Wednesday Advice Smackdown
November 09, 2005
Oh man, I'm so torn.
On the one hand, it's Wednesday, which means that logically, I should write an Advice Smackdown.
On the other hand, I have a batch of what may be the most adorable, Internet-melting baby photos yet.
I mean, for real:
I wonder if I can somehow combine the substance of a Smackdown with the cheap thrill of a baby photo essay and create what could be the ULTIMATE ENTRY, one that would please the old-school readers AND the ones who curse any entry that is not a baby photo entry and who are still bitter that I haven't finished Part Two of Noah's Birth Story, which I KNOW, OKAY? I'll get it done before his first birthday, I swear. I thought it would be fun to write about my hospital stay and my Roommate From Hell Who Would Not Stop Discussing Her Diarrhea and how I got yelled at for sneaking Illegal Ice Chips, but it's turning out to be more boring than fun, and I only like fun things.
Like big goofy baby smiles! GOD.
Anyway, the first question in today's Smackdown is actually a big fat generic response to the dozens of questions I've received about Bare Escentuals, the mineral-based makeup that QVC will. Not. Stop. Advertising. All. Damn. Day. And. Why. Do. I. Forget. To. Fast. Forward. Commercials. When. I. Have. TiVo?
Everybody is fascinated by the marketing for this stuff. Except me, because I have a fairly firm rule about products that do cutesy things with the spelling of their name like that. ESCENTUALS? GEDDIT? It's ESSENTIAL but it has a SCENT so we'll call it ESCENTUALS! It's ONEDERFUL!
(Seriously, one time Jason brought home a bag of this natural wheat-based kitty litter called Swheat Scoop and the very sight of that bag sent me into near conniptions every day and I finally threw it out and decreed that we were never, ever buying it again, because that is the DUMBEST MOST AWFUL NAME EVER.)
So I have not personally tried the Bare Escentuals line, but two of my real-life fellow product whore friends have, and they both hated it. Among their complaints: an overly complicated application technique, inferior coverage and too much shimmer.
But! Because the Advice Smackdown is not (entirely) gossip and heresay, I went the extra mile for you people and consulted the Powerhouses of Online Product Reviews: Real Girl of Real Girl Beauty and Melissa of DeLush.
Melissa's experience with the brand is limited, but she gave her initial impressions:
"We've been wondering about it too. My mom uses it and says she like their shadows and blush (I've heard great things about the shadows). But you know I stood in Sephora for 20 minutes one day debating whether or not to get the face kit thingy they have now that supposedly has everything you need in it to get started. (A bit more than you probably need if you ask me, but I guess a good deal otherwise.)
I finally decided to get the mineral veil (which devotees rave about) and I must say, it made me ITCH. My face felt weird. Also, I got the new tinted one, and it was pretty orangey.
I know it's all in the application (when it comes to their foundation, too) but it seemed like so much work, plus I didn't have a great experience with the mineral veil. Maybe we at DeLush really should review this stuff once and for all..."
(Amy says: Yes! You probably should, and please subtract points for the horrific QVC commercial with the woman singing in the high screechy voice about hey-hey hey-hey what a sunny day or whatever because SHUT. UP.)
Real Girl went above and beyond the call of duty and actually WENT TO SEPHORA to try some additional samples before offering her full opinion, which WHAT A SACRIFICE PEOPLE, SHE COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED. Or left completely broke. Anyway, here's her lowdown:
"Sephora, I love you so. Especially when you greet me by my name--"That Girl Who's Always Asking For Samples."
I've tested and examined three Bare Escentuals products now from the i.d. line. The most interesting was the bareMinerals Foundation SPF 15. (It's a powder! And a foundation! A powdation!) I get a lot of emails from readers with very oily skin asking me how they can use sunscreen without using lotion, and this foundation would definitely be an option. It's got titanium dioxide as its first ingredient and zinc oxide as well, and those are both the most powerful mineral sunscreens on the market.
Would I recommend this powder over normal sunscreen? Not so much. The layer might be too thin or not quite uniform, but for someone who doesn't already use lotion or a liquid foundation with SPF 15 or higher, this would be a fine option. So -- got oily skin and are scared of normal foundations and sunscreens? Give this powder foundation a try.
I also took a look at the Tinted Mineral Veil which is a perfectly fine loose powder blush for fair-ish skin, but I don't see why it would be better than any other loose powder blush. It's a little creamier, I guess, than most powders.
As for the other blushes? Lordy go easy! That's some sparkle even Mariah Carey wouldn't have used in "Glitter."
Ok, now to the major critique. The Bare folks are targeting these products to people with sensitive skin, but I think they'd be better for people with oily skin. Yet that said, I have a major problem with their motto, “Makeup so pure you can sleep in it.” Bare Escentuals people? Purity does not equal non-pore-clogging. Many of these powders contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These are not sunscreens that are absorbed by the skin -- they're used like a shield that rests on top of the skin. If you were to sleep in these products, I'd be surprised if your poor pores didn't wind up gasping for air, screaming for help. Please don't sleep in your Bare Escentuals.
