This a low down review for media foundations—you are reading this if you are researching Cinema Secrets or RCMA foundations (my favorites), which are mainly used by pro MA’s for television, movie and still photography work. But they are becoming more and more popular for those of us wanting superlative natural makeup in day to day life on the streets. Both are versatile as they can function both as opaque concealer or heavy foundation, but also as a more sheer foundation, all from one product. They may turn some consumers off, as they come in very plain pancake screw top packaging—no fancy frosted glass jars, and they aren’t available at your favorite department store with gleaming counters and shimmery lights.
With these foundations you often hear--over and over again--that they apply like “a second skin”. And this is TRUE--being marketed for high definition cameras sets them apart from foundations formulated and marketed toward the consumer. CS and RCMA most often look completely natural on the skin and yet they provide a flawless glowing natural looking coverage. Part of what makes these foundations so natural, so undetectable and so glowing, is not only great unique formulations, but also the fact that they come in a vast array of human skin colored tones and undertones, making it much easier to get a very close match to your skin color. In fact matching colors with CS or RCMA can be dauntingly hard as online color swatches are miserable, and since so few brick and mortar stores sell these foundations for you to try on (except in the largest cities). Camera Ready Cosmetics in Dallas has a wonderful mail-in color matching service for media foundations, and I highly recommend their website. They help over the phone with superlative service too. Plus they’ll even sell you modest samples of these foundations making an excellent color match that much easier to make, not to mention that the samples are large enough that you can try these foundations for a week or more before deciding.
These foundations (particularly RCMA) have a learning curve, and they will take more time to apply in the morning than say slapping on Double Wear or Colorstay or Armani Silk. Media foundations meld into the skin wonderfully, disappearing as they cover redness and imperfections. With a good color match you cannot blend these foundations by spreading the color around on your face (as most of us do with traditional consumer foundations), because you won’t be able to SEE any color as it just melds and disappears into your skin. Instead you have to learn to blend and cover by how much more perfect your skin looks, and how well the redness or scaring or other imperfection, have vanished. While these foundations are heavily pigmented, they do not cover opaquely quickly in one pass—not like more “grease-paint” full coverage foundations such as MAC Full Coverage or Lauder's Double Wear Camouflage. For the few that need complete full coverage foundation you need to go back over and layer with a decent amount of product where needed (though you can just spackle it on for smaller concealer purposes). On the plus side, they also don’t look nearly as cakey with this much coverage like the more traditional and greasy textured full coverage foundations or concealers can quickly look.
These foundations absolutely have to be set with a powder, preferably a loose setting powder. So powder selection becomes more important. Many rave over RCMA’s low cost No-Color powder, I prefer MUFE HD powder, while others adore Laura Mercier. Just be aware that powder will be needed, but when a high quality powder is well applied, no-color or translucent powders only enhance the glowing finish of CS and RCMA foundations, and make them crease proof and all day lasting.
Cinema Secrets is my favorite with its silicone base. Their color selections are marvelous and broad, and the formulation is more creamy and easier to work with than RCMA. Cinema Secrets vanishes into the skin with lightening speed. It’s also a little easier and quicker to build up to full opaque coverage if that’s what you’re looking for, or if using as a concealer. Cinema Secrets is very long lasting (particularly over a silicone primer), as in often lasting for 12+ hours. Damp BeautyBlender or Sigma F80 work wonderfully with these foundations for me, though the damp Blender can soak up a fair amount of the creamier CS. I also strongly feel that the Cinema Secrets is much more hydrating and comfortable for drier skin types (though if you do set with the right amount of powder, it can start to feel dryer toward the end of the day).
RCMA is a tad more natural looking—truly a second skin. However the wax formulation has one of the most unique textures in the cosmetic world—it’s hard like butter from the fridge and can sometimes be downright chunky or cloddy. For more sheer coverage applications a damp sponge or brush pounced into the pot might work in a warm bathroom, but for most applications RCMA needs to be dug/scraped out of its pot and then warmed slightly and coaxed with warmth into a more creamy (and flat) texture; on the back of your hand or on a palette with your finger work best. More work than CS, but the finish is truly gorgeous, glowing and approaches truly invisible more than any other medium-full foundation I have experienced. HOWEVER, in my experience (with dry skin no less!) RCMA does not last well—it starts to fade after 3-4 hours (taking blush and contour and highlighter with it); only about 50-60% coverage remains after 6-8 hours, and mere wispy fragments are left at the 12 hour mark. For this reason alone, I pass on RCMA (and I have experimented with various primers). It’s very slight advantage in glowing invisible appearance is completely negated for me by its poor lasting power, and the extra coaxing it takes to get it to the right consistency in the morning. BUT, others claim long