What products are you most critical of? Why?

I think color products in general I have become more critical of, but if I had to pick a type, I would say powder eyeshadows, since they are often worn more opaque than blush, it is very easy to tell when something is unforgiving or sits badly on the skin.

— Christine


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Erica Avatar

Primers bc they often don’t fulfill the claims they make


Foundations since it is much harder to find one that is the right color, doesn’t emphasize imperfections, is long lasting etc

Deborah S. Avatar

I think that I am most critical of foundations, especially high end foundations. If they say they are luminous then I expect luminosity. If they are suppose to be full coverage or sheer then that is what I expect. If they are suppose to be neutral in undertone then they shouldn’t be pink, etc. So many disappoint. I am spending a lot of money for foundation and I just wish they would deliver on their claims. If you don’t make claims about the foundation then fine but certainly they know what matte means!!

Katherine T. Avatar

Probably foundation – IMO, it’s the hardest product get right, both in terms of color and formula, and unless you have flawless skin, it’s also one of the most critical products. You can have a killer eye look and badass lips, but if your foundation is turning orange, melting, caking up, or just the wrong color, it doesn’t look good. I think most of us never find one that we truly like, or if we do, they DC it, and the search continues……

Nancy T Avatar

Probably EVERYTHING! I am a picky one.
But to bring it down into just one, with a 2nd runner up: Eye products. Be it a chunky or powdery or unpigmented eyeshadow (which are a PITA and yes, very noticeable!) or a flaky or smeary eyeliner or mascara, eye makeup that underperforms is the bane of my *makeup* existence! Simply because eyes are what people usually LOOK at when they talk with one another.

Runner up: Anti-Aging products! With their usually overinflated claims, they bilk the average consumer royally, if one doesn’t know their ingredients pretty well. You almost need a chemistry degree nowadays!

Katherine T. Avatar

Yes, that’s true! People zero in on the eyes. That’s why I wasn’t wearing much eye makeup for decades b/c everything would melt, run, or smudge on my oily lids (hello raccoon eyes!). Nowadays, the formulas and primers are much better.

Denise Avatar

Very good Nancy!!!You covered everything I was going to say. All the different ingredients, I am like where do I start??? I am big about foundations, primers, eyeliners and SHADOWS!!!! Mascara and oh can’t forget all the $$$$ on lipstick. What gives with all this hype about how “great” this product is and you buy it, take it home and your like “this is it “?

Pearl Avatar

Foundation – I always had really oily and sensitive/allergic-reaction-to-everything skin, but I still wore MAC Studio Fix liquid in my 20s. My skin got so bad that I stopped anything liquid late 20s and switched to mineral powder foundation until a few years ago (my skin issues had resolved well before my mid 30s but I just got so used to wearing mineral powder foundation and I didn’t want to take any chances after my skin straightened out). I think back then, foundation shades, textures, and coverages were very limited – I think most of them were very thick and full coverage, oil-based and the shades weren’t really true to skin tones anyway. Luckily these days I think foundation is made with the nuanced shade and undertone differences and skin care in mind so there are some really great formulas out there.

Powder products, specifically highlighters and eyeshadow – I still use powder everything except for foundation and maybe some cream color for eyes. As I’m aging and the texture of my skin is changing, I don’t want anything that is going to be too dry or dusty to accentuate any fine lines or texture, and I certainly don’t want something that is too chunky or glittery or sparkly to do the same.

Lipstick – I recently figured out that my favorite, most flattering texture and finish on me is satin (thank you, NARS Barbara). Anything more emollient tends to bleed into lip lines and I don’t get much longevity, and anything more frosted, really shimmery or matte tends to accentuate any texture and my lips look like shriveled raisins. I can get away with filling in my lips with a lip liner and wearing a MAC Lustre or Cremesheen on top to get the same look and finish as a satin, but the longevity isn’t the same (2 hours max) and my lips end up dryer in a few hours.

Pat B Avatar

I sure could use some suggestions for some satin lipsticks as I have the same problems with others bleeding as well. Thank you for your time and trouble.

