It Cosmetics CC+ Cream Illumination SPF 50+

It Cosmetics CC Cream would be on my list of top foundations ever, but it’s non-compliance with dry skin and it’s inability to stack with other common products is a huge deterrent from me from buying any in the future. Not only that, but the apparent popularity of this $40 foundation has spurred a flood of cheaper fakes/dupes on the market which, sadly, perform the same, if not better than the original.

But first I’ll talk a little about the genuine product, straight from Ulta (which, hopefully, isn’t in the business of selling fakes). This comes in a soft plastic tube with a push-top. The tube is fairly large, but the product goes quickly, since the push-top tends to push out more than you actually need.

Applying this CC Cream is really satisfying. The color is very glowy and radiant. Although the shade range is incredibly limited for this CC Cream, I experienced with both the light and light-medium that the color can sort of “adjust” to your skin tone, within reason. This is helped by the fact that this isn’t full coverage to begin with, as you would expect from a CC cream — however, this still did a pretty good job of neutralizing any of my red tones from scarring. Even better, this foundation plays well with any product you put under it and doesn’t pill. …or so I thought.

I’ll walk you through a work day with this CC cream. I could hold my head up high at my desk and in the hallways, knowing I was only wearing a CC cream, and that my skin looked and felt great. Until hour four: I looked in the bathroom mirror and found the dreaded flaking around my lips and my nose. And it was bad. Sure, I know those areas of my face are a little drier to begin with, but yikes. The scaliness seemed to only worsen as I attempted to “buff it out” with a small dab of concealer. Eventually, I gave up. By hour eight, the CC cream was beginning to break down, and my entire face had become incredibly oily, except for the dry areas, which were still scaley and flaking off more by the second. Gross!

Artistic rendering of the author

After a few days of trial and error, I discovered that this product performs much better when you don’t use Vitamin C. Sure, I get that Vit C is an exfoliant and can cause a bit more dramatic of a skin turnover in drier areas, but I’ve never had this bad of an issue with “clinging to dry spots” with any other foundation. I also suspect I might have some sensitivity to the sunscreen component that was added into this product, since there are a lot of sunscreens, in general, that I don’t tolerate well.

It’s a huge shame that this product doesn’t perform as well after the first few hours, because it’s everything I would want in a CC cream, or even a foundation. It’s glowy. It’s just enough coverage to hide discoloration. There are no drying alcohols. There’s a ton of good stuff packed into this bottle like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and sunscreen.

As for the fakes? The fakes are sold all over Ebay and Amazon. A mark of a fake, without having the actual product in your hands is one or both of the following: a price point under $20, or the seller offering only the light, or medium shade. With a few exceptions of the font being slightly out of place on the packaging of the fakes, the imitation of the actual product is pretty darn good, except you will notice there is LITERALLY no shade differential between light and medium. They are the same color.

And sadly, they perform a bit better than the real It Cosmetics. Although the dry-cling still persists, the coverage is just as good (albeit a bit more “stubborn” to apply, since it’s not as fluid as the original), and also doesn’t devolve into a greasy mess by hour four like the original. I don’t condone buying a fake, and my purchase of these was purely accidental and ignoring of the adage “too good to be true” — and for all I know, these fakes could be pumped with arsenic, or something!

It Cosmetics truly has a great product on their hands with this CC Cream. The finish of this foundation is great, and I’ve never broken out from it. But I can’t recommend it to anyone with dry skin, anyone with sensitivities to zinc/titanium oxides, or anyone that wants to incorporate Vitamin C into their routine. That’s a lot of groups to have to exclude for a foundation! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3.75/5

Longevity: 1.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 3.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: For acne-prine skin, yes — for dry skin, no

Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

I have high standards for Clinique. It’s been around forever, and it’s pricy, for usually good reason — Clinique generally has high-quality products. But, for $30, this bottle of foundation is just meh.

I was looking for something with a little more oil control than my usual foundations, and perhaps something a little lighter in general. Herein lies my great foundation conundrum. I always want something that’s heavy enough to cover all my blemishes, but light enough to make me not feel like I’m super-clogging my pores. This is basically an impossible ask, and equally impossible to find. This foundation was no exception: it did not meet both of those criteria.

