The Vicious Cycle of Makeup

I love makeup: I love what it’s capable of. I love the artistry that goes into good makeup application (which I admittedly don’t have much of, which makes me appreciate the talent even more). I love the confidence and pride it instills in me after I’ve applied it successfully, in such a way that my features have been noticeably enhanced.

I loved makeup a lot when my skin was at my worse. Having cystic acne kept me constantly checking mirrors, shielding my face from others, not making eye contact, and generally just not wanting to interact or interface with anyone, even the people I was very close with, who ostensibly wouldn’t judge or care if I had acne in the first place. Makeup — foundation, specifically, that was full coverage enough to hide the acne — was able to eradicate my fear of going out into the world, perhaps not fully, but to a great extent.

Foundation can make your skin look great. It can make it look smooth and blemish-free, amongst other things. But foundation itself — what’s in it — is still just chemicals and ingredients, both natural and unnatural. Foundation is not your skin. No matter what the label tells you — non comedogenic, natural ingredients only, oil-free, skin-like, etc. — it’s still not your skin. You are putting, painting a foreign substance over and onto your natural human skin. Keeping that in mind, there’s a good chance you may be an individual who is impervious to certain irritants, so wearing makeup is a non-issue for you. But the other half of us has an equally good chance of experiencing breakouts after a full day of foundation. I am in this latter half.

When you are someone with sensitive skin, makeup becomes both the savior and the catalyst for your skin issues. I needed makeup to cover up the problems on my skin. But the makeup was also making me break out more, as evidenced when I came home every night, rinsed the makeup off, and came to find out that more spots had appeared.

Even Kendall Jenner isn’t immune!

I was really able to put this to the test over the past month, now that my skin is usually close to 100% clear, thanks to the very powerful Epiduo. Generally speaking, I’ve been going to work without any foundation. But on the days I do wear foundation to work, I come home after eight hours and notice my pores show sign of congestion even after washing the makeup off. Which leads me to believe, for at least half of us with sensitive skin in the world, makeup will only make your issues worse.

But it’s really difficult to go out into the world without makeup, if you’re trying to cover up acne. At the height of my skin issues, I had the suggestion made to me that I needed to wash my face at night. That was such an embarrassing comment to receive — of course I was washing my face at night already! Just washing my skin was not going to cure a hormonal problem!

So, makeup can really do amazing things for your confidence, particularly when you feel you’re at your lowest. But I wish I had been more confident to go out on public without makeup when my acne was at it’s worst, and I really feel for those who are in a similar position as me. I wish the education around acne and what causes it was a little more mainstream in our society, so others wouldn’t automatically assume the sufferer was “unclean”, thus reducing the stigma around it.

I’ll never trash my bottles of foundation, and I’ll never unsubscribe from my favorite MUA’s on Youtube. Makeup is an art — it can accomplish amazing things if applied correctly. But from now on, I’m going to try to go bare-faced as much as I possibly can, even when a small breakout occurs. And I hope, for the new year, that my beautiful readers have the confidence to go out into the world with a look based on what they are comfortable with, and not just what society deems as “acceptable”. ~A

Both of the Georgia Gibbs in this picture are beautiful!

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti Aging Perfector

In the words of Jeffree Star, “I’m not living for this”. This is a more-or-less a BB cream, in which the point of using this product is more about the added benefits (sunscreen and retinol) and less about the coverage. Unfortunately, the added benefits ended up not being benefits to me at all.

This foundation comes in a push-top tube. The liqui-cream comes out in a thin line, and, honestly, what you can get out in one or two pumps won’t really seem like enough product. It didn’t spread very evenly, and I kept having to go back to get more of the product, after feeling as though it had stopped short while I was spreading it. This might have been because the color isn’t really intended to be coverage, but more of a tint, thus causing me to think I simply hadn’t used enough. Which leads me to my next gripe.

What tint? Although my skin undertone skews yellow, I have a lot of redness due to my various skin sensitivities, but otherwise I’m a hard NC-15 during a good half of the year. I figured picking this up in the “ivory to fair” shade would be satisfactory. And again, I get that this isn’t intended to provide coverage, but I didn’t see any color at all, not even enough to provide any smallest amount of correction. Then, after twenty minutes, the weirdest thing happened: it oxidized, turning my face slightly orange. Suddenly, my face no longer matched my neck! But at this point I was already out of the house, so I soldiered on and continued to wear it.

