Welcome to the second in my “Beauty Stars of 2018” series! The first part is here, if you missed it.
Without further waffle – on we go!
PART 2: MAKEUP (COMPLEXION)
Primer is a terribly subjective thing; because of the fact that primers serve all manner of different purposes, it tends to be the case that I choose a different one depending on the needs of my skin on that particular day. I do however have two clear winners from the point of view of “most used”, and here they are. See my previous post here for more on primers in general.
Winner: Younique Touch Glorious Face Primer – £30
Far and away my favourite primer of all time, ever. I’m afraid I’m going to cheat outright here and reproduce my review from my earlier post, because I’m still every bit as much in love with it as I was then, and I can’t put it any better!
“This is one of my hero/holy grail products. I’m fast discovering that anyone who wears makeup with any kind of regularity has at least one or two of them!
This is a good, simple, ordinary, uncomplicated, silicone-based primer. It is smooth and silky to apply, it smells of absolutely nothing, a pea sized blob covers my whole face, and it dries down to a wonderful, velvety-soft finish which is perfect for applying either foundation or tinted moisturiser on top of.
This is the third tube of Touch Glorious that I’ve had, and I shall only replace it with another one the same when it’s empty. “Glorious” it is, and it’s a keeper.”
Runner-up: Benefit the POREfessional – £27.50
POREfessional is a relatively new addition for me, but it’s one that will be staying! It does an absolutely cracking job of minimising the appearance of pores, and providing a smooth, silky base to lay foundation down on top of. That said, I tend to reserve it for really bad pore days – and I’ll explain why.
By its very nature, this primer blocks pores. It can’t really minimise them to any great effect without doing so. It’s rather like a plasterer skimming a wall; it fills the cracks (or holes in this case) and smoothes over the top to provide an even base. I find that it doesn’t sit well with me to block my pores on purpose every day of the week! It doesn’t seem sensible. I would much rather use a lighter weight primer most days and rely on my trusty Bioderma to minimise my pores, and only use this one on really bad pore days, or when a better finish than normal is called for.
Winner: Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup – £33.50
As with my remarks about Touch Glorious Primer above, I don’t know that I can improve on what I said in my full review here! I honestly and truly consider this to be the greatest foundation of all time. I’m absolutely in love with it. Another of the aforementioned “hero” products!
Briefly: it goes on easily, spreads easily, blends easily, builds up as much or as little as you need it to or any given day, and stays put absolutely all day. Unlike other foundations of the kind, it doesn’t feel thick or mask-like on the skin, and nine times out of ten I forget I’m wearing it, until it’s time to go to bed and I realise I haven’t taken it off.
When the time comes for removing it, it dissolves and disappears perfectly easily with an oil or balm cleanser, and disappears without a trace. If you didn’t see my review the first time, I would very much encourage you to have a look.
Runner-up: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser – £24.00
Much as I love Double Wear, there are times when something lighter and more sheer is called for, perhaps a day when I don’t have a time to blend and set foundation fully, and I simply want a quick swipe of something to even out the colour and texture of my skin.
Tinted moisturiser has the magical ability to produce a “you, only better” effect. It gives a very natural appearance, and blends easily on top of my usual moisturiser. I find that a light dusting of pressed powder over the top is then enough to keep it in place for most of the day.
It also has the added advantage that it can be (and indeed is sometimes better) applied with fingertips rather than a brush, so is absolutely ideal for applying on the fly – I think many of us have had moments when we’ve had to resort to applying makeup on the bus or train, and this is far better than ordinary foundation for that!
Winner: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer – £24.00
A third hero product! What’s not to love about a product that has the power to make you look like you’ve had 8 hours’ uninterrupted sleep when nothing could be further from the truth?
This wonderful tube of magic has the dual effect of covering dark circles and providing a brightening effect at the same time.
Early on in my makeup journey I discovered that the preferred option is to have concealer in two different shades: one the same colour as your foundation for covering stubborn blemishes and spots, and one in a lighter shade for covering dark circles and brightening under the eyes and in the T-zone (the forehead, down and around the nose and onto the chin).
I have to say that I haven’t found the need for one the same colour as my foundation so far (mercifully, I have yet to have a spot or blemish that Double Wear can’t overcome!) so I only have the lighter shade. And it’s an absolute gift.
