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The great mineral make-up experiment

Okay, so after we decided I needed a retread and then we went out and bought a kit of mineral make-up from Costco (nearly removing my fingers in the process of opening the thing), I broke out the camera and conducted a few quasi-scientific experiments.

The research questions:

Does make-up do a woman any good at all, or is it just another waste of money designed to enrich gigantic corporations at the expense of the consumer’s vanity, whims, and general silliness?

If make-up does anything positive for the aged face, how does regular cream foundation compare with the new powdered mineral make-up variant?

The research method:

Stage 1: Wash face. Apply face cream. Photograph subject’s face using “macro” setting of swell new camera (lab equipment!) donated by M’hijito.

Stage 2. Wash face. Apply cream. Apply full full complement of L’Oréal’s True Match Foundation; color n5, “True Beige.” Photograph subject’s face using new lab equipment.

Stage 3. Wash face. Apply face cream. Apply coat of Kirkland Borghese Mineral Make-up, color “Light to Medium.” Photograph subject’s face using new lab equipment.

Stage 4: Compare.


Stage 1, the Naked Face, is pretty alarming, even to a seasoned researcher:


Amazingly enough, this is our subject’s “good” side. A liberal sprinkling of age spots lie along the jaw line, to the extent that one can say a jaw line is still visible through the fat and sagging jowls. When I said this face looks like the surface of Mars, I wasn’t kidding. The wrinkles in this region are less pronounced. However…


The left side shows the true vintage leather effect produced by a combination of genetics (my mother’s face looked just like this) and too much sun. The age-freckles and moles (I’ve always been speckled) along the jaw are joined by a prominent brown spot high on the cheekbone, one that I’ve never been able to persuade a dermatologist to remove because, of course, he knows he’s not going to be reimbursed by my insurance and he also knows I can’t afford to pay him out of pocket for any such procedure.

So, now we’ve established the reason the subject avoids mirrors and cameras. Moving on…

Stage 2, cream foundation, produces some results. What they are remains to be seen.

Here’s the right side, slathered with plenty of L’Oréal. This make-up has as its sterling quality a capacity to cover brown spots. As you can see, it does a pretty good job of smoothing out the blotchy coloring and hiding the brown speckles. Like all make-up, though, it settles into the crevasses of the aged face, thereby not only not hiding the wrinkles, but actually accentuating them.

The left side, courtesy of L’Oréal:

It covers the large brown spot to some degree. Blotchiness can be said, perhaps, not to have been elided but simply to have been moved around in new ways. As for the wrinkles: the microbial flora on this face need rock-climbing tools to get around.

Stage 3 engages the powdery new mineral make-up, co-branded with a big-box store’s warehousey name and a line of expensive department store cosmetics’ exotically Italianate name. Surely with fire-power like that, it’s gotta do some good.

The right side: fairly smooth, with neither the age spots nor the general blotchiness too pronounced. Not sure what that grayish effect is. Following the instructions given on a YouTube tutorial, I used a small amount of cover-up to help disguise the brown spots; that may be showing through here, or it may be the lighting. In later efforts, I deleted the cover-up step, since the makeup itself seems to do a fairly good job of hiding spots.

And so, to the left side…

It should be noted, too, that I added the mineral make-up’s blusher, which is very light and (seen in a mirror) hardly noticeable. I don’t use blusher with the L’Oréal, because it makes me look like something from Ringling Brothers.


Well, now that we’re at stage 4, I’d say something’s better than nothing. I guess. Both foundations provide some degree of cover-up, and given that the skin has suffered significant damage from the effects of weather and age, cover-up is what’s needed. Probably a veil of the sort favored by Taliban women would fill the bill.

For comparison’s sake, can we get all these photos together in one place?

Ah. Science advances. Et aussi la nausée.

I kind of like the mineral stuff, though it’s significantly more hassle to apply. However, I found that as time passes, it tends to yellow a bit. After five or six hours, it doesn’t look all that great. The L’Oréal does not do that: it retains its initial qualities even after several hours, although it does rub off over time.

