Foundation woes

Ages ago, I had tracked down the Smashbox Complexion Perfection Kit at Nordstrom, which contained an HD-happy foundation in “fair”. Silly, silly me — I never really tried the stuff out, like, full-on foundation style, until this past weekend. And shockingly, like EVERY OTHER FOUNDATION OUT THERE*, it looks hideous and orange and dark on me.

…Shit.

So after applying pancake “Fair” colored orange over my primer on Saturday, I decided to swing by Sephora for an upgrade. Guess what? Too effing busy to help me. Awesome. (Normally I can help myself in a store like that, but this is the ONE area of makeup where I really need someone else’s expertise!) So the gal told me to schedule an official consultation so they would have time set aside for me. But since they were too busy to even do THAT, and since there are other store locations that would be more convenient anyway, I figured I’d hit the Downtown shop for said assistance.

Side note: did you know they’ve now made it completely impossible to actually call any retail Sephora location? Yeah, you can leave a voicemail for the store manager and pray s/he’ll get back to you, but that’s it. Nice CS, guys!

Anywho — I *think* I’ll wind up going with Make Up For Ever’s Invisible Coverage HD foundation. There appear to be a zillion shades, reviews plus product description suggest it looks good in pics, and it seems widely available. But DAMN if it isn’t expensive! I hope it’s worth the dough. And I hope the negative reviews are wrong, yikes!

I’m off to Sephora on my lunch break today to hopefully get some hands-on help, or at the very least schedule a consultation time. Since my trial run with Carina is this Saturday, I really wanted to have the shade picked out so I could bring it along, since I’d rather use stuff I’ve tried out. Guess I’ll a) return to the office with a rainbow of beige streaks along my jawline, heh, and b) wear foundation every day this week to work so I can try the stuff out. This will be interesting, to say the least!

* All foundation shades look orange and dark on me, except the ones that err in a vastly different overkill direction. My very first ever foundation that my mom got me was a MAC heavy coverage one in a color called Alabaster, which was FREAKY pale and made me look scary dead which is hard to do. And my first concealer, from this crappy shop no longer in existence at Southcenter Mall, was pink-toned like my skin but way too dark for me, so it just made me look hung over when I wore it under my eyes. At twelve years old. Why is it SO HARD to find a good shade for pale pink-toned skin? Ack!

Gift With Purchase Extravaganza

As I recently whined on my Twitter Feed, Nordstrom Beauty announced a Smashbox gift with $50 purchase ONE DAY after I had made a $49 Smashbox purchase. (In case you’re wondering, I got the Complexion Perfection Kit to try out as wedding makeup — it’s out of stock in my shade at every other vendor.)

But I cried to their Customer Service people online, and they happily shipped me the gift, separately, for free, no questions asked! (Okay, a few questions like “what was your order number” and “what is your shipping address” — so no annoying questions asked.)

And THEN I saw on Smashbox’s site that they have crazy good Let’s Do Lunch deals twice a week, in which you get a free gift for buying ANYTHING during a certain time period, no minimum purchase required, and free shipping. WTF?! Why aren’t all vendors that awesome? So I stocked up on brush cleaner (which I’ve been needing anyway) and… got a free duo lip gloss, IN ADDITION to a sample of the tinted moisturizer that I ALSO wanted to try out as wedding makeup.

AND THEEEEENN I got one of them automated Sephora emails telling me a product was back in stock — and it was the new TheBalm Lip Stain I’ve been wanting to try out (also as wedding makeup. Sensing a theme here?), which had been out in the color I wanted. And I discovered that ZOMG I now qualify for my first-ever 500 point bonus gift there (currently a Tarte giftapalooza with gloss, 2 mascaras, eyeliner, primer, etc. etc.). Kinda terrifying that I’ve spent enough cumulatively to qualify, but whatevs. And they ALSO have a bunch of samples that I’m totally into right now. SO I think I’m gonna order my wedding lip stuff and stock up on the big freebie there too.

I think, so far this month, I may actually receive more in free product than actual monetary purchases. Guess the entire cosmetics industry figured out it was almost my birthday or something! ^_^

Clé de Whoa!

Man, I was so ready to hate this stuff.  I figured that any concealer costing THAT much was pure hype; the next Crème de la Mer and whatnot.  I even had the perfect snarky French pun post title all ready: Clé de Peu.  See?  SO ready for mockery.

But I kept reading so many references to how great the famous Clé de Peau concealer was, and it wasn’t just on my usual trusty EDS — celebrity blogs and fashion mags have been trumpeting about this stuff for long enough that it finally got my attention.  So I swung by my local Nordstrom, and I asked for a free sample of the two palest shades.

