Stay Matte Oil-Free Liquid Foundation is easy to apply, sets quickly to a matte finish, and is comfortable to wear throughout the day. Clinique claims that this foundation was tested in 88°F/80% humidity conditions and while the weather conditions where I live exceed that (95°F–105°F in the summer), this foundation—without a matte setting powder—fares better than other foundations and BB creams by the end of the day. The coverage is medium but because this has a matte finish and dries quickly, it's easily buildable to full coverage, which is great because I don't have to reach for a separate concealer to cover things like dark under-eye circles, acne scars, and other dark spots. In my current residency's slightly hotter climates, however, this foundation could not control shine all day on its own as I had hoped. By itself, it controlled shine for about 5–6 hours before I had to blot. With a matte setting powder over it, I had a more significantly impressive shine control time at around 8–10 hours. Those in cooler climates are likely to have longer shine control time. Despite varying lengths of shine control wear time, the staying power of this foundation's pigment is true to its all-day claim. I have not noticed oxidation or fading by the end of the day. While I tested this foundation in climates hotter than Clinique had tested, this foundation is probably an excellent choice for those in the tested 88°F-climate range or cooler, with combo-oily or oily skin. I also recommend that it be set with a matte powder for extra insurance especially in humid weather.
BB Cream -BRTC - Jasmine Water BB Cream SPF 30 PA++
PiMehMeh 9/30/2012 10:41:00 PM
I obtained several sample packets of this BB cream via eBay intending to purchase the full size if these sample packets worked out for me. I love that this BB cream is comfortably moisturizing when applied. It also has good broad-spectrum sun protection so I can skip on the extra step of applying a separate sun block. The staying power of this BB cream is also impressive; without powder, this will stick for 6 hours, and with powder this will last me 8–9 hours, a blot or two in between on both occasions. While the staying power, SPF, and moisturizing factors are note-worthy of this BB cream, for me personally it did not work out for two reasons. This BB cream unfortunately only comes in one shade intended for fair skin tones with pink/cool to neutral undertones. If you have tried Missha's M Perfect Cover BB Cream, this is probably similar to shade No.21. I have light-medium skin in the neutral/yellow undertone, so the BRTC BB made me look sick and ghostly if I wore it by itself without blush or bronzer. Additionally, the finish is rather on the dewy side, which I could tone down easily with a matte powder but ideally I would like to minimize my makeup routine. The dewy finish on my already combo-oily skin was not needed. I really wanted to love this BB cream but the single shade and dewy finish made me look sick and a little sweaty, so I will not be purchasing the full product anymore. However, I do recommend this for those who have fair, cool-undertone, and dry skin who could use a healthy, dewy glow. This BB comes in a 35g tube for roughly US$20, and a 60g tube for roughly US$30 so it's a little steep for a BB cream but the skin care benefits are good as far as I'm concerned; I just wish that the skin tone and types could have been broader.
BB Cream -L'Oreal - Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream
PiMehMeh 9/30/2012 10:22:00 PM
Unlike any other BB cream I've tried (and I've tried many from Korea, Japan, and the USA), this one dispenses watery and milky white, with tiny visible gold beads (gentle, grainy texture when rubbed in) in it that apparently pop and change the color of the fluid when rubbed into the skin, so this already begins to oxidize within about 5 seconds rubbing into the skin. This may be a concern for color matching because it doesn't quite "adjust to your skin tone"—more like sets to a significant shade darker than what you'd probably expect. Light missed my light-medium skin tone by going one slight shade darker. It looks more like medium, so these shades may run darker over all and I suggest going one shade up from what you would normally use, unless you're going for the bronzed look. Light also leans warm, so while light has worked for me on the light/warm spectrum, Light may not match to those with cool undertones. The coverage is most definitely sheer and incredibly lightweight, but of every American drugstore BB I have tried so far, this somehow did the best job at evening skin tone and minimizing the look of pores! It is also buildable after it has finished oxidizing, so I dab just a tiny bit more on problem areas. A little bit of this product goes a long way, so I apply with my fingers and just dot it around the face before blending it. I dusted a yellow-based setting powder over it to lighten the color to