If you're a pale girl(/guy), you're no doubt familiar with this existential dilemma: pale skin looks delicate and angelic, but tanned skin looks sexy, healthy, and confident. So, which way to go? Or, even better, how to get the best of both worlds? I think Origins Vitazing comes very close to answering this question. It gives you all the perks of the tanned look without actually darkening your skin that much. The color is just enough to make you look a little, well, better. I say that as someone who does *not* enjoy self-tanner or orange-colored makeup, who thinks all BB creams are too dark, and whose greatest fear is the SA who chooses a yellow-based foundation to "warm you up a bit." The advantage of this product is that it doesn't contain much in the way of physical SPF or coverage, so it looks a lot lighter and more translucent than many BB creams, makeups, and TMs. It is not mask-like at all, and it is not dark, or opaque, or chalky, or gray, or orange. It is really more of a moisturizer than anything resembling makeup, as suggested by the fact that it comes out of the tube totally white, with the light texture of your average moisturizing lotion. This does not offer "coverage" in the traditional sense, yet I am able to use *much* less concealer when wearing this. Somehow, it evens everything out and improves color in such a way that imperfections become not invisible, but moot, in the same way that imperfections on a 12-year-old's face are moot. The SPF is photostable and broad-spectrum, but unfortunately it's a little on the low side in terms of overall protection, especially since you use so little of the product. Therefore, I always layer this over another SPF unless I am literally staying inside all day. That's the only downside, IMO. I have tried a lot of products in the quasi-tinted-moisturizer category, and most of them are a fail for me, including: Perricone's No Foundation Foundation, Becca's Luminous Skin Colour, Philosophy's Supernatural Poreless Flawless SPF, Stila's tinted moisturizer, Skinceuticals' Physical Fusion, Dior's BB Cream, Clinique's BB Cream, Dr. Jart's BB Creams, Jouer's Luminizing Moisture Tint, and others. This is different. It's truly a different type of product, with different results. Look at the Before and Afters on Google Images and see if you don't think the girls in the Afters are actually prettier.
Bath Treatments -LUSH - Ro's Argan Body Conditioner
SophieH 2/4/2013 1:19:00 AM
This is an expensive product (~$30 for an 8-ounce jar) but worth it. You can use it in the way they recommend--applying it to your whole body while in the shower, then rinsing off--but you'll go through it really quickly that way. I've done it once or twice and have been happy with the results (moisturized, silky skin for a good 2-3 days after showering, with no need to reapply), but, honestly, that method is a pretty expensive replacement for regular body lotion. However, if you like your showers, and would rather do everything in the shower rather than afterwards, this will truly enable you to skip lotion after. The way I use it is as a spot treatment for areas of my body that need extra TLC. I tend to get localized itchiness because I use a medication patch, and I have had lots of luck rubbing a bit of this into the spot where the patch has been. (I use it on dry skin.) It gets rid of the irritation and itchiness, and quickly cleared up some bruising and stretch-mark-type things that I got from repeatedly wearing and tearing off the patch in the same spot. It's also been great in areas that get itchy from hair removal and/or ingrowns, like the bikini line. I was surprised to find that it really cleared up those situations with daily use (again, just a little on dry skin). I also use this every night on my hands before bed, and it has kept them soft and silky around the clock. I tend to have huge hand problems in the winter, between the weather and washing my hands all the time, but I don't like to reapply hand cream throughout the day. Most winters, my hands become disgustingly dry and scaly and frankly dandruff-y, even if I use a hand cream. It's hard to find something I can apply just once every 24 hours and still have totally beautiful hands all the time. Plus, I can tell you that this works even better than Dior Abricot Creme for Nails to keep cuticles tidy. Since I've been using this on my hands, I have not needed to trim or even push back my cuticles. They have stayed gorgeous. As for the product itself, it takes a bit of time to sink in, and I am always worried about touching my hair and skin before it has done so...it's an intensely rich product and I'm sure it could cause greasiness to the hair and breakouts to the face if it got there. It comes in a typical Lush jar/pot thing that is sturdy and screws tightly closed, good for travel. The product I got is two different colors--pale pink at the edges of the pot and closer to white in the middle--but the part I use doesn't seem to make a difference. Oh, and the smell. Rich, dark, sweet, juicy, edible, luscious. It smells deeply, darkly of roses, but is both sweeter and much less literal than one would expect, so try it even if you don't like rose scents. The scent is amazing in an over-the-top way that makes you think you must be leading some kind of charmed life or are actually royalty. I guess this kind of thing is true of Lush products in general, but I don't use them a lot, so this insane level of decadence came as a bit of a surprise to me. However, unlike many products with extraordinary sensory properties, this one happens to be truly useful. It is a multitasking work-horse that is brilliantly solving a lot of skin problems for me in a way that nothing else has. With the way I use it, it will last awhile, and is therefore a pretty good value. All in all, I love. UPDATE: Bought my second tub and have found another use for it. Slather on feet, put on socks, go to bed. *Really* softens soles, callouses, etc. I started doing it every night and have been able to go much longer between pedis.
