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


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.


bareSkin by Bare Escentuals


bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation ($29) is the highly anticipated liquid mineral foundation from Bare Escentuals. Launched on QVC in late April, it was released nationally last week in all Bare Escentuals shops, as well as other retailers that carry the BE makeup line. I eagerly went to my local Bare Escentuals boutique to see the new foundation for myself.

For years I’ve wanted to like Bare Escentuals powder mineral foundation, but I just can’t wear it. It makes my face look chalky, and never settles into a natural look. I’ve tried both the loose powder foundation and the pressed powder foundation, but I can’t wear either. So I had high hopes for the bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation. bareSkin is a treatment foundation that is supposed to help your skin as it provides color. According to the Bare Escentuals website:

    Clinically proven tone-correcting mineral foundation and brightening serum in one. Created with exceptional purity in mind, this ultra-thin, skin-perfecting fluid provides seamless adjustable coverage, a natural finish and the look and feel of beautiful skin while delivering a noticeably brighter, more youthful appearance. Made with the bare minimum ingredients and formulated without oil, silicone, parabens or fragrance. It’s like nothing you’ve ever felt before.

The makeup artist who assisted me at the Bare Escentuals boutique color-matched my pale, pink-toned skin and chose the lightest shade, Bare Porcelain (01), for “the fairest porcelain skin with cool undertones.” To use bareSkin, you also need to buy the Perfecting Face Brush ($28).


The Perfecting Face Brush is a flat-edged brush with a well in the center of it. To apply the bareSkin foundation, you need to shake the bottle, and apply one or two drops into the well of the brush. According to the makeup artist who assisted me in the Bare Escentuals boutique, you need one to two drops of bareSkin foundation for each side of your face. After you put the foundation in the brush, you buff the foundation onto your face with the brush in circular motions, just as you would when applying the loose mineral foundation. Before putting the drops of foundation into the brush for the other half of your face, you need to shake the bottle again. Basically, you will need to shake the bottle every time you put drops of the foundation into the brush. You can build the coverage by adding more drops of foundation and going over your face again. So having worn this foundation for three days in a row, what do I think of it? In a word, meh.

The coverage is thin, which would be good for someone who wants a natural finish (and, again, you can add more foundation to build coverage), but I also find it to have sort of an eggshell finish to it, almost like a lacquer or varnish. The makeup artist who assisted me told me to apply the Bare Escentuals primer before applying bareSkin, and sweep Mineral Veil on top of it, in order to help it last longer than the 3 to 5 hours it would last without primer and powder (the bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation might last longer on drier skin types than oily or combination skin). But putting Mineral Veil on my face makes my face look chalky, dry, and powdery, which is why I opted for the bareSkin serum foundation in the first place. If I need to apply mineral powder on top of it, then it defeats the purpose of using the serum foundation. I also don’t like how the bareSkin serum foundation settles into my pores, especially on my nose. I tried blending it with a blender sponge, but in order to get it to blend in seamlessly, I feel like I’m actually taking off more foundation than I’m leaving on. Plus, primer, foundation, and powder turn a one-step makeup routine into three steps, and in the morning, I want to apply my makeup quickly so I can have more time to enjoy my coffee.

To its credit, the bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation has an SPF of 20. It also comes in twenty shades, with both pink, yellow, and neutral undertones, so there will be a shade for almost everybody. I’m not crazy about the bareSkin foundation, but I like the Face Perfecting Brush. I might try using it with a traditional liquid foundation and see what kind of coverage I get. Sadly, I just spent almost $60 on products that have been relegated to my makeup bag of unused products, after only three days.

Have you tried bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation? What do you think of it?