my own, and it was perfect. However, this BB, unlike dewy-finish Maybelline Dream Fresh BB, happens to set to a natural matte finish (not dull, dry matte; it looks clean and fresh), so the setting powder actually isn't necessary unless perhaps you have oily skin or just want extra insurance setting your base makeup. Without powder, this has given me coverage of around 11 hours throughout which I have lightly blotted 4 times, so roughly every 3 hours. This BB lives up to its claims to perfect, correct, and prime so far, but it also has minimal hydration benefits that someone such as myself with combo-oily skin can appreciate, against Garnier's super-slick Skin Renewal BB Cream. However, because the L'oreal formula is more watery in consistency, not even a cream, the hydrating effects may not be enough for those with drier skin so a separate moisturizer might be needed (or just try Garnier's BB, which dry skin types will love). Lastly, unlike the typical Asian BB cream, L'oreal's BB does not tout any sun protection, but as far as their claims go, they didn't over-promise. Just wear a separate sunscreen underneath. The L'oreal Magic BB comes in a 1oz (30ml) tube for $8 at Walmart to $11 at Ulta. It seems small and expensive, but Skinfood's cheapest BB creams are around $7 for 30ml for sheer, nearly invisible coverage, and 20ml Missha BB creams in generally gray tones with whitening properties retail for $9–17. I can't say yet that L'oreal's Magic BB will provide long-term skin care benefits, but if you're looking for the 4 immediate ones—prime, perfect, correct, and hydrate—have relatively normal/combo skin, and can find a good color match, this is actually a pretty good buy.
Moisturizers -Neutrogena - Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing NIght Cream
PiMehMeh 9/30/2012 2:45:00 AM
I've never needed night creams until I started wearing makeup and washing/rinsing my face every night, during which sometimes my skin's oils may have been stripped and it feels a tiny bit more taut, so I settled with this Neutrogena Naturals night cream since I loved their Purifying Pore Scrub. This night cream comes in a 1.7oz (50ml) glass jar with a plastic screw cap, and the first thing I noticed upon opening is that the cream has a faint fragrance. Probably not a product of choice for those with sensitive or acneic skin. I occasionally break out in acne as well but it's never product-related; in fact, this has helped make my breakouts less frequent since remoisturizing right after cleansing seems to have helped regulate oil production. I apply this with my fingers though some may opt for small spatulas for hygienic reasons. A small pea-sized amount of this dabbed in five dots around my face, patted on, and then rubbed in is sufficient moisture for my already combo-oily skin. I bought my jar in July so at the time of writing this I have been using that same jar for more than 2 months, and it's still about 70–80% full. A little goes a long way with this product, at least for the summer when I don't need it as much. During the winter, I may be using this much more since my skin is inevitably drier. That said, I project that this jar will last me about 7–8 months of use total; I don't understand how others are going through it in 2 weeks though! The cream has a thin, emollient, lotion-like consistency that's easy to spread yet feels very rich. Although I have combo-oily skin, this doesn't feel greasy on or after application. When I wake up the next morning, my skin feels soft, supple, and refreshed, and my dark circles around my eyes seem to be less apparent as well. While this hasn't done anything to lighten my acne scars, it's gentle and doesn't irritate my skin or aggravate existing blemishes. This is the third moisturizer product I have used for overnight, the first two being from Clinique—Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion and Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief. While Clinique's products are fragrance-free (and can be used any time of day really), Moisture Surge is relatively expensive at $37/1.5oz. Dramatically Different is priced at $14/1.7oz, making it only $1 more than Neutrogena's $13 night cream (which by the way, can be brought down to $8 at Ulta with Ulta coupons and vendor coupons). However, Neutrogena Naturals night cream is thicker in consistency and feels much richer, which I imagine is a treat for those with dry to normal skin or for those who experience dryness due to colder climates like I do. I may be trying different night creams once I finish this jar, but I can definitely say this was a good one even for those with slightly oily skin, and the price is fair for how long this product will last. I recommend this being applied right after cleansing the face in the evening to restore moisture immediately, using a minimal amount appropriate for your skin type (liberal application for dry skin, conservative application for oilier skin).