Pearl Avatar

Hi Pat B –

I have to wear a lipliner otherwise I get feathering (even with mattes!). Here’s what works for me:

1. I use waterproof featherproof lipliner – Sephora has one for $10, Makeup Forever has one also but it’s around $20? (if I”m remembering right). Both work really well. This is clear and you just line lips with this first like you would a lipliner. Line lips with waterproof lipliner, then line lips with regular lipliner, fill in lips with regular lipliner, apply lipstick. If using the waterproof liner, I have found I can use any lipliner and lipstick combo and don’t get any feathering.

2. If skipping the waterproof liner, I use MAC Pro Longwear lipliner (I have to make sure it’s Pro Longwear because their regular lipliner is too creamy and I get feathering with that) – line the lips, fill in, then apply lipstick. I think this works best with satin or matte lipsticks. I’ve done it with MAC Lustres and MAC Cremesheens and while I don’t get feathering, the longevity is not quite the same with as the satin and mattes.

I primarily buy MAC everything, but I have heard great things about Makeup Forever’s lipliners also.

As for satin lipsticks, here are the brands that work for me:
1. I really like MAC Satins and these are my standard.
2. NARS Audacious has some good ones but the texture/finish is inconsistent (some of them are mattes and really drying) so make sure to swatch in store. I have found the lighter shades are more creamy and satin-like while the darker, deeper colors are drier and more matte. If you like the bold colors, maybe do a little bit of a balm underneath.
3. Urban Decay’s Vice Comfort Matte is comfortable to wear, more of a satin finish (on me) and decent longevity. I own a few nudes and this is consistent with all 3 of them.
4. YSL Rouge Volupte Shine and Rouge Pur Couture Satin – nice satin finish and comfortable wear although they have fragrance and it has some staying power, so if that will bother you, skip these.

Hope that helps. ?

Pearl Avatar

Shoot, I forgot Colour Pop Ultra Satin Lip! These are great for heavy duty pigmentation and longevity. They can get a bit sticky and my lips are a little dry after a while but the satin finish is perfect. These last even longer than my MAC.

Lulle Avatar

Probably eyeshadow and foundation. I can work with not-so-amazing lipsticks or lipglosses, and it’s rare that a lip product really disappoints me (unless it’s very drying, but I know to avoid liquid matte lipsticks!), but I get very frustrated with eyeshadow of below average quality. If it doesn’t blend well, look vibrant and applies evenly, I won’t even bother trying to work with it.
As for foundation, I’ve tried a lot in the past few month and I have yet to find a high coverage one that I’m really satisfied with. If they look cakey, sink into pores, emphasize dryness or lines, there’s no way I’d wear them outside the house! I think a bad foundation is probably the worst thing: it makes your whole face look unnatural. Okay foundation is not good enough either, it should make skin look better, so if it doesn’t there’s no point.

CeeBee Avatar

Foundations – they either don’t have the coverage or finish I want, don’t last long enough or have too small a range or weird undertones (nobody I know has peach coloured skin!). I haven’t used an off the shelf foundation in about 5 years.

Ray Avatar

Blush. There aren’t many options for natural shades with cooler undertones, or decent formulas without my no-go ingredients. I want a sheer application that isn’t patchy, which I think somehow gets harder when blue-based cool pigments are part of the equation.

A Avatar

Probably lipsticks. Eyeshadow is important, but a single eyeshadow is usually part of a whole eye look, whereas a lipstick stands alone and you’ll probably going to reapply it throughout the day too. Eyeshadow pretty much always lasts until I take it off for me.

LindaP Avatar

Critical of:

Dry eyeliner pencils that skip and stutter as you try to use them. (Looking at you MAC Devotion — love the color for me, the dryness is terrible.)

Eyeshadow with too much fallout.

Feeling ripped off in quantity for money spent. It was so outrageous with a Becca concealer that it still negatively colors my opinion of the brand to an extent. And it wasn’t a one-off mistake. I bought three of them before learning my lesson.

We all know lipsticks fade, but Nars is just absurd.