Lorde to Collaborate with MAC Cosmetics


MAC Cosmetics is renowned for collaborating with celebrities on limited-edition makeup collections. Past collaborators have included Beth Ditto, Iris Apfel, Dame Edna, and Miss Piggy. This week MAC announced that their latest collection will be a collaboration with Lorde, the seventeen-year-old New Zealand singer who won a Grammy for Best Pop Solo earlier this year for her debut single “Royals.” No word yet on what the makeup collection will consist of, but the collaboration between MAC and Lorde further attests to the popularity of the young singer, whose solo album Pure Heroine reached number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart, and charting within the top-ten in eight additional countries. Come to think of it, Pure Heroine would be a marvelous name for Lorde’s MAC collection.

Boston Red Lips

photo courtesy of BostonMints

I love a good lip gloss. I’m not really comfortable in lipstick unless it’s for a special occasion. But if I don’t have time to put on anything else in the morning, I always find a few seconds to swipe on lip gloss before I run out the door. Failing that, I can throw on some gloss on the bus from the several tubes I keep in a small cosmetics bag in my purse.

Recently I was given samples of a new lip gloss to try. The fact that it’s homegrown in Boston made it that much more intriguing. BostonMints is not candy, despite the name. It is in fact a new line of creamy, minty-flavored lip glosses. They were created as a custom lip cosmetic for use under the punishing lights of photo shoots. Boston-area make-up artist Joanne Ilacqua shared the lip gloss with models she had worked with, and word spread. Joanne sold her BostonMints lip gloss in-person, then in stores and at her spa. Now they are available online.


BostonMints come in 12 shades – some sheers, some shimmers – and each one named after a New England destination, such as “Swan Boat” or “Newberry Street.” They contain vitamins C and E, aloe vera, and essential oils like Spearmint. Each gloss comes in a full size as well as a handy purse size. Joanne, the founder, kindly sent me two shades: a full-sized tube of “Scarlet Letter,” which is a warm shimmer/shine in a zesty orange shade, and a purse-sized tube of “Go Sox,” a warm sheer in a true red shade.

best glosses

Scarlet Letter (top), Go Sox (bottom)

Scarlet Letter (top), Go Sox (bottom)

To be honest, both colors frightened me at first. The reason why I don’t wear lipstick is because the color is too concentrated for my comfort level. When I saw the vivid hues of these glosses, I was afraid they would be too bright. But upon application, the colors are actually very creamy but sheer. In a word, wearable. In particular, I thought “Go Sox” would be too red to be flattering on me. But it goes on a sheer, pretty pinkish red that would be flattering for all skin tones.

best red

“Scarlet Letter” is a true orange, so if you’re not into orange, then it might not be for you. But orange is big this spring (MAC just came out with an all-orange makeup line in collaboration with the orange-haired Hayley Williams, lead singer of Paramore, so there you go). “Scarlet Letter” is the perfect coral to perk up my complexion this spring.

best orange

Both shades are rich and creamy and have staying power. They live up to their name in that they taste minty, but they are also moisturizing. My lips feel soft when I wear them. I am already thinking about which of the remaining 10 colors I want to try next!

BostonMints lip glosses are available online at www.bostonmints.com.

And in light of the recent tragic events in Boston, I am posting a link to the official foundation that has been established to help the victims and their families. If you wish to donate, please visit The One Fund Boston. Thank you.

In Search of the Perfect BB Cream – Part Two

Yesterday I reviewed the first three of six BB creams that I’ve tried in my search for the perfect one. I bet you didn’t get any sleep last night wondering which one is my favorite. Did you? And no, I didn’t dream about BB creams last night!

After having little luck with Western BB creams, I decided to give the Korean BB creams a try. So I turned to eBay. My first one was Etude House Precious Mineral Bright Fit BB Cream ($13.15 for 60 g. from sing-sing-girl).


I was a little apprehensive about ordering a product from overseas, but my BB cream came from South Korea to the United States in 10 days. The Etude House BB Cream has an SPF of 30 and comes in four shades: No. 2 Light Beige, W13 Natural Beige, W15 Sand Beige, and W24 Honey Beige. I chose No. 2 Light Beige. The shade looks a little gray at first, as I’ve heard many Korean BB creams do, but it dries down to become a good match for my complexion, and I love the coverage. It looks natural but gives my skin some much-needed ummph.

