The Ordinary Serum Foundation

The Ordinary Serum Foundation

Everyone’s raving about The Ordinary products, and I’ve got a whole bunch of them too.

The company is so small and probably overwhelmed with demand as a result of these ravings, but if you put yourself on a waiting list or their list to email when it’s back in stock, then eventually they’ll get around to sending it to you. And I thought that this foundation was worth the wait.

Of course, not having counters in department stores makes it difficult to choose the right shade, but, especially when you’ve got a weird skin tone like mine, actually having your shade matched by a consultant in a store is no guarantee that you’ll eventually walk away with the correct foundation shade for you. I find that make up consultants in this country, perhaps influenced by reality TV, routinely issue me with a yellower or darker shade than my actual skin tone. Par contre, I made an emergency foundation purchase in Dubai airport Duty Free last week – long story – and my shade was matched as lighter and less yellow than my actual skin. Cultural expectations of beauty and tone must play a part here, I think.

Getting back to The Ordinary, they have a helpful approximation colour chart on their website, so I plumped for shade 2.1Y as my normal colour and 3.0Y just in case, which might come in handy for later on in the summer. Part of the appeal of The Ordinary is their cheapness, and these foundations cost only £5.90 as opposed to the £30-£40 I normally pay for a foundation. You might as well buy both and see which one is the best match. I wear a high spf on my face to guard against further hyper pigmentation but I am inevitably a little tanned. You should see my arms and legs just from being in the garden these last few weeks: I’m brown as a nut. Apparently there’s shade-changing leeway built into the foundation but I can’t see how this works at all.

The serum foundation is billed as a light to medium coverage and it is buildable to a certain extent. It’s VERY liquid as it comes out of its little bottle and it’s difficult to believe that one pump can give as much cover as it does but so did Chanel’s Teint VItalumière Aqua, which gives a similar finish. I use it with The Ordinary’s High Adherence Serum (not as quenching as my beloved Illamasqua Hydra Veil primer) and it goes on well, if slightly streakily. I can’t wait until I can purchase a Clarisonic Foundation Brush head in October as I think that might help with even application.

I’m wearing this foundation in this picture, taken a good five hours after application. I’d been at the Chelsea Flower Show on a very hot day and I had glowed like the most earnest ballet dancer, and still the foundation looked like this. I must tell you here that my eyes were watering all day. The spf 15 in this foundation – any foundation or spf moisturiser I find – makes them run ike the wind and so I’d make sure not to apply it in your eye area, which can be problematic as there’s no concealer available in the line yet.

I’d rate the coverage as between Charlotte Tilbury’s Lightwonder Foundation, which is my go-to as a sort of glowy tinted moisturiser, and Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Foundation, which is supposed to be full coverage. I’m not sure what I think of this last one: I think I might have a too-light colour, having tried one that was too dark and yellow. I really don’t think that Charlotte’s line has given quite enough thought to her customers of colour in this one yet. I bought mine in a package with its dedicated foundation brush, which is so poor and sheds bristles so badly that I’m surprised that they have the temerity to continue to sell it separately for £35 odd and not in a gift package where you can discard it. It really is the worst brush I’ve used.

So I’m pleased with this foundation over all and I’d now like to put myself on the waiting list for the full cover foundation.



Hair is Fabric Intensive Detox Cleansing Conditioner

Hair is Fabric Intensive Detox Cleansing Conditioner

For various reasons, most of which are to do with the election of Donald Trump and not wishing to have any part in promoting him, I am reviewing my skincare, cosmetics and hair care to try and substitute products made outside the USA. This is deeply annoying: not only had I established a good routine with Paula’s Choice products that suited me well, but the diversity of skin tones and colours in the USA, together with demanding consumer culture, means that US-based cosmetics ranges tend to cater to a wider diversity of people, including me. Ironic, isn’t it? Word reached me fairly quickly about the Deciem Organisation. Based in Canada – we like Canada – it’s a relatively new company with several brands.