Runner-up: Too Faced Born This Way Multi-Use Sculpting Concealer – £24.00
I have had a somewhat patchy relationship with this concealer. For one thing I don’t have precisely the right colour, but I’ve also found the texture to be a little challenging to work with. It’s thicker than the NARS one and has more coverage, but I find it harder to blend and harder to set.
I have rather charitably made it the runner-up in this list only because at the moment I only have two concealers, and this is the one I reach for when I run out of NARS!
I am going to keep trying with it because I do believe it to be a good product on the basis of the number of positive reviews I’ve seen and read, and because I’m not easily beaten – but it isn’t going to overtake the NARS any time soon!
Like (apparently) quite a lot of people, I tend towards using loose powder when at home and pressed when travelling. Loose powder is fantastic, but it’s so easy to spill it on opening if it has been shaken up while travelling, and it can be very inconvenient to use if you don’t have a lot of space when applying your makeup. Here I have simply awarded a single winner in each of the categories of “loose” and “pressed”. In both cases there simply isn’t anything else I like enough to award it second place!
Loose Powder Winner: Chanel Poudre Universelle Libre – £40.00
This powder is glorious. On first glance it looks rather expensive at £1.33 per gram, but when you consider that I bought my current pot of it 7 months ago, it has been used 4 days a week almost every week since then, and that it’s still about a third full, it looks rather less expensive in the long term!
The powder itself is incredibly finely milled and silky in texture and smells of nothing very much at all. It has a faint “traditional makeup” smell, but that’s all. I use the translucent shade, and it doesn’t add any colour to my skin at all, it doesn’t make me look washed out and doesn’t flash back (show up as a ghostly white colour cast) in photographs taken with flash like some do.
Once my under eye concealer has been set with this powder, the texture of the skin is so satiny and smooth that you almost can’t feel it when running your fingertip over the area. It keeps the concealer solidly in place and stops any oil breaking through over the course of the day.
The packaging is beautiful – very traditional Chanel black gloss with the white logo on the lid. The pot is solid and heavy, and looks very attractive on the dressing table; it’s not one that I feel the need to hastily stow in a drawer when I’ve finished with it! Its only drawback is, as mentioned above, that it isn’t great for travelling because of its loose nature: so this one very cheerfully spends its time on my dressing table, and long may it continue!
Pressed Powder Winner: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish – £34.00
This is currently the absolute superstar of the pressed powder world. In comparison to the Chanel, at a hefty £4.25 per gram, this one is, I’m afraid, shockingly and un-apologetically expensive. I can’t make any excuses for it!
However what it also is, is far and away the best pressed powder I’ve ever come across. The texture is smooth and silky and it blends in quickly and beautifully.
The packaging is elegant and stylish, in Charlotte Tilbury’s signature Rose Gold & Night Crimson colour scheme, and it looks beautiful.
Although I use loose powder at home, I always have one of these tucked away in my handbag, which I use for touch-ups during the day if necessary.
Its one flaw, if I had to be really, really picky, is that it doesn’t come with a powder puff. Arguably it goes on best with applied with a soft brush, but when you’re out and about this isn’t always practical. However, a quick trip to Boots (other chemists are, of course, widely available) will net you a pack of two of these for £2.10. When your skin is as oily as mine, powder puffs tend to get disgusting very quickly indeed. At this price, for the sake of good hygiene, I simply chuck the current one away at the end of each month.
Winner: Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter – £30.00
Becca are a very well-established name in the field of “glow”, and their highlighters come in many different colours. This one in “Opal” is one of their two best selling colours (“Champagne Pop” is the other).
Having oily skin, I very often have far more “glow” than I know what to do with, but even with oily skin, there are still areas of the face (usually the top of the cheekbones, the corners of the eyes and the cupid’s bow [directly at the top of the top lip]) which benefit from a little reflected light.
You need so very little of this to get the required effect that it’s another one that ultimately comes off as very good value. Just the barest stroke of a fluffy brush in the pan, with the excess tapped back into the pan is enough.
Runner-up: Anastasia Beverly Hills Amrezy – £29.00
“Amrezy” is a highlighter developed by Anastasia Beverly Hills in partnership with beauty influencer Amra Olevic and released earlier this year as a limited edition. It sold incredibly quickly and went out of stock on its initial run with amazing speed, and I was very disappointed to have missed it.