I have owned several of these lipsticks for their affordability, rich, classic range of colors and emollient, creamy textures. These glide onto the lips and are excellently pigmented that I don't have to apply a second coat except for assurance. I have dry lips, so these are a treat because they are creamy and moisturizing, no tugging with application. One problem I have with them is that they slide around on the lips easily (not so much with a lip liner) and they come off right away. Nice for when you need to remove them, but otherwise the staying power isn't there. The packaging for every shade of this lipstick that I've had is also very cheap and flimsy. When I shake the packaging just a bit, I can hear the bullet on the inside shaking against the outer case. As much as I love the look and feel of these lipsticks, I need the staying power and I need the packaging stability since I have a tendency to take these on the go; they must endure a little abuse, and these won't. I really like WnW's Wild Shine Lip Lacquer more; the pigmentation is slightly sheerer as they're glossy lipsticks, but they last longer and the packaging is much sturdier. They're equally very affordable as well.
This claims to give a matte finish to nail polish but when I painted this over a metallic base color and a solid/cream cracked polish, the results were actually more semi-glossy than matte, as if the first two colors had freshly dried and did not have a top coat over them yet. This certainly is a top coat if you don't want a high-shine gloss over your nail design, because it will preserve your nail polish longer than without any top coat, but it's not truly matte in finish. I wanted to like it, since it's very inexpensive, but it's not quite what I was looking for.
Tinted Moisturizer -Physicians Formula - Mineral Wear Tinted Moisturizer
PiMehMeh 9/7/2012 7:16:00 PM
With my combo-oily skin I never seem to have all that much luck with tinted moisturizers except for Josie Maran Argan Tinted Moisturizer, but for a drugstore tinted moisturizer, Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Tinted Moisturizer wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The packaging is anything but glamorous but its pump dispenser makes application sanitary and minimal; it dispenses just enough to cover the face in one application, which is a first since most squeeze pumps I've used dispense about 2-3x the amount needed to cover the face. As for the product itself, I actually enjoyed the coverage of this TM; while it's still sheer in coverage, it does a great job hiding redness and blemishes almost like natural medium coverage. The texture is a tad bit thick but still fluid enough to make spreading very easy, an it doesn't feel heavy on the skin once blended. The color, unusually, runs a little into the gray/neutral spectrum on application, but since it's sheer it's not noticeable once blended. I had Natural to Tan, which is great for fair-medium to medium skin tones. As expected, this product is moisturizing and great for dry to normal skin, but I would caution those with oily skin as this may otherwise feel greasy or heavy on oily skin. Since I have combo-oily skin type, this does look too greasy/dewy when worn alone, but it can easily be used as an SPF primer for matte powder foundations or finishing powders, which not only sets and mattes the look, but also boosts the staying powder of the TM and the coverage from sheer to medium. Something to be wary about this product is the strong fragrance; some say it smells like chemicals. I personally think it smells like herbs, so it doesn't bother me too much and it disappears quickly. But I would caution those with sensitive skin to check the ingredients for this before purchasing. Also, this only boasts a measly sun protection rating of SPF15, so I don't think it's sufficient enough to consider it a formidable sunscreen for the face. I recommend a separate sunscreen underneath. For about $12 for 1oz of product this is a little pricey compared to higher-coverage drugstore foundations, so I personally would not purchase this again. But for those with dry skin whose tone tends to run medium and are looking for natural coverage, I think this is worth a go.
I adore NYX's Powder Blushes and Mosaic Blushes, and thought I'd give their Rouge Cream Blushes a whirl. I swapped for one in Boho Chic, which I had hoped was a dusty rose shade as represented in swatches on the NYX web site, but it was in fact a soft, rosey pink shade instead. NYX is terrible at properly representing accurate color swatches for their products! Color mispresentation aside, the formula and pigmentation was a bit disappointing. I was comparing this to Topshop's Blush at the same time. The Topshop blush is a cream-to-powder formula, which I enjoyed because of my combo-oily skin; the cream-to-powder formula felt clean and weightless once set. NYX's Rouge Cream Blush, on the other hand was a cream blush that stayed creamy. It melted in the pan if stored in even slightly hotter than room temperature, and was a sticky mess both in the compact and once applied on the face. I always had to set this blush with powder after applying, because it stayed tacky for a while. The pigmentation was also lacking, and was difficult to build up the intensity of it since it seemed to stay a little wet after applying. If you do feel compelled to try this blush out, there is one thing I could recommend it for and that is as a base for powder blushes. Because it's so tacky, I have used this cream blush as a base underneath Maybelline's Mineral Power Powder Blush. It helps set the cream blush, giving the stickiness of the cream blush something to hold onto, while intensifying the pigmentation and staying power of the powder blush.
