Review: Bare Minerals Foundation

I have less-than-great (OK, kind-of-horrible) skin.  I keep trying to find ways to be nicer to it, including using more natural products. I got a free sample of Bare Minerals foundation and have purchased some for use on my less-makeup days…

Info:  It comes in two varieties:  “Original” and “Matte”.  “Original” is pretty shiny-looking.  It kind of looks like it contains the same stuff they put in bronzers.  It’s that kind of look, anyway – not oily, just shiny.  The “matte” is definitely that. I actually have one of each and combine them for the look I want. (Not too shiny, not too powdery.)  There’s also a new foundation called “Ready Foundation” that comes in a compact, but I don’t know anything about it.

Pros:  Natural ingredients.  Paraben-free.  Doesn’t feel heavy.  Easy to remove.  Looks natural.  SPF 15.  Comes in lots of shades.

Cons:  Expensive.  Can be messy if you’re not careful.  Not much coverage. (read how to get better coverage without buying tons of products here.)  If you apply too much, it will settle into wrinkles and make you look older.  Comes off easily.  The container “traps” some of the product, because of its swivel dispenser cap thing.  I wanted to get all of the product out, so I used a pliers to pry off the cap thing, so I could get the rest out.

In Summary:  This is a good product.  It’s not good for everyday use for me, because sometimes I just need a LOT of coverage.  However, it is good to do the faux-naturale look that I sometimes try to get away with.  (A quick trip to Walmart isn’t worth the effort of putting on all my makeup.)

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars  

Price:   $27  for full-size “original or “matte”

Various “kits” available, starting at $20

Savings Tip:  The only way to get this product at a discount is to sign up for Ulta’s club, and/or the’ and e-mail list.  Once or twice a year, Ulta sends out 20% off total purchase coupons you can use on anything in the store. sometimes (rarely) has similar promotions.  BareMinerals sometimes has “free gift with purchase” deals online and in stores.

Available at:  Ulta, Sephora, department stores,,, Bare Minerals stores


Review: Neutrogena Shine-Control Makeup (Foundation)

Desperate to find a foundation that doesn’t “separate” when my skin gets oily, doesn’t contain parabens, and doesn’t look/feel like it was made of a base of vegetable oil, I picked up this one at a recent trip to a local drug store.  I had been debating trying it for a while and the clever people in charge of the CVS Beauty Care Club sent me a $5 off coupon.  Then they put this product on sale.  And I had a manufacturer’s coupon, so I was able to get it for about $1.  Yeah, kind of hard to say no, right?  By the way, when did foundation stop being called foundation?  Now it’s just called “makeup”.  Isn’t everything I put on my face to try to look pretty called makeup?!?!  I digress.  Back to my review…

Pros: Paraben-free.  SPF-20.  Relatively inexpensive.  Since it’s a “drug store brand”, you can use coupons and promotions to get it more inexpensively.

Cons:   Gritty.  I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting this.  I’m not sure if it’s an “oil control” ingredient, but it’s kind of odd.  Seriously, it’s rougher than some “exfoliating” products I’ve bought.  Only comes in 8 shades.  The one I chose was too dark, but I think the next shade “down” would have been too light.

In Summary:  This foundation does help control shine somewhat, and it feels less heavy than some of its competitors.  It doesn’t separate as skin gets oily the way many foundations do, which is a big bonus.  It’s definitely better than any of the “drug store” brands I’ve tried.  I think Clinique’s Stay Matte Makeup (read review here: works a little better, but probably not it’s probably not “better” enough to pay twice as much for it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars  

Price:  approx $12

Available at:  mass merchandisers, drug stores,, Ulta

Review: Revlon Photo Ready Foundation

I’ve been trying to find a liquid foundation I love (that doesn’t cost a fortune) since my favorite got discontinued.  I’ve been using this foundation, because it’s better than several others I’ve tried.  The new Clinique Stay Matte foundation is great, but it’s expensive (especially since my frequently-changing skin tone requires me to buy 2 colors to mix as needed).  I stopped into The Body Shop today because they were having a buy one, get one free sale.  Unfortunately, their oil-free foundation contains parabens.  The only foundation they have without parabens has olive oil (and another I can’t pronounce/spell correctly), so those aren’t good options for me.  OK, enough of my foundation-quest-drama.  Here’s the review…

Pros:  Paraben free.  Inexpensive.  Available everywhere.  Comes in a good selection of colors. SPF 20.  Oil-free.  Fragrance free.  Made in USA.  Good coverage.

Cons:  Doesn’t go on so smoothly.  “Breaks up” as the day goes on and your skin produces oil.  (If you have dry skin, it’s probably fine.)

