Long Wear Foundation Experiments

Most days, I'm working in an air-conditioned home office, doing nothing more strenuous than occasionally getting up to play with the dog. The only time anyone sees me is on the occasional video conference call, so if my makeup fades a little during the day it's no big deal. I'll be doing a lot of travel this summer, though, and that's going to mean some changes to my makeup routine. Over the past few weeks, I've been auditioning foundations, including a couple from drugstore brands. Here are my findings.

Revlon ColorStay Makeup for Normal/Dry Skin in 150 Buff

It's been years since I've used a drugstore brand, at least for foundation - I've had some bad experiences with oxidizing and orange skin is not a good look on me. But I know that drugstore foundations have improved so I decided to give Colorstay a try. The shade I tried is a good color match for me. The formula is a lightweight liquid that I was able to apply with a sponge, but I think it sets too quickly and that made it really hard to blend. It also doesn't have great coverage - I had to use a lot more foundation than I normally would just to even out a little redness, and that left me feeling like I was wearing a mask.

L'Oreal Infallible Total Cover 24HR Foundation in 301 Classic Ivory

This is just fine as an everyday foundation. The formula comes out of the tube as a somewhat thick paste, so you definitely want to apply this with a brush. In spite of the thickness, it didn't set too quickly so it was easy to blend, and it had coverage that was buildable enough to even out the redness in my skin tone. What it is not is a longwear foundation. It started fading within three hours, although at least it faded evenly. That's the best I can ask from any foundation - if it fades or sweats off in a gradual way that doesn't leave patchy lines, that's fine. This foundation will probably stay in my daily rotation when I'm working from home, but I won't be taking it on my travels.

Urban Decay All-Nighter Waterproof Longwear Foundation in 0.5

When I put this on, it had all the signs of a good long wear foundation. It set quickly enough that I had to apply just a little at a time and blend carefully. The coverage was buildable but still felt light. It has a really nice, natural finish on the skin - it's one of those foundations that leaves you looking like you're not wearing anything at all.

However, it didn't really last for me. I wore it twice, once at home and once on a day out of the house running errands. About halfway through the work day, I checked in a mirror right before getting on a video call and realized that there was a some fading around my t-zone (and I had set with powder, I always do). The fading wasn't dramatic, but more than I would expect for a foundation that markets as "perfect for all-night affairs". This wouldn't last through a night of clubbing - it didn't even last through a day of sitting in front of a computer. I tried it again on the weekend, and although it faded gradually and evenly, it still didn't make it through the day of running errands in the Texas summer heat.

Yves Saint Laurent All Hours Foundation in BR10 and BR20

I got these foundation samples as part of a special promotion, I don't think you'd actually find these minis for sale out in the wild. The first one was a great shade match for me, but on the whole this formula was so disappointing. For a luxury brand, I expected so much more, and things certainly seemed promising when I opened the bottle and saw the lovely spatula included for application. But this foundation had all the worst features of a longwear for me - it set quickly so that blending was a challenge, and then it didn't last. By the midway point of the day, I had faded spots around my mouth and cheeks. I won't even be finishing the sample bottles.

MAC Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation in N18

Of the five foundations I've tried, this is the clear winner. The shade is a great match for me, the formula has buildable coverage that never feels heavy, and it does what it says it will - stays put on my face all day long. I wore it first through a work day that ended with an after-dinner dog walk in the evening humidity and my faced still looked flawless at the end.

For a second test, I wore it to the Families Belong Together rally I attended in Austin this past Saturday. It was scorching hot out - the temperature hit 100 degrees, with 34% humidity - and my face stayed on. I was sweating so much, I was sure any foundation I had put on before leaving the house would be washed away, but when we got back home three hours later I still had a lot of coverage! I did have some fading around my mouth (where I tend to perspire the most) but it was minimal, barely noticeable. Where we're going, the daytime temperatures shouldn't rise above the mid-70's, so I think this foundation will be more than fine.