Lipstick -E.L.F. - Barely Brown - Mineral Lipstick
PiMehMeh 9/5/2012 6:36:00 AM
Probably one of e.l.f's more impressive products, their Mineral Lipsticks are surprisingly creamy and glide on application especially compared to their Essentials Lipsticks, which are dry and drag over the lips. The pigmentation appears standard for a drugstore lipstick, maybe two coats will bring out its true color. The packaging is elegantly minimalist for a drugstore lipstick as well. Though it looks great, the quality of their lipstick packaging seems to vary, as I have another one of these lipsticks in Cool Coral that has a sturdier lipstick case than my Bare Brown lipstick, of which the bullet casing is audibly loose if shaken. The closing mechanism also feels too loose. I worry about taking the Bare Brown lipstick with me as I am afraid of the packaging will fall apart in my bag. As for the color Bare Brown, I enjoy that it is a neutral everyday shade that works out great for medium skin tones. For those who have hyper-pigmented lips, Bare Brown can neutralize the pigmentation and soften the look of your lips. However, for those whose lips don't have much pigmentation to begin with, Bare Brown may be so neutral brown that it makes your lips look lifeless. I compared it to Maybelline's Color Sensational Lipstick in Totally Toffee, which is a slightly drier, less creamier formula than e.l.f.'s Mineral Lipsticks. The two colors are very similar, except that I find that I like Maybelline's Totally Toffee over e.l.f's Bare Brown due to the Totally Toffee having a hint of warmth in it; it appears much more natural and less made-up. But to reiterate, I do recommend this shade of e.l.f.'s Mineral Lipsticks for lips that are highly pigmented and need to be more neutralized. Because the formula is also creamy and long-wearing, I also highly recommend this lipstick for those with dry lips such as myself.
Really wanted to love this product but first off, Istanbul, which is a mauve-rose color, turned out to be too pink for my gold/neutral undertones and washed the rest of my face out. Second, while the opaque formula applies like a dream and feels creamy upon initial application, after only a short amount of time I found my lips to be even drier than they naturally already are. I should have known, since matte products would dry out the skin they sit on. Great for my oily facial skin, not so great for my dry lips. Lastly, the formula smells strongly of cake and sugar with just a hint of chemicals, which smells nice if you're getting a quick whiff of it. But I personally am not fond of sugary sweets so the smell was sickening, moreso on my lips and so close to my nose throughout wear. Ultimately, as amazing as the pigmentation is for a liquid lipstick, matte formulas just aren't a match for my dry lips and as such I would not recommend this for those who have dry, chapped lips. Definitely not something to wear on a windy day either! I recommend opting for a moisturizing shine formula instead.
This is one of South Korea-based Skinfood's best-selling products both in Asia and at its USA retailers, and for good reason. This is my favorite wash-off mask, which doubles as a rinsing exfoliator with ground rice that refines my skin without drying or irritating it. I have combo-oily skin that dries during the winter and gets very oily during the summer, but regardless of the dry or moist seasons, my skin feels refreshed, balanced, soft, smooth, and radiant after use. Some of the other exfoliators I have used are Clean & Clear Deep Action Exfoliating Scrub, Clean & Clear Blackhead Eraser Cleansing Mask, Neutrogena Purifying Pore Scrub, and Skinfood Wash-Off Mask in Papaya Yogurt. I detest the Clean & Clear exfoliator because its exfoliating agent is relatively large and irritating, and Skinfood's Papaya mask, while very moisturizing and great for dry skin, may have exfoliating beads large enough to cause irritation to sensitive skin. The Rice mask likens to that of the Neutrogena Purifying Pore Scrub in the size of the exfoliating agent; both are very gentle on the skin, but Neutrogena's is primarily a scrub whereas Skinfood's is a mask intended to be rinsed off after 10 minutes left on. Between the two, I recommend the Rice mask more for drier skin because it is creamier, and the Purifying Pore Scrub for oilier skin since it is a more watery formula. But both will work just fine for normal or combination skin. The Rice mask jar contains 100ml of product which—given that you use about half a tea-spoon—will last between 4 to 6 months of regular use if used every other day to every week. In the US I believe this retails for $17, but it can be obtained for $10–$12 on eBay directly from South Korea. For up to half a year of use and quality, it is worth the investment.