When I purchased the Etude House BB cream I also purchased the Holika Holika Petit BB Cream #01 Essential ($5.99 for 30 ml. from rubyruby76). It arrived from South Korea in 12 days.


The Holika Holika BB cream was by far the least expensive of the BB creams I’ve tried, but it comes in a much smaller tube. It looks more grey than the Etude House when coming out of the tube, and while, like the Etude House, it settles down to match my skin tone more, it retains a cast that makes me look a little ashen and washed out. It looked better when I applied my MAC Blotting Powder over it. But the Holika Holika BB cream has a fragrance to it, which is a little too strong for something I’m putting on my face. While I like the coverage very much, it’s too ashen and greyish for my skin tone.

While I was waiting for my two BB creams to arrive from South Korea, I stumbled upon Hard Candy CC Correction Creme ($8 at Walmart). Being the obsessive beauty product junkie that I am, I purchased it even though I had just ordered two BB creams from overseas!


The Hard Candy CC Creme comes in four shades: Fair, Light, Medium and Dark. Early reviews of the Hard Candy CC Creme online complained about how the shades were too dark for the names they were given. In response, Hard Candy created a lighter shade, which they now call “Fair,” and renamed the older “Fair” shade “Light.” The photo above shows the old lineup, with “Fair” being darker than “Light.” I purchased the lightest shade, “Fair,” and while it looks a little dark when I first squeeze it out of the tube, it blends in to my skin to come very close to matching it. When I look in the mirror I think it might be just a tad too dark, but it’s probably not noticeable to other people, so I can live with it. It provides excellent coverage and makes my complexion look great. The only downside is that is only has an SPF of 15 – the lowest of all the creams I’ve tried. But for $8, this cream is a little powerhouse.

So after trying six creams over the past several months, I’ve narrowed it down to two finalists: Etude House and Hard Candy. Etude House won by a hair. The color blends just a little better into my skin, and it has twice the SPF of the Hard Candy CC cream. I wear the Etude House every day, but I haven’t discarded the Hard Candy. It’s easier to obtain so it could fill in when I run out of Etude House. If you’re reluctant to buy BB cream from overseas sellers on eBay, I’ve since found a company based in Portland, OR, that imports and sells Korean beauty products. It’s called Pretty and Cute. Their prices are a little higher than what I paid on eBay, but they ship from the United States, and you’ll be in Kawaii heaven as you browse their extensive selection of Asian makeup and skin care products.

Have you tried BB and CC creams? What’s your favorite?

In Search of the Perfect BB Cream – Part One


After a less-than-positive experience last year with Garnier’s BB Cream, I put it aside and didn’t give BB creams another thought. Temporarily, that is. The continued popularity of BB creams, their new cousins, CC creams, and the countless commercials for them that bombard me every time I watch t.v., ensured that I didn’t ignore these newest skin-care innovations for long.

Beauty Balms (or Blemish Balms) were originally created in Germany by a dermatologist named Dr. Jart. They were intended for patients who had undergone chemical peels or other harsh facial treatments, to make their skin look and feel better during the healing process. Beauty Balms then became extremely popular in South Korea before cosmetic companies in the West caught on to them last year. Many Western BB creams have been called glorified tinted moisturizers when compared to the Korean creams, which adhere more to the original concept of the BB cream. I certainly found this was true of the Garnier cream I tried. So within the past 6 months or so I’ve been trying out an assortment of BB creams to see if I can find one that gives the coverage I need but that also matches my skin tone. I’ve purchased five BB creams, and one CC cream, to see which one I like best. And I’m happy to say we have a winner. But I purchased six creams, people! Since this review would be rather lengthy if I went into all of them at once, I’m dividing this review into two parts. Tune in tomorrow to see which one wins.

