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.


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: 3 Foxalicious Upgrades to the $50 Challenge

So let’s say you already have some of those things I mentioned yesterday. Let’s assume that somewhere in your life you managed to acquire a lip gloss, or a blush, or a tube of foundation that you like. Now you’re probably rattling around with all sorts of loose change in your pockets, since you didn’t spend all of your $50, and wondering what else you could buy.

Why yes, of course I have suggestions. ;)

These suggestions are going to go a bit beyond the basic. So if you already have the elements of a starter kit and are ready to add a product or two, keep reading. I’m no longer working within the $50 limit, but I am keeping this to drugstore products only.


L’Oreal has just come out with a really, really nice primer that’s newly available at Target. It’s called the L’Oreal Studio Secrets Secret No. 1 Magic Perfecting Base, and it normally retails for $10.99 (right now it’s 10% off at my Target and online). I haven’t seen it anywhere else yet, but I’m sure it’s on the way. Both Targets at which I’ve seen the product also have a tester available in the display, so you can try it on the back of your hand. I was so impressed with it that I bought one (again, the fact that it was on sale and I had a small Target gift card burning a hole in my removable wallet helped) and will do a full review of it soon. It has the same smooth silicon texture as high-end primers. If you’re interested in seeing what a primer is like, this is the one I’d recommend starting with. It looks pink in the container, but when it’s on your skin it’s translucent and basically colorless, so don’t be put off by that. This would go on before your foundation.

Cream Blush

I love a nice cream or gel blush, and the Almay SmartShade ones are really nice for drugstore products. They have terrifically long staying power, and although it’s certainly possible to apply them boldly, I was also really impressed by how subtly they can be used and still last all day. There are three shades: Pink Rose (light-medium pink), Natural (more peachy/brown-toned), and Berry (slightly deeper pink). There’s also a bronzer if you’d like to experiment with that. These are all $8.39 at drugstore.com (I forgot to price them at Target; sorry!).

Finishing Powder

A liquid/cream foundation is nice, but sometimes you want a dusting of powder on top to blend products, cover any remaining shine, give a soft-focus effect, or create a velvety texture. For a drugstore product, one of the best choices (in my humble opinion) is Cover Girl Professional Loose Powder (about $5.25-$5.50 depending on where you shop). These powders are translucent rather than opaquely pigmented, so they’re not good as a foundation unless you are quite young and have excellent skin to start out with — you just don’t get a lot of coverage. But if your skin is good and you just want something to use to reduce shine, they’re an excellent choice, and because they are translucent, they work well as a finishing powder over other makeup. Please throw the poofy thing out immediately. Use the fluffiest powder brush you have, or a skunk brush if you happen to own one (note: not actually made from skunk).

L’Oreal also makes one of these in their Bare Naturale line; it’s called Bare Naturale Mineral Finish and it comes in two slightly tinted shades (Translucent and Translucent Medium), one shimmery shade (Luminizing) and one mattifying shade (called, er, Mattifying). I use the palest tinted shade, the Translucent, as one of the ingredients in my custom mineral powder blend; it sheers out the mixture and makes it a little less opaque. The Mattifying shade is one I haven’t tried but it seems to be similar to the Make Up For Ever HD powder that I reviewed previously — it’s also silica-based, although it has considerably more ingredients than the MUFE product. (One of those ingredients is carnauba wax, and I can’t quite figure out what that’s doing in a mattifying powder since it is more often used to hold emulsions together and make them shiny — think lipstick.) These are all $12.49 at Target.

So there are some variations for you. I’d love to hear about any other great drugstore finds and/or steals you’ve discovered, so please post them in the comments!

Review: Run Don’t Walk to Sephora for Tarte’s “Maureen’s Favorites” Set

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have a pretty serious crush on Tarte. Like, the blushing and stammering kind. The kind where I don’t want to be caught looking but can’t stop myself. The kind where I write “Voxy + Tarte 4Ever” in little hearts all over my notebook paper.

(I totally don’t do that.)

As is the nature of crushes, I find myself wanting to talk compulsively about the wonderfulness and magicalness of the object of my affections. Now, I am the first to admit that there have been some Tarte products I have not been too crazy about in the past, and their packaging still leaves me baffled on occasion (purple snakeskin condom mascara). And I am not too wild about their lip products for the most part. But nobody’s perfect! I mean, are you going to hold it against Dustin Hoffman that he once agreed to star in Ishtar?

