most at the moment, but there it is. I have been on a little bit of a MAC kick lately, I admit; I never used to buy MAC products (I’m not a big fan of ultra-hype and teenage fangirls), but since I started picking them up at my local-ish CCO, where you can play with the products in a quiet environment without being surrounded by rock music, black-clad hipsters, and a sales-pressure atmosphere, I’ve come to like them enough to actually deal with the in-store annoyances, so now I’m trying out a bunch of their products. Don’t worry, this is not going to become a MAC-fangirl blog; there are plenty of things I still don’t like about them, such as the fact that they seem to be putting out a new “collection” about every two weeks, many of which are merely repackaging of existing permanent items, and … well, no need to go on a tirade.

Regardless of your opinions on their music, hipsters, and sales atmosphere, MAC has established a major footprint in an incredibly important but previously underappreciated corner of the market: skin tone typing for the purpose of buying foundation. They have a system of identifying both the lightness/darkness and pink/yellow tendencies of your skin that has become a universal language in discussing foundations (both their own and those of other companies) and other products. Example: “If I’m an NC35 in MAC, what shade would I be in Revlon PhotoReady?” or “I’m an NW15; should I be wearing warm or cool brown eyeshadows?”

So if nothing else, it’s definitely worth it to stop by your local MAC store or counter (in many department stores) and get color-matched, so that you know your MAC number. There are two parts to the system: letters and numbers. The numbers are fairly intuitive, with the lower ones for paler skin and the higher ones for darker skin, and they range from 15 to 55. The letters indicate whether you are warmer- or cooler-toned, and this is a little more confusing for many people. In the rest of the world, if you have yellow undertones to your skin, you are considered to be “warm.” If you have pink undertones, you are considered to be “cool.” The MAC system is the reverse; it’s based on an artist’s color wheel, in which red-pink is a warmer color than yellow-olive. So, skin with pink undertones is “warm” and skin with yellow/olive undertones is “cool.” Skin tones are indicated by letters thusly:

NW: pinker skin

NC: yellower skin

There are also just plain N’s and C’s, but most people will end up being an NW or an NC. As all skin tones have some yellow in them, there is no plain “W” foundation shade, since no one is all pink and no yellow. If it helps, you can think of an NW as Not Warm, and an NC as Not Cool, if you want to keep your definitions of “warm” and “cool” consistent.

I am light-skinned with a complexion that tilts just slightly towards pink. I am an NW20.

Once you know your shade, you can also match it to MAC concealers and powders, since they follow the same typing system, and you can use it to figure out a comparable shade in other foundation lines. (I guarantee you that if you go to Sephora and say, “I’m an NW20 in MAC; can you recommend an appropriate shade in NARS?” they will be able to tell you, even though Sephora does not sell MAC products.)

So. On to the actual product! The Mineralize SPF 15 Foundation is a cream foundation that is one of MAC’s newer products. It comes with a little applicator pad, but like most applicators that come packaged with cosmetics products, this can be deposited directly into the trash. I apply with a foundation brush, over primer (I’m still using Too Faced’s Primed and Poreless facial primer), and blend the areas around my nose, inner eye, etc., with my fingers. It provides a medium to medium-full level of coverage, which is great for me. I can add extra coverage of blemishes or random skin flaws with concealer, and it’s significantly reduced the amount of undereye concealer I need to use. To set the foundation, I use a light buffing of MUFE HD powder.

This foundation does last all day on me, although by the end of the evening I can see some dry patches. This is the most moisturizing of the MAC foundations I tried, and I do moisturize well before application, so I’m not sure what could be done to lessen the effect. But because I only become dry at the very end of the evening, I’m not disappointed with the results. Some people do report that MAC foundations break them out, but I haven’t had any trouble with this. It removes cleanly with my Clarisonic, cleanser, and toner. There is usually a tiny bit of color on the cotton ball when I’m done with the toner, so it doesn’t quite all come off with the Clarisonic, but the toner does take off the remainder. I have also slept in it (do not tell the makeup police) and I haven’t had any trouble. I don’t recommend sleeping in makeup, but everyone falls off the wagon now and then.

Swatch, showing color at its most concentrated at left, then blending out to meet skin tone. (Remember that your/my arm is not the same skin tone as your/my face, too, so colors may appear a bit different.)

Links:

Foxalicious Fundamentals — Foundation 101

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MAC Mineralize SPF 15 Foundation (cream): $32.00 (By the way, MAC foundation swatches on the website are not very reliable color-wise. If you know your number, just go with that and don’t worry about what the swatch looks like. They’re pretty bad.)

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair, but we’ll see how long it lasts. I may have to come back and revise that.

Purchase again? Surely.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)