After trying and not liking the Garner BB cream (the “Light-to-Medium” shade was too dark, and it had a fragrance), I thought that maybe a high-end BB cream would be better. I chose the Bobbi Brown BB Cream ($42.00 for 1.35 oz., above) because it came in a greater variety of shades – 5 to be exact – from Extra Light to Medium-to-Dark. I chose the Extra Light.

$42 is a lot to spend on a BB cream, in my opinion, but I felt it would be justified if I really liked it. Did I? To be honest, yes and no. I loved the coverage – slightly matte, and it improved the look of my skin. It also has an SPF of 35, which I need, being a fair-complected redhead. The downside is that Extra Light, which looked fine in the department store when I tried it on, looked too yellow on my pink-toned complexion when I got a look at myself in the bathroom mirror at work. And the Light shade, which I also tried on in the store, was a little dark. My skin is pale and often runs between the lightest and second-lightest shades. If I buy the lightest, it’s too light, but if I get the next-lightest shade, it’s too dark. But Bobbi Brown’s foundations are known for having yellow undertones to neutralize the skin. In my case, it just didn’t work. But if you find a shade that works for you, the coverage and the quality can’t be beat and it’s well worth the $42.

My next foray was the Dr. Jart Premium Beauty Balm ($39 for 1.4 oz.). Dr. Jart is the originator of the BB cream and his company makes three different BB Creams. I thought the Premium would be better suited to my dry and, ahem!, aging skin.


It only comes in one shade, which adjusts to one’s skin tone. And it did to mine. While I liked how Dr. Jart’s cream matched my skin tone better than Bobbi Brown’s, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the coverage. It gave me a sheer, “eggshell” finish which I find doesn’t even out my complexion or hide flaws as much as I would like. Despite the high SPF of 45, which is a huge “plus” for me, my search for the perfect BB cream continued.

After trying both high-end and drugstore BB creams, I went for something in-between with The Body Shop’s All-in-One BB Cream ($20 for .84 oz.). It comes in three shades: 01 for lighter skin tones, 02 for medium skin tones, and 03 for darker skin tones. I chose 01.


The Body Shop’s All-in-One BB cream comes out white in the tube and adjusts to your skin shade. It’s much like Josie Maran’s Matchmaker Serum Foundation. $20 seems like a lot of money for less than 1 ounce of product, although I see on their website it’s currently on sale for $12. Still, this is the tiniest tube of all the BB creams I’ve tried. While the color does adjust to my skin tone, it oxidizes over time and turns a little orange on me. I feel it’s overpriced for the size of the tube, and I wasn’t completely satisfied with it. I ended up putting this away in a makeup bag along with other products I no longer use.

Okay, I’ve rambled on so much about BB creams today that I’m probably going to have a dream about them tonight! Check back tomorrow for Part Two of my review. To paraphrase RuPaul on RuPaul’s Untucked: “Three down and three more to go until Boston Red Lox declares a winnah!”

CK Wonderful


A couple of weeks ago on a trip to my local Ulta with my sister, I discovered CK One Color, the new line of color cosmetics by Calvin Klein. If I recall correctly, I think this is the third time Calvin Klein has launched a makeup line – the previous times being once in the ’80s and once in the ’90s (if anyone knows for certain, please let me know!). Anyhoo, this new collection looks very impressive, with a huge selection of foundation, lipstick, eye liners, mascaras, blushes, and eyeshadows. After browsing the rest of the store I ended up at the CK One Color display, only to find that my sister beat me to it and had already purchased something – a Mascara (below, $18) in Trip, a violet shade. The sales associate who helped my sister, who was Ulta’s CK One Color associate, immediately descended on me. I wanted to get the mascara in brown, but they were sold out. For some reason the sales associate kept trying to push the black mascara on me, but I didn’t want it. My sister later told me that the associate had tried to push the black mascara on her, too. So I also purchased the violet shade. The CK One Color mascara has an adjustable wand. Twist the end cap one way and the wand is thin and straight for definition. Twist it again and it contracts and twists into a fatter, spiraled wand for volume. When I first tried the mascara one morning before work, I applied one coat with the thinner wand. MEH! I was not impressed. It didn’t make my lashes look any longer, it just coated them a pretty electric violet shade – so 80s! However, when I applied the second coat with the thinner wand, BOOM! My lashes immediately grew longer. And when I twisted the wand for a third coat with the spiral wand, ZOWIE! My lashes became fuller. Now I had lashes to die for. And the mascara lasted all day at work without flaking. I’m actually very pleased with it.