Okay, yes, I am too, I admit it. Bad example.

Anyhoo, this new set, exclusive to Sephora and for Beauty Insiders only — and if you aren’t one already, for heaven’s sake join — is so perfect for me that I refer to it as Vox in a Box. (Well, it’s actually Vox in a Bag, but that doesn’t sound as good.) It’s called “Maureen’s Favorites” because the products are apparently the picks of Tarte’s founder Maureen Kelly. I first saw it online, but for once had the good sense to step away from the computer and check it out in person at a Sephora store before buying. And it is fabulous.

This package of delightfulness contains the following:

• Full size Lights, Camera, Lashes! mascara (the purple snakeskin condom thing)

• Full size Natural Lip Crème Pencil in shade Peaceful (limited edition)

• Slightly-smaller-than-regular-size Lock & Roll Creaseless Eye Shadow Duo in shade Deep Amethyst (new, and also limited edition AFAIK)

• Deluxe sample size Natural Cheek Stain in shade Exclusive (limited edition)

• Deluxe sample size Mineral Powder Bronzer in shade Park Ave Princess

• a purple bag for putting things in, with a purple flower pin which they say you may wear out in public but about which I am HIGHLY DUBIOUS

So, lookit. The mascara by itself costs $19. The lip pencil by itself costs $24. So at $39, this kit is less than the combined cost of the two full-sized products, and you get the others basically for free!

I reviewed the Lights, Camera, Lashes! mascara previously, and I still like the product very much, although I have not warmed up to the … er, wrapper … at all. I also reviewed the Natural Lip Crème Pencil previously, and although I was disappointed by its lack of staying power, that bothers me much less in a product that’s nearly nude to start out with. In the swatches at the end of this post you’ll see that on my skin it looks like quite a bold terracotta color, but lips are darker than skin, so on my lips it is a just slightly tawny nude.

The Lock & Roll Creaseless Eye Shadow Duo is a clever product that has a cream shadow on one end and a matching powder shadow on the other end (which comes out in a ROLLERBALL, which you know contributes to my giddy excitement). You put the cream shadow on first, then set it with the powder, and it’s supposed to last for 12 hours. Most of the permanent Lock & Roll shades are quite light, so you could use them on the whole eye. This dark amethyst is a gorgeous deep warm purple, so using it over the whole lid is out of the question, but near the lashline this will be a great accent color. The size of the product in the kit is 0.12 oz of cream shadow and 0.04 oz of loose shadow; the full-size version is only a tiny bit larger — 0.14 cream and 0.05 loose — and retails for $17.

If you’ve missed my previous posts on Tarte’s cheek stains, these are some of my favorite products on the planet. Most of the ones I’d previously accumulated (True Love, Berrylicious, Tickled, Blushing Bride) were red or rose-colored, with Blissful (apricot-peachy-red) and Tipsy (a less complicated apricot) being the exceptions. This new “Exclusive” shade is a perfect slightly brown neutral. For a no-makeup look, I can’t really think of anything better. I’ve only ever seen the Tarte cheek stains in two sizes: the full-size (1 oz) version, which retails for $30, and these smaller sizes (0.24 oz), which you can only get as parts of samplers or other combination packs. I have sample sizes of Blushing Bride, True Love, and Tipsy, and haven’t even made a dent in them, so I think this will last anyone a long time.

The last product in the lot is the Park Ave Princess Mineral Powder Bronzer. Confession: As a fair-skinned, slightly cool-toned girl, I am scared of bronzers. I have not found a one that has not made me look either dirty, orange, or both. So I looked up some reviews of this product before purchasing and found several from other fair-skinned women who said this was the only bronzer they’d ever been able to wear. So, we’ll give it a go. This is the lighter of the two shades of Mineral Powder Bronzer Tarte offers; on skin it does swatch out a pretty pure bronzy-gold color and doesn’t look orange.

