Smart Shade Makeup SPF 15
Last Updated:03.31.2015
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

Smart Shade Makeup SPF 15 is available in only three shades, and the logic from Almay is that this colorless makeup (we'll explain that in a moment) transforms to complement your skin tone, thus taking the guesswork out of choosing a foundation shade. If only it were that simple! Addressing the preliminaries, this liquid foundation has a titanium dioxide and zinc oxide sunscreen, which is great, and it also lends some opacity and coverage. Unfortunately, it also creates a somewhat flat finish. Coverage is sheer to medium (if you're up for layering), and for those with oily skin or oily areas, it does a great job of keeping shine to a minimum. As you dispense each shade, it appears grayish white. As you blend, it turns into a flesh tone and feels surprisingly light. Each shade blends well and does not streak or look "dotted" on skin, though its initial appearance is admittedly startling.

Almay has divided the shades by depth of skin color. The Light shade fares best because it is the most neutral, and is a versatile option for fair to light skin, but may be too yellow for some fair skin tones. Light/Medium is OK for medium skin tones, but is too peach for lighter skin, while Medium has a rosy tone that makes it unsuitable for most skin colors. Unlike Cover Girl's TruBlend foundation, you won't be able to wear more than one shade and have it look convincing. In fact, given the limitations of the shades Almay created, consumers may end up more frustrated than satisfied by this attempt to streamline foundation shade choices. If one of these shades works for you, this is an impressive, long-wearing foundation for normal to very oily skin. Note, however, that it will take more than a water-soluble cleanser to remove it. (we used a silicone-based makeup remover with a washcloth to get it off.)

Note: This foundation’s rating is due to its overall performance rather than its SPF rating. Due to concerns about people not applying sunscreen liberally enough to get the amount of SPF protection stated on the label, it is often recommended to look for SPFs with ratings higher than 15. If you plan to use foundation as your sole source of facial sun protection, consider using one rated SPF 20 or greater. If the foundation with sunscreen you choose is rated less than an SPF 20, we strongly advise applying it over a daytime moisturizer rated SPF 15 or greater and following it with a pressed powder rated SPF 15 or greater. That way, you’re ensuring sufficient broad-spectrum protection which is essential for having and maintaining healthy, younger-looking skin at any age.


Active: Titanium Dioxide (4.0%), Zinc Oxide (2.1%), Other: Water, 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, Retinyl Palmitate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium Hyaluronate, Trisiloxane, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract (Grape), Centaurea Cyanus Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Trimethyl Siloxysilicate, Galactoarabinan, Acrylonitrile/Methacrylonitrile/Methyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Boron Nitrate, Alcohol Denat., Methicone, Tribehenin, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Silica, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Tetrasodium EDTA, PVP, Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 80, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Zinc Oxide

Brand Overview

Almay At-A-Glance

Strengths: An excellent assortment of mascaras; several exceptional foundation options to choose from; a phenomenal liquid eyeliner; a selection of good makeup removers.

Weaknesses: Some of the Intense i-color products do the exact opposite of enhancing eye color; mediocre blushes; “Smart Shade” products don’t automatically adapt to skin’s color as claimed.

Long a standby for those with sensitive skin seeking hypoallergenic products (though that term is unregulated and can be applied to any product, regardless of ingredients), Almay continues to refine its comprehensive makeup line. In early 2006 the company repackaged its old favorites, and also relaunched several new makeup items. Everything now has a sleek new look and color-coded packaging. We admit, the makeover is effective, not just product-wise but visually too.

Shopping this drugstore line is now much easier because of the clearly defined product and color family groupings. Lamentably, testers and trial sizes of the makeup are still scarce regardless of where you shop. Almay has always been a reliable line for foundations, powder, and mascara. Within its current lineup you'll find that remains true. Their foundations are better than ever, and still offer full, broad-spectrum sun protection and a mostly neutral palette. We also found their concealers and mascaras have improved, as have the pencil options. When it comes to shopping for makeup staples with state-of-the-art formulas, Almay has many winners, and some innovative surprises that its competitors would be wise to learn from.

For more information about Almay, owned by Revlon, call (800) 992-5629 or visit www.almay.com.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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Worked for me

This blended beautifully into my skin, the shade was a perfect match for me, my skin looked really good, normally my t zone gets oily but not at all with this stuff, and it lasted all day. I couldn't believe the number of compliments I received wearing this. It is a favorite of mine especially in the summer. My Mom decided to try it and she loves it too!

Reviewed by
fine for 'specialty' use

I always use this one on my nose, which is somewhat redder than the rest of my face (where I apply another product). The yellowish tone of the Almay Smart Shade reduces the pink tone of my nose so everything matches - yay! Additional nose-specific benefits: This doesn't settle into pores and the matte finish keeps shine at bay.

Reviewed by
Kay G
too dry

Both light shades were very yellow and dry

Reviewed by
char r.
I rate this Poor - very orange/yellow color

I have light skin. My teenage daughter has fair skin (a shade lighter than mine). I bought two of the lightest shades of this makeup. I couldn't get this to look good on my skin, and neither could my daughter. On both of us, the makeup turned our skin a yellowish color, no matter which of the two shades we tried to use. It was a total waste of money. The finish of the make up was nice, but the color is just totally unacceptable and unnatural. A good idea but a poor execution.

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