This foundation is absolutely magical. I am pretty sure I have never seen a foundation finish both this beautiful and this natural. It looks like supple, dewy, glowing, moisturized *skin* rather than anything remotely resembling "makeup." If you look at this product very closely, the pigments are so micro-tiny and reflect enough light that they are very close to literally invisible. You can look at this on the face from one inch away and I swear you will not see any sign of foundation whatsoever. When I first saw an HD close-up photo of someone wearing this on a blog, I was absolutely stunned by how you could see her pores more than you could see her foundation (and it wasn't because the foundation was making her pores worse!) This has a strong scent which I really love...it's luxurious in a very old-school and feminine way. The product applies beautifully with fingers. It wears flawlessly for hours and hours and absolutely does not emphasize or "settle in" to lines or pores in any way. Basically, it wears just like a lovely moisturizer. It is also very hydrating and I'd say a bit on the oily side, though not heavy. Worn over a rich moisturizer, it was way too luminous for me. I'm not sure how appropriate this would be for someone with oily skin; it would certainly need primer and/or powder with it, I think. On my skin, which is normal to dry, I find it is best worn over a very light moisturizer or sunscreen and not much else. However, I'm sure it would be fine over thicker lotions as long as one powdered it. (Even over the thick lotions and without powder, it doesn't slip off.) #2 is a beautiful match for my skin which is quite fair and pinky/cool. I would say #2 is a true neutral. I can also wear #3, which is similar but distinctly more warm/yellow. Unlike most yellow-based colors, however, it looks good on my skin and adds warmth in all the right ways. From what I have seen of the colors, they are really excellent, at least in the light/fair range which is what I've tried. None of the colors oxidize or get darker/orangey with wear; they stay very true and beautiful, and simply blend even *more* flawlessly with your skin over time. Other foundations that I love are Nars Sheer Glow, Urban Decay Naked Skin, Ellis Faas Skin Veil, and Bourjois 10 Hour Sleep Effect...however, I'm going to go ahead and say that this is the best I've ever tried, and definitely the best in the dewy-finish category. (UD Naked Skin is very close to as good, but in the demi-matte category, and a lot cheaper, so get that if you want those things.) This is wildly expensive for a very small amount, but you really get what you pay for. If you're looking for a foundation that is imperceptible--and yet really makes flawed skin look utterly lovely, young, and perfected--you couldn't do better.