Skin care products that make outlandish claims about returning youth. With some research, this is one area where you really can explore claims, find good scientific backup (or not), and not be duped by the marketing. There are good, resourceful sites out there than can help a lot in this area — the Beauty Brains, the b-spot, and Joanne Loves Science are a few. Links below if you’re interested.

http://thebeautybrains.com/ (Funny, informative podcasts, good community forum)

Eleanor Avatar

I agree about eye liner pencils—and, also, lip pencils. Can you tell us which ones seem to work better for you? I’m tired of spending money on them only to have them dry out so quickly. Thanks

LindaP Avatar

Eleanor — I will ask Christine to make that a question to get some additional input I could use some input too.

So far, my UD 24/6 Glide on and Lancome Le Crayon Kohl pencils seem to have the best longevity before drying out. Caveat — I only them in the following colors: UD in perversion and Lancome in Black Ebony.

Eleanor Avatar

Thanks. I like the UD liner in Rush and Lancome ones. Would just like to branch out and try different brands. I hope others would enjoy discussing this topic.

Julia Avatar

Luxury beauty items. The more a brand is charging for a product, the higher the quality should be. I am willing to make some exceptions or come up with work-arounds for drugstore products, but when I am paying a high price I think it’s only fair to have high expectations.

Also, foundation in general. It’s something that is (obviously) covering nearly your entire face, so if there’s an issue with texture, separation, oxidation, etc – there’s no hiding it!

MissJae1908 Avatar

Pigmentation. I’m an NW50 and my lips are naturally dark. I like for my shadows to be pigmented because I need for them to show up on my skin and the same applies to my lipstick. If I can see my natural lip color peeking through, I’m probably not gonna like the lipstick.

Grace Avatar

Foundation for sure! Finding the right color match and finish is a journey lol. A foundation that’s a bad match for my skin type and coloring isn’t necessarily a bad product, but if it’s a bad product for me I’ll return it.

Jovana Avatar

Foundations and powders. I have such problematic skin: large pores, extremely oily t-zone, dry patches around my chin, constant break outs. Its stressed, dehydrated…you name it. I have yet to find that ONE “miracle” foundation that will keep me from blotting for at least 3,4 hours. I have to pay attention to every ingredient and do extensive research. Its difficult but i’ve learned to accept it the way it is, and just work my way around it.

Ginny Avatar

Liquid eyeliner. The pens dry out too fast, the gel pots require a brush that I have to then clean every time, the wand/brush types can be too flexible and the bristles can fray, pencils aren’t sharp enough, some smudge, fade, or bleed, some aren’t opaque enough, some are too hard to remove……..

Rachel Avatar

Foundation! If there’s anything wrong with it, it affects the whole face and all the products layered on top of it. If I’m spending $50+ for a high-end foundation I want it to perform flawlessly- as in, no creasing, no excessive oiliness, no sliding off of my nose, etc. So often they just do not live up to their claims!

Susan Avatar

As I’ve gotten older, definitely foundations and concealers. Funny how I used to wear them decades ago and I realize I didn’t even need them then. Now that I need them I’m super-critical of coverage, creasing, etc.

Gillian Avatar

For me it would be lipstick and foundation.

I expect a lot from a lipstick. I have extremely dry lips so, for a start, I like it to be hydrating. I also like them to be very pigmented, smooth and long-lasting.

As for foundation, I have major problems getting a foundation to match my skin tone. I have to mix in white foundation and/or correctors and primers to create a foundation that will pass muster! I’m OK with that but the base foundation must be oil-free to avoid shine, have a natural finish, be long-lasting and have very good, non-cakey, coverage.

AB Avatar

Foundations, mascaras, and anything high end/luxury. I’m in my 50’s. My eyes are large and my most dominant feature, I wear contacts, and, I’m very fair and warm-toned. So for mascara, I need no clumping, no messiness, non-waterproof, and in brown; I find most mascaras don’t reach adequate quality let alone the additional features I need. Foundations: as one ages, the skin is less able to make up for poor or mediocre foundations. Luxury: I select for quality, and high end that positions as quality but isn’t is like almost deceptive and is a little insulting.

