Dior

Dior At-A-Glance

Strengths: Every sunscreen offers sufficient UVA protection; some extraordinary foundations, some of which include sunscreen; the liquid concealer; very good loose powder, and powder eyeshadows; some great mascaras; brow gel; elegant creamy lipsticks and several good lip glosses.

Weaknesses: Expensive; lackluster moisturizers and serums that contain more fragrance and preservatives than elegant ingredients; irritating toners and self-tanners; ordinary masks; lack of products to address the needs of those with blemishes or skin discolorations; some foundations with SPF ratings that are too low; mostly average makeup brushes.

If you're looking for a clear-cut case of style winning out over substance, here it is. The Dior name is synonymous with couture fashion and countless other lifestyle accoutrements, but they continue to falter when it comes to establishing a first-rate collection of skin-care products. Of course, the company believes their products are the crème de la crème and if we're judging on aesthetics alone, we see what they mean. However, what's inside the gorgeous components is what counts for your skin, and Dior's formulas leave a lot to be desired. On one hand, it's great that all of their sunscreens contain sufficient UVA protection; on the other, all of their moisturizers either leave skin wanting more or contain problematic ingredients with no skin-redeeming qualities.

Fragrance is huge for Dior, and a visit to their counter attests to this, as fragrances line the counter right beside the skin-care tester unit. It would be better for skin if the two categories were kept separate, but in most cases the amount of fragrance added to Dior's skin-care products is greater than the token amounts of state-of-the-art ingredients (and the effectiveness of most of those is further diminished by jar packaging). If you wouldn't put perfume on your face, think twice about applying it in the form of an expensive skin-care product.

On the plus side, there are a few very good products to consider if you don't mind spending the extra money. If you're a fan of Dior's fashions and want to experiment with their cosmetic products, you'll find that their makeup outshines the skin care and has improved in ways that keep the panache while making genuine improvements. Despite all manner of claims to the contrary (everything from purifying pores to lifting skin to the point that sagging is a thing of the past), the most attractive part of Dior's formulas is how they're dressed, not how they perform.

For more information about Dior, call (212) 931-2200 or visit www.dior.com.

Dior Makeup

Always fashion-forward, Dior's makeup is more well-designed and attractive than ever, offering standout products in almost every category. The most notable change over the past several years has been Dior's improved foundation formulas and shades. It's now the exception rather than the rule to find overtly peach, pink, or rose-toned shades among Dior's many complexion-enhancing options. Even better, Dior has recently introduced foundations to compensate for its previous too-low SPF efforts, with formulas available in SPF 15, 20 and 25, a couple of which even include UVA-protecting ingredients. Such a move shows that while Dior may still struggle with an overall lackluster skin care line, they are at least working to meet dermatologist-recommended benchmarks for sun protection.

You will also be very impressed with Dior's powder blush, eyeshadows (though their shiny finish is not the best for Baby Boomer eyes), the DiorSkin concealer, brow gel, and most of the mascaras. If you're a fan of lip gloss and are willing to tolerate a double-digit price, you'll be in cosmetics heaven wading through all the lip-shining options here. On the flip side, neither the standard pencils nor most of the lipsticks are worth the money. With any designer-based line built on artifice, price is more than a matter of dollars. It's indicative of a company’s image and remains a prestige factor that often speaks louder than the products themselves. Dior is guilty of maximizing its assets to play up its image, but with their makeup line the good news for you is that, for the most part, they really pay attention to what’s inside all the luxe containers, too.

One more note: Dior’s makeup tester units are much more accessible and user-friendly than for previous editions of this book. We also found their counter staff to be more accommodating and definitely less condescending than several other European-bred lines.

Note: Dior is categorized as a brand that tests on animals because its products are sold in China. Although Dior does not conduct animal testing for its products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brands state that they don’t test on animals “unless required by law.” Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Paula’s Choice Research Team.

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