I had this eyeliner in 01 Midnight in Paris, which is a glossy, highly opaque black color. The product is packaged in a standard, no-fuss glass jar without a brush and is priced at US$4, the second cheapest gel liner I've seen thus far (beaten by e.l.f. Cream Eyeliner at $3 which does include a brush). However, e.l.f.'s is water-resistant whereas essence's is truly waterproof. The formula in the jar is soft and easy to dip a brush in and apply, and just a little goes a very long way so this is best to apply conservatively. Brush it around on the hand quickly to warm it up and soften it even more, and it will glide over the lids. Once it sets, it will not budge when immersed in any degree of water alone. Even sweat and oily lids didn't break it down on me! It's so stubborn, in fact, that it can be difficult to remove even with an oil-based makeup remover. So while it applies excellently and looks great when worn, it is a little fussy to clean up later. I would save this for long days or nights or occasions where waterproofing may be needed because this really sticks, but I would not use this as an everyday eyeliner simply because it will be hard on your lids to clean it up, and you really don't want to be pulling, tugging, or putting too much pressure on your eyes every single night.
Mascara -Maybelline - Volum' Express The Mega Plush Waterproof
PiMehMeh 9/1/2012 10:21:00 PM
I'm not a mascara junkie so I don't really know what to compare this mascara with. The claims for soft, voluminous lashes sounds similar to that of Maybelline's Full 'N Soft Washable Mascara, which is my current go-to mascara for everyday, so washable/waterproof differences aside, I will compare the two. Both mascaras are true to their claim that they leave the lashes feeling soft and flexible and not brittle. I have never experienced flaking with either mascara as well. The degree of softness varies with the number of coats of Full 'N Soft, as with three coats of each of the two mascaras, the lashes with Full 'N Soft started to feel a little stiffer, whereas the lashes with Mega Plush remained soft even after the third coat. However, the two mascaras' ability to build volume are especially different. While they both enhance the natural volume of lashes without being dramatically voluminous, Full 'N Soft does so effortlessly in a single coat where as Mega Plush took a little bit more work, probably due to the Flexor applicator of the latter. The Flexor applicator literally brushes on a light coat of mascara as it reaches for the shorter/harder-to-coat lashes, whereas the Full 'N Soft's applicator is stiff and gives you the most control over the volume. Both mascara wands separate the lashes nicely and neatly. But when I applied three coats of each of the two mascaras, Full 'N Soft built significantly more volume, albeit with the dreaded spider lashes that needed an eyelash comb to clean up. It also starts to weigh down the lashes a little, so the curl gets lost faster. On the other hand, the Mega Plush maintained lash separation at all times, but the second coat barely looked thicker than the first, and the third coat looked nonexistent. I presume this is due to the Mega Plush's gel formula; in the past, I found that gel-based formulas can't really build on itself, so this may be the problem with building volume with Mega Plush. If you prefer the natural look with some enhancement and want a mascara that doesn't make your lashes feel brittle, Mega Plush is a good mascara. If you want more buildable volume without the brittle feel, Full 'N Soft is another option as well. I really like both of them since I prefer subtle, natural lashes, and am keeping them since one is washable and the other is waterproof. But if you want dramatic, long, and voluminous lashes, neither of these mascaras will satisfy you.
