Sunday, December 12th, 2010

NARS Sheer Glow
NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

Light Coverage, Soft Glow with NARS

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation ($42.00 for 1.0 fl. oz.) is touted as a “satin-finish foundation with sheer and buildable coverage.” It is also supposed to have “skincare benefits” when used regularly to “improve skin brightness, radiance and texture.” It is recommended for normal to dry skin types.

It is a light coverage foundation which can be built to light-medium coverage–definitely no more coverage than medium coverage at most. I wouldn’t describe it as sheer really; and if you have near perfect skin but are looking for a sheer all-over foundation option, I would keep looking. You could consider using it where and as needed, too, but for flawless or almost flawless skin, I recommend a tinted moisturizer over this, because I think this would be overkill.

I get about four to six hours of really great wear with this formula, but it does start to wane by the eighth hour. I think a little blot powder or pressed powder at lunch time helps to keep it working all day–I just wouldn’t describe it as a long-wearing foundation. Like most foundations, though, if you have drier skin, it may last longer than you. I’m normal-to-dry, and it’s at the eight hour point that I notice I look a lil’ oily and less even overall (a sign foundation is fading, disappearing, etc.). Oilier skin types are better off trying Sheer Matte, though, because the wear doesn’t last all day long, even on normal skin, and there is still an inherent dewiness from the finish that may accentuate oily skin in a not-so-flawless kind of way.

The consistency is thick without being goopy but not so thin that it applies too sheerly. I always apply it by using a concealer brush and dotting my face with the foundation, and then I take a foundation brush (MAC 109) spritzed with water to blend out the foundation to cover my entire face. The formula doesn’t dry down right away, so you have a lot of time to blend it in, and it seems a touch tacky after a few minutes, but it finishes its dry down after five minutes or so and completely settles by ten.

I was worried this was going to be too dewy for my liking. I prefer a matte or semi-matte finish in my foundations, and I was actually going to try Sheer Matte, but NARS sent over Sheer Glow–but the funny part is I didn’t even realize it was Sheer Glow until several uses later when I looked at the bottom of the jar for the shade name! It is a semi-satin, semi-matte kind of finish. There is a soft glow that emanates from the finish but it is subtle and natural. I didn’t feel like I looked shiny or oily at all after applying it, which can sometimes be the case with satin or natural finish foundations.

Overall, I really liked this foundation, and it’s something I reach for often enough. It photographs well (no SPF), and it evens out the skin quite beautifully. There is enough coverage for my skin concerns (some acne, slight unevenness in tone), and it blends really well. I’ve never had it look cakey or too much, and it does not feel heavy on the skin. I wish it wore longer, though, because that would make this a slam dunk foundation. I also would prefer if it came with a pump rather than as a $5 extra you can purchase. As a high-end, $42 foundation, I would expect an included pump.

If you need help finding your shade, I recommend The Foundation Matrix, which is actually how I found mine (Punjab)!

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I would recommend this for very dry to normal skin types who need light to light-medium coverage. If you tend to need medium or heavy coverage, I don’t think you would get enough coverage out of this foundation. Similarly, I think it has too much coverage if you are really looking for something ultra sheer.

AVAILABILITY: NARS

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Friday, November 19th, 2010

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder

Temptalia Staples: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($34.00 for 1.0 oz.) has been a long-time favorite for me — it’s been my go-to setting powder since I first started using it. It’s been used in over 70 posts!

The one I hav been using is actually a smaller size included in one of Laura Mercier’s gift sets or travel kits (can’t remember), but it was 0.33 oz., whereas the full-size version (which is pictured in this post) is a full 1 oz. It took me six months of regular usage to go through it, so I imagine a full-size should last at least a year with daily use or a year and a half with 3-4 uses a week. I just picked up the full-size during Sephora’s F&F sale last month.

I love it because it sets my makeup, keeps it in place throughout the day, and helps minimize oiliness. It never looks powdery, and it never looks obvious–it has a silky smooth texture as it is a finely milled loose powder that disappears on the skin. The soft, featherweight texture means it never feels heavy over foundation.  I like using this with MAC’s 134 brush and dusting all over after finishing foundation and blush.

