Friday, March 23, 2012

Fickle Friday: Finding Foundation

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I received a request to do a foundation comparison. This is a bit of a challenge because I don't have much of it to compare, as I haven't experimented that widely across brands. Foundation is, surprisingly, the one beauty product where I am not especially fickle. Lipsticks and eyeshadows may come and go, but my foundation tends to be the one constant for years at a time.

My first foundation was Clinique Pore Minimizer. Does anyone remember that? You had to shake it up and it dried almost the instant you applied it to the skin. I learned later that it contained alcohol, but what did I care, that stuff was amazing on my young, oily skin. And even though my skin is eleventy billion years older now, I wore the Pore Minimizer for at least five years, and it if Clinique brought it back, I'd be first in line.

If you squint rilly rilly hard, you can see it (source)

After that, I got color printed at Prescriptives and bought whatever matte liquid foundation they were selling 20 years ago for a Blue/Red, extremely fair person. My color was Real Camellia, and my skin must have been a lot more pale back then, or it lacked the ravages of time, because when I tried Real Camellia again a couple years ago, I could just as easily have smeared calamine lotion all over my face and called it a dupe. But back in time to that first Prescriptives experience, they didn't sell anything in a bottle that was pale enough for me, so I had them custom blend a powder for me, which I applied using a Shiseido puff because I hate hate hate loose powdery mess. I wore that powder for ten years.


In the late 90s, I noticed that when I blushed, the color didn't fade away. When I looked very closely at my skin in the mirror, I could see surface redness that appeared permanent. I went to the doctor who told me I had mild rosacea. I was fortunate that I never had acne, but walking around looking like a boiled lobster was no fun, and my Prescriptives powder wasn't cutting the redness, not beyond the first hour anyway.

On the hunt for something to ameliorate the red, I found myself in Barneys, hovering over Stila Illuminating Powder Foundation. My waffling must have triggered the sales associate's radar because she pounced. She suggested that I try Vincent Longo's Cream-to-Powder Foundation, but when I saw it in the compact, I was underwhelmed. She put Stila 10 Watts on one side of my face and VLWC in Porcelain on the other side. I will never forget that frisson of pleasure when the Water Canvas first touched my face—soothing, cooling, quite divine, really. Both foundations looked good, and I could not decide, so I walked away from a sale and headed to Bloomingdale's to do some power shopping. I got hot (those mall halogen lights could trigger a hot flash in a 12 year old) and probably even worked up a sweat. While I was in the dressing room, I looked up and there was my face. NORMAL looking. At least the Vincent Long side was. The Stila side was red and shiny, but the VL side was calm and porcelain. Needless to say, I raced back to Barneys and bought two. My love affair lasted 5 years until it was shot down by some unknown event that caused the foundation to be unavailable everywhere. And when it miraculously came back, the color I had previously purchased (Porcelain) was not the same. Instead of being a cool pinkish beige, it was now peach.

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Just as I was finishing my last backup of Water Canvas, I came across this ad:

Original photo from janeiredale.com edited by me

I was so impressed I immediately started researching this Jane Iredale makeup I had never heard of and learned that Jane started her makeup line at a time that coincided with the rapid growth of laser resurfacing (a fairly aggressive procedure that removes sun damage, acne scars, and wrinkles but which also leaves skin bright red for many weeks). Her seminal product, a mineral-based foundation, which also provides concealer and sunblock in one product, was designed to completely conceal the redness of post-surgery patients without further irritating their skin. To demonstrate, she had laser resurfacing and then posed for the above unretouched photograph, which showed the extraordinary ability of her mineral foundation to conceal and heal skin conditions. That's good advertising.

My discovery of Jane Iredale occurred in 2000, when her cosmetics were not yet widely sold, and they absolutely were not yet sold online. I was lucky enough to find a salon not too far from me and went there as soon as I possibly could. Because my skin was oily, I decided against the Amazing Base® and chose the PurePressed Powder, which I still wear today, twelve years later. Back then, I used it to set the Vincent Longo Water Canvas Foundation, and I was completely satisfied with the face I presented to the world every day.

When Jane Iredale products became more widely available, including online, I experimented with her loose powder as, well.


Here are some thoughts after having used both formulas:

Amazing Base
  • Messy—all that loose powder flying around ... not to mention how much of it I might have inhaled. Yech.
  • Finicky—I found that had to lightly and quickly buff the powder in and move on because the more I worked it into my skin, the shinier my face would look. All that buffing also irritated my skin and triggered a rosacea flush.
  • Too moisturizing—My combination skin got oily earlier in the day (by 10:00 am) and required blotting several times (I use Shiseido blotting papers), and then I had to reapply the loose powder because much of it came off with the oil.
  • Frankenpores—Because my skin got oilier when wearing the AmazingBase, my pores would be visible by noon, with little divots of beige pools sitting in my skin. Ick.
  • Inconvenient—Not particularly portable. Sure, I could toss the jar into my bag, but then all the powder would work its way through the sifter and make an unholy mess the next time I opened the lid. Conveniently, Jane Iredale introduced a retractable Handi brush a couple years ago, which meant I could dump some powder into the cap and carry extra powder with me in my makeup bag ... if I stayed with the loose, that is.