It was unexpectedly re-released just before Christmas, and I was on it like a cat on a the red dot from a laser pointer! Whether or not it’s still a limited edition I don’t know.
This highlighter is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful in the pan. It’s really very difficult to photograph it to best effect, but in the pan it lies in raised ripples (or waves perhaps?) of shimmering gold. Not many products cause an audible “Oh wow!” when I open them for the first time!
Although it’s hard to see from the two pictures here, Amrezy is slightly more gold when applied than the Becca one, and this is the only reason it’s my runner up rather then the winner. Both apply beautifully, blend beautifully and last very well. It’s just that the Becca colour is slightly more flattering for me than the Amrezy. This really was very close indeed!
When it comes to blush, NARS are the undisputed queens of the scene. Well I think so, and I’m definitely not alone! I recently caught a snippet of an interview in which a marketing guru from a high end luxury brand (no names, no pack drill) was asked about a new blush that the brand was on the point of releasing. The guru was asked: “Is it as good as NARS?” “No!” came the response. “Of course not! Nothing’s as good as NARS!” I rest my case.
Which of these three I use depends on the day and the purpose.
“Deep Throat” (seen on the right of the picture) and “Orgasm” are highlighting blushes, Orgasm being the lighter and more shimmery of the two. (There is also “Super Orgasm”, which is even paler and more shimmery still.) These are perfect for evenings out and for summer.
“Exhibit A” (on the left of the picture) is a classic matte blush, suitable for most occasions. In spite of what looks to be an absolutely electrifying orange-red colour in the pan, surprisingly enough it suits most people, depending on how light or heavy a hand you apply it with. And for most people, absolutely the tiniest, tiniest amount is enough.
By way of an example, my usual means of applying it is to dab the tip of my blush brush into the pan, then swirl the brush onto a clean tissue, and only then apply what’s left on the brush. It leaves the illusion of a slight flush, rather than a heavily applied product.
This is me having done just that (and with Becca “Opal” on top) on Christmas Day. Hello, World!
One of these days, a company might release a blush which outshines the brilliance of NARS. If one ever finds its way into my hands, I shall let you know!
As I think I’ve said before, there seems very little point in taking the time and effort to carefully apply one’s makeup if it isn’t going to stay where you put it. Setting/finishing spray is my number one weapon in the ongoing war against makeup that melts off by lunchtime!
Winner: MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ – Coconut – £19
Mac Fix+ is a really good all rounder, and it also serves very well as an alternative to primer to go underneath foundation if that’s your preference. Fix+ has been around for quite a while, and is available in the original formula plus three different scents these days: rose, lavender and coconut. My favourite is the coconut. For me coconut has always been a very comforting smell. It smells of summer and freedom!
When applied in a fine mist over the top of foundation and after all my powder products have been applied, Fix+ has the wonderful effect of somehow melding and binding the surface together to take away any powdery appearance and provide one smooth finished top layer, but without causing my skin to feel dry or tight once it has dried. Other finishing sprays I’ve used don’t do this anywhere near as well.
It’s versatile stuff too, as well as priming and finishing, it can be used for many other things. I often use it to spray eye makeup brushes when using metallic or glittery shadows rather than just using water, as the shadow tends to stay put longer. Karen at Makeup & Beauty Blog has no fewer than 10 different ways to use it!
Runner-up: Urban Decay Chill – £24
Although Fix+ is my preferred finishing spray, sometimes in the summer I will opt for this one instead. Urban Decay’s “Chill” features “cooling time-release Temperature Control Technology”, and actually does provide a cooling sensation when applied, and for some time afterwards.
Although I don’t find it works as well as Fix+ in terms of pure staying power, it’s definitely very refreshing, especially on long, hot days in the office.
That’s it for part two of my Beauty Stars of 2018! Stay tuned for part 3: Eyes, Lips and Everything Else! As always, I’d love to hear your comments below.
DISCLAIMER: This review is not sponsored, and I have no affiliation with any of the companies mentioned. I have not been paid or otherwise compensated for this review, and I (or my very generous husband) pay for every product I review. All opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.