Treatments -StriVectin - Strivectin-SD for Sensitive Skin
SophieH 1/19/2013 3:27:00 PM
In 2010, Strivectin went from being one of the most overhyped, underperforming product lines on the market to being one of the best. They *completely* reformulated their products--as in, started again from square one--with new (excellent) actives borrowed from the brand NIA-24 instead of the old snake-oil actives. There is a *huge* difference between the old and the new Strivectin products, and it's a shame that people might judge the new ones based on the lackluster reviews of the old. Basically, if your bottle says "5% Striadil" on it, you're dealing with the old stuff. If it says something about NIA-114, you have the new stuff. Pro-NIA, the molecule found in both NIA-24 and StriVectin products, is basically a niacinamide-type molecule with a lipophilic tail so it can penetrate the skin better. In theory, it should have the same type of results as regular niacinamide but with more potency and higher efficacy. These results are evening of skin tone, improvement of ceramide production, and decrease of oil overproduction. In addition, the studies on Strivectin's website suggest that the combination of Pro-NIA with peptides as found in the products improve skin barrier thickness and plump out the collagen layer (see pictures here: http://www.strivectin.com/science/how-it-works.html). When I discovered that niacinamide was my (combination, dryish, hormonal acne-prone, blotchy) skin's best friend, I started comparing the niacinamide products on the market, and determined that Strivectin was the best. Nia-24's Skin Strengthening Complex ran a close second, but the value of the Nia-24 products is slightly less for the amount of Pro-Nia you get, and they don't include the peptide complex in Strivectin. Plus, I find that the Nia-24 products have too much silicone for me. (Please see my review of the Nia-24 Skin Strengthening Complex for a discussion of the respective Pro-Nia amounts and the difference in value.) The regular Strivectin-SD product has worked well for me--very comparably to Nia-24's Skin Strengthening complex--but I ultimately prefer the version for sensitive skin as it contains less silicone and has soothing ingredients like oat kernel extract. Using this product every night for a few weeks has done fantastic things for my skin already. It has made my skin much less reactive to retinoids and silicone-containing products, which in the past have caused huge problems for me. .025% tretinoin no longer causes a full-scale peel two days after I use it, and primers with silicone no longer cause my skin to become dry, flaky, and clogged after one day's use. Basically, my skin is calmer. It also has a *huge* improvement in tone, with much, much less redness and blotchiness. This has caused my face to look dramatically better overall. In fact, it's one of the most extraordinary and quick results I've ever gotten from a product. Now I rarely have breakouts except for the obligatory monthly one, and even that is much more under control. When I get pimples, they're no longer painful, irritated, and crying to be extracted. Instead, they're small and barely noticeable, and I feel perfectly comfortable just ignoring them until they go away (a *huge* feat for me). Since I started using Strivectin-SD, I actually lost my 30% BHA solution since I haven't had to touch it. (I used to use it almost daily.) Nothing, including prescription retinoids and topical antibiotics, has ever made such a significant and *tolerable* difference for my acne. I have no flaking, peeling, or other ugly reactions--just smooth, balanced, beautiful skin. If you're interested in trying this product--or its non-sensitive counterpart, regular Strivectin-SD, for those who can tolerate a bit more silicone--trial sizes can be bought for around $15, and will last long enough for you to assess your preliminary results. I seriously recommend this product to those with any form of "blotchy" skin, whether it's from acne, scarring, redness, sensitivity, or hyperpigmentation. If it works for you, you will never want to stop using it.
This is nowhere close to a dupe for UD's wonderful Naked Skin foundation. This is a mediocre drugstore foundation, pure and simple. 1) It is not "weightless" or "imperceptible." You can definitely feel it on your skin. 2) It doesn't blend beautifully with fingers the way UD Naked Skin does. 3) The finish is practically matte and makes you look flat, dry, and old. Might be OK for very oily people; wasn't for me. The upside is that many people will be able to go without powder with this product. It actually reminds me of Eclat Matissime, which I also hated. UD Naked Skin is a luminous demi-matte that looks like natural skin. Very different from this product. 4) The coverage is not particularly sheer. I'd call it practically medium coverage--along the lines of Nars Sheer Glow, but bad. Masklike, and yet it won't cover every blemish. 5) No pump. 6) Colors are not particularly realistic or nice. Not recommended.