PurePressed Powder
  • Flawless—Takes as much abuse from the Handi brush as I dish out and still provides natural, even coverage with a smooth finish that isn't sparkly in the slightest. It goes down matte at first but evolves into a semi-matte finish within an hour or so, taking on a subtle glow instead of an oily look.
  • Coverage—Perfectly conceals redness without the need for any concealer or foundation underneath. Mind you, my rosacea is quite mild, and I had a two V-beam and five IPL treatments to remove most of the redness, but I still have flaws I like to conceal, like "freckles" that used to pop out in summer as a child, which now no longer fade into my porcelain skin winter (hello age spots; thank you sun damage). What I love best about the pressed formula is it still lets my natural skin show through. I don't want to be poreless, but I don't want my pores emphasized, either.
  • Convenient—comes in a compact with full-sized mirror. Nuff said.

I realize that not everyone is as enamored with mineral makeup as I am. It really works for me, and I love it. For now. Who knows what will happen in another five years. Meanwhile here are a few tips I stumbled across over the years:

  • If your skin used to be oily and you are not yet ready to move on to AmazingBase (or another loose mineral powder, like those by Alima Pure or elea blake), and you find that initial application of the pressed powder looks too dry, give your face a quick spritz of something moisturizing. Any will do, even distilled water. I use Jane Iredale Pommist or her Balance Antioxidant Hydration Spray. I spray a flocked sponge (don't want to wet my mascara!) and then roll it onto the skin's surface. Instant radiance.
  • If, after application, your skin appears ashy or chalky, you are either using too much powder or too light a color. Either choose one shade darker or apply the powder in thinner layers. Lean back from the mirror and examine your face the same way you would when applying brow color; the point is to avoid zooming in—visually take in the entire face when you apply minerals.
  • If the finish from any mineral powder is more shimmery than you want, use your fingertips to press the minerals into your skin. The warmth from your fingers will help the mineral particles to lie flat and you'll get more of a glow than a sparkle.

Bottom line: That's it. Not fickle with foundation. What about you?

27 comments:

  1. I used to use mineral makeup religiously through the late 90s to just a few years ago and loved it. I think it's one reason my skin is in fairly decent shape. But then, I started getting little bumps that oozed and it was because I developed a sensitivity to bismyth oxychloride I have to be careful with any makeup that contains that ingredient-not wear it for longer than 2 days and not in warmer weather to avoid reacting to it. Since this one is pressed, I bet it doesn't have a lot of bismyth in it. Will look for it in the future!

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    1. Tracy, no bis. Here are the ingredients:

      Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891) 14%, Zinc Oxide (CI 77947) 3%. Mica, Boron Nitride, Dimethicone, Stearic Acid, Plankton Extract, Algae Extract, Pinus Strobus (Pine) Bark Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract. May Contain: Iron Oxides, Ultramarines, Chromium Oxide Greens.

      Some people can be sensitive to the seaweed stuff, but it doesn't bother me. I can sleep in this stuff.

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    2. Great! I'm so glad! I for sure will get this one! Thanks so much for sharing Zuzu!

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  2. Love your blog and may have read all your entries since I discovered it! I have combination skin and I am considering trying one of the Jane Iredale pressed powders (maybe mineral, maybe not) or a Laura Mercier pressed powder. Shiseido powder foundation is what I am using now, but I find their colors are a bit too dark on me, although I may be using too much of it. Spritzing is a great idea. Thank you for yet another great post :-)
    PS: How do you apply the pressed powder? I stipple it on with a brush, but I HAVE to get a better brush. I don't know if it is the best way, but I feel I smear my primer if I do it any other way.

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    1. Hi Golla, thanks very much for the compliments! For pressed powder application, I use the Jane Iredale Handi brush. Sometimes I use Hakuhodo G527 Powder Brush or a flocked sponge. I've had the Handi since 2000 and it looks as good as the day I bought it.

      With pressed powder, I think it's important that the brush surface be flat so you can get a full, thin layer in one or two swipes. Regular powder brushes (with round or domed heads) are meant to flick excess powder off the skin, but I don't think many know that.

      For on the go, I carry the Hakuhodo H601 Slide Face Brush, which is fully retractable. It isn't a flat-topped kabuki, but it's meant more for touchups more than anything else, though sometimes I use it for blush.

      Hope that helps!

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  3. No, I never knew that about the domed brushes, but now that you mention it, it does make sense. Will definetely check out the flat brushes you mention. Thanks a lot for your advice!