Now, fortunately, any color that was on my face was relatively imperceptible by noon, although I had quite a bit of oil breakthrough. But then my skin started to itch, and by the time I was home to remove my makeup, I had broke out in a few spots. Now, there’s nothing unheard of in this product’s ingredient list, nor anything that I would say is bad. But it does contain both retinol and sunscreen. Retinol, even at low percentages, invokes an initial purging period. And sunscreen… I don’t know. I don’t have a good time with American sunscreens, personally, but I can’t put my finger on why that’s the case.

I can see why some people would like this product though. If you can tolerate the ingredients that provide the benefits, it seems like it could be a great product. Retinol is great for anti-aging, as is SPF (and you would need the SPF anyway if you planned on going out in the sun after applying retinol). If your skin can mesh well with the oxidation-orange tint, you’d be in luck with this. Otherwise, this foundation is personally hard pass for me. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable Makeup

Loreal True Match

Not bad for $5! I wasn’t expecting much from this for the price point, but L’oreal’s True Match ended up surprising me.

The product itself is pretty small, but the makeup is very watery, and you don’t need very much of it to get coverage. Application is easy: despite being watery, the product spreads evenly without too much effort — you won’t have many creases or areas where the product simply stops. A brush can negate any of the issues you might have with the spread. It dries quickly, and plays well with other moisturizers and makeup.

There’s a ton of shades for this product. Now, what’s weird was that I had N1 — it went on a tad too “bright” with pink undertones, and I was concerned that I was going to look too pale for the rest of the day, but within 10 minutes the product had oxidized yellow just enough to actually match my skin color exactly. So that might be something to keep in mind while choosing your shade: what you see on your skin initially might not be your end result.

Given that it was watery, my assumption was that the coverage would be light, but it was a lot more medium than I expected. I didn’t find that this had any particular type of finish — it was just flat, normal makeup, not skewing either dewy or matte. Works for me! And, to the same end that I thought this coverage would be light, I also thought the longevity would be short as well, but it’s actually held up a lot longer than some of my super-stay 24/25 hour makeups. Heck it’s gone to the gym on my face, and still stuck around afterwards without oil breakthroughs or clinging to dry patches.

No break outs for me with this product. Also it’s got SPF, so that’s… cool. Side note, I think it’s funny how they always add in random amounts of SPF, like 17, 18. I am pretty sure I read somewhere that anything under 30 is more or less ineffective, so I don’t really… get it… I suppose it’s a nice placebo effect for the consumer.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with this foundation. It’s not going to change your life by any means in terms of finish, but it’s extremely effective for such a tiny, cheap product. ~A

For this small and simplistic foundation, click here: https://amzn.to/2REUUvU

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

 

Dermacol Make-Up Cover

Dermacol

Oh man. Where to begin.

I tried this at the height of my cystic acne. I saw a ton of Youtubers swear by this stuff as the ultimate cover. It is used for stage makeup, after all! Girls with cystic acne, the same and even worse than mine, used this to cover up all of their flaws, no problem.

After hours of scouring the internet to make sure I was buying a real item and not a fake, because naturally the actual Dermacol website/retailer had spontaneously somehow run out of the 207 color, I was able to snag this for $13 a piece (although I think normally it retails for somewhere in the ballpark of $8).

To be on the safe side, I purchased 207, 208 and 209. 207 is darker/yellower than 208 (why it’s ordered like that numerically.. no idea), 208 is basically white, and 209 was way too dark for me. I ended up mixing 207 with a tiny bit of 208.

This stuff comes out of the tube HEAVY. It reminds me of that Rimmel Stay Matte foundation, but way heavier. A TINY, smaller-than-pea-sized amount of this will cover your entire cheek. Don’t even bother with your beauty blender, just smear this stuff on with your fingers and hope for the best. A brush will help blending into your forehead or your jawline, but if you’re hoping to use it for the rest of your face, all it will do is push the product around, further into an area you won’t necessarily want it in. What I’m trying to say is, this foundation/concealer is REALLY hard to work with, and it’s difficult to keep it applied evenly across your face. Probably goes without saying that it needs a good fifteen minutes to fully set.