I put on a couple dabs of both Ivory and Beige on my hand, and I was still scoffing since both seemed extremely yellow and unnatural.  “How can this be so great if they only have FOUR colors?  There’s no way that’ll ever look natural on THAT many people’s complexions.”  But being the diligent tester I am, I also dabbed a bit of the stuff on some blemishes once I got home.  Still scoffing — the obvious beige-yellow shade stuck out like a sore thumb.  But then, it disappeared!

I seriously have no idea how they did it.  The concealer sort of melts into your skin, and it stays opaque but the color almost camoflauges with the rest of your complexion.  Not 100% perfectly, but enough to give you really good coverage while not sticking out and being obviously the wrong shade.  And this worked all over my face, from my rosy cheeks to my pale-white forehead.  It was still a tiny bit detectable after a few seconds, but nothing like when you first put it on.

And the thing that REALLY surprised me is how good it was at concealing the dry flakiness that I sometimes get on my spots from using Retin-A.  Most concealers tend to highlight that and make it stand out more, but CdP helped keep it under wraps for the most part.  (Not perfect, but better than many other concealers.)

Now, it’s not 100% perfect, don’t get me wrong.  A lot of the raves were about under-eye use, and I actually don’t like it there — it seems to cause my fine lines to be a bit more obvious.  But I feel that way about any under-eye concealer, and it’s not an area that I tend to want to conceal very often.

I’m a little concerned that it won’t be stellar on my acne, since the ingredients don’t really attempt to be non-comedogenic.  But so far it doesn’t seem to have drastically worsened anything.  I’ll probably stick to my more acne-friendly Everyday Minerals custom concealer palette for normal cover-up situations, and bust out the pricy CDP for more drastic occasions.  However, I may have to use the stuff every day, lest it go bad on me — I’d be way too mad if something that expensive turned before I’d managed to get my money’s worth!

Borrowing from Bare Escentuals

I recently caught wind of the Rare Minerals acne-fighting mineral powder concealer by Bare Escentuals, and now I see that it’s been voted a Sephora best-of.

I’ve always wanted to avoid anything by BE, since they are notorious for including the chemical bismuth oxychloride in their formulations.  (Many people are quite allergic to bismuth, and it causes a rash-like reaction that takes ages to clear up.  I’m not eager to find out whether I should count myself in those ranks or not!)  And bismuth aside, this stuff definitely has some other ingredients (like dimethicone) that would aggravate my breakouts.

However, the idea of making a powder concealer that contains acne-fighting ingredients definitely intrigues me.  I’ve been trying to figure out a good BHA solution for ages and ages, and concealers that help dry up and bust blemishes definitely appeal to me.  And since my problem with salicylic acid was always figuring out how to get it to dissolve in a liquid base, the idea of being able to leave it in its powdered form is a definite bonus!

I’m going to try this out with my Everyday Minerals concealer set.  I’ll mix the shades that best match my skin for covering blemishes, and I’ll add a few drops of manuka essential oil (gentler than BE’s tea tree oil, and less stinky), and a bit of powdered salicylic acid.  I may also try adding some powdered zinc oxide, both for extra sun protection and for its soothing properties.  (I just have to make sure it doesn’t lighten the mix too much.)

If I can track some down, I might also add powdered sulphur, since that’s the acne-fighting ingredient that always shows me great results on individual blemishes.  However, sulphur’s smell really turns my stomach, so it may be worth while to leave that out of the mix.  It looks like I’ll be making up to four different batches to test this idea out, so I’ll post updates soon.  Thanks for the great idea, BE!

100% Pure Concealer review

I kept promising I’d update some 100% Pure reviews here, and the drafts have been sitting around for ages. So I figured I’d finally get started and kick some of these out!

First up is the Peach Pigmented Brightening Concealer (in White Peach). Not surprisingly, this stuff isn’t even close to a good color match for me. And with only three shades, I’m not surprised! I do wish the company would make more shades for all of their products. I’d love to try out their new-ish tinted moisturizer and powder, but I suspect even the palest shade will be as dark and orangey-awful as this was… and most QVC reviews seem to confirm this.

But enough about the color! At first I liked the consistency of this concealer, just based on how it felt on my skin… but eventually I realized that it gave blotchy and weak coverage at best (especially for really red acne marks). This was a real bummer, since I’m concerned about mineral pigment concealers clogging my pores and making my acne worse. But alas, I’ll be sticking with my Everyday Minerals custom palette, since I haven’t yet found a better solution.

And as far as under-eye concealing goes, I found that this stuff clung to any dry/flaky skin patches that my Retin-A might leave behind, and that it was prone to settling into the fine lines I admit I’m developing there. So that was a no go, too.

However, I was surprised by how much I liked the brush-tip applicator. (I had always shied away from those, thinking they’d spread bacteria if I used them to conceal acne. But when I saw this one up close, I could tell it would be possible possible to wash the brush without contaminating the product, as long as I was careful to keep the brush facing down the whole time.) It’s still not my ideal, but I didn’t hate it, which is big for someone as picky as me!

