Smart Shade Makeup SPF 15 is available in only three shades, and the logic from Almay is that this colorless makeup (we'll explain that in a moment) transforms to complement your skin tone, thus taking the guesswork out of choosing a foundation shade. If only it were that simple! Addressing the preliminaries, this liquid foundation has a titanium dioxide and zinc oxide sunscreen, which is great, and it also lends some opacity and coverage. Unfortunately, it also creates a somewhat flat finish. Coverage is sheer to medium (if you're up for layering), and for those with oily skin or oily areas, it does a great job of keeping shine to a minimum. As you dispense each shade, it appears grayish white. As you blend, it turns into a flesh tone and feels surprisingly light. Each shade blends well and does not streak or look "dotted" on skin, though its initial appearance is admittedly startling.
Almay has divided the shades by depth of skin color. The Light shade fares best because it is the most neutral, and is a versatile option for fair to light skin, but may be too yellow for some fair skin tones. Light/Medium is OK for medium skin tones, but is too peach for lighter skin, while Medium has a rosy tone that makes it unsuitable for most skin colors. Unlike Cover Girl's TruBlend foundation, you won't be able to wear more than one shade and have it look convincing. In fact, given the limitations of the shades Almay created, consumers may end up more frustrated than satisfied by this attempt to streamline foundation shade choices. If one of these shades works for you, this is an impressive, long-wearing foundation for normal to very oily skin. Note, however, that it will take more than a water-soluble cleanser to remove it. (we used a silicone-based makeup remover with a washcloth to get it off.)
Note: This foundation’s rating is due to its overall performance rather than its SPF rating. Due to concerns about people not applying sunscreen liberally enough to get the amount of SPF protection stated on the label, it is often recommended to look for SPFs with ratings higher than 15. If you plan to use foundation as your sole source of facial sun protection, consider using one rated SPF 20 or greater. If the foundation with sunscreen you choose is rated less than an SPF 20, we strongly advise applying it over a daytime moisturizer rated SPF 15 or greater and following it with a pressed powder rated SPF 15 or greater. That way, you’re ensuring sufficient broad-spectrum protection which is essential for having and maintaining healthy, younger-looking skin at any age.
Active: Titanium Dioxide (4.0%), Zinc Oxide (2.1%), Other: Water, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Talc, PEG/PPG 18/18 Dimethicone, HDI/Trimethol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Cetyl PEG/PPG 10/1 Dimethicone, Nylon 12, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Alumina, Sodium Chloride, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium Hyaluronate, Trisiloxane, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract (Grape), Centaurea Cyanus Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Trimethyl Siloxysilicate, Galactoarabinan, Acrylonitrile/Methacrylonitrile/Methyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Boron Nitrate, Alcohol Denat., Methicone, Tribehenin, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Silica, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Tetrasodium EDTA, PVP, Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 80, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Zinc Oxide
Strengths: An excellent assortment of mascaras; several exceptional foundation options to choose from; a phenomenal liquid eyeliner; a selection of good makeup removers.
Weaknesses: Some of the Intense i-color products do the exact opposite of enhancing eye color; mediocre blushes; “Smart Shade” products don’t automatically adapt to skin’s color as claimed.
Long a standby for those with sensitive skin seeking hypoallergenic products (though that term is unregulated and can be applied to any product, regardless of ingredients), Almay continues to refine its comprehensive makeup line. In early 2006 the company repackaged its old favorites, and also relaunched several new makeup items. Everything now has a sleek new look and color-coded packaging. We admit, the makeover is effective, not just product-wise but visually too.
Shopping this drugstore line is now much easier because of the clearly defined product and color family groupings. Lamentably, testers and trial sizes of the makeup are still scarce regardless of where you shop. Almay has always been a reliable line for foundations, powder, and mascara. Within its current lineup you'll find that remains true. Their foundations are better than ever, and still offer full, broad-spectrum sun protection and a mostly neutral palette. We also found their concealers and mascaras have improved, as have the pencil options. When it comes to shopping for makeup staples with state-of-the-art formulas, Almay has many winners, and some innovative surprises that its competitors would be wise to learn from.
For more information about Almay, owned by Revlon, call (800) 992-5629 or visit www.almay.com.
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