Review & Swatches: Edward Bess Sheer Satin Cream Compact Foundation

edward bess satin compact foundation (0)I have had this Edward Bess Sheer Satin Cream Compact Foundation (retails US$60 on his website, but I got it on sale)  for at least 1.5 years, but have managed to use it only a few times. As I was wondering whether I should toss it, I tried the stuff again and am again amazed at the good coverage and texture of this foundation. After all this time, the cream is still wonderfully creamy, and the color and texture unchanged. So, I decided to keep this compact and to use it more often.

The reason for not using this more often is that it has very poor oil control. Additionally, application will take slightly longer time compared to liquid foundation, which I can pat all over and be done in 30 seconds. However, this foundation still fills a function in my arsenal, as it has great, natural coverage with minimal product, is not cakey, dries down quickly, and shade 04 (beige) is a good match for my face. I like to use this for short, evening events; I might also take this on travels in the future, and for events where I remain indoors in an air-conditioned room all day (which can really get chilly here in Asia). The compact comes in a velvet sleeve with a good-sized mirror and an applicator sponge (which I have yet to use).

Edward Bess really does good foundation. Another of his,  the Complexion Correcting Mousse Foundation, is also pretty good – I should do a dedicated review of it soon.

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Left: With the Edward Bess Sheer Satin Cream Compact – Right: bare face

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Review and Swatches: Elf Mineral Foundation SPF15

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I’ve had this Elf Mineral Foundation SPF15 in my stash for at least a year, but just found it again whilst spring cleaning this long weekend. This is actually pretty good for a mineral foundation: great coverage that can be layered from sheer to full; good lasting power and oil control properties: some sun protection (useful for the morning commute): and a standard, no-nonsense packaging. I actually like the fact that this one takes a bit of product to achieve full coverage, unlike some mineral foundations that are so concentrated that even one sheer layer is hard to achieve.

20150503_102156Unfortunately, the shade ‘Fair’ (the lightest shade in the line-up) is way too red for me,  and layered for full coverage, is plainly too dark (see the difference with my lighter neck in the picture below). I’ve also about given up on mineral foundations as it takes too long too buff out the color, and used in the morning after a night treatment of gentle peeling (retinoids, vitamin c, etc), is just too much exfoliation overall.

However, if you are around NC30 and have neutral undertones, this would be a good one to try, I think. Elf products are priced very attractively (this one is priced at $5), and if you’re thinking of trying mineral makeup, this is a good one to test the waters. If you’re fair-skinned though, you’ll probably not have a match as even the lightest shade (Fair) is pretty dark.

elf mineral foundation

Review and Swatches: Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation Shade 9

illamasqua skin base foundation shade 09 b

I must have 5-6 foundations in rotation at the moment, no to mention bb and cc creams galore. However, I couldn’t resist when a chance to buy the Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation at a discount came. Regularly £32, I was able to snatch one for £21 inclusive of shipping from ASOS. Given that this foundation is something I’ve been curious to try, I pressed the buy button and so far, no regrets.

What. According to Illamasqua,

“This cult blendable, medium coverage formula primes, hydrates and controls shine in one. Creating a perfect finish, this is the ultimate ‘skin realism’ foundation.”

Well, that’s a pretty tall order, and calling your own a ‘cult’ product is a bit much. However, I’ve learned to take brand’s hype with lemons, considering as a direction of what the product should be, rather than what it is. The ingredients include mineral oil, various silicones, glycerine and some vitamin c. For a complete list, please check the Illamasqua’s website.

Shade. The only thing I was a bit hesitant of was the shade. After poring over online swatches, I chose No. 9, described as olive yellow undertone. It turns out to be one of the best foundation shade match I’ve ever had. My face is about MAC NC 30 but my neck area is a couple of shades lighter (about NC 20), so I always aim to match my neck. As you can see below, No. 9 is very close to my neck shade.

Texture, Coverage and Finish. I would describe the texture of the Skin Base Foundation as medium thick. It is not runny but also not thick (my thickest liquid foundation would probably be the Kat von D Lock-It Tattoo foundation). Coverage for me can go from sheer to full coverage, although the later will really result in very obvious layers. I found that the best result is to aim for slightly less than medium coverage, and compensate with a thicker finishing powder which also tones down the dewy-ness and gets me the matte finish that I like.

