Tried and tested: The best blush, pressed powder and retinol

From blushers to powders, Rachel Marie Walsh puts the best on the market to the test    


Tom Ford Cheek Color in Frantic Pink (above), €60, 5/5

A perfect flush of exertion for lighter skin-tones, it applies like it’s infused with silky emollients without the greasy sheen of a cream. This is a great shade if you are heavy handed or fearful of clown-face, as the tone is too subtle to overdo without intent.

Kevyn Aucoin The Pure Powder Glow in Shadore, €36.50 at Space NK, 5/5

‘Glow’ is generally synonymous with highlighters these day but this blush is quite matte. What glow there is comes from the colour, which is a very natural pink on fair skin. There are only three shades in the range (the others are coffees), which is a shame as the powder is wonderful, very ‘second-skin’ and melting.

Anastasia of Beverly Hills Blush Kit in Radiant, €35.80 at, 5/5

Anastasia Soare has a patented brow-shaping method (not as impressive as it sounds — a cat entertainment system and Apple’s rounded rectangle shape also have US patents — but her stencils are excellent) and her facial contouring kits are even more popular. This is the palette to try if you seek to sculpt your face with colour, as she’s apparently equally gifted with blush. Using blush to contour is a gentle, more natural way to shape the face than a stark contrast of light and shade. Blood does not pool in the cheeks in a uniform fashion so most of us flush in graduated pinks anyway. Radiant features a cool pink with gold sparkle and three satins in coral, rose and red-peach.

BEST BUY: e.l.f Blush Palette in Light, €10.75, 5/5

This looks like the ABH kit, right? The powders are not so refined but the colours are natural-looking pinks (and one apricot). They have a suede finish and adhere to skin well. They don’t get cake-y when layered and this palette really is a bargain.


La Mer The Sheer Pressed Powder, €80, 3/5

La Mer tapped makeup artist Patrick Ta, best known for giving women like Ariana and Gigi their glam, via Instagram to be their first Ambassador this season. The prestige brand is joining the rush for all this money millennials spend on makeup, maybe a little late but the cream of the sea is not typically trend-driven or youth-targeted. Patrick is fond of this powder, which has the longest ingredients list I have ever seen on a product of this kind. This product is beautifully packaged and the look of the powder is pretty but you would have to love it more than dozens of competitors that wear equally well to warrant paying as much for this compact as you would for three or four of theirs.

Too Faced Primed and Poreless Powder, €29, 3/5

Too Faced, a brand founded by ex-Estée Lauder staffers and later the most costly acquisition in Lauder’s history, frequently exceeds expectations. Those are sometimes lowered by presentation. The products — brightly coloured and packaged like sweets — look like distractions for a toddler you’d like to keep out of your makeup bag. The colour is translucent and does not illuminate

Rimmel London Insta Fix & Matte Powder, €5.49, 4/5

This powder is also translucent and noticeably better at inhibiting shine. It sets makeup and layers without caking. It is also noticeably fragranced, so best not to layer it on bare skin all day.

BEST BUY: Make Up For Ever Velvet Finish, €33.50, 5/5

Attempts by Rihanna and Huda Kattan to make foundation shade ranges as inclusive as possible this season prompted MUFE to post pictures of their Ultra HD makeup captioned “40 shades is nothing new to us” on social media. This powder is also available in a broad range of tints, including three colour-correcting shades (green, apricot and lilac). It blends to a lovely velvet-matte finish and does not cake.


Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum, €76.45, 4/5

This is a great product — loaded with antioxidants and plumping plant fats, packaged in a jar with an airtight pump-bottle — but the brand undermines its benefits with perfume.Women are capable of recognising a good thing without the nasal assault and it can already be difficult for sensitive types to tolerate retinol, they don’t need added irritants.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion, €24.99, 5/5

The Ordinary works, I think, because they make potent ingredients affordable without the frills other brands use to drive sales (e.g. fragrance, glossy packaging, advertising, celebrity connections). The best thing about this product is the price. So few good retinol products are affordable and also contain a useful concentration of the ingredient.

BEST BUY: Paula’s Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturiser with Retinol, €38, 5/5

Resist Barrier is not the cheapest on the list but the formula makes it a ‘best’. Retinol is a star ingredient but so are several other potent antioxidants. Also included are emollients, for the support of skin’s natural barrier and soothing extracts that aid cell turnover. This option is best for normal-to-dry skin.

Indeed Labs Indeed Labs Retinol Reface Retinol Skin Resurfacer Serum, €27.99, 5/5

This serum is extremely light, though if you want to wear it under makeup I recommend wear high UV protection as retinol acts as a mild exfoliant. The formula is fragrance and alcohol-free. It contains some lightweight moisturisers and an anti-ageing peptide. Good job, Indeed Labs.


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