Beauty Reviews: Base Products

As an occasional amateur stage actress and an office worker in my daily life, I have a love-hate relationship with base products. Part of me wishes I still worked in an environment where it was more odd if I wore makeup than if I didn’t. But the realities of my life is that I probably do need to wear a little makeup on a daily basis. I personally try to get away with as little as possible, but sometimes my skin needs a little boost.

I gravitate towards sheer, lightweight base products, and then pin my coverage hopes and dreams on concealers, especially for my hereditary dark circles and the occasional spot. But I hate the feeling of makeup on my face. So here are some of the products I’ve tried recently, which ones I like, and which ones were a bit of a miss for me.

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Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in Nude: This one was a bit of a miss for me. I tried the “Sand” color first, but found it a bit dark. My main two issues are that it tends to oxidize on me and look orange, and I find that my face feels sticky when I use this. It was not horrible enough to return, and I still like it for very, very cold days, but it still spends more time alone on my vanity than carted around for touch-ups.

Klairs Illuminating Supple Blemish Balm: I haven’t actually used a lot of Asian BB creams lately because I find it hard to find ones that don’t go grey on my skin tone, but this one is advertised specifically to have a yellow undertone and no grey cast. So I gave it a try. It’s an interesting texture, and perhaps a touch too light for me, but it’s a nice option for days when I’m not necessarily going to be out all day.

Cover Girl Clean Matte BB Cream in Light-Medium: This is actually my current go-to for the stage. I don’t need a lot of coverage, and I don’t subscribe to the practice of wearing a darker base than my skin tone on stage. And I find that when I wear this, I can get away with skipping setting powder without the director noticing. I also wore it for my most recent head shots because it plays well under lights. It’s fantastic for humid days when I feel as though I’ve been through a bowl of soup after my 30- minute walk from the train station. It’s a bit matte for the winter and days when I’m mostly going from air-conditioned building to air-conditioned building, but it will probably be the base I use for my upcoming wedding, as it is good at withstanding the day.

Pixi H2O Skin Tint in Nude: Oh my, this is one of my favorite base products. It’s sheer, but gives a little boost in terms of evening out my skin. It feels moist (almost wet) when you apply it and is quite cooling, but sets down to feel like almost nothing. And it wears beautifully, never becoming patchy. It does fade, like any makeup, but it fades evenly and doesn’t go all greasy-looking like many bases do, especially those with as natural and satiny a finish as this. It may not hold up to D.C. summer, or very long days, but for everything up to that, it’s my favorite.

Lady Elizabeth and the Quest For the Holy Grail

A rather whimsical title because I’ve always been a reader of Arthurian lore. But instead of the miraculous cup, I refer instead to Holy Grail (or HG) beauty products. I do read some modern beauty publications to get ideas for my makeup, and occasionally, they will list their HG products. I have to say, I’ve never understood such an idea.

I mean, I spent a month wearing all my red lipsticks to decide what I wanted, and then bought a lipstick that I like a lot. But it’s not the ultimate red lipstick. It’s just the best I’ve found so far. I still have complaints. And I’m going to keep buying lipsticks, even red ones. In fact, I’ve already bought two red lipsticks and a couple of sheer red lip stains since then. So no mythical status.

And yet, recently, I discovered the meaning of the HG product. It was after a years-long journey that I discovered it, and I didn’t even know how much I needed this particular product until I found it. I almost bought it on a whim, which is ludicrous considering how expensive it was, but I consider it worth every penny and I will not hesitate to buy it again.

You see, I try not to wear a full face of makeup every day. But I do need sun protection every day, and since I prefer more natural, mineral-based sunscreen products, I like a tinted sunscreen moisturizer to avoid the white cast that mineral sunscreens leave. But I have rather oily skin, and I’ve found that every tinted sunscreen I’ve tried has left my face looking shiny/oily, even the oil-free one. I had resigned myself to using a bit of powder, even though that ruins the light feel of tinted moisturizer.

Enter True Nature Botanicals. On a whim, I typed “matte finish natural tinted sunscreen” into Google, and got a bunch of hits about their Pacific Everyday Sheer Coverage sunscreen. It’s an all-natural tinted moisturizer with SPF 20 and it supposedly dries to a matte-powder finish. Huh. Sounded interesting. The price was less interesting, but after checking out their return policy (30 days, for any reason, satisfaction guaranteed), I decided it was worth it to buy a bottle, use it for a bit, and if I had to return it, the cost of return shipping was probably reasonable for a sample of a luxe product.

And it does have good ingredients. Even though it’s not oil-free, the oils are high-linoleic oils, mostly, which I know work well with my skin. Some of the oils are oils I use by themselves, or oils I’ve looked at buying. Intriguing. I ordered a bottle of the “Light” tint, and it came a few days later.

I have to say, I’m kind of hooked. I need about 2-3 pumps to cover my face generously. It smooths on and then starts to dry to a truly matte finish. The only issue I’ve had is that if I sweat profusely, it will sometimes dry a bit patchy. But other than that, it’s weightless, natural, matte sunscreen that makes my skin look flawless, but without looking like I’m wearing makeup. I’ve definitely gone a couple of days with just this moisturizer and maybe a touch of lipstick.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that my skin is actually looking really good, even bare. I generally have pretty good skin, but it started breaking out around my chin a couple weeks ago and I had two giant pimples on my chin for an audition early last week. I got my tinted moisturizer that evening and started wearing it daily on Tuesday and I’ve noticed that the pimples have gone away a lot faster than usual and haven’t left a lot of lingering marks. Perhaps it’s my new attempt at oil cleansing, but I think the botanicals in this moisturizer couldn’t be hurting. At the very least, I know it’s not causing me to break out.

So that’s the story of my quest for my first Holy Grail product. I’d be interested to hear about any Holy Grail products you readers have found!

Disclaimer: I purchased this product with my own money and have not been offered any incentive to write this review.