Oh, yeah, and there’s a bag. With a purple flower pin. (I hate these bags that come with kits. Almost all the time they’re useless — and in fact, the last time I bought a Tarte combination set, it came with a bag that was so heinously ugly I kept it just so I could use it to scare off thieves, vandals, and small children. Dear cosmetics companies: Please stop making cheap bags that don’t hold enough product to make it worthwhile; it’s wasteful and adds no value to the package.)

Pics and swatches!

Left: Cheek Stain in “Exclusive”

Right: Natural Lip Crème Pencil in “Peaceful,” which goes on my lips as an almost invisible tinge of warmth

Lock & Roll Creaseless Eye Shadow Duo in Dark Amethyst

(left: cream shadow; right: powder shadow)

(still trying to figure out why skin on my wrist is differently toned in these photos than the skin on my arm; must keep working on photography skillz)

Bag, for those of you who like these things.


Tarte “Maureen’s Favorites” Exclusive Value Set: $39, exclusive to Sephora

Provenance: Purchased, gleefully.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent! Fantastic!! Amazing!!!

Purchase again? I’d definitely buy individual components again, but I doubt I’ll be running out anytime soon (except for the mascara, of course, which I would repurchase).

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

Review: Make Up For Ever HD High Definition Powder

If you are a makeup newbie, you might be considering skipping this post. Do not do so, or else I will have to send Igor after you to hunt you down.

The reason you might be considering skipping it is that it would be easy to think that Make Up For Ever HD High Definition Powder is of a level of chi-chi-frou-frou-ness that you do not ever need or wish to attain. Not so, dear reader! It’s actually scandalously useful for the makeup minimalist as well as the glamazon.

Make Up For Ever HD High Definition Powder has one ingredient: silica. That’s it. Silica. The thing there’s more of in the earth’s crust than anything else.

(At $30 a pop, it does seem a bit of a rip-off, doesn’t it?)

The thing of it is, though, that silica finishing powder is like magic in a jar. It’s the opposite of primer — primer makes whatever’s on top of it look better; silica makes whatever’s underneath it look better. The reason for this is twofold: 1) it reflects light in a way that provides a visual effect similar to a soft focus photograph, and 2) it absorbs oil so that this soft focus remains matte and doesn’t get shiny in the middle of the day. It makes skin look and feel velvety, and it doesn’t settle into lines and wrinkles. See? Magic.

When I use it, it’s the last step in a fairly extensive skincare/makeup routine that involves serum, two moisturizers, two eye creams, primer, foundation, concealer, and blush. (I don’t use it on eyelids, so I’m not counting those products!) I apply lightly over the main areas of the face with a large powder brush and use a small fan brush or loose eyeshadow brush to dust it lightly under my eyes to set and de-shine my creamy undereye concealer.

But here’s some more magic: it has the same effect worn over bare skin. So if you have good skin and you don’t need a full-coverage foundation or powder, but just want something to take away shine and make your face look finished even without makeup, this is definitely something you should check out, especially for the summer. It won’t cover blemishes, acne scars, or discoloration — it really is colorless and translucent — so you may need a concealer underneath for that. But it’s great for a natural, no-makeup look.

You need only a tiny bit of powder, so I actually advise that you buy the small “to-go” size container (which wasn’t available when I bought mine) and see how long it lasts. You can buy this in bulk on the internet for less, but I figure that I use so little every day that I don’t really need “bulk” quantities, and being sure of brand quality is sometimes worth an extra couple of dollars, especially when the product is likely to last a long time. (I’ve had mine for a few months and have barely made a dent in it.)

Q. Is the kind of silica used in this product safe? I have heard that some silica is carcinogenic.

A. Yes, the kind of silica used in this product is safe. It is amorphous silica that has been turned into silica microspheres (basically very very small glass balls; glass is melted silica, after all). The kind of silica that is carcinogenic is crystalline silica, which has a different structure. If you are worried, you can look up the MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet) for the manufacturer and read the data sheet. Here is an MSDS of a safe silica microsphere product used in cosmetics (it is the same as the MSDS for Make Up For Ever’s silica, but that MSDS is not available on the internet; you could contact the company and ask), and here is an MSDS of an unsafe crystalline silica product, not used in cosmetics.

This is the other reason I don’t buy this in bulk over the internet. Also, common sense should prevail: if you plan to eat or snort this, or put it in your eyes, you are likely to have some adverse health reactions. The minimal amount used for cosmetic application is not a health issue. And there is silica in most cosmetic powders, so you are probably already using it.


