Oooo la la… a BB cream with ARGAN OIL! Can you sense the sarcasm there? This may sound like the next best thing in makeup, but in reality, those buzzwords are just marketing fluff.
Don't get us wrong, this BB cream does contain some skin beneficial ingredients, including the highly touted argan oil, but it isn't quite the "liquid gold" they make it out to be. Argan oil does have merit for skin as we explain here, but it isn't superior to other less exotic-sounding plant oils like olive, corn or castor oil, and the hype around BB creams is blown out of proportion in general (see More Info to learn why).
That aside, we do love that this BB cream provides mineral broad spectrum sun protection for anti-aging benefit and contains a smattering of other skin-helpers like willow bark extract, shea butter, and vitamin E.
Unfortunately it also contains enough detectable fragrance to put your skin at risk for irritation (see More Info to learn why fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types).
That's a shame because performance-wise this isn't a bad BB cream to consider. The creamy formula is dispersed via squeeze tube (which they recommend shaking before use so the formula doesn't separate) and meshes naturally with skin.
You can expect medium coverage and a subtle satin finish that works for those with dry, combination, and even oily skin! It doesn't cling to dry flakiness, nor does it look dewy or slick.
Of the two shades offered, Light is flattering for those with light (but not fair) skin and Light Medium takes it a shade darker (medium-tan to deep skin tones are out of luck with this BB cream).
Were it not for the fragrance factor, this BB cream would have earned a higher rating, but even then, the restricted shade options would limit this BB cream's appeal to the masses.
The Scoop on BB Creams: Most BB creams are little more than tinted moisturizers, often with sunscreen. Most include some beneficial ingredients that may or may not be present in tinted moisturizers, but that's where the excitement stops. BB creams hold no advantage in terms of multi-tasking beyond what the best tinted moisturizers with sunscreen provide. And despite their names, they're not particularly beneficial for blemishes (think acne, red marks, white bumps, etc.). BB creams from east Asian brands tend to be thicker and offer more coverage while those from Western brands tend to be sheerer, but again there's nothing particularly special about their formulas.
Irritation from High Amounts of Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin’s ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way for all skin types to go for all skin types (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003).
The sneaky part about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don’t always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage may remain hidden for a long time (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
Active: Titanium Dioxide (5.76%), Zinc Oxide (2.96%). Other: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Bis-PEG/PPG-14/14 Dimethicone, C30-45 Alkyl Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Cetearyl Alcohol, Mica, Sodium Chloride, Glycerin, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Polysorbate 60, Castor Oil Phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Laureth-12, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Polysilicone-11, Propylene Carbonate, Sodium Hydroxide, Tin Oxide, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance. May Contain: Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide.
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 don’t 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.
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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