Felicia Avatar

Definitely eyeshadows. Some days I don’t bother to wear it, but when I do, I really go for it. I don’t want to spend half of my makeup time on eyeshadow only to have it look like garbage in a few hours.

A close second would have to be lipsticks. I generally go for matte because I’m kinda lazy when it comes to reapplying. Therefore, I only go for ones that last on the lips for a while.

Rachel R. Avatar

Foundation, because that’s the base for my whole look. I want a good shade and undertone match, no oxidizing, no breaking up or melting from my oily skin, nice finish, long-lasting, etc.

Eyeshadow, because that is my favorite makeup item. I want good pigmentation, no patchiness, good blendibility, and not a ton of fallout.

Eyeshadow primer, because I have really oily, partially hooded lids. I need something that will make my eyeshadow wear like iron.

Glenda Avatar

I’d have to say foundation. Ugh…foundation is so difficult but I’m not sure it has to be. But the WORST, the absolute worst, are those that make me break out.
Primers…honestly, just my opinion…just goofy money robbing product. Don’t use any of them.
Eye palettes…too freaking many of them. Does EVERYONE have an eye palette? Come on, all that crap doesn’t look good on everyone. Although I have several of them, I choose the palette color combination that work for me.

Jessika Avatar

Foundations and primers. First of all, I’m a grease ball. I’m very very oily. And after wasting my money on so many primers I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re all bull and they never live up to the expectations. NONE OF THEM! The only thing primers do for me is help my makeup last. They don’t control oil, they don’t help with my large pores, nothing. I’m going to use up what I have but I’m not repurchasing any of them. They’re all gimmicks. I’ll stick to the Nivea post shave balm. And Where do I even begin with foundations? Some of these companies are ridiculous, especially for WOC. Sometimes the shades are wrong, either they’re too cakey or not enough coverage, and too red or too orange. If I pay over 40.00 bucks for a foundation I want it to be everything and more. I don’t want to look like a rotten orange within a couple of hours. SOME of these companies gotta get their act together. Create a new formula or something.

Lys Avatar

I am very critical of skincare. I like trying products and discover new favourites every now and then, but still, I always go back to the same ‘basics’ in my skincare routine!

Nicole Avatar

Products made by a high end brand. I’m more forgiving of a subpar palette by KVD or Too Faced than I am of subpar performance from Tom Ford or Dior or Chanel, for instance. High prices better equal high quality.

Wednesday Avatar

Agree Nicole. Years ago, the vast majority of my stash was made up of HE brands and now that number has dropped to a quarter at best. I rarely venture down that road and tend to stick to mid range products where the competition is fiercer and I’m willing to make concessions for performance issues. I don’t want to pay stupid prices for pretty package with sub par products.

Alex Avatar

YSL’s nailpolish and lipstick.
They both are not long lasting, the lipsticks emphasize imperfections and the nailpolish are hard to apply

Debbie Avatar

I am most critical of skincare products. I have sensitive skin and do have a group of holy grail products that I know work, but every now and then I will throw something new into the mix to see how it works and if it plays well with the other products I use. I tend to lump foundation into this group and will once in a great while try something new. With foundation I tend to judge more about how my skin looks after I remove it, and that is how I make a determination if it is suitable for me or not.
I am also critical of lip products. I do not like matte lip color as it makes my lips look too flat. I prefer a more creamy formula, but not so creamy that it slips and slides around too much.

Jenny G Avatar

I don’t understand the hype about highlighters. I have 3: Nys trabal obessey, mac soft and gentle and the balm mary lou. They serve me well (bronze, silver, golden tones). Why have more than that? Why some many palettes? Colors…do anyone really use rainbow highlight? I don’t judge who likes it but I don’t get it. ….

Cat Avatar

It’s because people have varied undertones and skin color. I am fair/light with cool, pink skin. The Balm’s Mary-Lou Manizer is too warm and too intense for me, as is Becca’s Moonstone, whereas the new Moon Child Glow Kit from ABH creates the most beautiful, subtle sheen on my skin. Even if I wore all six shades in the Moon Child palette at once, which I wouldn’t, it still wouldn’t look like a rainbow against my skin tone. However, I swatched it on my husband’s tanned, warm, medium skin and it creates a very intense and colorful sheen on him.