Lasting Power. The lasting power of this foundation is quite good, though on its own oil control is slightly lower than my favorite foundations. Frankly, I’ve ceased to rely on foundations for oil control, so this is not such a big con in my book.

Overall, I like the Skin Base Foundation and concur with the glowing reviews. Illamasqua says this foundation is inspired by Asian bb creams, and I see what they mean. I would say though that in terms of coverage, the Skin Base Foundation wins. Asian bb creams, however, usually have sun protection built in, which the Skin Base Foundation lacks. This may be a good thing for some people, since there is no white cast and extra oiliness/heaviness.

Left: one sheer layer on bare skin (no moisturizer etc); Rgh: topped with blush and loose powder. Note that the finish with or without moisturizer does not vary much. Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge
Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation Shade 9 splotched all over moisturized bare face
Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation Shade 9 splotched all over moisturized bare face
After foundation and blush, in medium coverage before finishing powder (note the un-matte finish on my oily skin, which necessitates a mattifying powder)
After foundation and blush, in medium coverage before finishing powder
Still Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation Shade 9, but in different lighting. This would be lower than medium coverage with a heavy dose of Chanel Universal Loose Powder (shade 30) plus blush (from a Tarte blush palette). This is my preferred coverage and finish with Skin Base Foundation
Still Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation Shade 9, but in different lighting. This would be lower than medium coverage with a light dusting of Milk of Magnesia on the t-zone underneath to mattify and heavy dose of Chanel Universal Loose Powder (shade 30) on top plus blush (from a Tarte blush palette). This is my preferred coverage and finish with Skin Base Foundation
illamasqua skin base foundation shade 09 c
Application ala tinted moisturizer/bb cream, i.e on bare skin (no moisturizer, primer etc) (left); plus loose powder and blush (middle and right)

 

 

 

 

 

Review and Swatches: Guerlain Parure Gold, Parure Extreme and Tenue de Perfection foundations

Guerlain foundations (left to right): Parure Gold, Tenue de Perfection, Parure Extreme
Guerlain foundations (left to right): Parure Gold, Tenue de Perfection, Parure Extreme

As mentioned previously, Guerlain Parure Gold foundation (number 02, Beige Clair) is my favorite foundation ever. Some blogs mentioned it will be discontinued, so I scrambled to find an alternative (after making sure I hoard another bottle).

It turns out that Parure Gold is not discontinued, and I have this straight from Guerlain France. They might in the future, but not now. But I scrambled already, and amongst the newer Guerlain line-up, these are closest to what Parure Gold offers, i.e. long-lasting and full coverage finish: Parure Extreme Luminous Extreme Wear Foundation SPF 25 and Tenue de Perfection Timeproof Foundation SPF20/PA++. Here are my thoughts.

Coverage. All are similarly long-lasting. I do not find a difference amongst all.

Oil control. Parure Gold wins. Tenue de Pefection and Parure Extreme have about the same level of oil control.

Texture. Parure Extreme is a little bit more runny. Also, Parure Extreme and Tenue de Perfection set more quickly compared to Parure Gold.

Shade: As you can see, even the same number yield different shades; heck even the same type in the same number in different forms (liquid vs powder) yield a different shade; note Parure Gold number 02 in liquid and powder. I actually have this in 03 with the actual compact, but have not been able to find it, and I’m afraid I must have misplaced it somewhere during my travels. Actually, I am not sure at first whether this refill is 02 or 03, but having swatched them together, I’m sure now it is 02, which is too light for my face but works well for highlighting and contouring. Number 03 is the better match shade-wise though slightly redder than the 02 liquid, if I remember correctly.

Anyway, let’s go through the shade one by one (see the comparison shade below).

Parure Gold No. 02 liquid, my HG, is too dark compared to my neck, but since my makeup bases of choice have white casts, it works out ok. I’ve also tried this in No. 03 (samples) but it is darker and redder.

Tenue de Perfection No 02 Beige Clair actually comes very close to my neck shade, although not green and yellow enough. I also bought the Tenue de Perfection No. 23 because this actually matches my tanned skin quiet nicely (I bought it while I had a tan from a week-long coastal trip). I got No. 23 over the purported yellow-based No. 32 (Ambre Clair) because 23 is actually MORE yellow, bordering on orange, and I thought would be a great shade to mix with the Tenue de Perfection No. 02.

