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Foundations - Merle Norman - Powder Base



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rated 4.1(31 reviews)

  • Average Rating: 4.1
  • 77% would buy again
  • Package Quality: 3.9
  • Price: $$$

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 8/13/2014 6:30:00 PM More reviews by MacPops

Age: 36-43 Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Not Sure Hair: Brown, Other, Other Eyes: Brown

I can't believe that I'm about to review this. I used to cuss this foundation. For reasons that won't be detailed here. However, I have been on the hunt for an HG foundation. Who would have thunk it!? As a previous reviewer mentioned, I tried Gerda Spillman before. It was an excellent foundation. However, it never seemed to provide the exact, adjustable coverage I need. I decided to give this a try because it is inexpensive and because no one has ever had more perfect skin than the stars in old movies, despite all the cigarettes they smoked. Their skin was perfect because of foundations like this one. It has literally been on the market that long. It was $16 at my local studio. I applied it over Tarte primer (the one that minimizes pores) using a foundation brush. I then used silica powder over it. My skin looks fabulous. I may try a Beauty Blender at some point as well. Didn't even bother with a concealer.

The colors are scary in the container. I'm an 01 in Guerlain Lingerie de Peau and I wear Porcelain in Merle Norman Powder Base. My skin is combo/dry lately. Oilier skin folks likely will not love it, but anyone can try a sample of any shade first. Glad I gave it a try. I look refreshed.

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 8/13/2014 2:47:00 PM More reviews by rav2b

Age: 56 & Over Skin: Combination, Medium, Neutral Hair: Other, Other, Other Eyes: Hazel

This stuff is just amazing! I've tried to make friends with it a few times over the years with varying results, but now I'm hooked. It may not keep me from checking out a new foundation every once in a while, but the hunts and any serious straying should be over!

Once upon a time, I tried a foundation from Gerda Spillmann. It was gorgeous, but did a number on my eyes. That was many years ago, but it's still my standard of comparison. And Powder Base comes pretty close, especially now that I've discovered a few tricks.

I apply it with a barely damp Beauty Blender, though if you don't mind cleaning brushes, it also looks lovely using the Urban Decay Optical Blurring Brush. It has enough coverage to work as a concealer, too. It can be used with or without powder. On my VERY combination skin I prefer it without. The biggest trick is to blot it after a few minutes. I just use folded toilet paper. What comes off on the paper is a little horrifying--oily tinted residue. But this blotting makes it look natural even in daylight (and the rear view mirror), and makes it last, with or without powder. My makeup goes on by 7:30am, and doesn't get taken off until sometime between 11 and midnight. And it' still there, even without powder, and the only touch up may be another tissue blot. Not only does it come off easily with the Clarisonic, it also rinses clean from the bristles.

Do not panic when you see the color in the pan. Mine looks so wrong--and nothing like the colors of others that work. But when I'm rested (I.e., when my skin is fairly smooth) I can actually have difficulty seeing where I've already applied it! When I'm finished, it may look a little bit greasy, but the blot takes care of that and makes it just about invisible. Somehow it still provides good coverage. Magic, I tell you. In a zillion shades and less than 20 bucks.

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rated 5 of 5 on 12/25/2013 4:32:00 PM More reviews by are51

Age: 56 & Over Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Blond, Other, Fine Eyes: Blue

Update (12/27/2013): I've been using this all week now, and I love it!!! After a short time, it melds into my skin, and it doesn't get greasy or oily. My usually oily nose stays shine-free. No skin irritation or issues. At the end of the day, most of the makeup is still there to remove. So happy I found this again!


I am one of those that used Powder Base in my early 20's. That was over 40 years ago.

I've been through every kind of foundation over the years. Liquid, cream, powder, stick, spray-on, you name it. I've tried long-wearing, and haven't found one yet that lives up to it's reputation. I always wind up with a grease-slick of a nose, no matter what. I've yet to find a foundation that I couldn't give up.

I came here to read some reviews after realizing Powder Base is still in existence, and became curious about trying it again.

I swear, as emollient as this foundation is in the pot, it amazes me!!! It blends in easily, and there's loads of color shades. It does not get over oily/greasy, it has a lasting finish, and it doesn't seem to settle into lines. I have to say I'm fascinated with this foundation, and think it's a find beyond belief! I'm sold on Powder Base, and plan on sticking with it. What's old is new, as they say, and I can see why this has stood the test of time.

