Feeling Pink (Or: In Search of the Perfect Foundation)

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After trying the new BareSkin foundation by Bare Minerals and being underwhelmed, I was again in search of a new foundation. The Bareskin shade was the lightest shade they made, but it was yellow-toned, and I have pink undertones to my skin. I’ve had this problem with Bare Escentuals before, with their loose powder foundation. The lightest shades are always yellow-based. They don’t get into the pink tones until the medium shades, which are too dark for me. I have this problem with MAC too. I get confused as to whether they give pink-undertoned women the “C” range,for “cool”, or the “N” range, for “neutral.” Whenever I get color-matched at the MAC counter, they give me a neutral foundation, in order to counteract the pink in my skin. But when I get the foundation home and wear it, I can see that it makes my skin look too yellow, especially compared to my pink jawline and neck. And don’t get me started on Bobbi Brown. As much as I love her formulations, her claim to fame is that her foundations are yellow-based to counteract redness. But I have to wonder why some cosmetic companies feel it’s necessary to neutralize pink-toned skin? Doesn’t it make more sense to match a person’s skin tone, no matter what the color? This really makes me miss the Prescriptives counters. Prescriptives was famous for having hundreds of shades of foundation, and their method of Colorprinting to determine which of four skin tones matched yours: yellow/orange, red/orange, red, and blue-red. I was blue-red, and my shade was Camelia – a pale foundation with pink undertones. I had even gotten a custom foundation from them once, but it looked exactly like Camelia only it cost twice as much, so I went back to buying Camelia.

Matching the pink in my skin was the first “epiphany” I reached regarding what I was looking for in the perfect foundation. The second epiphany was that I no longer wanted to wear foundation all over my face. I’ve read in various magazines that women don’t need to put foundation all over their face, only where they need it, but I didn’t believe it. Now that I’m getting older I can see the point of this advice. Not that my skin is terrible, but I’m no longer a twenty-something woman with perfect skin (and even when I was twenty-something, I didn’t have perfect skin. I suffered from chronic adult acne, and wearing foundation all over my face didn’t help anyway). So what foundation would be perfect to just dab on over a few red spots and quickly blend in? I decided I was going to look for a foundation stick.

In the past I hadn’t had much luck with stick foundations. Despite my skin being acne-prone, it had a dry surface, and foundation sticks (and cakes – any cream foundation, really) just showed up tiny dry flakes on my skin. Perhaps I was drying my skin out with harsh, acne-fighting cleansers. And applying a foundation stick all over my face probably wasn’t a good idea. Now my skin is dry, but comfortable, and I don’t intend to put a foundation stick all over my face. I just want to use it as a concealer of sorts to even out my complexion.

Foundation sticks were all the rage in the 1990s. I tried Bobbi Brown’s (again, too yellow), and BeneFit’s Playsticks (now discontinued). But when I walked into Sephora and asked the associate to recommend a foundation stick, she told me they didn’t have any. I found success at Ulta, in the drugstore part, surprisingly, rather than the high-end departments. There I found the NYX Mineral Stick Foundation ($10). It comes in nine shades. I chose the lightest, Fair, because it looked cooler than the next shade that Ulta carried, Light. What’s odd, though, is that the NYX website’s description of the colors describes Fair as having a beige undertone. But when I tried it on, Fair blended so seamlessly into my skin tone that I thought for sure it was pink. I purchased it and haven’t regretted it. I swipe one stripe on each cheek, on my chin, the bridge of my nose, and my forehead, and blend with my fingertips. It blends in seamlessly and doesn’t show up any dry streaks, but that might be because I apply it directly after my cream cleanser, my Josie Maran Argan Oil, my moisturizer, and my sunscreen, so my face is a bit moist. Or maybe the fact that it’s a mineral foundation might have something to do with it. In any event, I love this foundation. And I’ve definitely learned the value of Less is More, as in foundation (I’m using less), in time (I can do my face in seconds), and in money (at $10, the NYX Mineral Foundation Stick is practically one-fourth the price of high-end foundation sticks like Bobbi Brown).

By the way, Prescriptives has since been relaunched as an online-only retailer. The selection of shades has been greatly downsized, but they still offer the four different skin tones. And they still make Camelia.

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