Its marketing schtick is that it doesn’t have one. Well, of course it does: its ranges make no sensationalist claims but instead state the nature of the active ingredient or chemical in them. The idea is that well-informed consumers – the metropolitan, liberal elite if you will – do their own research on the active ingredient that suits them and then seek it out for themselves across the ranges. It’s this lack of consumer marketing hype, no ads, no promotions in expensive department stores, no make-up counter staff, that mean that they can bring their products to people mainly at very low prices in a stripped-back, minimalist sort of way that makes the “enlightened” consumer feel good about themselves. Clever, eh? I am trying several of these products currently, and I aim to tell you about them here. So far I’m pretty impressed with most of the things I try and I’ll review them separately.

My first new product is Hair is Fabric’s Intensive Detox Cleansing Conditioner. You see? It doesn’t even call itself a shampoo and, in fact, it’s nothing like a shampoo to use. It comes in a tube and looks a little like frogspawn when you squeeze a little onto your shampooing hand. The frogspawny thing is a trait that the Intensive Detox has in common with many Deciem products I’ve tried: no colour, just active ingredients in a carrier, see? The point about Hair is Fabric is that hair is actual dead keratin. All the hype and overweaning claims made by other shampoo companies are nonsense: you can’t reincarnate dead cells. (This is where your Met Lib Elite blogger taps the side of her nose in a knowing manner.) You can, however, clean them and make them feel nicer.

The product markets itself as dry cleaning for hair, only with water, and contains none of the foaming surfactants so integral to “shampoos.” This is where your woke consumer will think, “Oh yes. Because foaming detergent surfactants are killing our planet.” (I don’t actually know whether this is the case but I’ve probably read something about it somewhere.) So the frogspawny stuff is worked into wet hair in the shower and left for three minutes while you wash yourself and do your face and feet. It smells of menthol and, after a while it makes your scalp tingle in a non-burnt way. Then you rinse it off. Voilà! Clean hair using only a very mild coconut-based cleanser. And date extract, whatever that does.

We have trained ourselves into the culture of rubbing our shampoo in until we have a foam Mr Whippy on top of our heads, stripping the hair and scalp of oil, and then putting it all back again with conditioner. Odd, really, when you think about it. Here at Alliance Towers, a certain someone uses so much shampoo on their relatively small amount of hair that great globules of foam travel all over the bathroom floor. 

So, anyway, I tried the Intensive Detox Cleansing Conditioner but a mixture of autopilot and scepticism the first time made me use conditioner afterwards. My hair looked and felt marvellous and didn’t get greasy at all in the next couple of days. The next time I used it, I did away with the conditioner, and it feels great. Not squeaky, squeaky clean, which is probably an indication that my scalp has been stripped, but clean and strong. I really like it and I’d definitely keep using it. I must add here that it doesn’t seem to work well with everyone’s hair. On first reading of this review, my Twitter friend, Health and Beauty writer @LeahHardy told me that it leaves her hair looking dirty and lank, and I’ve read another review that says this too. My hair is still thick and dry and tends to frizz, and it works for me, so perhaps it does depend on your hair type.

I’m keen now to try the Deciem cleansers for black hue support and anti-frizz and see whether they have any effect on my emerging silver strands.  Hair Is Fabric Cleansers are not cheap – my tube cost about £20 – but I no longer need to buy conditioner so for me it works out at very good value. I see that there’s also a 1L bottle available. That’s an awful lot of frogspawny stuff. 

JorgObé black mask

JorgObé black mask

No, it’s not an avant-garde new make-up look. Here I’m trying the JorgObé peel-off black mask. It kept popping up on my Facebook page in a targeted ad because I once said something about blackheads, so I thought I would give it a whirl.

The mask costs around £25 for 100ml, but I think this will be spread over many uses. I’ve used it about four times already and there’s no noticeable diminishment of the bottle. The JorgObé black mask is more economical than Bioré nose strips, at around £8.50 for six.