The only area this product could improve on is working longer than six hours – I do find a hint of oiliness starts to peek through by hour seven or eight, and I’m normal-to-dry, so I imagine that very oily skin types may find they need a touch-up after three or so hours.

P.S. — I recommend only peeling back (or cutting) half of the label, because you don’t need that many holes exposed to get a good amount of product.

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: It’s fabulous on dry and normal skin types, but it may not produce as stellar results on the oiliest of skin types. I fully recommend giving it a shot, though – one of my staples!

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom and Sephora

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Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

MAC Sheer Mystery Powder
MAC Sheer Mystery Powder

MAC Marcel Wanders: MAC Sheer Mystery Powder

MAC Sheer Mystery Powder ($60.00 for 0.56 oz.) is described as “an ultra-fine, super sheer, and very sophisticated pressed powder … “Mysteriously” silky-soft in texture, glides on to give skin a velvety matte, slightly luminous and altogether flawless finish.”  There are only two shades available:  Light and Medium Plus.  They used to release a shade called Dark Secret, which was more appropriate for darker skin tones.

I only picked up Medium Plus, so I only have a swatch of that one, but hopefully it will be helpful enough to show you the texture and look of it.  I would recommend Light for NC/NW15s and 20s, possibly 25s if you are definitely NC/NW25.  I would recommend Medium Plus for NC/NW30s and 35s.  I think it would be too light for any shades higher than NC/NW35.

The formula itself is a very finely milled, silky smooth powder that applies incredibly sheer.  It is best used as a setting or finishing powder, because it does not offer coverage, but it will set your foundation or help to mattify skin.  It is not completely matte in finish, but it is semi-matte.  I like it, and I think it’s a good pressed powder, but it’s not the best one I’ve ever tried.  I don’t know if it’s that much better than MAC’s Blot or Select Sheer Powders, you know?  I do like that it looks very natural, and it’s practically impossible to overdo.  It doesn’t look powdery on the skin, even on drier areas of mine.

The compact itself shares the same multifaceted look as the perfume pendant, but unlike the pendant, it is made out of hard plastic, rather than metal.  It feels very lightweight when held, which makes it appropriate for traveling but less so if you want that luxury feel.  In the past, this powder has always been housed in a heavier, sturdier compact.  It will hold fingerprints like nobody’s business, though.

I know the price tag always scares people every time MAC repromotes it, but keep in mind, it comes with a refill–each pan is 0.28 oz. for a total of 0.56 oz. for your $60.  However, on that note, MAC’s Select Sheer/Pressed will set you back $22 for 0.42 oz., while the Mineralize Skinfinish Natural retails for $26 for 0.35 oz.  After perusing through a variety of pressed powders from high-end brands, it seems like 0.28 to 0.35 oz. is the norm with prices ranging from $30 to 35.  This is certainly not a steal of a deal, but it’s like you’re paying an extra $15 to 20 for the packaging and product (since it’s not available outside of the pricier compacts).

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you are light or medium in skin tone, you may find a match here.  If you have ultra dry skin, you may want to skip the powder, but for slightly dry to slightly oily skin, it should work out.

AVAILABILITY: MAC on November 24th

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Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer
MAC Pro Longwear Concealer

The Mysterious Case of Tired Face

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer ($16.50 for 0.30 fl. oz.) has been a product I’ve felt compelled to test for the past two weeks straight. I don’t like to review a product until I have a good handle on how I feel about it, and I’m not big on reviewing anything that I’m waffling over.

Admittedly, I’ve been sleeping a lot less and not nearly as well as I usually do, which is good news for concealer-testing purposes, given that my under eye circles are more prevalent this week than they normally are! Often when I’m running on low sleep, I suffer from a phenomenon I’ve named TIREDFACE. The primary symptom is tightness around the eye area (at least for me). So, one of the things I’ve had going on has been this feeling of tightness when I’ve been wearing this concealer, and I wasn’t sure whether it was due to the concealer itself or more to the exhaustion. For about three days, I wore concealer under one eye and none under the other. The concealer does contribute to some of the feeling of tightness.

