Foundation Primer Reviews | Makeup Forever and Smashbox

I was lucky enough to receive two foundation primers for Christmas that had been on my wish list a long time ago – the Makeup Forever Equalizer Mattifying Primer and the Smashbox Photofinish Primer Water! My very good social media pen pal read that I wanted to try these out and she very kindly sent them to me – thank you! I’ve been testing these primers since Christmas thoroughly with different foundations to make sure I have a very clear opinion on each primer’s performance. Both of these primers have had a ton of hype on YouTube so I had high hopes for the performance of both of them.

For the longest time while I was treating my skin for acne breakouts, my skin tended to stay on the dry to normal side. Then in the past six months to a year, I notice that my skin was becoming normal to oily throughout the day. I had never really experienced oily skin, though I would get sweat build-up on my forehead when I would go running after work – nothing that I couldn’t dab off. After trying out a few foundations formulated for oily skin, I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome and decided a primer was the next step. To be honest, I think part of the reason why my skin started to get oily, and even have a few breakouts, was because I changed some products in my skin care routine. I didn’t really have a reason for doing, only that I was becoming bored with the other products I had been using. After I finish products I have open now, I’m going to go back to my previous routine which kept my skin clear and normal.

Makeup Forever Equalizer Mattifying Primer 

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I was finally convinced that the Makeup Forever primer was worth a try when Bailey B did a review of it on her channel, claiming it made it possible for her to wear foundations in her collection that she formerly not able to wear. I had seen so many YouTubers use this primer and claim that it was great, but Bailey B is one that I feel I can really trust. Like I said, I received this primer for Christmas and have been using since. Some days wearing it Smashbox Primer sprayed on my skin first, other days I wore it alone to see it’s true performance throughout the day.

I find that this primer worked best with the Revlon Colorstay Foundation, and old favorite – I have the formula made for dry to normal skin.  When I used it with my favorite Cover Girl Outlast Stay Fabulous and Ready Set Gorgeous foundations I didn’t notice a huge difference, unless I used in conjunction with the Wayne Goss method – apply a tiny bit of loose powder all over my skin before applying foundation. For the price and hype of this primer however I expected that it performs the best alone. I do want note that I didn’t feel the need to use the Wayne Goss method with the Revlon foundation the way I did with the Cover Girl foundations, which could be a difference in the lasting power of the foundations.

Overall, I think this primer works better than any other I’ve tried, but I still feel like I need to work with it to help it perform it’s best. Given the price and the fact that I’m not really that oily compared to others, I was semi let down by this product. I think it’s good and I’ll definitely use it when I’m in need of a primer, but I think I’ll continue looking for a holy grail primer and focus on my skin care routine to correct any oiliness. The Makeup Forever Equalizer Mattifying Primer costs $35 for a full size, so if you’re just looking to test out the product maybe purchase the generous travel size which costs $16. Also, if you’re looking for an alternative use for this product, Baily B just posted a video demoing how to use this to mattify lip products.

Smashbox Photofinish Primer Water

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Of the two primers I received, this was not the one I thought I would enjoy more. I really thought the Makeup Forever Primer was going to be what blew me away. While this product is marketed as a primer, I’ve been able to use it for multiple purposes and it’s performed well in both of those areas. I can use this to prime my face before applying a base, to mist my skin after setting it with loose powder, and throughout the day to freshen up the look of my skin. It’s perfect for taking away any powdery look to the skin, which is a little more obvious this time of the year. I like using this as a primer on the weekends, when I may not be wearing my foundation as long or just on my cheeks. It’s also worked well for setting my foundation to last throughout the day. Generally I stick to using the Urban Decay All Night Setting Spray when I need my foundation locked on until the end of the night, but sometimes I feel like it makes my skin feel really tight. The Smashbox Primer Water doesn’t leave that feeling.

Overall, this has been a great product to have in my collection during these winter months and if it’s something you’ve been thinking about getting, I would recommend it. It’s a primer that I find enhances the appearance of my skin and foundation, not necessary removes oiliness or helps it last longer. A definite bummer part to this product is it runs out so quickly. I keep looking at the clear bottle this product is packaged and I see it going down more and more each day and it makes me so sad. The Smashbox Photofinish Primer Water costs $32 for a full size and $16 for a 1 ounce travel size. I’d love to try the Evian Spray which is $17 for a full size to see how it compares in terms of prepping the skin for makeup and taking away that powdery look that can sometimes happen.