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 5/12/2013 5:32:00 AM More reviews by MadisonBryan

Age: 19-24 Skin: Combination, Medium, Not Sure Hair: Brown, Other, Other Eyes: Blue

Finding this product was a huge score for me.

My good friend from college always had that beautiful, I-wish-I-looked-like-you skin. I used to eye her makeup bag when she would be getting ready with me to go out so I could see how she achieved the Dewey-but-not-greasy look. One day I finally just asked her and found out what it was. "Powder base?" I said. "You mean.. Old lady makeup?!" Apparently her mother and grandmother habe always used it and had beautiful skin. I had to have it. You can imagine my excitement when I picked up some powder base (ivory) and realized it was only $16.99. That is cheaper than any of their other foundations! i began to worry that it wouldnt work as well. My friend applies hers with a wet foundation brush, so I did the same. Sure enough, I was able to get that gorgeous Dewey skin.

The real plus with this stuff is that, even though it is a very moisturizing foundation, it does NOT break me out. And believe me, my sensitive skin will find any and every reason to break out. This stuff has actually helped my acne due to the zinc oxide in it!!! Total score. I will repurchase again and again. :)

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 3/16/2013 11:28:00 PM More reviews by blog_antagonist

Age: 36-43 Skin: Very Oily, Fair, Warm Hair: Red, Other, Other Eyes: Green

I found this review completely by accident. I don't remember how I stumbled upon it, but I was very intrigued.

I have very oily and acne prone skin, but now, in my forties, I am also dealing with the issues that come with aging skin; dryness, loss of luminosity, uneven tone and texture, fine lines...and unfortunately, foundations formulated for oily skin exacerbate all those issues. It's been a challenge finding something that meets the needs of both oily and aging skin.

So as I said, I stumbled upon this review and my interest was piqued. As it happens, there is a Merle Norman boutique very close to my workplace, so I stopped in to give it a looksee. The SA was helpful but not overbearing. She made several suggestions, but ultimately I did decide to try the powder base. I was a little skeptical as it seemed very emollient...verging on greasy. But because of the healing properties it purportedly has and the non chemical sun protection (I HATE foundations with chemical sunscreens) as well as the fact that they have a very liberal return policy, I decided to risk it.

As I was applying, my skepticism was unabated. It seemed very, very dewy and didn't seem to set. It looked shiny, even greasy. I was pretty sure that I had made a grave mistake. But as it sat on my skin, it just kind of...disappeared. It like...melted and became one with my skin. It was SO amazingly natural. Even the color, which I initally thought was too dark, was absolutely perfect. I did set with powder, which minimized the shininess, but still left a nice, natural luminosity.


As for how it stood up to my oily skin, amazingly, I did not have to powder for about 4 hours. And then, it really didn't get greasy and gross, just a little dewy. I blotted and was just fine. The product did not break own or become streaky or patchy. After 8 hours, I still looked fresh and natural. I was suitably impressed. I would have expected such an emollient product to leave me dripping with oil in an hour or two, but it didn't. That is HUGE.


Coverage is what I would consider medium, but it can easily be built up without cakiness. I have a few dark spots that it covered easily with just a few extra dabs with my sponge. The best part is that you can achieve wonderful results and good coverage with very little product.


The fragrance is a little strong, yes. But it's not altogether unpleasant. I've used foundations that had a very heavy chemical/paint smell, but that is not the case with this. If I had to describe it I would say it's more of a heavy floral smell. For the first hour it seemed very pronounced and then I didn't notice it any more. It's not a deal breaker for me.


I've only worn this for two days, so I can't comment on the healing properties but I am really, really impressed with the finish, the coverage, the natural appearance, and the lasting power. I think I'm sold.