Susan Dowman Nevling Avatar

Hmmmm. Well, I really dislike matte and very drying lipsticks. Very expensive products must be much better than average. I prefer pencil eyeliner but it must be smooth. Mascara should not clump and I don’t care for waterproof in general. I do use setting spray and primers and find both helpful. Face sprays are enjoyable in summer heat and dry winter air but I doubt that they really do anything except feel good.

Cat Avatar

To anyone who reads my posts here, it’s no surprise that I am most critical of foundation. The fact that so many brands are capable of making a concealer with the perfect undertone for my coloring, while I’ve only found one brand that actually makes a foundation that’s a great match, is astonishing.

Stacy Avatar

No contest: It’s foundation (or BB/CC cream). No matter what else I put on my face, if that base layer is bad — If it breaks up, cakes up, slides around, melts away, blotches, sneaks into pores or lines, turns a funky shade on my skin, or have you — Nothing has a prayer of looking good.

Genevieve Avatar

Foundations – because they should be what they say – long lasting, with the advertised undertones etc.
Eye shadows – consistent quality and longevity, especially with a primer underneath
And the biggest one – lipsticks – none of them really last longer than a few hours on me. Quite a few lipsticks turn pink on me so I have to be careful.

Bonnie Avatar

That’s the tradeoff on lipstick – if you want long-lasting, you get stuck with those colored lines on your lips if they are at all dry or you’re over 25. I would much rather reapply than have that happen. I too get colors turning pink (why I avoid all but the brownest reds), but there are some things that help: coloring in with a very neutral lip liner, Laura Geller’s spackle, or even a neutral concealer applied to the lips before the lip color. A barrier between the color and your body’s chemistry. I hate that icky coral pink that reds turn on me. I can live with the pink that the purple colors turn.

Tracey E. Avatar

1) Eyeshadow. I want it to be opaque, long lasting, and have no glittery fallout.
2) Lipsticks, especially those on the lighter side, as I need them to be opaque with one or two swipes, have at least a few hours of solid wear time, and look on the lips like they do in the bullet.
3) Irritating makeup terms like “strobing”, which, to me, is extreme highlighting. If it’s an Hourglass thing, fine, as they’re known for their Ambient Lighting. But Bobbi Brown? It doesn’t fit yet makes me cringe enough not to even consider the product. “Nontouring” (not contouring) is another ridiculous term, IMO.

Naomi Avatar

mostly concealers and foundations! I have a very wrinkly, crepey undereye area but also dark circles so I need a full coverage, sweatproof, waterproof, crease proof concealer (And I think I found it with the tarte shape tape concealer!). I also need my foundation to last through some sweat, and extremely oily skin while keeping me Demi-matte all day. if my foundation wears away then so will the rest of my face products (blush, bronzer, etc)

Claire Renee Avatar

As with many comments here, foundation is #1 pet peeve. I am very pale but very yellow toned (weird hybrid of my Dad who was half Native Indian and my Mom who is palepalepale German descent) and I have been frustrated for the approximately 43 years I have worn makeup.

Generally the lightest shade in drugstore brands is super pink undertones assuming they even have one pale enough. I was so happy when Prescriptives came to Canada in the 1980’s! Now they are gone and I have found acceptable shades with Laura Mercier, MUFE, MAC but sometimes each one is just a bit off. Because once the color is acceptable there are a whole lot of other ways the foundation may not work for me. Shout out to L’Oreal for the huge range of shades in True Match. I can wear W1 or W2 but I am not crazy about the formula. My mom uses C1 for her pale pink face.

Can I also say that mascara is #2? I have long but super straight lashes and generally have to use water proof mascara to ensure I don’t lose the curl from my lash curler once I apply mascara. Still mourning Cover Girl Marathon Mascara. Have yet to find one that comes close.

