Natural Defense Multicolor Stick SPF 20
Physicians Formula’s Natural Defense Multicolor Stick SPF 20 has its share of highs (shades that offer subtle radiance) and lows (potent fragrance and fleeting color), that end up earning it a middle-of-the-road rating.
First, if you’re wondering what “Multicolor Stick” is intended for, Physicians Formula markets it as, “an easy-to-use all-over color stick for the cheeks, eyes, and lips that blurs, protects, and perfects.”
On first impression, we were thrilled about how smooth this twist-up stick glides on skin. It feels satiny but not greasy, leaving a subtle sheen of color. It’s incredibly easy to blend out and the color can go on soft or be built up for more intensity, depending on the style you like.
The colors are mostly on par with traditional blush in hues of pink, rose, mauve and coral. Those colors can be attractive for your pucker as well, but the texture of this stick doesn’t feel as comfortable on the lips. Whether or not you like these kinds of shades as an eyeshadow is personal preference, but ultimately, we found the formula’s lack of longevity proved to be an issue no matter where you apply it.
The problem is that we found color fades or rubs off quickly. We tried wearing it several different ways (on bare skin vs. different types of foundations), but the result was always the same—the color disappears a few hours into wear (in some cases, even sooner than that).
Adding to the issues, the fragrance is strong, and we noticed it left a lingering, unpleasant taste when we tested it on our lips. (See More Info to learn why fragrance free is better for the health of your skin.)
As for the “Total Defense Complex” that Physicians Formula claims defends skin from harmful UV rays, blue light, and pollution, the mineral sunscreen agents (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) are the most important part of that equation. Of course, as a makeup product that’s only being applied to certain areas of your face and at only SPF 20, we wouldn’t suggest you rely this alone, but when used over your normal sunscreen or foundation with SPF, it adds another layer of protection, which is great.
The brand claims the formula’s plankton extract delivers blue light protection—but it falls at the very end of the ingredient list, meaning you’re getting a miniscule amount, so don’t count on it for that. The pollution protection allegedly comes from the tung and rapeseed oils, which go by brassica campestris/aleurites fordi oil copolymer on the ingredient list. This blend has skin-protecting properties, which one could loosely interpret as offer defense from pollutants. Again, it’s not the most efficient in a makeup product that’s only applied to certain areas but no harm there.
- Glides on skin with a satiny feel, imparting subtle radiant color.
- Incredibly easy to blend out.
- Color intensity can be built up for a more noticeable pop.
- Fragranced formula poses a risk of irritation to skin.
- Color tends to fade/rub off a couple hours into wear.
- Total Defense Complex isn’t as innovative as it’s made out to be.
An easy-to-use all-over color stick for the cheeks, eyes, and lips that blurs, protects, and perfects with our exclusive complex for smooth, on-the-go application. Features our 360° Total Defense Complex to defend against harmful sunrays (SPF), blue light (RPF™), and pollution (PPF™), helping to reduce the signs of aging with effortless color for a completely natural, all-over look.
Physicians Formula At-A-Glance
Strengths: Inexpensive; almost all products fragrance-free; outstanding cleansers; pressed powder with broad-spectrum sunscreen; several bronzing powder options (primarily for fair to light skin tones); one of the only lines at the drugstore selling matte finish eyeshadows; the loose powder; most of the blushes; good liquid liner; excellent automatic brow pencil.
Weaknesses: Dated moisturizer formulas; several sunscreens lack sufficient UVA protection; jar packaging; several of the makeup products epitomize wasteful packaging; the shade selection for almost all the foundations and concealers is awful; tons of gimmicky products that dont perform as well as you'd think but are eye-catching in their compacts; the lip color and lip plumper; mostly average to disappointing mascaras;the Organic Wear products either have undesirable textures or contain irritating ingredients.
There aren't really any doctors at Physicians Formula (the founder of the company was an allergist, Dr. Frank Crandell, but that was back in 1937), and no physicians currently sell or endorse it either. The company asserts that "The term hypoallergenic is more than just a cosmetic claim for Physicians Formula. It is the basis for every product that is created. Physicians Formula honors this claim through stringent product testing and quality control. In fact, Physicians Formula products are formulated without 132 known irritating ingredients still found in many cosmetics on the market today." While the line doesn't list the "132 known irritating ingredients" that they claim not to use, one of their newer products contains menthol, which serves no purpose for skin other than to cause irritation, and other products contain alcohol and witch hazel, which won't make any cosmetic chemist's or dermatologist's list of anti-irritants.
It's good that the skin-care products have been streamlined. There are some excellent makeup removers and a couple of gentle sunscreens whose sole active ingredient is titanium dioxide. Surveying this line in its entirety reveals that makeup is its major focus. However, as you'll see from the Physicians Formula makeup reviews below, things aren't exactly rosy there, either.
For more information about Physicians Formula, call (800) 227-0333 or visit www.physiciansformula.com.
Physicians Formula Makeup
Does this assortment of makeup products have what the doctor ordered? The enormous selection of makeup (no other line at the drugstore sells more individual pressed powders, concealers, or powder bronzers) has seen some noteworthy improvements in recent years, but far too much of it is still built on gimmicky premises or eye-catching graphics while performance and texture are given short shrift. And for a line where just about every product carries on about its goodness for sensitive skin and the non-comedogenic nature of its ingredients, they're not using anything that other companies aren't also using, not to mention that many of the ingredients that show up in these products (such as waxes and occlusive thickening agents) can absolutely clog pores.
Still, for a line with increased retail presence in major drugstores, you may be wondering just what to pay attention to, and the good news is that there are indeed some finds among all the mosaic powders and oddly packaged concealers. Physicians Formula has never done foundations and concealers well, and for the most part that still holds true today. Only one of their concealers is recommended, while the others are best described as dismal. The expansive powder category has several attractive options, including a pressed powder with sun protection and many worthwhile bronzing powders. You'll also find best beauty buys among the blushes and other key products, including the matte eyeshadows, felt-tip eyeliner, brow pencil, and a few of the mascaras. There isn't anything medical or extra-pure about Physicians Formula makeup, but if you know what to look for and are on a budget there are some products that any doctor concerned with the subject of beauty would appreciate!
Note: The shade range of this line does not cater to darker skin tones. In fact, for some products, only those with fair to light skin will find options.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.