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    1. BTW, I don't stipple as much as swipe and buff in a circular motion. I treat the brush almost as if it were a puff. I simply drag it across my face and then swipe it downward so any potential minerals clinging to facial hairs either gets swept away or at least is pointing in the right direction.

      You might also find this video useful, in which Koren demonstrates the difference in application between dome-topped and flat-topped kabuki brushes.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ7BwLgDBek

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    2. Very kind of you to point me to this video, thank you again for great advice!

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  4. Fantastic post! I remember Clinique Pore Minimizer! If you are still interested in that type of formula-- despite the alcohol content you might like Erno Laszlo's Regular Normalizer Shake-It. I used it religiously years ago, and then recently bought a bottle to see if I would like it now. I do, but even though I have combination skin I do not use it daily because of the alcohol content. I reviewed it a while ago:

    http://lolassecretbeautyblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/erno-laszlo-regular-normallizer-shake.html

    The before and after photo for the Jane Iredale's mineral makeup is astounding! The Pure Pressed Powder looks very promising for my combo skin!

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    1. Hi Lola, I see that Erno Laszlo foundation turn up occasionally on ACW, and I am always tempted but 1) I have never in my life bought an Erno Laszlo product and 2) I wouldn't know what color to buy. I don't think I have ever seen that brand at a department store my entire life. I know it's been around forever, though.

      I'll go check your review.

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    2. Hi Zuzu, It's amazing that ACW sells it for $15.99!! I paid $48.00 at Nordstrom. The color I purchased is Porcelain- it is a very light and pale color with pink undertones. The only other one that I remember using years ago is Neutral-- which is light, but is less pink. Both virtually disappear once applied unless built up, and it is perfect to be set with a powder. I would tend to think that since you are a fair true summer that Porcelain would be your best bet. Here are a couple of links-- hopefully their swatches give you some idea of the colors.

      http://www.ernolaszlo.com/make-up/regular-normalizer-shake-it/c2_38/p81/product_info.html

      http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/erno-laszlo-regular-normalizer-shake-it/2837828?origin=category&resultback=0

      Hopefully my husband remembers to bring the good work camera home-- in which case I will snap a couple of pictures and email them to you.

      That said I would hate for you to buy it and hate it, or get the wrong color. It might be worth seeing if any department store in your area still carries it- so that you can see it first--then hopefully ACW has a shade that would work. Only a few select Nordstrom stores even have it any more (they do online), Saks still has it, Neiman Marcus Still has it (but pulled the counter out of their Beverly Hills location), Bergdorf Goodman has it. However, I would not assume that all atores from each company would have EL counters at their physical locations. From what I can tell there is a new owner and the company is undergoing some changes (discontinuing old products, launching new ones, changing packaging, and trying to revitalize and relaunch and repromote itself).

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    3. Thank you, lola! I'll call around. ACW doesn't have Porcelain, which is surely the color I'd get--it sound perfect--and I'd be willing to take a $15.99 risk there.

      It's good to know that Nordstrom carries it online, because they have a generous return policy, but I HATE to return expensive mistakes. I'll call their 800 number and see if they can send me a sample if I can't find any around here, and if they refuse ... well, that will temper the guilt of a possible return, now, won't it. ;)

      I"d love to see the line revamped. It has a very elegant, pampered, old-world feel to it.

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    4. My pleasure! I definitely agree that of their shades that Porcelain would be your best bet. I would say that Nordstrom would be your best bet because of their generous return policy. I know what you mean about hating to return expensive mistakes, but if you find it too drying because of the alcohol content then I'd return it before pouring $50.00 down the drain! I like the lovely finish it gives, but like I said I don't use it every day because of the alcohol. Or as you say, if they don't give you a sample that will definitely temper your guilt in needing to return it- LOL!

      It definitely has a lovely old-world feel to it, and hopefully the new owner doesn't move too far away from Dr. Laszlo's philosophy while he tries to breathe new life into the company. Over the years, while many Laszlo devotees remained faithful to the line- others lost interest. The line somehow got lost in the shuffle of all of the shiny new brands popping up (which explains why it disappeared from so many stores). Plus the technology has changed so much since Dr. Laszlo's time that I suspect that the die hard users weren't interested in the new products that weren't the creations of Dr. Laszlo himself.

      Here's a bit on their planned relaunch:
      http://www.trbusiness.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11133:laszlo-appoints-marie-clothilde-brule-vp&catid=8:international&Itemid=13

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    5. I don't actually wear foundation every day anyway. I work at home two days a week, and when I factor in weekends ... I probably put stuff on my face 3 days, 5 max.

      Marie-Clothilde Brulé looks very capable and stylish too. I look forward to seeing what they come out with this spring. I know what it feels like to be loyal to a brand that is slowly dying while the Urban Decays and Tartes and Smashboxes are popping up all over the place, all of which seem like the makeup version of TGI Fridays, LOL.