The concealer does last a miraculous twelve hours, though, without creasing or budging. It is a very dry product, and if you have a lot of dryness around the areas you’re trying to conceal, I think this may emphasize those areas rather than hide them. I felt like it pulled a little underneath my eyes (which is where I used it most of the time), which is why I felt that tightness despite no discernible dryness in the area.  It conceals good, though for the heaviest of dark circles, it may not be enough, and it’s difficult to layer this product for additional coverage due to its fast drying time.

It has a creamy feel when dispensed, and it’s not too thick–there’s a good consistency to it, but it dries quickly, so you’ll have to work just as quickly. I actually recommend doing one eye at a time, because if you don’t move fast enough, it can be difficult to blend out! I also liked using a flat concealer brush like the 195 for application; the 217 seemed to sheer it out too much. I have noticed that it will settle a little into fine lines if you don’t blend out the area first. Once you’ve blended it out, though, it won’t creep back in.

I originally tried this in NC30, but it’s definitely a little on the orange side. I received a sample of NC20, so I figured I might as well give that a shot, though I’m ultimately thinking that NC25 or even NW25 might be the best match for me (I am NC25). NC20 seemed like a pretty good match, but next time I’m at the counter, I’m going to grab samples of NC25 and NW25 to see if either of those is a better match.

I was incredibly frustrated by the inclusion of a pump that–wait for it–pumps out enough to cover half your face in concealer. If the technology is not available to create a pump that easily distributes just enough for the product’s purpose, why use something inferior? It is certainly possible to get just the right amount out, but after two weeks of use, I couldn’t do so consistently. Sometimes I got just enough, sometimes a nice blob that went down the sink. If you’re having pump troubles like I have had, I recommend pumping once or twice into a small sampling jar. No need to pump it all into there, just whatever excess–that way you can go back and use that during the week and not let it go to waste.

All in all, this concealer does last all day long for me. It doesn’t crease later on during the day, and this is a big deal for a lot of us. I do feel a little tightness around my under eye when I wear this, though, so I probably won’t wear this every day.  It’s definitely worth trying out for its long-wearing prowess–but if you can, grab a sample, so you can find your shade and decide if you like it without having to purchase from the get-go.

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  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you have really dry skin that you’re looking to use this concealer on, I think this may be too drying and end up just looking cakey on you.  The wear of this is fantastic, and the coverage is good for light to moderate under eye circles or blemishes.  If you have really heavy under eye circles, this might not be enough coverage.  Overall, it’s worth a try, particularly if you’re able to grab a sample.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom

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Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Long-wearing is the Name of the Game

MAC Pro Longwear SPF 10 Foundation ($29.50 for 1 fl. oz.) is the newest addition to MAC’s impressive range (at least in number!) of foundations, and it comes to the market with some pretty lofty claims. It’s designed to give up to fifteen hours of wear in any environmental condition while still being lightweight and delivering sheer to medium coverage. The finish is considered “natural,” which isn’t matte but neither dewy — it’s not Studio Fix Fluid (matte!) nor Mineralize Satinfinish (satin… dewy).

On color matching: I picked up NC30, which was my MAC match for a very long time, and I wasn’t sure if these leaned dark/light, so I figured that just might work. I haven’t been to the MAC store in a bit, so I don’t have full knowledge of the range’s shades, but NC30 was a little dark and a touch orange on me; luckily, it’s almost impossible to tell in the comparison photos. (Phew!) I think I’ll grab NC25 next time I’m at MAC, though. I did, however, compare the shade against some of the other MAC foundations I own. It seems in line with Face & Body (a little deeper, but it should be yellower), a definite shade deeper than NC25 in Studio Fix Fluid. However, when compared to Make Up For Ever HD in 140 (which, according to The Foundation Matrix, is equivalent to NC30-NC35), it’s a little darker but looks almost orange in comparison. All in all, like any foundation, try to grab a sample or get matched in-store to avoid embarrassing foundation face!