Let me start by saying that even though I gave this 4 stars rather than 5, in truth, it's leagues beyond most other moisturizers. The reason is that it's a treatment product with results as noticeable as any serum, yet it also gives you good hydration, too. The main benefit of this product is Pro-NIA, the patented niacin derivative found in most NIA24 (and now Strivectin) products. The difference between this ingredient and regular niacin/niacinamide/nicotinic acid is that Pro-NIA has a lipophilic tail which allows it to penetrate the skin layers better and deeper. I've had dramatic, great results from products containing pro-NIA, including this one. The results seem to be beyond those of regular niacinamide, such as what I was using in my DIY niacinamide toner and Cerave PM, although those work well, too. The main thing I have seen is dramatically clearer, more even, less irritated, less blotchy skin in just a matter of days. This ingredient has helped with my light/moderate hormonal acne in a way that nothing else has--not prescription retinoids, not prescription antibiotics, not silver soap, and definitely not AHAs or BHAs. (Yes, it's even better than the aspirin mask and my 30% BHA roll-on!) Instead of irritating the skin further like those other ingredients do, niacin calms, smooths, heals, regulates, and rebalances the skin in a seriously potent and fast-acting way. It's also been great for my skin texture, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, pores, etc. I also love the scent, texture, and application of this product. And, as a pro-NIA product, it works well. However, it is not my pick for those seeking a pro-NIA product for a few reasons: 1. Fairly high silicone content--I have bad reactions to silicone, which tends to dry me out, give me flakes, and give me pimples at the same time. This cream did a bit of that. If you react badly to 'cones, you will probably have a small reaction to this product. 2. It was slightly clogging to my skin, despite the high niacin content. I don't think the clogging was just from the silicone, as this was slightly beyond my usual silicone reaction. The clogs were easy to extract and not inflamed or messy (probably thanks to the niacin), but they occurred nonetheless. I can find creams that don't clog me at all (Strivectin-SD Sensitive, mentioned later, comes closer) but this is not one of them. 3. This product contains 5% pro-NIA, which is definitely enough for results. But considering that this is the ingredient you are paying for, it would be nice to get more pro-NIA for a slightly lower price, right? Well, you can. The reformulated Strivectin line has bought the pro-NIA technology from Nia24--either that, or Nia24 bought out Strivectin; it's not clear which--and now incorporates it in generally higher percentages for a lower price. To compare, 1.7 ounces of the NIA24 Skin Strengthening Complex, with 5% pro-NIA, go for $85 at retail. 5 ounces of Strivectin SD, with 8% pro-NIA, go for $135. (You can also get a serum with 10% pro-NIA from Strivectin for $99/1.7 ounces.) So yes, the Strivectin comes out to be much cheaper. The sensitive-skin version of Strivectin SD, which is the one I use because it contains less silicone, is a little more expensive than the original, but still not as expensive as NIA24. One note with Strivectin is that you want to make sure you are getting the *reformulated* version, as the original version with 5% Striadil or whatever was pretty much crap. Anyway, sorry this review has become more about Strivectin than NIA 24...NIA 24's SSC is a great product, and definitely one of the most effective moisturizers I have ever used, but because the vast majority of the results come from a single ingredient, I recommend getting that ingredient more inexpensively through Strivectin. UPDATE: I called Niadyne, the manufacturers of both NIA 24 and StriVectin, to confirm that the "NIA-114" in Strivectin products was the same molecule as "Pro-NIA" in NIA 24. She confirmed that it was the same molecule. I then asked if it was true that the Strivectin products contained more of it, since they claimed to contain 8% rather than 5%. She explained that the 8% refers to the complex of pro-niacin *and* peptides, and that the quantity of active niacin alone is in fact 5%, the same as in the pro-NIA products...even though it doesn't say that on the bottle. She also said that she considers the Strivectin a newer, more advanced/technologically up-to-date formulation. So, since the Strivectin products usually come out to cheaper, ounce for ounce, I think they are better value than NIA 24 in general, even though they don't in fact contain more of the pro-NIA molecule.