Favorites | December 2015

Merry Christmas everyone! Not only has another month gone by, but it’s nearing the end of another year. I hope everyone’s Christmas and holiday season has been wonderful, full of joy, and that the New Year brings many new adventures. After this month, we all start with a new year that can be anything we want. More about New Year’s Resolutions later – let’s get into what I’ve been loving in the final month of 2015!

Beauty

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream Cannes $5.99

NYX matte lip cream This is a product I mentioned in a previous Friday Favorites and wanted to give it another shout out. It’s the perfect everyday terra cotta color that I can wear to work, on a date, or to dinner and I don’t have to worry about it wearing off too fast or moving around. It’s definitely not a stay all day liquid-to-matte lip color, but I like a lot more than others I’ve tried out. More of these are on my list of items to try int 2016!

Urban Decay Naked Concealer Light Neutral $28

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Ulta puts out a 20% off coupon leading up the holidays, and this was my splurge thanks to that coupon. I had heard amazing things about this concealer and had tried it on at Sephora and Ulta many times before purchasing it. Overall, this is a great concealer. I love the packaging, the applicator is doe foot with a stopper at the top which keeps too much from coming out. The consistency is thin, and seamless yet it provides amazing coverage. I use mine on my under eye and it covers discoloration and provides brightening at the same time. Sometimes I skip using my color correcting concealer when I’ve been using this concealer, and I feel like I still get great coverage of any discolorationconcealer comparison

I’m really loving this concealer and I’m happy I purchased it, but I do want to mention a product in my collection that reminds me of the Urband Decay concealer. Back in summer, I purchased the Maybelline Super Stay Better Skin Concealer and I fell in love with the consistency and how it performed on my under eye. My Maybelline concealer is thinner than the Urban Decay, but I would still say say it’s similar to the Urban Decay concealer in how it performs, and even it’s packaging with a similar round container and doe foot applicator. The pictures make it seem that the Urban Decay concealer is light, and it is at first, but it oxidizes to about the same shade as the Maybelline concealer. The Maybelline stopper isn’t as good as the Urban Decay concealer, however, and it can get a little messy. If you’re on a budget and have been looking for a new concealer, I recommend trying either (or both!) of these out!

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder $4.99
A few posts ago I wrote about my favorite base products, including my favorite face powders, but this Rimmel powder wasn’t included. I was digging through my foundation/powder makeup drawer and remember this little jem of a product and I’ve been loving it! matte powder

It’s also working great at keeping my shine down throughout the day. I think the trick with this powder is to use a stippling or duo fiber brush to apply it, something I use for all my face powders.power and brush I use the Sigma F15 Duo Fibre Powder/Blush brush, which is also great for highly pigmented blushes, to dust the Rimmel Stay Matte throughout my T-zone before setting in place with the Urban Decay All Nighter.

Fashion

Booties | I purchase a pair of Franco Sarto booties from TJMaxx back in October when I was on the search for the perfect brown bootie. They were priced at $60 which I thought was high for a TJMaxx deal and originally decided against the purchase. Then I couldn’t stop thinking about them, and shamefully turned my car around to go back to the store and purchase them. Best decision ever! These became my go-to shoe that I can wear with practically all my outfits. I can even pull off wearing them to work when I wear khakis.

The heel on these are just high enough for some added height, but not too high to make them uncomfortable for all day wear. I brought them out of town for a North Shore getaway right after purchasing them, and had no problems breaking them in or wearing them all day. I always get compliments on them and I also have a good story about how I almost never purchased them to go with the compliment. I’ll work on adding a photo of them later!

Lifestyle

Polar Seltzer | I have to take a minute to talk about how addicted I am to carbonated and flavored water. I haven’t drank pop or soda in years. Aside from water, I usually have coffee and tea throughout the day. At my previous, everyone in the office was drinking Polar Seltzer bottled water, and was curious to try it out. Mistake. I’m addicted to it and so is Jake. We were going through the one liter bottles that are sold at a local grocery store so fast that it was breaking our budget (and probably our teeth). Then one day the store was selling it 12 ounce cans which is much more cost efficient and helps keep my seltzer drinking to a minimum. My favorite flavors are Ruby Red Grapefruit and Georgia Peach. A lot of people try to give up pop or sugary drinks around the New Year and seltzer water may be a way to help. Check them out if they’re near you! If you’re worried about how carbonated water will impact your teeth, I’ve heard drinking it through a straw helps a bit – do as I say, not as I do!