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

rated 4 of 5 on 3/14/2013 3:03:00 PM More reviews by caymen

Age: 44-55 Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Brown

I have very sensitive skin and have a hard time finding foundations that do not cause reactions. I worked for Merle Norman as a teen and wore the powder base back in those days, even when my skin was quite oily. I eventually became a skin care professional and sold and used much more expensive products but when my skin is giving me problems I often return to Merle Norman. Years ago their oil free moisturizing lotion was one of the few that was approved by my dermatologist and yet felt like it did something, I always keep it on hand. When my skin is reactive I get out my powder base, the zinc oxide in it calms it down well and if I wet my fingers and face slightly I can can a nice smooth finish. Not too heavy if you take your time, but if you want a very heavy coverage you can achieve it. This makeup has a great physical sunscreen in it, which is fantastic for those of us who are allergic to chemical sunscreens. The smell is a bit old fashioned and no one will be impressed by the label but it works well. Merle Norman also consistently matches my skin and that is not always possible in other lines.

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rated 5 of 5 on 3/11/2013 4:04:00 PM More reviews by MissyCoco

Age: 36-43 Skin: Very Dry, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Blond, Other, Other Eyes: Green

I own three Merle foundations and like them all. I have Aquabalance, Lasting and Powderbase. All my Merle SA's kept pushing the other foundations on me but I finally tried this and love it. I paid $16.99 for this and it is worth the money. I have pale, dry skin and this does everything I want. I particularly like that it is moisturizing but stays all day. It isn't marketed for long-wear but I can see it washing off when I cleanse at night. Also, I use retin-a twice a week and this limits the peeling associated with that. This may be old school but it is worth a try. I love that it is so cheap but looks wonderful on. It holds it own against the other two foundations I use. I will say that I have yet to try a bad Merle foundation. The only drawback it that my color, ivory, is a tad dark. I use L10 in Aquabalance and Cream in Lasting. Both of the other colors are a perfect match.

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rated 3 of 5 top reviewer on 3/6/2012 12:30:00 PM More reviews by freyasfeathers

Age: 44-55 Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Neutral Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Green

I have a love/hate relationship with this powder base.
LOVE:
*The scent-and I dont know why.Its a sweet medicinal smell that's vintage like. Not floral at all...maybe cause its different. It doesn't last
*The zinc oxide is a great UVA blocker since I cant use chemical sunscreens, this is an added benefit.
*If I start to see a pimple come up, I wear this and by the next day its gone. Works better than acne medicine for me.
*The jar-simple black and white and retro looking. No printed lettering
looks great on the vanity.
HATE:
*I have winter dry skin right now, so I thought with the mineral oil this has in it, it would be emollient. It goes on that way but 3 hours later I have dry patches on my cheeks/chin/mouth. I've come to the conclusion that its the high amount of zinc. Did some research and sure enough zinc has absorbing properties-which explains why it does so well with occasional breakouts.
*The Alabaster beige I was matched with does not quite match my NC25. Its the right color just the wrong tone, but I can offset with powder/blush, except it makes me even more dry.
*Settles into my pores, so not liking the overall finish, but that could be because it makes me so parched.

This jar will last forever I'm sure, since I'm really only using once in awhile when I see a flare up. I will revisit in the warmer months and see if it makes me too dry then...I have a feeling it'll do great when I get oily in the summer. Zinc is a remarkable mineral!

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rated 5 of 5 on 4/6/2011 10:36:00 AM More reviews by wilbur0714

Age: 44-55 Skin: Normal, Other, Not Sure Hair: Brown, Other, Other Eyes: Other

I am 55 years old and been wearing powder base since I was 15 years old. Only thing available in my small rural town. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. My Mother who is 76 has used it all her adult life and her skin is like a babies. It's because of this simple formula with zinc oxide, no other explanation for it. Oh yes I strayed over the years and tried different "new" products but not for long I always come back to this. I use a sponge wedge (MN brand) and blend a thin layer then finish off with the sheer face powder (big pearl container gold lid) and it lasts until I take it off. Summer months I finish it off with Luxiva Powder Foundation. It's ironclad! Morbid I know but I have told the local undertaker it better be on my face when I am laid to rest!

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rated 5 of 5 on 3/30/2011 9:52:00 PM More reviews by oldfield86

Age: 25-29 Skin: Very Dry, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Other, Other, Other Eyes: Brown

This product covers everything, uneven skin tones really good. I have really dry, fair skin and it works really well for me. I have used this product for about 4 years now and I love it. Its really creamy and goes in well, just takes a few minutes to work it in well.

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