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?