Thursday, August 27, 2015

Do you like skincare in your makeup? Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin Foundation in Porcelain: Review and Swatches

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
I really didn't have high hopes for a random new drugstore foundation sent to me for free from Influenster. I'm at somewhere around a 10% success rate for foundation even when I pick it out myself after doing research. Plus I have that apparently elusive neutral and very pale skin tone that means most "Porcelain" or "Ivory" shades are too cool or too warm. Shockingly, I ended up really liking the Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin Foundation that showed up on my doorstep recently - in Porcelain, of course, which seems to be the lightest option.

(Note: Anyone can sign up for Influenster and get free stuff to test. It's not a blogger thing, though I think the more followers you have on social media, the better. I usually get one or two things from them a year.)

This foundation's schtick is that it contains vitamin C, so it's supposed improve your skin over time. It claims to "reduce the appearance of spots, dullness, and unevenness." Yes, any foundation should do that. That's the point. Note that they don't say it will make your skin look that way without the makeup on top of it. Oh, the joys of marketing copy. So tricky.

There are different forms of Vitamin C used in skincare, which have different properties, and some are more effective than others. The Better Skin foundation contains Actyl-C, which is a type of vitamin C patented by L'Oreal. It's 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, if that means anything to you. According to The Beauty Brains, not much has been published on it, but it can lighten dark spots.

Maybelline challenged people to use this for 3 weeks and report back. I used it for 3 weeks at the frequency that I normally wear foundation, i.e. once or twice a week. I didn't notice any improvement in my skin during that time. Would I have noticed results if I had worn it more often? That seems unlikely, since, as Beautypedia points out in their review, vitamin C has to be kept away from light to remain stable, and this is packaged in a clear bottle. It does contain SPF 15 in the form of titanium dioxide, so if you normally don't wear sunscreen at all (the horror!), then you might notice some "brightening" after using this foundation regularly as it protects your skin from tanning. I always use a separate sunscreen, so SPF in my foundation is just whatever. It can't hurt to have skincare ingredients in makeup, for the most part, but if you really want to treat issues you're having, you're better off using dedicated skincare products to do it, rather than expecting miracles from your makeup.

I don't really buy foundation hoping that it magically transforms my skin over time. I just want it to do its job. And this foundation does its job.

Porcelain is a pretty good match for me. It is just on the cool side of neutral, but close enough that when I blend it out, it looks right on me. It's very pale, and so it will probably suit me better in the winter. Despite my best efforts to wear sunscreen constantly, my face does darken slightly in the summer. You can see Better Skin compared to Maybelline Fit Me foundation stick, also in Porcelain, in the swatches below. The paleness of the two is comparable, but next to the Fit Me stick, the Better Skin foundation looks positively yellow. If I had a warmer foundation to swatch next to it, like Tarte Amazonian Clay in Fair Sand, I bet it would look relatively pink. Just guessing. You can compare the Fit Me stick to some other foundation in this previous post of mine, and maybe get a sense of how this one relates that way. As I've said before, the Fit Me stick looks almost perfect on the inside of my arm, but compared to my face and neck, it's way too cool. Swatching foundation on my arms is clearly not the best way to find my match.

Swatches of Maybelline Fit Me stick foundation in Porcelain and Maybelline Superstay Better Skin foundation in Porcelain
Swatches of Maybelline Fit Me stick foundation in Porcelain and Maybelline Superstay Better Skin foundation in Porcelain
The first time I tested this foundation, I applied it with my fingers. I didn't like the results much at all. It looked too heavy and mask-like, not like natural skin. It has a matte finish that looks velvety when applied in a substantial layer. If full-coverage, matte foundation, you can certainly get those results easily with this Better Skin stuff by applying it with your fingers or a brush. You probably won't need to add concealer. It does feel a bit heavy on your skin this way, I found. I was paranoid that it would smear or transfer - I could just always feel it. But even applied at full strength, it doesn't settle into pores or emphasize lines, which is important to me.

I really prefer medium coverage and a more satin finish. In the past, I've tried using a damp Beauty Blender to sheer out full coverage foundations, like Revlon Colorstay, without much luck. A damp sponge works impressively well with Better Skin, though. I ended up with a medium coverage, semi-matte effect, which is just what I wanted. It does require some concealer in places, or you can build up layers where you need extra coverage. But it doesn't hide my freckles, for example, which I think makes it look much more natural. Sheered out, the foundation felt comfortable and light, and, again, didn't emphasize pores or lines. It can highlight flakiness a bit, so it's a good idea to moisturize well before using it. It worked well with or without primer. I posted a photo of my face with this foundation on it on Instagram, but it's not great quality, so I won't reproduce it here. But it's there for you if you want it.

Applied with my Beauty Blender, the Better Skin foundation set well and didn't necessarily require powder, though I prefer to add some finishing powder. As for the "SuperStay" part of the name: I wouldn't classify this as a long-wearing foundation. It's average. Personally, I'm okay with that, because I would much rather have something that begins to fade after 5-6 hours, but also doesn't turn into a mess when it wears off, than something that lasts 8 hours and looks like shit by the end. This foundation just sort of disappears slowly and evenly. It doesn't get all crusty or goopy or blotchy like a lot of others I've used. Obviously you can extend the wear with the usual tricks, like primer and setting with powder, etc., if that's your style.

I think this would be best for normal to oily skin, since it is very matte and feels a little drying during the first hour or so after applying it (another good reason to moisturize beforehand). If you have dry skin, it might be uncomfortable, and as I said, it may highlight flakiness (though I have used foundations that were much, much worse in that respect; it's not a serious issue here).

Overall, this is a pretty impressive foundation. I am picky, and I've been trying to find a decent foundation for a while now. I feel satisfied with this stuff that I didn't even pick out myself. That's kind of amazing. So even though it actually doesn't really succeed in the two things you would expect from its name (long-wearing and skincare), I'd actually recommend SuperStay Better Skin foundation, anyway, if you're looking for the same things in a foundation that I am.

Have you discovered any decent foundations lately?


  1. I find that moisturizing before ANY foundation is important: I applied my armani lasting silk once without anything underneath , and it was a streaky, cakey, unblendable mess. When I have a light layer of moisturizer/sunscreen/serum below, it glides on beautifully. I'm so glad you found a foundation you like! All of us know it can be a huge PITA :)

    1. Yes, that's true. I don't always moisturize in the morning, so I have to remind myself to do it when I wear this. And yes, foundation is tricky, so I was pleasantly surprised by this one!

  2. This is really good to know about. I also reside in the "pale but neutral, yes really neutral, this looks pink, this looks orange" skintone and my skin is next-level oily. Does it break down at all around where your glasses rest on the bridge of your nose? I also wear glasses and that is my #1 foundation problem, happens with every one I've tried.

    1. I'm not sure any foundation, no matter how long-wearing, can withstand glasses. I haven't found one either, including this one. But at least it doesn't form streaks or ridges around the nosepiece that are then hard to smooth away (you know what I mean?). I haven't noticed any of that. For really oily skin, I'd suggest a primer and/or powder with this. It definitely breaks down more quickly on my nose and chin. And yeah, it seems like neutral foundations are pretty rare at the drugstore outside of those few lines with like a million shade options.

  3. Man, I won't be looking at new foundations for a while. By the time I get around to it, my oily face will have dried up and I would have to avoid this! I'm glad you found something that works well though.

    1. Foundation is one thing I don't have a lot of, and the couple that I had I didn't really like, so this was a nice surprise!


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