How do you use it? Well you cover your T zone, the areas most probe to oiliness and blackheads, and then sit and wait for it to dry which will take about half an hour. The mask doesn’t flake off in lumps of clay over your bedroom floor as it dries, and if it wrinkles, that will help with getting some purchase to peel it off. Your layer of black, tarry stuff needs to be reasonably thick or you won’t be able to peel off the mask properly, and beware of any contact with water until after you have peeled: the mask is quickly water-soluble. 

When it’s dry, grab the black edge of the mask and peel carefully. Any blackheads should stick to the mask and peel away, just like a Bioré strip.

How effective is it? Well at least as effective as Bioré, I’d say, and probably more fun to use. I’d probably buy it again.

Nivea Micellar Water

I’m always up for trying things out and, as I recall, this was recommended by one of my beauty blogging friends as a cheap and effective way of removing makeup.

Sadly, it didn’t work for me. I know it cost only £3.99 but you’d expect to to have some efficacy. Perhaps its sensitive and caring nature was no match for the industrial strength primer I use to keep my face on all day and into the evening so my make-up did not budge. The contents of this will be going down the sink, and the bottle straight into the recycling, where it will probably be worth more than perching on my bathroom basin.

A big 👎🏽from me, sadly.

Nars Velvet Matte Skin Tint

Now, generally, I’m a big fan of NARS and I’ve virtually bankrupted myself in the last year replacing all my old Chanel and not so old Hourglass cosmetics with colours and formulations from NARS as they tend to have the correct shades and yellow, peachy undertones to match my skin tone. I adore their Sheer Glow Foundation and I have a whole school class of Audacious lipstick girls.

One of the greatest, most enjoyable, things about warm weather is not having to cover up so much and the same goes for the skin as for the body. As long as you always, always wear an SPF. Always. I was looking for a foundation with less coverage for the summer, when I just like to apply a sheer base that evens out my hyper-pigmented cheeks, add a bit of blusher and mascara and a bit of lip gloss and go. NARS already have the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser, which I tried a few years ago and, unwisely, threw away, spooked at how yellow it looked straight from the tube, so I was really agog at the prospect of this new addition, the Velvet Matte Skin Tint.

I bought a shade Cuzco, that’s between my winter Barcelona and summer Syracuse shades, so I could try it immediately and I’m so glad I tried it before I had to look holiday-refreshed in photos because, for me, it sucks.

Even as you squeeze it out of the tube, it’s difficult to know how much to use: too little won’t show up at at all and too much very quickly looks mask-like as it was difficult to blend into my skin. I’m perfectly willing to accept that I might be at fault here. I’m not a professional make-up artist but then, how many NARS customers are? What we want is something that works and works reliably. I actually found this worked better without primer but that’s probably because it soaked straight into my pores.

I think if you have the translucent glowy skin of a 20 year old and are prone to shine, this one will be good for you. Except that, even when I prepped my skin assiduously with primer* – I dislike having to reapply my slap during the day – it didn’t take long before this foundation settled beautifully into all my pores and wrinkles, and all the lines under my eyes. Worse, it soon looked really cakey too. I like cake but I don’t like my face to look like a cake that someone has removed from the oven too soon and then dropped on the floor. I soon looked like one of those powdery Edwardian ladies out of Lady Windermere’s Fan. No thanks.

After about a month of trial use, I have decided that Matte is not my friend. I’ve read elsewhere that older women are possibly happier using light reflecting, glow-inducing foundations, and I think I might now have reached that time in my life, despite my combination skin. I’ve ordered a tube of the original NARS tinted moisturiser and this tube will go pointedly into the bin. Disappointing.

*I’ve discovered, incidentally, that silicone-based primer and this foundation curdle when mixed with overheating skin. I was in a hurry to look perfect for a glamorous Eurostar journey at 6am the other morning – I like to see whether the stewards think I’m French – and I had a viral/hormonal hot flush just as I applied my face for the day. Reader, it curdled so badly that it could not be rescued and, despite standing by an open window fanning myself – you can picture the scene – I had to flannel off my face twice before it would stay on. A word of warning for those of us not in the first flush of youth.


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