MAKE UP FOR EVER HD High Definition Powder: $30 for full-size product, $15 for “to-go” size product

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. It’s overpriced, but the product is fab.

Purchase again? Yes, though it’ll be ages till I need to.

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

Review: L’Oreal Bare Naturale Powder Mineral Foundation

The first time I ever saw or heard about powder mineral foundation was on an infomercial for BareMinerals. As it was an infomercial, it was probably on around 2 am, and while I have no idea what I was doing awake at that time (it was years and years ago), I can still remember details of the commercial: “Just swirl, tap, and buff!” At the time I’d never seen the odd-looking kabuki brush, and I was dubious and deeply skeptical of the whole thing. “Buff” — as in, press the powder into your skin? Like, rub it in? That can’t possibly work. And the idea of a “Mineral Veil” — a powder that you put on on top of your other powder — was even stranger and more bizarre to me.

But dang, there they were, on TV, buffing away, and wow! those women’s skin looked fan-freaking-tastic.

In the manner of most things that you think about at 2 am, by morning I had decided it really wasn’t all that and a bag of chips, and I proceeded to forget about it for a long time. I hadn’t yet developed a voracious appetite for makeup, so I wasn’t really on the prowl for new stuff, especially new stuff that only lived in the strange land of infomercials and shopping channels.

Eventually, of course, the makeup police came to my door and held me at gunpoint until I bought some mineral makeup. And that was the beginning of a beautiful love affair.

While BareMinerals was probably the first line to hit the American mass market, drugstore lines were not far behind, and now just about every drugstore brand has a mineral something-or-other (foundation, blush, eyeshadow, and even lipstick and mascara), if not a complete mineral line. Many of these are quite good, so if you like the idea of a mineral makeup but don’t want to pay upscale prices, there are some good drugstore options. One problem with this is that unless you live near a new-and-improved ULTA, you will probably not be able to test products in-store for color and coverage, but since mineral makeup shades seem to be more forgiving than traditional pressed or loose powder because of the level of coverage and how they reflect light, this might be OK.

Or, you can be retentive like I am, and make your own custom blend. ;)

The L’Oreal Bare Naturale powder mineral foundation is a very good drugstore entry in the mineral foundation category. Initial coverage is sheer, but it can easily be built up to fuller coverage via the above-mentioned buffing technique. Some mineral powders are dry while others are more moisturizing (depending on how much of your skin’s natural oils they retain as the day goes on); L’Oreal’s is on the moisturizing side, so if you suffer from oily skin or are breakout-prone, you might want to look for something a little drier. It does contain SPF, but let me just remind you that you can’t always rely on makeup products to produce reliable sun protection, so a sunscreen underneath (or a powder mineral sunscreen on top) is still recommended. It removes easily with cleanser and water and generally seems not to clog pores.

The product comes with a kabuki brush-let attached to the lid; it’s not the greatest, but it will do in a pinch. One of the biggest annoyances with lots of mineral foundations is that it’s not really very clear how exactly you’re supposed to get the product out. This is NOT one of those products where the powder comes out through the brush; you need to unscrew the brush cap and swirl it around in the powder you have shaken out of the bottom part of the container. (This is perhaps the single biggest design flaw of this product; changing that would make me so, so happy.) I shake a little powder out into a tiny ceramic dish I have and do my swirling and tapping in that.

As I alluded to earlier, I do make my own custom color blend of this; I find that I don’t fit easily into any single one of their shades, so I combine three different ones in varying proportions. I also add to this some of their translucent powder, because I want the initial application to go on even a tiny bit more sheer, and some BareMinerals all-over face glow powder in shade True, which shifts the color balance of the foundation away from yellow and more towards pink and also adds a tastefully tiny bit of sparkle. (If you look closely at the photo at the top, you can see it has a little round sticker on top that says “Custom Blend” and the date I blended it.)

Overall, this is a good product both for new mineral-makeup wearers and for budget-minded glamazons. Available at drugstores and ULTA, and you can frequently find a sale on it somewhere-or-other.


L’Oreal Bare Naturale Powdered Mineral Foundation SPF 19: $13-$15

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (drugstore: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good.

Purchase again? Yep!

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)