Lotions/ Creams -The Body Shop - Hemp Intensive Hand Butter
SophieH 12/13/2012 8:24:00 PM
This is one of the best performing hand treatments I have ever used. I wish I could give it the full five stars; sadly, I can't, because the smell is bothersome, really lingers, and may even compete with your perfume. One application of this every night keeps my hands soft around the clock, even through repeated hand washings and Purell applications. Even in the dead of New England winter. It is very rare that I have a winter where I don't get chapped hands, even if I am using another hand cream, but this year my hands stayed soft all winter thanks to this product. It really seems to penetrate the skin to nourish it, not simply act as a physical barrier that is quickly lost upon the first hand-washing. The incredible performance was actually quite surprising. It has a lovely, souffle-like texture and is actually a really pretty color. It sinks into the skin in under a minute, but a bit of residue persists for awhile longer. (This is one reason this isn't my Holy Grail hand product; the other is the smell.) The smell: nothing that will get you arrested, but nothing very appealing, either. It's kind of a dirty-ish plant/herbal smell mixed with butter. Not awful, but not something I want others smelling on me. It does dissipate after a bit, but it lingers more than I'd like. A hand cream that equals this one in performance, but lacks the drawbacks of bad smell and residue, is Philosophy's (more expensive) Hands of Hope.
Polishes -Unlisted Brand - Nails Inc - Porchester Square
SophieH 11/22/2012 12:55:00 PM
Few polishes make me happy enough to go to the trouble of doing my nails, but this is one of them. It is a gorgeously gorgeous purple-gray that manages to be dull, subtle, and quietly bright at the same time. This has been mentioned as a great color for cool, pale skin, and I have found that to be absolutely true. It makes my hands and fingers look as long, graceful, and pretty as a pinky-nude polish would, yet it is much more fashionable and less banal. The texture and application are amazing. I am terrible at doing my nails, but it is utterly easy to do them well with this polish. A single coat is almost opaque and looks really pretty on its own. Two coats make for a nice opaque, polished finish. It looks smooth, shiny, and beautiful without a topcoat, and it dries very quickly. I would compare the formulation to American Apparel polishes, which are absolutely stellar but don't come in colors as nice as this. The only reason to put a topcoat on top of this is for wear time...the polish does wear off a bit within one day. (It doesn't peel or chip, though--it's purely *wear.*) That said, it is a pleasure to touch up, and I don't mind doing it every day. I am sure you could get more longevity out of this with a topcoat, though. Utterly gorgeous on short, groomed nails. Great for people who are shy about polish in general, but also beautiful enough for true nail girls. Could almost pass for a neutral, yet is much more interesting. Would go with most outfits, too. As close to perfect as a nail polish can get; this is "lush" indeed.
Tools -Shiseido - The Skincare Cleansing Massage Brush
SophieH 11/22/2012 12:30:00 PM
I bought this product after getting broken capillaries--and not much benefit--from the Clarisonic. The Shiseido brush is a cool product, but honestly I wasn't as floored as I thought I would be. First of all, it does feel nice on the skin, but the head is really small, so you only get a bit of massage contact at a time. (The massage nubs do make this a much more luxurious product than a basic cleansing brush, though.) The design is nice, and it's honestly very pretty, but the travel/storage/drying cap always comes off if you try to put the brush in a bag or even nudge it the wrong way. After traveling with this brush a couple times, a few of my bristles have already gotten a bit out of shape because the cap keeps coming off. It's annoying, because I know this brush really could last a lifetime if the bristles were protected consistently. (That said, the protective cap also makes this an improvement over basic cleansing brushes, because it gives you a very simple, practical way of drying and storing the brush for everyday. It's just not ideal for travel.) Finally, the two things I hoped this brush would do--make my cleanser foam like crazy, and exfoliate--didn't happen. I still had to use about as much foaming cleanser (Clinique) as usual. (Granted, that isn't much--but I was sort of hoping this brush would reduce the amount I needed to use to just a pinprick or something. I still had to use a full dab.) Also, I guess I should have known that this wouldn't really exfoliate. The bristles are too soft for it to really take off dead skin in a completely thorough way. I think most people will not have their exfoliation needs fully met by this product. If you are using something else--such as a weekly scrub or peel--in addition to this, you should be OK, but not otherwise. This would probably be a great exfoliator for those with super-sensitive skin, as it is seriously gentle, but for most everyone else, it won't do the job alone. Get this if you want a basic cleansing brush, as it's a great, luxurious choice for that. But don't expect it to exfoliate deeply or perform any other miracles that a super-gentle cleansing brush wouldn't.
