Make Up For Ever's Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Primer starts out impressively by making good on its promises to blur imperfections and minimize pores, wrinkles, and fine lines. But where this formula falters (hence its not-quite-perfect rating) is in regards to the potentially irritating fragrance it contains. Whether or not that's a deal breaker is up to you, but there's no denying that this product delivers instant smoothing gratification!
Housed in a plastic squeeze tube, Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Primer has a lightweight, soufflé-smooth texture and peachy-beige tint that sheers out to a nearly imperceptible finish on skin. The mix of silicones and film-forming agents create a soft, almost powder-like effect that contribute to the smoothing and filling in of pores/lines that you see on skin. Moreover, this creates the kind of surface that allows makeup to glide right over it for unbelievably easy blending.
Although Make Up For Ever doesn't make a big deal about it, Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Primer also helps temporarily mattify an oily shine. The matte finish looks natural, not flat—though we'd steer those with very dry skin away (it's best suited for combination to oily skin).
As for additional beneficial ingredients, there isn't much to brag about, but we do have to point out that the included fragrant ingredients (both synthetic and natural) pose a potential risk of irritation. Between the dissipating scent and minimal concentration we aren't overly concerned, but the formula would have been a safer bet for all skin types (especially sensitive) without them. (See More Info to learn how fragrance can impair skin.)
That aside, Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Primer impressed us with its blurring/smoothing/filling capabilities + the ideal canvas it creates for makeup application. In the end, it's up to you whether the fragrance factor is a significant deterrent.
Inflammation in skin is usually related to external factors such as irritation that damages the skin's barrier in numerous ways, whether you can see the reaction or not. When irritation on the surface of skin happens it activates specific chemicals called neuropeptides in the brain (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2007). Those substances are specifically the kind that regulates the hormonal system of the body.
When this happens, it leads to the formation of inflammatory chemicals directly in the oil gland. These inflammatory chemicals trigger an increase in oil production, which can increase the size of the pore, and the likelihood of acne—the more inflammation that occurs, the worse the risk (European Journal of Dermatology, 2002 & Dermatology, 2003).
Bottom line: Inflammation and its resulting irritation, whether internal or external (for this discussion externally it would be due to the use of irritating ingredients, hot water, overusing scrubs, etc.), is practically a guarantee you will see excess production of oil, larger pores and more acne breakouts (Experimental Dermatology, 2009 & Dermato-Endocrinology, 2011).
That's reason enough to avoid products with irritating ingredients, which often come in the form of fragrance including the misnamed "essential" oils.
Make Up For Ever At-A-Glance
Strengths: Wonderful foundations; impressive options (and shade ranges) for powders, powder blush, and powder eyeshadow; some extraordinary lip glosses and lipstick/lip color options (and again, the shade ranges are remarkable); a few formidable mascaras; good shimmer options.
Weaknesses:Can be expensive; a few formulas contain needlessly high amounts of fragrance.
This Paris-based makeup collection traces its roots to theatrical and fashion makeup, building on the concept that a professional makeup artist not only desires, but also needs, every conceivable color and texture to create the broadest range of looks. Since 1984, Make Up For Ever creators Dany Sanz and Jacques Waneph have been doing their best to meet these criteria. Through the years, this line has gone from offering a tremendous array of colors in their own European boutiques to a more streamlined, "everyday" collection of products in select department stores and (primarily) Sephora, whose parent company, LVMH, has owned Make Up For Ever since 1999.
The color line presents an intriguing blend of classic, workable shades positioned next to some truly unique hues and finishes that only those involved with theater or the most flamboyant "anything goes" makeup artist (or diva) would covet. A major plus for this line is that many of the colors are densely pigmented, working beautifully on medium to deep skin tones. The drawback is that fair and lighter skin tones may find their choices more limited in a few areas of the brands’ ranges. However, for those who want it all when it comes to possible shades, this line more than delivers what it takes to please.
An interesting aspect of this line is that, category to category, there are mostly exceptional choices, with products that we found to be average—certainly falling short of what we know Make Up For Ever to be capable of. However, if you are cautious of those few pitfalls (fortunately, there are an abundance of testers to experiment with at Sephora or the brand’s standalone boutiques) you will undoubtedly be pleased with those products that Make Up For Ever does best.
For more information on Make Up For Ever, call (877) 757-5175 or visit www.makeupforever.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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