Cheryl Avatar

So much hype about a product and how wonderful it is and so many amazing reviews on that product only to purchase and not like it at all. I cannot stand powder eyeshadows that have so much fallout and powder floating around or that empathize fine lines like UD eyeshadows. Eyeliners that claim to last but are terrible and last maybe an hour. A lipliner that says nude or natural and always is orange on me. Wasted a ton of money on those.

Bonnie Avatar

I have to be super critical of mascara, since it’s the thing I am most likely to be allergic to. Also how it looks, even if I’m not allergic. Mascara, base, and brow color are the three basics that are actually beauty products for me, as opposed to decorative enhancements. If the basics are wrong, the rest can’t look right.

These three items, for me, need to make me look like me, only better. All the color stuff is embellishment, and still important, but I want to look like I naturally have great skin, brows and lashes.

I am also critical of lip liner, because I will normally go without that unless I find one (Cargo Reverse Lipliner!) that makes me look better, but not too “done.”

Bonnie Avatar

After reading the other comments, I need to add eyeliner. I am so spoiled having discovered creamy gel liners. I like them to go on smoothly, no drag, no creeping into my eyes at the corners (like liquid does), and if they have a big selection of colors, I will buy them all. Once they set, about a minute, these liners don’t smudge.

Current faves: NYX, Maybelline, NYC (cheap and underrated), Urban Decay…but I’m not that faithful…I’ll try anyone who makes this type of product.

Jessica Avatar

Anything Limited Edition! I’m so tired of my LE collections not rising to the occasion. All my MAC LE powder products, for example, develop hard pan long before any I’ve noticed any issues with the permanent line items. Lately, I’ve noticed issues with Becca x JH limited edition powders being dryer and more difficult to apply when compared with permanent line Becca items.
Anyone else experience this?

RMW (Rose) Avatar

Hi Temptalia,
I agree with the foundations. I think that I got really lucky when it comes down to matching a foundation! I always stick with a foundation that is one shade lighter than your actual skin tone, and then using a darker shade of powder. This has really helped not only mebut, everyone that asks me about it. IMHO it’s easier this way, so you don’t have to put that much of a fret or worry about if it’s the right color undertone. When it comes to other people guessing your undertones, they have been way off & I started to get confused as well as upset! I’ve been there for so long, where “the professionals” can’t figure it out. If I do it My Way.. there’s NO guessing and NO mistakes! Perfect match. I really feel that they don’t know what they are doing half the time. It’s discouraging let’s face it. So I had to figure it out for myself and it works.
As far as anti-aging formulas, I have tried the high end all the way to the drugstore brand’s. I found out that through trial and error that the drugstore brand’s are 100% better than the hi-end. Revlon Age Defying Firming + Lifting Makeup Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 does what it claims and THAT is my HG. I personally don’t think the others work as well, or work at all! For regular foundation I also found out that Rimmel London Lasting Finish 25 Hour Foundation works best and it doesn’t cake or seem to find its way into any problem area’s of my face. Not under my eyes, laugh line’s, crows feet, it doesn’t melt or slide off your face & you really don’t need a powder to set it, maybe a touch up after 7 hours.
– As for primers, Maybelline New York Instant Age Rewind works best and also Benefit The Porefessional does what it says.
– As for eyeliners I know that Loreal Paris Lineur Intense stays in place and so does e.l.f. eyeliner pens also stay in place. I usually lightly powder coat and believe me when I say, it doesn’t budge! The rest of your face should be sprayed with a type of Makeup Mist & Set. I’m extremely fond of e.l.f. Makeup Mist & Set. It contains Aloe, Green Tea, Cucumber, & Vitamins A,C & E. Set it & forget it. During my long day, I will blot with a powder and then mist again. Believe me when I say it works! Even on eyeshadow. Just be careful that you don’t get it in your eyes. I hope this helps!! I know 15 years ago, this information would have saved me a lot of embarrassment, time and money! ?? Good luck and I hope that you find that these techniques work.

Mo Avatar

I’d say eyeshadows too Christine. Having dark skin makes it hard with eye products. Most of my palettes are the same because I need less shiny, chalky colors to work on my skin. Most end up looking ashy or pasty on me.

I’m also very critical about my lipstick. I cannot stand a horrible formula.

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