Root Covers for Bright Pink and Red hair

How oddly specific, right? But I've had bright hair for most of my adult life, and let me tell you, now that I'm starting to go a little grey underneath, root covers are the one thing I wish I could find more of.

Yes, I really have had either bright red or bright pink hair for that long. Some time in the mid-90's, I bleached my hair. Somewhere, there exists a photo of me as a platinum blonde in the moments before I topped it with Manic Panic (in Rubine). The bleaching was a mistake - the color was so flat, I looked like Ronald McDonald. But after that, I started learning how to mix color myself so that I could get something a little more permanent. The hair colors I wanted just didn't exist. Clairol had a line called the Torrids that came close, but what I really wanted was true red. Lipstick red. Stop sign red. Cinnamon red hots red. A red that was clearly not a color nature intended for hair. Instead, I got copper or burgundy most of the time.

Eventually I started getting my color done professionally, and between Pravana and Schwarzkopf and the professionals I've known along the way, getting the perfect color is no longer an issue.

I hope I'll start to recognize when I'm old enough that the bright hair no longer works. But for now I just have a little bit of grey coming through at the crown - everywhere else is still that familiar muddy brown that I've been trying to escape since my youth.

When that grey peeps through, it really ages me. Until recently, though, my only choice for covering it up (until I could get to my colorist) was standard drugstore root concealer. L'Oreal makes a spray, and there are a few other hair color brands that make them in pencil or cream stick form, but they're all made for auburn or copper shades. I used the Rita Hazan touch-up spray for a few years, because dark roots were at least better than grey ones.

You know that Jerome Russell B'Wild colored hairspray that comes around every Halloween? I tried that too, but it's really sticky and uncomfortable to wear. Same with the hair chalks I see marketed to festival girls - they're too sticky, and the colors I've found are too pastel, never bright enough.

These days, I'm pretty happy with my root cover situation. Brightly colored hair is becoming more common, so there are a lot of options popping up.

One of the most convenient is L'Oreal's new Colorista Hairspray in Hot Pink. It does also come in a wide range of colors, from pastels to vivids. It's easy to use, and I've found it at Target, so it's also easy to restock. It is a hairspray, though, so using it means you might have to deal with a little unwanted stiffness in your hair.

Next up is the Bumble and Bumble Bb.Color Stick. It doesn't come in as many shades - just a few variations on blue and pink (I use Flamingo), but it is more precise and less messy than a hairspray. It's like a crayon that you can use to color in your grays (I think it's intended to draw on colorful highlights, but creative reuse is everything). It doesn't smudge or smear, but it's pretty easy to wash out at the end of the day. I keep one of these sticks in my purse for touchups.

My absolute favorite product for covering roots, though, is an inexpensive product I found at Sally Beauty a few months ago: Ion Color Brilliance Root Cover (I use Magenta, but it also comes in vivid blue and purple shades). This is a powder that you brush on - the product is in a plastic jar and dispenses through the attached bristles. But it doesn't just apply color - it's also a dry shampoo with a subtle, pleasant scent (and if you have brightly colored hair, you know that shampooing more than a few times a week is out anyway, so a good dry shampoo really comes in handy). Although it's easy to apply, it can take a little effort to scrub it off

The down side? This product has been discontinued according to the manufacturer. It looks like they intend to replace it, but their links to the replacement product are dead for now. Luckily, it can still be found on eBay (I confess to doing a little stockpiling - why do brands always seem to discontinue the products I love the most?).

Other ways I keep the rest of my hair (not just the roots) bright: I mix temporary color in with my (sulfate-free) shampoo and conditioner. I've got a couple of glass bottles, one for each product (I like them because they're non-porous, but if you're concerned about having glass bottles in the shower, there's no reason not to use plastic). For each one, I mix in a few squirts of Special Effects (I use Atomic Pink).

There are also some great color-depositing shampoo and conditioner products that I've used in the past, if you don't feel like mixing your own:

  • Davines Alchemic Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Overtone haircare products in pink and red