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    6. That's funny- nor do I. These days I have been working from home trying to finish a project (not blog related)-so I can work in my pajamas if I feel like (though I don't often do that)! So there are days that no makeup of any kind goes anywhere near my face-- I think that the skin deserves a break from makeup anyway.

      I agree that Marie-Clothilde Brulé looks very capable and stylish, and with any luck she can help usher in a renewed interest in the line. It will be very interesting to see what they do. You are quite right about being loyal to a brand that is slowly dying and then seeing all of these brands popping up like weeds. I love the analogy to TGI Fridays-- that is hilarious!

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    7. Good morning Zuzu, I took a bunch of pictures of Regular Normalizer Shake-It, but the files were too big to email them to you without sending multiple emails-- so instead I just added them to the post. You may need to refresh your screen to see them. I think it will give you a much better idea of how cool and pale Porcelain really is.

      http://lolassecretbeautyblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/erno-laszlo-regular-normallizer-shake.html

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    8. I just left a comment over on your blog. Gorgeous!! And thank you!

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    9. You are so welcome. I'm glad that you liked the pictures. I think Porcelain will be the perfect color for you. I can't wait to see what you think of it!

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  5. I admit, I find mineral or powder foundations the easiest to apply and fastest IF there is a good match. Recently been using Christopher Drummond which has no bismuth or titanium dioxide. Without the titanium though, coverage is compensated which is fine with me because I usually like a sheer application. If I wanted massive coverage, I usually go for pro brands of cream foundation anyway.

    I tried JI but never could find a decent match. If I did I would use it since it is a rare mineral line that is photo friendly.

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  6. Love your blog, I have really enjoyed the changes you have made, it was good before, but now it's even better. I am 46 with very, very oily skin and live in middle south Georgia where it is very hot and humid, how is Jane Iredale with skin like mine? I currently use the new Chanel Double Perfection Matte Powder foundation and like it better than anything else I have previously used, but I love trying new things especially if it helps with the oil. Katheryn R., McRae, GA

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    1. Katheryn, when I discovered the JI powder, my skin was at its oiliest. You could butter toast with my face in the morning. I apologize for the lurid and gratuitous details, but I was that oily. Even my temples needed to be blotted! Boston summers don't last from March through October the way yours do, but every summer we get a long, torturous stretch of heat and humidity that rivals any sticky weather I ever experienced below the Mason-Dixon line. It seems that every 3 years we get temps that soar into the 100s with humidity so thick you could practically swim to your car. And Jane stands up to it all!

      When my skin was that oily, I would have to blot my face with blotting papers, usually at least twice a day, sometimes more, but the PurePressed foundation stayed in place. When my face would get sweaty, all I did was gently blot, and it did not disrupt my makeup, though I still liked to dust a tiny bit more on the apples of my cheeks and my nose and chin to mattify things a bit and take down the shine that was still there after the oil got sucked up.

      My oil production slowed down markedly around age 46 (50 now). But Jane Iredale has remained my most reached-for foundation, all the way from my greasiest 30s to the skin I have now, which is combination.

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  7. I also have permanent redness, which I'm sure is only going to get worse with age (along with my accumulation of freckles). Most of the redness I have comes and goes (alcohol, sun exposure, embarrassment, spicy food, almost anything or nothing at all can cause redness), but some stays behind. Usually a blemish will leave a mark for several months, although I've noticed that sometimes it never goes away. Can you do a post (or have you already?) about the treatments you had done for rosacea? I probably also have mild rosacea, but haven't gone to a doctor for it. IPL sounds good, but I'm so scared of damaging my skin permanently. Thanks for such a thorough post! I started with Bare Minerals and then tried Jane Iredale and Youngblood; I like both quite a lot.

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    1. Sure, I'd be happy to share my experiences with treating rosacea!

      I know what you mean about *anything* can cause redness. Some days I'll be sitting at my office desk and a flush will come out of nowhere. I am starting to wonder if the light from VDTs can have an affect.

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    2. Thanks so much! It's nice to know I'm not the only one with these issues, especially if you've already found "the cure" =) Alpha Lipoic Acid is the only thing that I've found to help with redness long term.

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  8. Wow. I don't use many mineral foundations, and this kinda makes me want to start using some more. Those look great and the advertising for the Jane Iredale one was genius!

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    1. I agree! I love that Jane practices what she preaches, and almost all of the makeup I have used in her line is of excellent quality. What I love most of all is that I can get it all pressed, from foundation to eyeshadow to blush. No messy powder for me, even though other mineral brands, like Alima Pure, offer a wider selection of skin colors and has more eyeshadow options to flatter my skin tone. I should learn how to press eyeshadow myself. I'm sure there's a YouTube video out there somewhere ...

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