Parure Extreme No. 24 is actually for my sister when I make her up, it matches nicely, and really not as dark as the swatch when buffed on skin. I also like to use this as a contouring shade, it works really, really well for me in this respect. I don’t contour with it often though as it is time consuming to do with liquid foundations. I’m not sure why I bought Parure Extreme No. 23 – it has become quite confusing, this matter of foundations.

So, bottom line. Since Parure Gold is not actually discontinued (yet), I should really extricate myself from this confusion, so I will be continuing with this one, in No. 02. Parure Extreme 24 is also a keeper, for my sister and for my contouring purpose. Parure Gold 02 compact too, for contouring. Everything else may need to be relegated to better homes.

Click to enlarge: Guerlain foundations (left to right): Parure Gold, Tenue de Perfection, Parure Extreme
Click to enlarge! Guerlain foundations Parure Gold, Tenue de Perfection, Parure Extreme compared with MAC BB Cream and Studio Fix Fluid

 

 

Review and swatches: Cargo ‘Key Largo’ blush and MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream

Cargo Key Largo powder blush and MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream
Cargo Key Largo powder blush and MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream

I’ve been loving a couple of new makeup lately, the Cargo ‘Key Largo’ powder blush (didn’t these used to be called beach blush?) and MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream (the liquid version).

The Cargo blushes have achieve legendary status amongst beauty addicts and the beauty blogosphere, but I wasn’t too impressed with my first one that I did not bother to buy another. But a recent Hautelook sale brought me ‘Key Largo’ which looks absolutely ravishing online that I must have it. It does not disappoint although time will tell if I am keeping this, as I have several blushes already yielding the same color when applied on the cheeks.

I am also not a fan of BB creams in general for various reasons that evolved over the many years of observing the BB cream hype. I still think ‘BB Cream’ as a marketing jargon rather than a functional product category but I’ve found myself not as averse to them as previously. In my mind, however, they are tinted moisturizers.

With that said, I tried the MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream (the liquid version, not the compact) at a MAC counter recently. It was in the early evening after a tiring full day of left-brain activity. My makeup has faded here and there, and I let the beauty associate put the bb cream on my face (shade medium plus, applied with the MAC 130 brush, which I’m now contemplating to get). Voila, my face was instantly brightened  and smoothed. Alas, I went away with a tube, and have been using it almost exclusively for more than a week.

I use the shade medium plus, and it matches my facial skin tone relatively well although it is slightly darker compared to my neck. However, two of my favorite face primers/bases have a slight white cast, so he end result is good. What I like most about the MAC Prep+prime BB is the oil control, which is excellent amongst tinted moisturizers and foundations I’ve ever tried. Shade comparison with other foundations is below.

Comparison swatches
Comparison swatches

The coverage is sheer but buildable to medium, and the finish is quite natural. The strange thing is that I’m able to coax stellar performance out of my tub of Chanel Universal Loose Powder when used with this BB cream, which I have not been able to do by pairing it with other foundations/bb creams. Until now, I’ve  been one of those people quite puzzled by the hype surrounding this  powder, but now I understand – the powder does set and prolong makeup.

I am currently trying out Paula’s Choice Resist Triple Action Dark Spot Eraser 2% BHA Gel, so my skin is  bit raw and plenty red. But below you can find the evolution from bare skin, to a layer of the MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream (applied with a skunk brush), two layers, and the finished result with the Cargo Key Largo Blush and Chanel Universal Loose Powder (in shade 30). It is quite a natural yet sufficiently polished everyday-look for me, which takes less than 10 minutes to achieve (including a smudged taupe smokey eye).

Left to right: bare face with a swipe of MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream; with one layer; with two layers.
Left to right: bare face with a swipe of MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream; with one layer; with two layers.

 

Done! With Cargo Key Largo powder blush and Chanel Universal Powder shade 30
Done! With Cargo Key Largo powder blush and Chanel Universal Powder shade 30

 

 

 

 

Saturday Zen: Three Favorite Foundations

Comparison swatches: CoverGirl AquaSmooth, Kat von D Lock-It Tattoo, Guerlain Parure Gold
Comparison swatches: Guerlain Parure Gold, Kat von D Lock-It Tattoo, CoverGirl AquaSmooth

A makeup addict’s search for more exciting, more effective, overall BETTER makeup is never-ending. But for a few years now, I am at a zen in terms of foundation. These are my three favorites, in order of preference.