But it is light, for sure. This comes out of the tube with very little pressure needed on the bottle. It’s somewhat watery, but not runny. It spreads easily, but absorbs quickly into the skin, so I kept finding myself needing to get more product out of the tube to cover my entire face.

What I do like about this foundation is that it’s buildable. It won’t necessarily cause issues if you try to apply layers shortly after the other, but I recommend waiting for each layer to set for at least five minutes, because the foundation will thicken and show a bit more coverage in that time. But don’t mistake buildable for “can become full coverage” — it’s still incredibly light, and won’t cover deeper-set scars.

The foundation has a natural matte finish that lasts… maybe five hours. It does do it’s job in the time it’s on. It maintains an even finish with minimal creasing (although it absolutely is NOT transfer proof so, try to avoid touching your face), and it does control oil as stated. It doesn’t feel heavy while it’s on. But once that five hour mark hits… POOF! It’s just gone, somehow. As if you never put it on. (Although, to be fair, I would prefer makeup to “suddenly vanish” instead leaving patchy areas of foundation behind…)

Now let’s discuss the acne-fighting feature of this foundation. This contains salicylic acid, a BHA. I don’t think this really improved my blemishes or overall skin quality at all, despite the BHA. I didn’t experience any burning, per se, but neither the lightness of the foundation’s weight or the addition of BHA’s were beneficial to me in this case. I continued to break out just the same, as always 🙂 Other users could potentially experience burning from this foundation because of the BHAs. And, finally, BHA’s conflict with Vitamin C if used at the same time. This is terrible for me, lover of Vitamin C treatments in my morning routines.

To wrap up my review of Clinique’s Acne Solutions Foundation in a few shorter sentences: Is it a light makeup? Yes. Does it last a long time? No. Does it fight acne? Not for me, personally. This won’t be a rebuy of mine.

If you still think this foundation seems like a good fit for you, my most favorite YouTube MUA thataylaa did a review of it here. Her experience was a bit different from mine, but the video does a great job of showing the finish. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2.5/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: If intolerant to exfoliants, no

FLOWER Beauty Light Illusion Liquid Foundation

Flower Illusion

I wanted this to be my HG so very badly. What beautiful packaging! What rave reviews it got from reddit and my favorite MUA Youtuber, thataylaa! Breathable! Dewy! Contains SPF! It all starts off okay, but around hour four, it fails to live up to my unreasonable expectations.

Let me preface this by saying this is day four of trying. I’ve tried all different combos of application. Hands, brush, blender (blender was best, BTW). Primers. Finishing powder, no finishing powder. Setting spray, no setting spray. No matter what you do, this foundation, in the beginning, is beautiful. Once it has time to set, it looks incredibly light and fresh. As I mentioned before, breathable and dewy (though not necessarily glowy). The color, for me, was pretty good – perhaps a tad dark with the slightest bit of oxidation after a few more minutes, but nothing that couldn’t be blended out. Other makeup goes over it just fine.

Then hour four hits. You walk into the bathroom and there it is. The makeup clinging onto every. Single. Dry patch. This makeup made me ACUTELY AWARE of all the hot spots of my dryness, by clinging to the edges and creating a perfect jagged border around them. Even where there was once normal, non-dry skin, it seemed as though the foundation had matted down and created dry edges around that, as well. I know this is all very colorful imagery that I’m using, but it’s just the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen a makeup do. I’ve seen clinging to dry spots, but not like this. It didn’t matter what product I used in the morning either — each day with this foundation always ended the same!

Weirdly, from really far away, it looked like I still had coverage. Granted, the dewiness was completely gone, and the coverage was entirely matte. But if anyone got up close, they’d be in for a shock. I looked like a crocodile.

This makeup was REALLY hard to wash off — I suspect this is due to the dry-spot cling-age, not necessarily because of the advertised “all day stay”. Unless that’s what they meant. “It’ll stay on all the dry spots!”

For $13, I’m not really digging this. I do wonder if it would work better for oilier girls than myself (although weirdly, I consider myself pretty oily still — combination skin, in fact, but this foundation is making me question everything…) I’d grab for Rimmel Breathable over this in a heartbeat — it’s basically the same foundation, for half the price, and doesn’t hold onto all the dry spots for dear life. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3/5

Longevity: 1.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.8/5 (darn you, pretty packaging!)

Recommended for sensitive skin: No