L'Oreal Paris

L'Oreal Paris At-A-Glance

Strengths: Budget-friendly prices; good makeup removers; wide assortment of self-tanning options; one of the best, most comprehensive makeup collections at the drugstore, with superb options in almost every category; the mascaras are a tough act to follow.

Weaknesses: Jar packaging hinders some of the skincare formulas; many of the daytime moisturizers with sunscreen and SPF-rated foundations don't provide sufficient UVA protection; lacking in effective anti-acne and skin-lightening products; boring to problematic toners.

Just like its sister company Lancome, L'Oreal doesn't have its act together when it comes to skin-care products. For all their talk of advanced formulas, fancy double-page ads in fashion magazines, and impressive-sounding quotes from scientists at their research and development facilities, most of what L'Oreal offers for skin care is a whole lot of nothing—or at least nothing tremendously helpful for helping skin look and feel its best.

An ongoing issue with L'Oreal (at least in the United States) is the lack of sufficient UVA-protecting ingredients in their daytime moisturizers with sunscreen. Very few of them contain the actives that provide as much UVA protection as you can get from a sunscreen. Yet this major oversight (and it’s not just with the older products—several newer sunscreens launched with this deficiency) didn't stop L'Oreal from heralding the FDA's approval of their patented ecamsule (Mexoryl SX) sunscreen for use in the United States. (Mexoryl SX has been approved for years in Europe, and L'Oreal routinely uses it in the sunscreens they sell there.) The attention-getting headline was that Mexoryl SX provides "the best" and "most stable" UVA protection, but that's not entirely true; there are other options. Why didn't anyone in the media point out to L'Oreal that while Mexoryl SX may be great, that doesn't explain why the majority of their other sunscreens leave the consumers who use them vulnerable to UVA damage… Sigh… Inadequate UVA protection is not only unhealthy for your skin, it severely damages L'Oreal's credibility as an international skin-care authority.

Aside from the sunscreen frustrations, L'Oreal's moisturizers are a yawn-inducing, fairly repetitive bunch. A cursory review of their formulas demonstrates that L'Oreal is simply not keeping pace with the competition, just as Lancome isn't at the department-store level. When it comes to moisturizers or serums, just about anything from Dove, Olay, Neutrogena, or Aveeno is preferred. L'Oreal does well with most of their cleansers, along with scrubs and self-tanning products, but given the widespread availability and financial resources of this line they could be doing so much more. (You have to wonder if they're more interested in advertising and public relations than in advancing skin-care expertise.) The makeup has made major strides and now ranks as the best overall color collection at the drugstore—imagine the results if their skin care followed suit!

Note: Unless mentioned otherwise, all L'Oreal skin-care products contain fragrance.

For more information about L'Oreal, call (800) 322-2036 or visit www.loreal.com or www.lorealparisusa.com.

L’Oreal Paris Makeup

L'Oreal's extensive makeup collection retains its stature as the overall best at the drugstore, though they have stiff competition from Revlon and, in some cases, sister company Maybelline New York. In recent years L'Oreal has made significant strides with foundation shades, powder textures, concealers, and, of course, superlative mascaras that rarely fail to impress. Their lipsticks are excellent and you will find many L'Oreal makeup products have a Lancome counterpart, and that the differences are minor, if they exist at all.

L'Oreal's displays in many drugstores have been updated to reflect better-organized products and shade categories (though testers are still scarce). Given the number of lipsticks they sell, it only makes sense to put them in color families so consumers have a better shopping experience. Their True Match products are also sensibly laid out, but the rest of the foundations aren't as organized, likely due to the smaller selection of shades. Speaking of foundations, L'Oreal has made further strides by offering more that provide sufficient UVA protection. Revlon still has the edge for consistently launching impressive foundations with sunscreen, but at least L'Oreal is (finally) catching up. The bottom line is that every category of L'Oreal’s makeup has some winning (and in some cases, benchmark-setting) products. They fall short with their powder eyeshadows, but not enough to warrant avoiding them, especially if you prefer sheer eye makeup. Still, with only minor tweaking and consistent adherence to the importance of UVA protection in their cosmetic products with sunscreen, L'Oreal could pull ahead to be the hands-down winner when it comes to shopping for makeup at the drugstore.

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