In the end, what's most impressive about these products is their marketing. How's that for a long and boring answer to your short and pithy question?"
(Amy says: That was a fabulous answer, and I'm so totally digging this whole "dump questions on other people and then cut-and-paste their answers in" approach to the Smackdown.)
A fellow Amy needs your help. My boss is getting married in April. Regarding the dress code, "it's a cocktail wedding so you can just wear a pretty dress", so I was all YAY I ACTUALLY HAVE ONE TO WEAR.
But the problem started a few days ago, where she changed her mind and now it's a FORMAL thing. Hence floor-length or three-quarter dresses for all. (Except for the men.) And the only floor-length thing I have is my formal (prom dress), and it's beautiful and silky and halterneck, but BLACK.
Is there something wrong with wearing black to a wedding? I just feel weird about it. At first I figured "screw her dress code, I'll wear what I like" but then at work she was all "so do you know what you're wearing yet? Got anything floor-length?" AARGH. I don't want to go out and buy some hideously expensive garment that I will never wear again.
(And if my boss sounds slightly controlling and psychotic, it's because we're piano teachers and I've known her since I was eleven.)
So. Buy something new? Wear whatever I want? Or go with the depressing blackness?
Sorry about the length of this. Congratulations to you and Jason on Noah as well, he's gorgeous.
It is perfectly acceptable to wear black to a wedding. I know it feels wrong, and perhaps at one time there was a rule about it (I do not own a Miss Manners etiquette book and never have -- my rules for social manners usually depend on What Everybody Else Is Doing These Days), but no longer.
I have worn black to weddings. I have seen other women wear black to weddings. I have been to weddings where just about every other woman in attendance was wearing black. (And these weren't even formal weddings -- I wore short black dresses with strappy heels and you could not pick me out from the pack on the dance floor.)
At an afternoon-ish wedding this past spring, Jason wore a brown sportcoat and I wore a cream and blue sundress, and we were the weirdos who didn't wear black, although I maintain we were dressed more appropriately for the time and season and blah blah blah, black is just everybody's dressy color of choice these days.
(Black: It's Not Just For Funerals Anymore!)
Wear your black dress. The end.
More questions to come, but right now I gotta go bust a move out on the dance floor, yo.
Okay, the child has just stayed wide, wide awake through his usual lunchtime nap. I am very hungry, and while he's been mostly charming and smiley, he's now at that overtired-overstimulated-I've-forgotten-how-to-go-sleep-so-I- will-scream-instead stage, which AHHHHHHHHHHGOTOSLEEPALREADYITISNOTTHATHARD.
Oh, and 10 minutes ago? I had to retrieve a small piece of rawhide FROM MY DOG'S THROAT, WHERE IT WAS CHOKING HER, SWEET MERCIFUL GOD.
And the minute I yanked it out? She tried to eat it. AGAIN.
I'm getting the sense that I am not spending my days with a pair of intellectual giants here.
So instead, I shall wrap this up quickly with a summary of the opinions about Bare Escentuals from the comments section, where the debate rages on. (And rage on, rage on, because I'm not going to provide anymore entertainment for y'all today.)
The BE line seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing -- I'm not seeing much middle ground. Those that love it swear.by.it, as a way of life even, and to the haters, it's a scourge upon humanity that must be stopped.
Bare Escentuals: it's the Amway of make-up, apparently.
So, I shall now dispense my own cribbed-from-the-comments advice. (And bear in mind this is coming from someone who has never tried it and probably never will, because, well, QVC? Really? So I can buy my make-up and then some creepy collectible dolls?)
And in that vein, if you want to try Bare Escentuals, DON'T buy it from QVC. If possible, go to Sephora and use the testers first, or see if you can score some samples. Since people are reporting some disturbing reactions to the stuff (from itching to burning to pore irritation to raging rashes), it sounds like you DEFINITELY want to try before you buy.
(Although I'm willing to give BE the benefit of a doubt here, because I imagine if your target audience is people with sensitive skin, it seems inevitable that your product is just going to irritate a good percentage of that audience, no matter what.)
If you don't have a Sephora near you, I would still suggest you avoid QVC and buy the products at Sephora's web site the first time you try them, because Sephora has a very excellent 60-day return policy (you can return opened products that just didn't work for you no problem), whereas returning something bought through an infomercial is usually a labyrinth of sputtering futility. (And we have at least one testimonial as to the shittitude of BE to issue a refund.)
If you love Bare Escentuals? Awesome. Use it, love it, go with God.
If you hate Bare Escentuals? Well, you seem to be in pretty good company.
If you could not give a rat's ass about Bare Escentuals? Well, here's a photo of the Storch Family Brain Trust instead.
Got a question about...something? Anything? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and blahblahblah it might get answered someday.