Oxidation? Absolutely. 207 will skew pink/red and 208 will turn more orange, a few minutes after application. I had to mix the two of them anyway, but I recommend you mix them anyway, for that reason.

But Dermacol does cover, and it covers immediately, even before it sets. All redness and pockmarks on your skin = GONE. It is truly full coverage. I wouldn’t say the finish is “beautiful” — I mean, it’s really just a total concealer, so the finish is very flat, and paint-like. But if the goal is wiping out blemishes, then Dermacol will accomplish that, very much so.

This does not play well with other makeup that needs to be applied directly to skin. I recommend using a setting powder, not a setting spray or finishing spray (except possibly Ben Nye finishing spray), but go VERY lighthanded on the brush to set the powder, or else you’ll smear the foundation. Yes, even after you’ve waited for it to set.

Dermacol will hold up for the better half of the day — around five or six hours — but when it breaks down, it really breaks down. Dry patches will cling. Oil will break through. Entire sections of the makeup will mysteriously go missing (or maybe I just touch my face too much… I don’t know. You get the point, though).

This review was an emotional rollercoaster just writing it. It was so stressful to use, but I so desparately wanted to cover the insane blemishes on my face!! Cause it definitely did. I covered the craziest of cysts and scabs and blemishes that should not have been possible to cover. But it was an art to get this on in the first place — and to keep it on. Rimmel’s Stay Matte foundation (link to my review of that here!) has pretty close coverage to Dermacol, and comparatively less stressful to deal with — I would recommend that, instead.  ~A

Still want to take the plunge? Click here: https://amzn.to/2CfvwmZ

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 2.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2/5

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

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation

Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation

This is going to sound really ridiculous, but I feel a little emotional, writing this post. This foundation right here got me through YEARS of mediocre to bad skin, and did a pretty good job even during the very worst of it. Strangely, this is not the best foundation that I’ve ever used in my entire life — but it served me well for so many years that I wanted to give it some credit for how good of coverage this has. I have at least six bottles of this in six different shades on standby in the my dresser drawer.

This is a mousse foundation that comes in a squeezable tube. When you squeeze it out, you’ll see the color come out with little “air pockets” — normal for a mousse. You would think that a little would go a long way with this, but it can be tough to spread, due to the thickness. Honestly I would put the initial layer on with my hands, and use a beauty blender only occasionally to smooth out some creases. This WILL OXIDIZE into a darker color. I’m sure it didn’t help that I used my hands to apply, but even with blender application, it will still oxidize anyway.

After the initial struggle to try to apply this stuff and make it appear smooth, you will find that the coverage is AMAZING — I’d say more full coverage than medium, in fact. I have covered up some spots that… well, should not have been able to be covered up. Redness, gone. Raised spots, gone (well not really, but it sort of looked like it). Also, this stuff played surprisingly pretty well with makeup — it needs a bit longer than most foundations to set on your face, but once it’s set, you’re good to splash blush and bronzer on to your heart’s content.

But the price to pay for coverage was large. This stuff is really messy, and also difficult to wash off. Even if your finger gets a microscopic distance away from your face, it WILL transfer to your skin. It WILL somehow magically transfer to your purse handles and your car steering wheel. Don’t even think about hugging people. “Oh but I can just use a setting spray/powder!” Wrong! Yes, use the setting spray, but don’t expect it to save you!

Here’s my next gripe: this foundation touts itself as oil-free, so I was excited as a crazy acne sufferer. After hour six, this foundation had completely broken down, but I don’t think it was just from my own face. I found this picture on reddit awhile back:

Oil test

there’s our friend circled in the middle. What IS that?? is that water or oil separation? In any case — this foundation breaks down pretty quickly and will create swamp-like conditions on your face.