 

g Gold Radiance Foundation (Source)
Parure Gold Rejuvenating Gold Radiance Foundation (Source)

1. Guerlain Parure Gold Rejuvenating Gold Radiance Foundation

I first bought this at a 50% off event, and boy am I glad I did! it was truly love at first use, I’m now about halfway my second bottle after only about 3 years or slightly more. This foundation gives a level of coverage that is believably luminous (not over-luminous), has amazing oil control, relatively good shade match (#02, Beige Clair, in my case), not fussy in terms of application (brush, sponge, fingers, all work as well), gives a little sun protection (SPF 15), relatively moisturizing (or at least not drying), has a nice fragrance (I am a fan of the scents Guerlain puts in its makeup), and has some skincare benefits. The downside is the price, of course, upward of $80, therefore I don’t use it as much as I’d like (which is, every time, budget permitting).

Unfortunately, the love story is destined to be short. Guerlain has discontinued this foundation. I have another back up, but considering I have another year or so with my current one, and with the backup another 2 years or so, I’ve decided that unless I find one at a very good price, I’ll need to let go. If you still want to give it a try, do it now as once supply diminishes, I guarantee you’ll find this selling on Ebay for hundreds of moolah.

 

Cover Girl Smoothers Aquasmooth Foundation (Source)
Cover Girl Smoothers AquaSmooth Foundation (Source: Cover Girl)

2. Cover Girl Smoothers AquaSmooth Compact Foundation

The name is a mouthful, but this foundation is worthy of a big name. It’s relatively flying off radar, and I discovered this quite by accident, at an impoverished Cover Girl makeup counter. The only tester that wasn’t icky to try was this one, which seemed newly opened at the time. Swatching it on my arm, I loved how it is solid in the compact, liquid to the touch and application, and dries powdery on the  skin. Magical. I have been a convert ever since. The pros: the magic of form changing (solid and compact for travel; liquid-y for ease of application, powder as the preferred finish); has some sun protection (SPF 15), matte finish, cheap (about $9). I grab this most often in my current stash of, I think, more than 10 foundations.

The shade with this one is a bit tricky though. Online stores and swatches don’t really reflect the real color, and it is darker in the pan than in real life. I use soft honey; it is slightly darker than my neck and chest area but is a good match for my face. Fortunately my favorite bases has a whitish cast, so it’s perfect. I keep two shades of this, actually, the other is buff beige. They both go well together especially if I have the time to contour and all that jazz. But really, mainly I’m keeping both just because I can.

I can’t really think of a con for this one. I wish the packaging could be a bit simpler, but there’s probably no way to do that, and the sponge provided is actually pretty decent quality. So if this got discontinued? I will hoard and hoard and hoard.

 

Kat von D Lock-It Tattoo Foundation
Kat von D Lock-It Tattoo Foundation (Source: Sephora)

3. Kat von D Lock-It Tattoo Foundation

I already love the Kat von D eyeshadow palettes, so when the Pink Sith recommended this foundation, I purchased it at the first opportunity of a Sephora sale. And? It is everything she says it is, and more! The coverage is AMAZING! It’s like liquid pigment. Just a drop, and scars, darkness, redness, unevenness, etc, are covered. This wasn’t an instant love, but one that grows as we get to know each other better and go out more. Actually for me, this is the foundation that garners most of those “you look nice today” comments.

I use shade M54, and it’s less yellow than I’d like, but not glaringly so especially on days when I stay mainly indoors. With careful application (in layers and using the Beauty Blender sponge), I can actually achieve something akin to perfect skin with this. Which is scary, really. It’s so far from the truth that I don’t ever try that outside.

I just ordered another shade during the last Sephora 20% off (M62, which should be more yellow); but I would gladly buy full price ($34 at Sephora). The downside for me is, believe it or not, too much and too good coverage if I’m not careful. Yes indeed, a nice con. Plus, no SPF.

Comparison swatches: CoverGirl AquaSmooth, Kat von D Lock-It Tattoo, Guerlain Parure Gold
Left to right: Guerlain Parure Gold, Kat von D Loct-It Tattoo, CoverGirl AquaSmooths

So there you go, my little roundup of 3 favorite foundations that put me in foundation zen. I still try this and that, because the world revolves and innovations get made everyday, so I don’t want to miss a good thing. But if right now I have to choose one? Or Two? Or Three? In a heart beat! Actually, I don’t even have a fourth favorite as everything else can be lumped under ‘not favorite’, pretty far down the list from these three.