The violet mascara was the only CK One Color item I purchased that day. Everything else that I wanted was sold out. Surprisingly, the Brow Pencil and Gel Duo ($22) in Foxy Redhead was sold out. Really? A shade just for redheads (all three of us) and it’s sold out?! The sales associate grabbed the brown one to try to convince me to try it, but I wasn’t interested. I know a girl’s gotta make a sale, but it kind of annoyed me. If a cosmetics company makes a shade for redheads, which is very rare among cosmetics companies, then why would I want to try the brunette shade? Also sold out was the Eyeliner Marker ($17) in Good Girl, a chocolate brown. The sales associate informed me that the following week Ulta was having a CK One event, so they would be getting in plenty of stock for it. Like the true cosmetic junkies we are, my sister and I went back to Ulta the following week.


True to the associate’s word, Ulta had gotten in a fresh supply of CK One Color products for the “event.” I expected a large crowd of people at the CK One display, or at least a little bit of fanfare. But there was none. I was, however, able to purchase the items I wanted. I loved the violet mascara so much that I purchased the brown shade, called Attract, though for some reason the sales associate again tried to push the black mascara on me. I also bought the Foxy Redhead brow pencil and duo (above). This pencil has a soft, slanted tip and is in a retractable tube. This allows me to create a more natural-looking brow than I can with traditional brow pencils, which are harder. It also means it’s self-sharpening. The other end of the tube has a small wand with clear gel to apply over your eyebrows after you apply the color. Foxy Redhead (I love that name!) makes my eyebrows match my hair, as they naturally aren’t as red. As with the mascara, my eyebrows retained their color all day. Another winner.


I also purchased the Eyeliner Marker in Good Girl (above). As with all the felt-tip eyeliner markers I’ve tried, this one hurts a little when I apply it. I think these types of products are good for younger eyelids, not crepey, hooded eyelids like mine. However, a little bit of pain is worth it for the results I get with it. I’m kind of hopeless with eyeliners, so using a felt-tip marker is my favorite way of lining my eye. I use it on my upper lid only, and if I’m feeling daring I can wing it out at the sides for a little bit of retro glam. It lasted almost all day, with only a little fading. My eyelids get oily, and often eyeshadows and liners don’t last all day one me without creasing or fading, even so-called “long-lasting” ones. But my sister noticed when I got home from work that my eye makeup still looked good. So again, another keeper.

As part of the CK One Color event at Ulta, I received a deluxe sample of the CK One 3-in-1 Face Makeup – a serum, primer, and foundation in one. The cashier ringing up my purchase neglected to give me my sample, but the cashier next to her gave my sister hers. When I gently reminded my cashier about the gift, she didn’t know what I was talking about. She had to ask the cashier next to her, who showed her where the samples were. I received a sample in 003 – Sand, which is way too dark for my fair redheaded complexion. This cashier obviously wasn’t paying any attention and just grabbed any old shade. My sister received a sample in 001 – Porcelain. So I was annoyed at the lack of knowledge on the part of the Ulta cashier. But I’m very pleased with the quality of the new CK One Color line. I would definitely brave pushy sales people and less-than-knowledgeable cashiers to try more of the CK One Color line.

Have you tried any CK One Color products? Which ones do you like, or don’t like?

CK One Color is sold exclusively at Ulta, online and in stores.