So, I realize that I’ve complained a lot about this foundation. There are a lot of issues with it and I don’t really think it’s the best option for day-to-day casual wear. It can definitely a big perpetrator of “cake face”, since it’s medium to full coverage. I’m also not really positive it was “good”, from a biological standpoint, to wear while I had such bad acne. But let the six tubes of this in my drawer be a testament to how much I loved it, for many many years. The coverage is awesome. The shade range is awesome, possibly one of the only foundations that’s been able to match my skin tone through every single season. The price point is phenomenal as well, from $5-7 a pop.  Thanks for getting me through it all, Rimmel! ~A

If coverage is your issue, I strongly recommend picking up a tube of Stay Matte here: https://amzn.to/2M10jZa

Perceived efficacy: 3.75/5

Longevity: 2.75/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Rimmel Lasting Finish 25 Hr Breathable

Rimmel 25HR

During the worst of my acne, I really underestimated this foundation because it’s not full coverage like Rimmel Stay Matte. In retrospect, I should have used it more often because it is extremely lightweight, yet gradually buildable — I think my skin would have fared a lot better! 

The initial application is pretty strange all around. There’s a wand applicator which is… fine? But not really helpful? I’d rather use a sponge or my fingers, since the wand isn’t absorbent enough to hold onto much product. So it ends up sort of getting in the way.

Also, after spreading, you’re going to look in the mirror and say “wtf, where is it?” and want to apply 20 more coats. But the foundation should start to noticeably thicken up after about five minutes — once that happens, it looks great! The color is gorgeous, and accurate to it’s description. The overall texture is very smooth and “glowy”. No cakey-ness whatsoever.

Now, as I mentioned, the coverage is medium, and it won’t cover huge spots very well. In fact, it’s not really great at covering even small spots, so keep your concealer handy if that’s an issue. However, I can confirm that this makeup has not caused MORE spots for me, which is great!

After a nine hour day of work, this held up really well. The vibrancy had definitely faded, sure, but I didn’t have any crazy oil breakthroughs, and I still felt fully covered. Now, as for the advertised 25 hours… I’m not so sure about that. I have worn it later into the night and definitely thought “I need to reapply this”, but it doesn’t break down as badly as most foundations I’ve tried.

Foundations are really tough for me to find and buy in exactly my color without being cake-y or breaking down after hour six, so this was a solid purchase. And, bonus, this has SPF in it! Happy Halloween, everyone! ~A

Update, one week later: this foundation plays best with my Clinique Dramatically Different moisturizer, and not so well with anything else in my rotation. Also, as with most foundations, warmer weather will knock the longevity of this product down to about six hours instead of eight, so I dropped the longevity score a bit. I still love this stuff, though!

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

L’Oreal Lumi Glotion

Loreal Lumi Glotion

I had oddly unrealistic expectations of this product. Like, the moment I put it on my face, I would sparkle and have flawless skin, Edward Cullen-style. And while that didn’t exactly happen, much to my dismay, I’m still oddly satisfied with this product.

I picked up the lightest shade, and noticed there is exactly zero tint (or, if there is, it is invisible to the human eye), thus firmly putting it into the category of a primer. The glow is subtle in my opinion, but it’s perfect to slap on for work just to brighten my natural skin a little bit. It seems to hold up pretty well for eight hours as well, and doesn’t slowly devolve into “looks slimy”. I’ve seen a lot of other reviewers mention that they use this as their under-eye highlighter, but I honestly don’t think it’s bright enough to replace powder or stick highlighters. One of the tags for this on another review was #minimalistic and I thought, yea, that’s exactly how to describe this! If you’re a glow-y minimalist, anyway.

As for working with foundations… well, it didn’t show up when I put it under my foundation (which is how most primers are supposed to work, right?), and it didn’t seem to play well with foundation when I put it on top. I feel like this is going to make or break a lot of people’s opinion on the product — but I’ll personally keep my high review because it works really well for me, using it as a standalone primer, without the addition of foundation.

Despite being termed as a lotion, this isn’t quite a moisturizer, but slapping some actual moisturizer under this product will do just fine without pilling. Price point is $10-$14 which seems a little steep for something that doesn’t do much except prime, but honestly this is fine if you want to make an Aldi run with a bit of glow to your face.

Also wanted to note — if your skin is acne-prone, you might want to skip this one. I’ve caught a small outbreak or two when I wear this that I don’t normally get, sadly. Still like it though, ugh! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3.5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5