I have several of American Apparel's lip glosses (Topless, Cafe Au Lait, En Pointe, Intimate, and Pantytime) and Pantytime is my favorite. The color is a MLBB shade with just a whisper of edge/style/whatever you want to call it. It is something of a neutral pinky-coral, I would say. It is just bold enough to brighten up the face without being at all over-the-top. (The same cannot be said of all of American Apparel's glosses, which include some out-there shades--which are nonetheless very flattering, I might add.) I am a quite pale, cool-toned person and this gloss looks very good with my coloring. That said, I think it would also suit someone warmer--it is, after all, a coral. I don't know how well it would show up on someone with darker coloring, but I imagine it could be a very nice uber-natural-look option. The gloss is very thick, goopy, gloppy, and tacky. This gives it decent staying power (3-4 hours) but also means your hair will catch in it like nothing else. The AA glosses are designed to be pretty pigmented, so I think they had no choice but to formulate them like this. It feels like something between a gloss and a lacquer or liquid lipstick. I really like American Apparel's glosses because I feel like the colors are in line with their aesthetic, which I find pleasing in general. Each gloss is also pigmented and bright enough that it can be an entire makeup look in one product, if you want. They are very buildable--one thin layer will give you a subtle barely-there tint and shine, while several thick layers will provide almost opaque pigmentation and a patent leather-like finish. So it ends up being a pretty versatile product. At $12 or 2/$20, it's not the cheapest, but far from the most expensive lip gloss out there. American Apparel notoriously does not disclose the ingredient listing of these glosses online or in its literature. The product packaging is marked with the ingredients as per the law, but the writing is so tiny you would need a microscope to read it. That leaves me wondering what kind of toxic stuff is in here and whether or not I want it on my lips. For now, however, I'm choosing to remain ignorant, since I simply love the way these look. By far the worst thing about these glosses is their packaging. The tubes are cheap and often allow the product to spew out of the top if there's the slightest air bubble or whatever. One of my tubes became unusable after about two months when the threaded part came off completely. But even when everything is completely intact, the gloss always seems to seep out of the tube somehow, inevitably leaving me with a sticky makeup bag and/or purse. It's incredibly annoying, and I don't see why they couldn't just put these in a decent package.