This BB seems to only be obtainable from DAISO Japan stores, with MSRP 315 yen (about US$4) for 35g of product. It is the cheapest BB I have come across. It's offered in three yellow-toned shades. I can't remember the name of the lightest one, but the other two are Light and Ochre, the latter best described as being a light-medium shade. The texture of this BB is very runny and pretty sheer once it's blended onto the skin. It's also very moisturizing; it kind of reminds me of a tinted moisturizer, with its light coverage. Unlike most other BB creams, Daiso's BB doesn't flaunt an SPF rating anywhere on its packaging, but its second ingredient is titanium dioxide, which is a sunscreen ingredient. So I'm not sure that this has sun protection; to be safe, I would layer a sunscreen product on before applying this BB. Once applied, this BB has a dewy finish that will probably add freshness and radiance to dry skin, but will be an added slickness for oilier skin types such as mine. Oily skin types might appreciate a matte powder foundation or setting powder dusted over this BB to help control the moisture that might otherwise come through in less than 3 hours. I have had to blot around 3 times in a single day while wearing this BB; in addition to being the cheapest BB I've seen on the market, it is also the oiliest I have used, which attributes to its texture being similar to a tinted moisturizer. For 35g of product for $4, this is not a bad deal at all especially if you have fair to medium, dry skin. This might be a treat for you. For those with oilier skin, this may not be for you unless you don't mind layering a few matte products over to control the level of dew that may show up later on in the day. As for myself, as much as I can appreciate the low price point, I have used better BBs for a few bucks more, so I will not be repurchasing this BB.
BB Cream -Skinfood - Good Afternoon Peach Green Tea BB Cream
PiMehMeh 9/1/2012 6:14:00 PM
I had this BB in my possession at same time that I had obtained the Skin79 Super+ Triple Functions BB Vital. Both claim to have matte finishes with oil-controlling properties, so I pitted the two BBs against each other to see which was true to its claim. Asian BBs have a tendency to be gray- or yellow-toned (the latter is the case for Japanese BBs as well as Skin79's Super+ BB Vital), so it was a surprise that this Skinfood BB (in No.2 Natural Beige) actually has a cool, pink undertone! I have yellow undertones so typically cool-toned bases don't match me, but the coverage of this BB is sheer and buildable to a medium, so if anything it simply neutralizes my yellow-tones. The texture is thick but is still moisturizing and easy to spread, so I apply it sparingly. The result is still natural and fresh-faced, and not a mask. The only skin tone I would not recommend this for is warm, orange undertones. No.2, their deeper shade of their two options, may also be too light for those with medium skintones. Unlike some of the other major BBs, this line of Skinfood BBs does not tout a very high UVA/UVB protection rating; just a standard SPF20 against UVB, and a low PA+ rating against UVA rays. As such, a broad-spectrum sunscreen or moisturizer is still recommended to be worn underneath. Most importantly, this BB touts matte and oil-control benefits. Compared to Skin79's BB Vital, I believe that Skinfood is truer to its claims. While this BB does not have the staying power of Skin79's, it manages to keep my face matte for a lot longer. Skin79's BB Vital goes oily after 2 hours of wear in sweltering 100°F+ summer weather, whereas Skinfood's Good Afternoon BB has managed to control it for about 3–4 hours before I've had to blot. While neither BBs have particularly impressive oil-control as far as wear time, and Skinfood's pigment staying power is not as impressive as Skin79's (the former has maxed at 5–6 hours of wear for me, compared to 7 hours), it feels more lightweight, breathable, and comfortable on the skin. It is also far more affordable, at around $6–8 for a 35g tube compared to Skin79's $31 for a 40g can. As such, I find that Skinfood's Good Afternoon BB line is a great option for those who like a natural look and are foraying into BB creams for the first time, but are not so sure about committing to the cost of higher-priced BBs. The Good Afternoon BB line has 5 different formulations depending on the type of skin you have, so if Peach Green Tea (oil control, matte finish) isn't your cup of tea, you have four other options that my work better for your skin type. Skinfood does have another oil-control BB in their lineup called Peach Sake Pore BB Cream, which is yellow-toned and has slightly better sun protection, but I have yet to try this one.