Thursday, June 9, 2011

Myth Buster: Makeup Magically Changes To Match Your Skin Tone

Magic In A Makeup Bottle

Okay, I have been seeing the commercial for Almay Smart Shade, and they clearly do a great marketing job at drawing in the consumer by giving the illusion, when you apply this liquid foundation to the face, it will magically change to match your skin tone.

Marketing techniques have always fascinated me, and some have done an excellent job at sucking me in as well, but when it comes to my industry of beauty, it is the marketing play on words or processes that I hone in on.

Is It Really Magical?

Well it certainly appears magical since during the Almay commercial it can intrigue the viewer as they watch the white emulsion begin to turn color as the makeup is applied.

What is actually happening: Tiny encapsulated color beads (polymers) are suspended in what amounts to a liquid sunscreen, which in its initial form is white in color. As the makeup is applied, friction from your fingers pressed against the skin, opens up the capsules, releasing color onto the face, and then is dispersed throughout the emulsion as you continue to apply it to spread the color uniformly until it appears to match your skin......nothing magical about that, just chemistry.

Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide (4%), Zinc Oxide (2.1%)

Inactive Ingredients: Aqua/Water (water, eau), 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 (Vitamin E), Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A), Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Trisiloxane, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract (grape), Centaurea Cyanus (Cornflower) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) Root Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Galactoarabinan, Acrylonitrile/Methacrylonitrile/Methyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Boron Nitrate, Alcohol Denatured, Methicone, Tribehenin, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Silica, Ammonium Polyacrylatedimethyl Tauramide, Tetrasodium EDTA, PVP, Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 80, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, May Contain (+/-): (CI77891), Iron Oxides (CI77491, CI77492, CI77499), Zinc Oxide (CI77947)

Description Of Product from Almays Website:

Finally, a foundation so smart it knows your perfect shade. Breakthrough shade sensing technology starts out white, adjusts to right, perfectly matching your skin tone.

New! Magically transforms into your ideal shade!
SPF 15

Takes the guesswork out of finding the right shade

  • colorless makeup transforms into a shade that complements your skintone
  • infused with soothing aloe
  • works best if you wear neutral, beige, sand or warm foundation
  • hypoallergenic
  • won't clog pores
  • takes the guesswork out of finding the right shade
Similar concept is available in a blush and bronzer with similar ingredients to the foundation above, only they do include dyes and lakes as colorants and no sunscreen ingredients.

They also offer the anti aging version pictured above with a higher level of sunscreen, some additional peptides, rice protein, and excluded the parabens and aloe in this formula.

Product Reviews

For the most part, the reviews have been mixed on the liquid foundation in all three shades. However most lean toward complaining about not matching even closely, or turning their skin orange, melting off the face, causing acne, skin itched, or no coverage at all.

Those that seem to enjoy it are open about the fact, they like a minimalist look or have perfect skin with no flaws. While others point out, they seem to also have the perfect skin tone to use one of the three shades offered.

If you don't fall into this shade category then I guess the makeup falls short of their shade sensing technology. They sort of make this point in one of their bullet comments about what shades you need to fall under for best results.....sounds kind of non-magical to me.

The blush version of this product, including the bronzer shade...... well the majority absolutely hated this product, with comments of, made them look unnatural, clown like, gloppy, cakey, and it required an accumulative amount to achieve any real color on the cheeks at all.

The Gimmick Truly Lives On In This Product

At best, the foundation is a chemical sunscreen product using the best sunblockers available on the market, to be sure. But I cannot know whether they are nano scale or not, but it is more than likely they are, due to the sheer nature of this foundation. Otherwise women would observe good coverage with better opacity which are the attributes of these two sunscreen minerals, and again why they are used in mineral makeup.

The pigment polymer beads come in a limited color range for achieving the magic on the face. If this product could really color sense your skin tone then why would they have 3 distinctive actual shades in a very limited color palette for you to choose from?.....hmmm.

Also, this product is loaded with silicone oil derivatives which is why some women complained of now having acne when they never had acne before until using this product. This much dimethicone can be a pore clogger, and in all likelihood they are using nano scale sunscreen ingredients which can further contribute to acne.....making their claim of "won't clog pores", contradictory to the ingredients used.

Plus the claim to fame of infusing Aloe Juice into the product.....well I can assure you, based on its' location on the label it is at a ratio behind the "water", "talc", "polymers" and "silicones", which will have little result for any actual skin soothing benefit. In fact, there are many potential skin irritants and allergens in this formula based on the extensive list of film formers and preservatives, including parabens.

If we stop and really examine most of the marketing jargon pragmatically, and not purchase on impulse based on these claims, we would certainly save ourselves a lot of time and money.

However, for those that are initially intrigued by the commercial, before the novelty wears off and the reality sets in of "just another liquid foundation", it certainly could be fun to try just to check out the concept. But it is hardly be redundant!


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  1. You mean it's not makeup at all? It's just white cream with an SPF that Almay is causing people to think is a makeup? Does it provide any coverage at all? If not, it sounds like it could be misleading. Thank you for doing the research and deductive reasoning here!

  2. You can call it makeup dM, but I would place this in the category of more of a tinted sunscreen rather than a true foundation since coverage is very limited as described by many women who tried it.

  3. A reader wrote to me with a very important perspective.

    The comment that this product relies upon chemical sunscreens seems inaccurate. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are both PHYSICAL sunscreens to my knowledge.


    My response: Thanks Pat for the great feedback and something that may also be confusing to others. Though you are correct that Titanium dioxide and Zinc Oxide are physical sunblockers and are minerals, something which I stated within the same comment, they are still inorganic chemical compounds with chemical properties depending on the application. Raw TD and ZO typically are used to create the chemical formulas of Ti02 and Zno. Furthermore, since TD and ZO can't be used directly from the ground in its raw mineral form, they do go through a synthetic chemical process to purify the chemical compounds you find in mineral makeup today. Plus this is a sunscreen loaded with many other synthetic chemicals so technically it is a chemical sunscreen utilizing physical blockers, it just depends on the interpretation of my comment. But you make a valid point and it definitely deserved clarification for others since I could see it can be confusing by the way I worded it.

    Thank you Pat for sharing!