Friday, July 29, 2011

Over 50: Making Sense of Makeup

I just got Vogue’s “Age Issue.” I chuckled as I flipped through it and found one after the other advertisement for anti-aging products. For example, there’s a two-page spread for Estee Lauder’s “Idealist,” an even skintone illuminator that supposedly reduce redness, sun spots and dark spots. Then, a few pages later, there’s an ad for Clinique’s “Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector,” which apparently can wipe away the dark spots and age spots all over your body. And I saw an ad for Clarin’s “Vital Light Serum,” an anti-aging skin product said to “correct the appearance of dark spots, while visibly lifting, firming and restoring the deep luminosity of young-looking skin.” Three skin care choices, all before the magazine’s Table of Contents page. The truth: I’d love to find a product that would fad dark spots—those cute childhood freckles that have now exploded into murky brown ponds—on my face. But how do I know which product is the best?

To the rescue: Makeup Alley. This website invites visitors to become members (for free!) and rate beauty products for other visitors. Currently, there are over a million members reviewing products and rating them with one to five lipstick icons (5 lipstick icons are given to the best rated products). The site has a minimal amount of advertising, but it doesn’t sell any products.

I went on Makeup Alley or (MUA to its members) to see what I could find out about the three age spot creams/serums I saw in Vogue. You have to become a MUA member (which I may do later) to see the actual reviews, but anyone can get summary information. For example, Este Lauder’s “Idealist” has been reviewed by 19 members on the website. Overall, the product gets a rating of 3.2 lipsticks and 42% of reviewers say they would buy it again. Clinique’s “Dark Spot Corrector has been given 2.6 lipsticks by 118 reviewers. Only 33% say they would by the product again. And as for Clarin’s “Vital Light Serum,” it is new and hasn’t been rated yet. What did I learn from this? Well, women who’ve tried the Este Lauder and Clinique products aren’t ecstatic about either product, but they aren’t saying they're a waste of money either. Clinique’s product has a slightly lower rating than the Estee Lauder product, but that might reflect the number of reviewers—almost 10 times as many people rated the former product as did the latter one. At this point, my next move would be to go on and see what, if any, is the price difference—always an important factor for me. (Some, but not all products on the Makeup Alley site have links to already.)

At, I found...
  • Estee Lauder’s “Idealist,” (1.7 oz) is priced at $109.99
  • Clinique’s “Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector” (1 oz, 30 ml) sells at prices ranging from $17.99 to $48, depending on the shipping source. Even if you take the higher price, it’s half what the Estee Lauder product costs.
  • Clarin’s “Vital Light Serum” (1 oz, 30 ml) is priced at $219.99. Gulp. No wonder there aren’t any reviews for this product on Makeup Alley or on Amazon—women are too busy saving up for it.
If you want a site (other than Amazon) where you can read reviews and shop, you might want to check out, launching in August 2011. This site is being classified as a “social beauty store.” Members will fill out a profile—things like skin type, age and concerns—and the site will recommend products based on reviews by a focus group of 20,000 women.

While I’m on the subject of makeup and media sightings, have you heard about Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your Look at Any Age (Running Press, $23), a beauty book for women over 40? Authors Lois Joy Johnson, 60, a founding editor of More magazine, and celebrity makeup artist Sandy Linter have compiled information on buying and applying makeup for older women. For example, I’m foundation phobic. I see older women with caked-on foundation and cringe. Johnson and Linter say women often choose a foundation that’s too light for their skin. They advise us to choose a shade that is a half-shade to a full-shade deeper than the one we think is right. And that’s just one of the tips in the 7-page section of foundation! The book also reports the current treatment alternatives (surgical and non-surgical) to consider when makeup isn’t enough. At Amazon, you’ll find the book in paperback for $13.21.