Skincare - Body -Unlisted Brand - Mr. Pumice - Pumi Bar
SophieH 9/27/2012 12:54:00 PM
I followed the other reviewer's advice about using this with Blue Cross cuticle remover. Brilliant stuff. A brilliant combination. I had been going through product after product and method after method for my feet (professional pedis, Ped Eggs, two different types of Microplane, buffer blocks, coarse files, pumice stones, electric spinning pumice stones, top-of-the-line foot scrubs and exfoliating creams, antifungal foam, of all things...and of course the infamous callous razor) and, while they all helped to some extent, nothing was easy, fast, cheap, safe, and effective enough to be HG. I love the Mister Pedi/Blue Cross combo because: 1. It's cheap, really cheap. And you don't need to buy batteries, replacement blades, new bottles of scrub, or much of anything else. 2. It's not that difficult or time-consuming to get a good result. You don't get winded or really bored or frustrated throughout the process of grooming your feet. It takes like 5 minutes per foot...and that's only every two weeks or so. 3. It's relatively less messy than other methods...no foot dust everywhere. 4. It's not noisy like that Emjoi machine. 5. It doesn't cut up your feet like razors. It won't make you bleed. 6. Feet look and feel nice. There may be a few tiny, slightly rough spots left, but really, most of your feet will feel as smooth as they would after a pedi. It's definitely a good enough result for anyone who's not a foot model or severely an@l about their feet. To do a full at-home pedi, I start by getting my feet soft and damp in the shower or a bowl of warm water. Then I scrub everything with my Mr. Pumice (dark purple side on the calloused parts, light purple side everywhere else) and Blue Cross. Then I cut and file my toenails, remove old polish, buff, and push back the cuticles. Then I put on new polish and some lotion, and that's it. For all intents and purposes, it's as good as the salon. Get this. Go to Sally's and find the Mr. Pumice with a dark purple side and a light purple side and no handle. It might take awhile to find, but it'll be in there. And get some Blue Cross while you're at it. Trust the MUA and do it.
Primer/ Corrector -Hourglass - No. 28 Primer Serum
SophieH 9/26/2012 9:39:00 PM
This product smells like the entire Aveda store in one bottle. To most people, me included, that's a really good thing. The texture is thin, silky, and lovely, and it glides onto the skin beautifully. My *huge* caveat with this product, and the reason I'm giving it only three lippies, is that you absolutely can't use it with a water-based foundation (=a foundation where the first ingredient is water). It'll make applying the foundation extremely difficult and give you an ugly, patchy finish...and several hours later your foundation will look absolutely awful, with deep cracks where the fine lines are, and a mottled, sandpapery appearance everywhere else. It seems from the other reviews that this works well with the right foundations...just make absolutely sure that yours is one of those before buying this. If not, buy a water-based primer instead. P.S. - I'm saying "yes" to repurchase because I don't want to mess up the ratings for this product just because it doesn't work with my foundations, which are all water-based. I would not actually repurchase this.
This product feels disgusting and performs abysmally. If you want to use it, you had better like *thick* silicone. It is so thick, it drops out of the bottle in gross little worms. When you spread it on your face, it feels like your skin is being suffocated. There is a BLANKET of silicone on top of your skin, and when I say "on top," I don't mean it clings to your skin, I mean it floats about as far away from your skin as it can without falling off. Oh, and it balls up under makeup. Yeah, balls up. You will be able to see little clumps of Anthelios primer all over your face. It's pretty frustrating to have to stand at the mirror picking them off with tweezers when your makeup is already done and you want to leave. Maybe using less is the key, but unfortunately that's pretty impossible as this has such an insanely dense, heavy consistency that it can't be spread thin at all. Pros: It protects your skin from the sun. You might like it if you have really super old, wrinkly skin, as it will probably fill up the wrinkles as would a can of spackle.