In Summary:  I’m definitely “settling” for this foundation. Overall, it’s not a bad foundation, but it’s not nearly as good as the Revlon one that got discontinued.  (Boo, Revlon!)  I’ve been able to improve the “break up” issue somewhat by using Urban Decay De-Slick Makeup Setting Spray, but now that I think about it – why shouldn’t I just pay more for the foundation, instead of paying for an extra product to make cheap foundation work better?  And so my quest continues…

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars  

Price:  approx. $12

Available at:  mass merchandisers, drug stores, Ulta,


Beauty Tip: Getting More Coverage Out of Mineral Foundation

I love mineral foundation – in theory.  I like that it’s better for my skin and doesn’t feel all heavy on my face.  However, I don’t like that it doesn’t give me as much coverage as I’d like (OK, nothing does that – except Photoshop, but still…)  Here are a few things I’ve figured out to make mineral (powder) foundation work a little better, without buying a whole “system” of products…

Upgrade Your Brush:   The best coverage comes from dense brushes.  Find a brush that has bristles that don’t flop around when you push them against your skin.

Moisturize:  Applying a layer of moisturizer (or primer, if you have one you love) and letting it sit for 5 – 10 minutes will help your mineral foundation “stick” better.

Distribute:  To get the foundation to distribute evenly into/onto my brush, I use the following technique:  Pour a generous amount of the foundation into the lid.  Dip the brush into the foundation.  While holding the brush over the lid, tap around the outside of the brush’s bristles, going all the way around.  (This distributes the foundation into the bristles evenly.)  Swirl foundation onto face.  Use a tapping motion to “dab” the foundation over areas that need more coverage.

Concealer:  Apply concealer after foundation.  The swirling motion will probably wipe it off if you put it on before foundation.  Make sure the color is very close to your skin/foundation color, though.

Finish:  To get even more coverage (hey, I need it!), you can apply a translucent pressed powder.  I like Too Faced “Absolutely Invisible“, but there are tons of good ones out there.  If you’ve applied concealer, be sure to use a powder puff over those areas instead of a brush, which will disturb the concealer.

In Summary:  I’d love to always look like I’ve been Photoshopped, but that’s not possible.  So, these are just a few tricks I’ve learned to try to look better-than-natural.  If you know of any others, I’d love to hear them!

Review: Clinique Stay-Matte Oil Free Makeup (Foundation)

For decades, I’ve resisted the urge to try high-end foundation.  I don’t want to get “addicted” to yet another expensive product.   (Plus, my skin tone changes throughout the year, so I’d have to buy 2 – a light and a dark shade – to use it effectively.)  However, my last order gave me the opportunity to “sample” this foundation.  And I wish I had ordered a different sample instead…

Pros:  Oil-free.  Fragrance-free.  Allergy tested.  (I always wonder how that works – do they put it on a person who has tons of allergies?!?!?) Matte appearance without looking un-natural.  Seems to control oil (somewhat).  Comes in a decent amount of shades.  Good coverage.

Cons:  Kind of smells bad. (a side effect of being “fragrance-free”, I suppose)  Has a really long list of ingredients, some of which are off-putting.  (Nylon -12, Nylon-6, what the…?)  Expensive.

Note:  This foundation doesn’t have any built-in SPF.  This could be good if you have a problem with sunscreen, or (like me) get enough SPF from your moisturizer and don’t want your face to be 5 shades lighter than the rest of you.

In Summary:  I pretty much love this foundation, even though it doesn’t smell great.  Unlike my usual liquid foundation, after several hours of wearing this one, my skin did NOT look like an oil slick.  Nice!  Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to be getting any coupons for this foundation, unlike the one I usually get – which I’m able to use store AND manufacturer’s coupons to buy.  And it’s new, so there’s no risk of it being discontinued very soon.  (I signed up for their e-mails.  Maybe they’ll send me a gift certificate???)  I will probably buy it, as soon as I can figure out a way get it without completely ruining my beauty budget…

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars  (If it weren’t so expensive, it would get 5!) 

Price:  $23

Available at: Sephora department store beauty counters

Beauty Tip: Mix It Up

If you’re like me, your skin tone changes throughout the year.  In the winter, I’m generally whiter-shade-of-pale, and in the summer I manage to get a bit more bronzed, depending on how much time I spend outside.  So, matching my foundation to my color-du-jour is a problem.  Here’s how I’ve solved it…

Buy Two:  Once you’ve figured out which foundation you love (good luck!), buy a color that’s the lightest shade you’d ever need (your natural skin tone) and a color that’s much darker than your current skin tone.

Blend:  Mix the colors to get the shade you need.  I usually do this in the palm of my non-dominant hand for liquid foundation.  For powder/mineral foundation, I put both colors into the lid of the container and tilt it back and forth (tapping gently as I go) until they’re mixed.

Voila!   You have the color you need without buying every shade the company makes.  Eventually, you might get dark enough to need that darkest shade (sans blending) and you’ll already have it!