Active Ingredient: Titanium Dioxide 4.7%

Ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Butylene Glycol, Trimethyl Pentaphenyl Trisiloxane, Phenyl Trimethicone, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Magnesium Sulfate, Tribehenin, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Bis-Peg/Ppg-14/14 Dimethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dimethicone, Phenyl Methicone, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Methicone, Tetramethyl Hexaphenyl Tetrasiloxane, Glycerin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Silica, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Laureth-7, Hexyl Laurate, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum, Propylene Carbonate, Alumina, Polymethylsilsequioxane, Dimethicone Silylate, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid, Chlorphenesin [ /- Mica, Iron Oxides (C) 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (C) 77891, Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288)

On finish: This foundation is definitely one of the best MAC foundations I’ve tried to date, and I do love Studio Fix Fluid, though I don’t currently wear it–but I did wear it for nearly three years. (So many foundations, only one face!) The finish is absolutely beautiful; it’s not flat or matte, but it’s not oily, greasy, or “dewy.” It really is natural; there’s a little of that lit-from-within glow going on here. It won’t accentuate your oiliness. However, if you have very dry skin, I think it may be too close to a matte finish and would advise trying before buying. Coverage is light-medium to me; I don’t think it’s sheer, but it can be built up to a more medium coverage. I find it is similar in coverage to Studio Fix Fluid.

On consistency, feel, transfer: It’s has lightweight feel–lighter than Studio Fix Fluid, heavier than Face & Body–with a thinner consistency than Studio Fix Fluid but not as watery as Face & Body. It dries down quickly (so work in sections or be quick about your business!) and doesn’t feel tacky or sticky to the touch. As far as I could tell, it’s pretty transfer-resistant, even ten hours later. I took a tissue to my face, and just pressing didn’t transfer anything, I had to rub it across my forehead to get any foundation to show up on the tissue.

On wear: But I suppose the best part about this foundation is that is really is long-wearing without being heavy, cakey, or thick. I wore it for twelve hours, and my makeup looked nearly as good then as it did when I first applied it in the morning. Normally, I get a little oily around my t-zone if I’ve worn foundation for eight hours or more. I’d say there might have been a touch more shine after twelve hours than when I started wearing it, but very slight, and it didn’t transfer.

All in all, a pretty stellar foundation!

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I’d give it a shot if you’re able to sample the shade range and find the best match for you.  It should be suitable for dry to oily skin, but if you have very dry or flaky/dry patches on your face, you may want to try it first, because of the natural finish (which isn’t quite matte but near enough to it) may accentuate dryness.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom

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Friday, July 30th, 2010

Philosophy Supernatural Superbeautiful
No foundation / Philosophy Supernatural Superbeautiful

Feels Like a Tinted Moisturizer, Looks Like Foundation

Philosophy Supernatural Superbeautiful SPF 20 ($30.00 for 1.25 oz.) is certainly the hybrid foundation it describes itself as. It delivers a nice, medium-coverage finish that’s just slightly dewy but not oily, but it feels more like a tinted moisturizer than a liquid foundation. It’s even on the moisturizing side (but I wouldn’t skip the moisturizer!).

The texture is very creamy and almost gel-like, though it is a water-based foundation with the first inactive ingredient being water. It’s easily applied with fingertips (again, like a tinted moisturizer) or with a foundation sponge/brush. I found it wore very well, without any fading, settling, or migration over an eight hour period. I have warm undertones and a light medium skin tone (NC25), and I found Beige to be a good color match for me. I think the semi-matte finish of the foundation helps it stay natural-looking, and the creaminess of the product (without being heavy or thick) also helps to keep it from accentuating dryness.

I so rarely think of Philosophy for anything but skincare and bodycare, but the foundation was a definite–pleasant–surprise.  I forgot to take photos of the packaging, and I’ve literally had that on my to-do list for three months along with a bajillion other things, so instead of waiting around for that to happen, I said on with the review!   The packaging is a flat, slim squeeze-tube that’s easy to control–it really looks exactly as it is pictured in retailer product photos.

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you like the feel of tinted moisturizer but need more coverage than they often offer, Philosophy’s Superbeautiful might be the best of both worlds.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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