Bath & Body Works Candle – Frosted Cranberry $22.50

candleThis past fall was the first year I purchased Bath & Body Works three-wick candles, falling to the peer pressure from social media all around me. I enjoyed the scents so much I went back for the holiday seasonal candles, and this Frosted Cranberry has been my favorite of the bunch. I would only purchase these candles when they’re on sale since they’re $22.50 each, and in my opinion burn down pretty fast. I got the fall candles two for $22 and the holiday ones with a coupon for $10 off when they were priced down to $12. If you can still get your hands on this candle and scent, I would recommend it! Check for coupons – Bath & Body Works usually offers some good ones!

Base Essentials | Foundations, Powder, Tools

I work at an office job and I’m usually so busy through the day that I barely have time for get water or use the bathroom, let alone time to touch up my foundation or powder throughout the day. It’s pretty much required that I have a foundation routine that is medium to high coverage and long-lasting so I don’t have to touch up or worry about getting shiny. These are the base and foundation products that I use to achieve this look and keep my looking great until the end of the day.

Foundations

Most of the foundations I use nowadays have a higher coverage and are usually loved by those with oily skin. For years my skins was dry to normal, but in the past six months or so I’ve started getting shiny throughout the day. These are the only foundations I feel comfortable wearing all day that help keep the shine away.

Cover Girl Outlast Stay Fabulous Foundation, Natural Beige
I already talked about my love for this foundation in my November favorites and I’m still loving it. It’s the only foundation I’ve worn for a month straight now. I wear the shade Natural Beige, which is usually the case for most foundations, and I don’t have any issues with the shade oxidizing throughout the day like I had previously heard. The consistency is more of a liquid than I was expecting which makes it apply a lot easier and keeps from setting too quickly during application. This foundation does have a scent to it, kind of like paint, that may bother some who are sensitive to smell, but once the product sets it’s no longer detectable. The packaging is glass, which could be a downfall when it comes to traveling, but it does include a pump which I think makes up for that. I highly recommend this foundation if you need one with great coverage and that lasts all day.

L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte 24 HR Foundation, Natural Buff
I got this foundation at the beginning of summer in the shade Natural Buff, and at the time it was a bit too dark. I also had some issues with getting the foundation to apply evenly without it looking cakey. I ended purchasing a Beauty Blender and getting a bit of a tan, and this became my go-to foundation for the summer months. I wore it for three months straight through the heat and humidity of summer, and with the Beauty Blender it didn’t look the least bit cakey. During our vacations and road trips over the summer, this was what I traveled with since it’s a convenient squeezable packaging. I haven’t been wearing this much since October as the color doesn’t match the best right now, but I will go back to as soon as the summer months come back around.

Cover Girl Ready Set Gorgeous Foundation
This is another foundation from Cover Girl, that I think as a more natural finish to it that the Outlast formula, but still has amazing coverage while keeping shine away. I rediscovered this foundation in my collection before Jake and I went on a little road trip in October. I brought it with because it has travel friendly, squeezable packaging (similar to the L’Oreal foundation) and was so surprised at how well it held up while hiking and during some rainy weather we encountered. I wear the shade Natural Beige and it’s a great shade for me this time of year.

Powders
Hands down the best powder you can buy for your collection is the MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Natural. I absolutely love and highly recommend purchasing it even at the $32 price tag. I wear the shade medium dark which matches me most of the year. I use it to set my T-zone and also use it to touch-up throughout the day. When I’m not using MSF Natural, I’m using the  L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable Powder in the shade N4. During the winter months my MSF Natural can run a bit too dark for me and I find that the L’Oreal powder is a great alternative in terms of the finish, application, and longevity. Sometimes I like to use a loose powder for setting concealer, baking, or even as a pre-step to applying foundation, the Wayne Goss Technique. Originally I purchase the Laura Mercier Translucent setting powder, but returned it because I wasn’t sure I would use it enough to justify the price. Instead I purchase the NYC Smooth Skin Loose Face Powder in translucent and it works great for me. It’s about $4 at Target and find it to be super versatile. If you find that the translucent shade is showing up on your skin tone or coming off ashy there’s another shade that has a bit of a tint to it.

Tools

I swear by my Beauty Blender. I will never go back to using a foundation brush to apply my liquid, and even some of my pressed, cream foundations. I find that it applies high coverage foundations evenly without leaving a cakey finish that I use to have with kabuki style brushes. I also use it to apply concealer under my eyes, which helps pick up any excess product and reduces creasing or settling. For my powders I love the Sigma F15 Duo Fibre Powder/Blush, which doubles as a blush brush for highly pigmented blush shades. I recently included both of these tools in my November Favorites and they’re absolutely essentially to my foundation routine.