Primer/ Corrector -NARS - Pro-Prime Multi-Protect Primer SPF 30 PA+++
SophieH 9/20/2012 3:31:00 PM
I hate silicone-based primers. I feel like my face and pores are stifled under that thick nasty coating of 'cones. This water-based primer is a refreshing alternative. It looks great, feels great, and works impressively. The product resembles a somewhat sticky white lotion. You only need to use about as much as you would use of a regular primer. It doesn't take too long to dry. It has a nice fresh scent, and the packaging is elegant as is typical of NARS. It makes makeup go on smoothly and flawlessly and makes it cover better. Because of this product, I have been able to use some very thin silicone-based foundations that were otherwise impossible to get coverage/longevity from (Ellis Faas Skin Veil, in particular). This primer has turned my response to the Ellis Faas foundation from buyer's remorse into joy, to the point where that product is now my HG. But this primer also works with all my other foundations. In particular, it steps up Sheer Glow from being a very good foundation to a truly world-class one. Basically, if you have a foundation where water is the first ingredient, this primer will make it perform noticeably better--look better, apply better, and stay better. This truly does improve the staying power of makeup. My skin is not oily, but I do have texture issues. I rarely use powder, and I go long days without touching up. This primer has given me at least a few extra hours of good foundation wear per day. It allows me to apply foundation and concealer over areas with weird texture (breakouts, peeling from retinoid) and actually cover them. It will make foundation application a breeze and a joy, and you will look both more flawless and more natural. This has not caused any irritation/breakouts/other problems for my dry-combo skin. It contains some nice antioxidants and has a very elegant, skin-friendly texture. It is neither greasy, nor stifling, nor drying. I was told by the SA at Sephora that it was good for breakout-prone skin; I can also confirm that it works well (over moisturizer) when my skin is dry. (It does contain dimethicone but it's not as high on the list as with most primers.) The sunscreen is a very interesting aspect of this primer and definitely a selling point. *However,* it is complicated. A primer really shouldn't be your only sunscreen source because you apply such a small amount of it. That means you need another sunscreen either underneath or on top. Unfortunately, this product contains octinoxate, which is the ingredient notorious for destabilizing avobenzone, so you can't use it with sunscreens that contain avobenzone. This is a problem for me as I only use chemical sunscreens, most of which do contain avobenzone. Anyway, that is the only drawback I can find with this product. It's a fantastic primer, the seemingly-high price actually turns out to be pretty average, and it's worth it!
Liquid -Givenchy - Eclat Matissime Fluid Foundation
SophieH 9/16/2012 9:53:00 PM
I don't have oily skin. My skin is dry-combination. I frequently have texture problems including active breakouts and dryness/peeling from retinoids. I wanted to try this foundation because I think good matte foundations look way more like bare skin than glowy ones do. At $51 for a scant 30 ml this is very pricey. The color I chose was #2, Mat Shell. It is a very pink pale shade--possibly too light for me, but the next two shades were way too yellow and/or dark. My impressions so far are that this is fairly difficult to work with. It does not apply well with fingers. It is also not good with a skunk brush, which is what I usually use for liquid foundation. The skunk brush makes it very streaky. I am going to try a stiff foundation brush next, although I really don't want to give it another shot because I hate wearing it. The product is thick and clingy and takes forever to blend. When I tried applying it with my fingers, the act of trying to spread it out was difficult enough to make my primer ball up underneath. The result was not pretty. It doesn't feel super dry on the skin, but the absence of any kind of moisture or "silky" properties is conspicuous. I never thought I'd miss those things, as I consider myself averse to oily products, but I kind of do with this foundation. When I touch my skin with this foundation on, it actually feels like there is a thin layer of powder on it. For some people, that might be great, but for me, it feels like I'm causing premature aging every minute I wear it. Appearance-wise, it illluminates anything that looks vaguely dry or old about the skin. It makes fine lines look worse. It makes dry patches look terrible. It does not do a very good job of covering red, broken-out areas. I kept looking at the effect in the mirror and trying to like it, but all I could keep thinking was that it made me look like an old witch/like a ghost/like I hadn't slept in 3 nights. This might have been in part because the shade was too light, but I really think the look of the foundation itself made the problem worse. This transfers like crazy. It might be better if you set it with powder, but I had no desire to put powder over this as it was already dry and ugly enough. I do not find that it wears for a long time at all, even on my completely non-oily skin. Maybe it would actually wear better on an oily situation; I have no idea. I clearly do not have the right skin type for this product. It has some SPF 20 PA++ from titanium dioxide (3.16%). I don't know if this is enough TiO2 to cause flashback in photos, but it might well be. This is a problem with most foundations containing SPF. Some people don't mind it, but I really do. Even if there isn't major flashback, people tend to look a little unnatural and mask-y in pics when they're wearing TiO2/ZnO. I think this is worth a try for those with oily skin, especially those who literally cannot wear anything else. But if you are normal or dry, don't bother. It costs way too much and it isn't for us.