What think you, fellow lab rats?

8 thoughts on “The great mineral make-up experiment”

  1. I’m struggling with the same issues and haven’t found the magic solution (maybe it is the veil).

    If the L’Oreal foundation looks better later in theday, than that’s gotta be the winner ultimately although it does the creasing drawback. Hmmm.

  2. That, my dear, was one of the funniest and bravest posts I’ve ever read. The mineral looks better initially, but if it lacks staying power, stay with old faithful. Nice earrings.

  3. Although I know sharing accounts for paid sites is always against the rules, if you’d like to “borrow” my login for you can shoot me an email. I’ve found it really useful despite my inability to consistently put on anything more complicated than clothing in the mornings. But I can look great at night if need be. In addition to the reviews there are a lot of good articles.

  4. You are one brave chiclet! I do think the mineral looks better, much better. Perhaps you could take it with you and touch up during the day? I am starting to sag under my chin. I swear I woke up one day and things had changed!!! I don’t like it one bit!!!!

  5. @ one & all: Strange stuff, isn’t it, this whole make-up business? Personally, I tend to favor the mineral version. The area that looks a little opaque is, no question, where the old-fashioned cover-up was dabbed. Without that stuff underneath, the mineral powder covers just fine, if you first wipe it on with your brush and then take the brush and, with a light, fine dusting picked up just on the ends of the bristles, dab gently but briskly all over the areas you’re trying to cover.

    Interestingly, once you’ve applied the stuff in those two steps, you can lightly “buff” it with the soft brush without rubbing it off, and that seems to create a more translucent-looking finish that still is opaque enough to blend discoloration and cover the worst of one’s various spots, stripes, and speckles. What happens, I think, is that you end up with a fairly heavy coat of paint, but because it’s neither wet nor oily, the EFFECT is translucent and light.

    If you believe the photos (always a question, no?), the effect in the center and left photos on the bottom row, which show the mineral powders, seems a little more polished. It seems to cover the spots and smooth blotchiness as well as the L’Oreal but without accentuating the wrinkles. Nothing’s going to make the wrinkles go away, but there’s no need to draw little arrows pointing to the damn things!

  6. I just discovered your blog and am really enjoying it.

    I am in my late 50’s and have tons of sun damage from overexposure. (What was I thinking? Red hair, blue eyes. I was never going to tan.) (Aside: Back then sunscreen didn’t even exist. These days no one has any excuses.) Anyway, I have found that plain old fashioned cover stick works well; I use it over my liquid foundation, powder over the top, and Voila! not too bad! Not the type with a dauber, the kind like lipstick.

    Also, for a quick makeup application, try a powder (not cream) compact foundation. Cover Girl is good. I toss the enclosed sponge and use a powder puff. Pretty good coverage, buildable, and can be used as powder over foundation on Really Bad Skin days.

    Yes, you are a very brave lady. And funny, too. My kind of gal.

    • @ Kerry: LOL! Glad to have you and hope you keep coming back!

      Remember when we used to add iodine to cooking oil and use that as a “tanning” lotion? Eeek! One of my friends in high school, a natural snow blonde, used to drench herself in Wesson oil and then lay out in the Southern California summer sun. She claimed she could actually feel it bubbling in the heat. Her skin was dark, dark brown against her spectacular blonde hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Heaven help her: she must look even worse than I do by now!

      One thing I haven’t seen lately in the drugstores is pancake makeup. Do they still manufacture it? It came in a compact, and you applied it with a moist sponge. Nothing, but nothing covered better. I think some of these mineral makeups work similarly: they create quite a geisha-like finish on your face, if you use enough.

      I also discovered that you can apply ordinary Maybelline face powder using the same technique that you’re supposed to use with mineral makeup. The effect is very similar, and plain un-hyped face powder is much less pricey.

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