Primer/Setting

Honestly, I’ve yet to find a primer that I think is making a difference in my foundations longevity or how my makeup looks. I have a few I’m trying to work through, but nothing I consider an essential. I do however swear by the Urban Decay Setting Spray; I use the original. I love it and can definitely tell a difference when I don’t use it to set my makeup. Often times I go to the gym right after work and do not remove my makeup, but when I’m done with my run I don’t know notice my makeup running or even coming off when I blot. I really attribute that to the setting spray.

Like I said, I haven’t found a good primer that I find to be essential to my foundation routine, but I am on the look out for one. I’ve heard awesome things about the Makeup Forever primers and now that my skin gets oily throughout the day, I’m think about trying the mattifying primer that’s had nothing my rave reviews. I also wouldn’t mind trying the Smashbox Primer Water since so many reviews claim that it’s a game changer. Just a few makeup items I can add to my Christmast list!

Time For A Protein Shake

This is going to be a short and rather boring post. It’s how I make my protein shakes. It’s a very simple recipe, but it’s low in calories with all the benefits of other protein shakes I’ve made in the past.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 – 8 ounces unsweetened almond milk, original or vanilla – 30 calories per serving
  • 1 serving of protein powder of choice – I like EAS Complete Protein, Vanilla 150 calories per serving
  • 4 – 6 ounces water
  • Blender Bottle, or something to mix/blend your shake together
  • Optional: peanut butter, flax seed, oatmeal, banana, other add-ins if you prefer, but keep in mind these add more calories

That’s it. I add the almond milk and water into my Blender Bottle to around  10 – 12 ounces, add the protein powder and shake it up! Shake well and chill for a few minutes before enjoying. This is so simple and it’s around 180 calories, a great breakfast or quick meal throughout the day. If you want to add in some other ingredients for a bit of flavor go for it, but be easy on them. Sometimes I’ll add a tiny bit of peanut butter or a banana. I also know some people that add oatmeal into their shakes, but that’s not something I would prefer. Also, I really recommend getting a Blender Bottle – I love mine and I have two! It’s great for traveling too! Mine have loops on the tops so I clip a carabiner to it and attach it to my backpack when hiking or traveling. Careful about dropping it though, I’ve broken one this way.

So that’s it! Try out this recipe and enjoy. Use different protein powders. I really recommend almond milk for anyone cutting calories or fat since it’s basically low in everything compared to regular milk.

Thanks for reading!

Gardening Goals

Last spring, I planted my first seeds in a garden hoping to have an abundance of lettuce for salads in fall.  Unfortunately, I was only able to make one salad with those seeds.  My mom always grew flowers and vegetables in her garden when I was growing up, but I never took a liking to it and did not learn her ways.   In the past few years, my interest in gardening has slowly grown along with my interest in cooking and healthy eating.  This spring I’m hoping to make a small vegetable garden on the side of our house to make at least two salads come fall.

Jake’s house is small, but the backyard is quite spacious.  Both sides of the house have space for a garden and flowers to grow.  Last year, I took over just a small patch, but this year I’d like to create a proper vegetable garden surrounded by chicken wire to prevent rabbits, squirrels, or other animals from picking over the leaves.  The vegetables that I plan to grow are not yet determined because I need to do some research on what’s easiest to grow and how much sunlight they will need.  I would like to grow lettuce again, along with cucumbers and strawberries.  I remember cucumbers being quite easy to grow and also that in nature they grow with thorns on them for protection.  I would also like to plant some flowers leading up to the house even though I use to dread watering them when I was growing up.

If this works out, I’m hoping that one day I will be able to have a full functioning garden to provide for my healthy meals.  Buying lettuce every week seems an odd concept to me as it’s literally just leaves growing from the ground.  Last year I grew butter lettuce, planting four spaces with seeds, but only one head grew large enough to harvest.  Two of the spaces didn’t grow at all and the smaller space grew only a few inches above ground.  Also, last year I planted my seeds in a pot and this year I’d like to turn the soil and plant the seeds directly into the ground.  Planting in the ground poses a greater risk due to animals, but I think the trade off will be better fertilization and watering.

I’m looking for some good blogs or websites for beginner gardeners that would be able to help me along my gardening journey.  Please leave suggestions for me in terms of blogs or even what is best to grow.