I wound up just giving this away to someone on Makeup Alley. I see from QVC that they seem to have switched to a wand-tipped applicator — fair enough, but the important changes need to be the formulation, not the packaging!

A Rainbow of Coverage

As some of you Imaginary Readers know, I’ve been on a major hunt for the right concealer solution. I think I may have finally found it — or rather, them.

I was poking around Sephora testing out all the different concealers, and nary a one really matched my skin tone. But I came across this 5 Camouflage Cream Palette No. 15 Camouflage Cream Palette, which is exactly like it sounds — five cream concealer shades that you can blend to create custom coverage.

This seriously seemed like the only option, since nothing was spot-on for my coloring (no pun intended). And it has the added benefit of letting me create a different shade for concealing acne on my chin, which for me is whitish, versus my cheek, which is very pink. And theoretically you can also use it for under your eyes, which is an area I rarely use concealer on — but when I do, I need a very different shade than the rest of my face — much yellower.

Sounds perfect, right? The problem is, I don’t love the ingredients. They’re honestly not THAT bad, but they’re not all-natural either. And they did seem to contain some potentially pore-clogging components, which sort of defeats the purpose of an acne concealer. And there are definitely a few other acne-safe concealer products on the market, but none with the color range this palette provided. What a dilemma!

So to solve this, I decided to create my own palette. I ordered a bunch of 2.5g mineral powder concealers from Everyday Minerals. (I would have ordered from Alima, as I’ve heard more positive reviews of them, but EM had corrective color concealers like green and yellow, whereas Alima did not — and I only wanted to pay one shipping charge!)

Grant and I are saving up to replace our broken digital cam, so it’s tough for me to take decent digital pics right now. But here’s a crappy cell-phone pic of my rainbow concealer palette, just to give an idea:

The Everyday Minerals solution has been GREAT so far! In typical EM fashion, they included a couple freebies, one of which was a lavender corrective concealer powder. So that’s one more shade to add to the spectrum. I also purchased mint green, sunshine yellow, and five of their six skin-toned concealers (all but the deepest). I’ve been applying them with synthetic-haired concealer brushes, and I even found that some areas were easier to cover with a big synthetic foundation brush.

I’ve applied colors directly onto problem areas in single layers, or multiple color layers, and I’ve also tried mixing custom blends in my palm first. It all just depends on how my skin is looking that day. But I LOVE that I can tweak it this way or that to make sure it’s a good match, and I’m actually finding that these powders look less, well, powdery than the Alima samples I’d tried in the past. I think it’s because they offer slightly less coverage, which in this case is a good thing — too much coverage means that concealed areas REALLY stand out, since I don’t normally use foundation and my skin has natural variations in tone that I actually like.

And of course, these don’t aggravate acne nearly as much as a cream concealer would. My breakouts seem to heal much faster now, as well as being better-covered, and they don’t wind up with that super-dry-and-flaky look that some powder concealers (ahem, Alima) were giving me. And most mineral concealers have pretty decent sun protection, too, which helps keep my healing blemishes from forming scars.

All in all, I think I may have finally found my concealer solution! The overall price was no more expensive than if I’d purchased the full Make Up For Ever palette, and I have a much greater variety of shades this way. I’ll update if my opinion of this custom palette changes over time.

I think the only real problem is figuring out how to travel with these, or create a purse-size version for touch-ups. (However, the coverage seems to last long enough that touching up isn’t as necessary as I’m used to.) This isn’t a huge hurdle for me — I already travel with a massive amount of cosmetics/toiletries, and hey — mineral powders don’t count toward the liquid limit for carry-on baggage, so that’s another plus!

Dr. Hauschka Pure Care Cover Stick vs. Cover Stick Puncto

Dr. Hauschka recently released the new Pure Care Cover Stick in the US, but I only realized today that it’s meant as a replacement for their old Cover Stick Puncto. Had I realized this, I probably wouldn’t have purchased it — the old Puncto went bad on me surprisingly quickly, and the color was never quite right. (I’m much too pale for an 02, but just a shade too dark for an 01.)

I bought the Pure Care in 01 to try it out and see if it’s any better with my coloring than the Puncto was, but they look like they’re exactly the same. And they feel the same. And they smell the same. The only real difference seems to be the packaging — which is good, really, as it *does* expose the product to less oxygen, so theoretically it might protect it better from going bad.

Either way, I was pleased to learn today that my local Whole Foods allows you to return any cosmetics or skincare product you try and don’t like, as long as you keep the receipt. This actually really surprises me, but I’m thrilled — especially since they foolishly don’t have testers for many of their products. So I’ll be returning this, and thus returning to my Great Concealer Search.