What is you current foundation love?

Ye Olde Dog and Her New Tricks

 

Tools with which I un-layer (L-R): Guerlain Parure Extreme Foundation liuid, Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation compact, Illamasqua Blush Up Brush, Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
Tools with which I un-layer (L-R): Guerlain Parure Extreme Foundation liuid, Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation compact, Illamasqua Blush Up Brush, Real Techniques Expert Face Brush

This old dog is no stranger to new tricks, and here is a couple she’s learning to do recently.

Doing away with makeup layers

As Cara said, it’s curious the way we put on makeup: layer on top of layer, on top of another layer. Primer, then foundation, contour/highlight powder, color (blush/eyeshadow), etc. So any patch of your facial skin could well have 6 or more layers of products on (including moisturizer, sunblock, finishing powder, etc).

What is the alternative? I’ve seen Lisa Eldrige do it, and Cara has developed a system for it. It is the precise application of makeup only where it is needed. For example, if that is an area where you contour, go ahead and put the contour color directly (whether it is a foundation in a darker shade, or a contour powder, or others). Where you need to highlight? But directly the highlight color (instead of foundation, then highlight color). This is not really an easy approach when you’re used to the conventional layering of products, and to be effective you really need to know where to put what, when.

I’ve been trying this method for a few weeks now, and the result is…. ok. It takes me more than twice the time needed for the conventional method, but I do see that I need less product.I n the picture below, I used this method by placing a primer around the nose and cheek area (Sue Devitt Microquatic Blue Anti-Aging SPF30 Protection Primer applied with fingers); then a sweep of a darker shade foundation to contour the cheeks, jawline, side of nose and temples (Guerlain Parure Extreme Foundation liquid shade 24 Dore Moyen applied with Illamasqua’s funky Blush Up Brush and blended with Real Techniques Expert Face Brush). I then followed with a foundation shade similar to my skin to areas not covered by the darker shade (Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation compact in 02 Beige Clair applied with the Sonia Kashuk Buffng Brush which I forgot to take a picture off). I then buffed the seams with the Real Techniques Expert Face blush. Voila!

With practice, I can see myself perfecting this technique and hopefully cutting down the application time.

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Two foundation shades to contour (Guerlain Parure Extreme Foundation liquid 24 Dore Moyen) and highlight (Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation compact 02 Beige Clair)
Two foundation shades to contour (left, Guerlain Parure Extreme Foundation liquid 24 Dore Moyen) and highlight (right, Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation compact 02 Beige Clair)

Doing away with shampoo

A couple of years ago I had my hair straightened using the smoothing method. The effect  surprisingly lasted until now at the bottom end of my now very long (down to the waist) hair. Add to this, I swim regularly, so the hair is often exposed to chlorine. It’s no wonder my hair is coarse and dry at the moment. No significant split ends are in sight, though, so I’m inclined to keeping its length  for now. But what to do about the dry bits?

I have read for years about people forgoing shampooing. Clearly SLS in my favorite shampoo is drying, so I tried to do without at one time, using only a conditioner to clean my scalp (with vigorous rubbing). The result? The scalp actually feels clean, and the hair is not as dry. So I experimented with forgoing shampoo for at least 3 washing cycles, and it was surprisingly easy to do — I did not unbearably miss my shampoo. My hair is less dry, and I have a little bit more workout in the shower, doing the vigorous rubbing. The scalp gets slightly oilier faster compared to using shampoos, but that was the main difference, which I can live with. So I have since done away with shampoo except on days when I go swimming.

I’ve used various stuffs in lieu of shampoo: hair masks/creams, conditioners, facial cleansing oils. The verdict: they are all as good at cleansing the scalps. The key is actually your mechanical rubbing to loosen dirt and oils. However, runny conditioners that slightly lather are better at cleansing the hair itself. Creams (e.g. hair masks) are better if you dislike having something runny going down your back while cleaning your head. After I clean my hair, I usually make a bun of it, place it atop my head, and continue lathering and cleansing my body. Once that’s done, I flip my hair down and rinse the hair away from my already clean body.

So, what radical beauty change have you made recently?

My favorite for a non-shampoo cleansing: Carol's Daughter Monoi Repairing Hair Mask
My favorite for a non-shampoo cleansing: Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Hair Mask (Source)