Monday, May 22, 2006

Product Review: Foundation Week!

Hey, you know what might be kind of fun? A theme week! Yeah? Does that sound fun? Good! How about we dedicate this entire calendar week to foundations? Let's start with my current standby foundations, Wonder Finish and Pure.Makeup, both by Maybelline, so that we have a basis for comparison, ok? Ok!

Um, I'm kind of obsessed with foundations. I mean, above and beyond the general product obession... foundations are sort of the cream of my product-obsession crop, if you will. I went through a cream-to-powder phase back in high school (why??? WHY did I think CG's Ultimate Finish was actually a good product???), then it was on to the liquids briefly. After that, it was all about powder foundations for a while, but lately the pendulum's been swinging back to the liquids. I'm going to focus on liquid bases then, simply because I've tried more of them than powders. Also, there's something almost magical about blending the soft fluid on to you skin and see it diffusing all those imperfections, leaving you with the skin you wish you were born with.

At least that's what the ideal foundation should be like. But to find one that does all that, AND lasts through the day is not easy! Oh, and for reference's sake, I have combination skin that is somewhat prone to break-outs, with some flakiness around the cheek area. It rarely reacts to cosmetics, and it's not really problematic skin, but it's certainly not perfect.

The first liquid foundation that I was actually loyal to (instead of, you know, just using it because I'd bought it and it was sitting there, taunting me) was Maybelline's Wonder Finish. Popular opinion of this is not that hot, but it's been my default "not perfect, but reliably above-average" foundation. Wonder Finish is a super thin liquid that looks almost watery when it comes out of the squeeze bottle. In fact, you'll have to be careful not to over-dispense, as it gets excited and squirts out sometimes. It's billed as a "Generalist" foundation meant for Normal to Oily skin types. Isn't "Generalist" just another way of saying "We either don't know why this product is particularly good, or are too busy trying to get Zang Ziyi to hawk our products to come up with a proper description"? Anyway, the main selling point seems to be that it goes on as a liquid, but transforms into a sheer powder finish.

First, I have to say that this powder finish business is crap. I have to dust powder on top of this if I want it to have any staying power at all. I mean, it's a nice finish, but if you want to keep shine at bay, then powder is definitely NOT optional. However, this stuff truly does blend like a dream. For such a light-feeling liquid, it provides an impressive light-to-medium coverage when applied with your fingers or foundation brush. (Cosmetic sponges and I had a disagreement in early 2001, and we haven't talked since) Plus, Nude is a great colour for me -- it's got a lot of yellow tones in it (almost too much!), which is not very common in drug store makeup. It's a tad too fair though, so I usually mix in a bit of Sandy Beige to make it work. Since the fluid is so light, it's really easy to mix the shades, and it doesn't take long to blend into your skin.

So what's wrong with Wonder Finish? Well, the finish is almost a little too perfect. Which is weird, because it's a relatively light coverage. But whenever I wear this, I feel like it's kind of obvious that I have foundation on, despite the good colour match. Also, it doesn't stay matte or last very long... I usually have to blot by lunch time, and you'd best be re-applying if you plan on going out after work. So that's kind of sucky.

Still, I kept re-purchasing Wonder Finish -- the Nude shade had sold me on Maybelline, and it was the best that Maybelline had to offer (I HATED Dream Mousse). Recently though, Maybelline launched their new Pure.Makeup line. 50% water? Lightweight gel formula? Cute pale turquoise tube? Introductory $3 off? Done!

The initial texture of this oil-free base is a bit wacky... kind of like a really light, whipped moisturizer. It feels cool going on (in the temperature sense), but blending is a bit odd. Maybe it's just me, but despite its sheerness, the foundation seemed to sink in to the skin a bit more quickly than I was used to (again, more like a tinted moisturizer). Coverage was ok, but it was a little light and uneven in spots. This stuff grabbed on to dry flakes more than the Wonder Finish, which is not cool. As well, "Nude" in this seemed to be darker than the same shade in Wonder Finish. (This might be a thing with Maybelline in general -- I've noticed that their shades don't translate exactly between product lines) However, it's sheer enough that the slight discrepancies don't leave garish foundation lines on your face.

The finish on this is surprisingly matte, given all its parallels with tinted moisturizer. At first, it looked too powdery for me, but it settles a bit after 5 or 10 minutes. While Pure.Makeup felt very comfortable on, I didn't really like how it looked. The coverage was too inconsistent! Maybe if I had perfect skin texture, it would've sat better. (Um, duh!)

So, Wonder Finish was too smooth, and Pure.Makeup wasn't smooth enough. The obvious thing to do was mix the 2 right? And so I did! Actually, I had to mix 3 things: the 2 shades of Wonder Finish, and then a blob of Pure.Makeup. Since all of these are lightweight formulas, it wasn't thick or chalky even when the products were combined. The Pure.Makeup added mattifying & lasting power while the Wonder Finish contributed its nicer finish. Smush it all together with a foundation brush, and I felt like a proper make-up artist in the morning!

Both foundations are about $9-$10 CAD and can be easily found. They are consistently "alright", and for that price, they're a good default. As you can imagine though, it's a bit tiresome to have to grab for 3 bottles of foundation EVERY day. And what if I was travelling? I don't enjoy being that high maintenance! For all that effort, the 2 bases combined still couldn't keep shine from coming through past the 5-hour mark. Besides, summer was quickly approaching, and I wanted to try out some "slap and dash" products that were: a) quicker to apply, and b) sheerer in finish.

With this quest in mind, I set out to my trusty neighbourhood drug store, and even ventured into a Sephora. Stay tuned for more foundation reviews this week: Tomorrow's will be dedicated to L'Oreal's Infallible Never Fail Makeup. Is this redundancy in nomenclature really warranted? Find out tomorrow!

Do you have a foundation gripe? What's the Big Thing that your perfect foundation must do? Flawless coverage? Lightweight feel? Mattifying? Line-diffusing? Do share!

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At 8:45 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think it would be soo cool if you tried out the max factor pancake makeup! ive been wanting to buy it, but dont know if i should :/. But i think it would be awsome if you did, you seem to know alot about good quality products! thanx :D

At 10:07 p.m., Blogger The Glitterati said...

Hi Anon, thanks for visiting! I have tried Max Factor Pancake in the past, one of my first foundation adventures, actually! I'm afraid I don't see Pancake very much in Canada, so I can't do a more updated review. I have no idea if they've changed the formula since then, but I did like that it was a wet/dry formula. So, you could apply with a dampened sponge/brush for heavier coverage, or use it dry with a powder brush for lighter coverage. I think I found it to be a bit chalky for me, but then again I was all of 14 years old back then.

If you need buildable coverage (i.e., you have days where you only need a little coverage, and other days when you need a lot), you may find that Pancake is a good choice. It leaves a velvety matte finish. If you have very dry skin, I would recommend looking for something else, but it should be ok for most other skins.

It's not the absolute easiest to work with (you need to blend fast), but if you've had a lot of experience with applying foundations, it should be no problem. I find it closer in nature to stage-makeup than to "regular" makeup. Come back and tell us how it worked out for you if you decide to try it!


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