Most primers are unnecessary and easily replaced by a good serum loaded with antioxidants, but in this case Physician’s Formula added a mineral-based broad-spectrum SPF, making it somewhat unique, although not without drawbacks.
The packaging is a twist-up tube with a flat brush dispenser. Although the brush feels soft, its synthetic bristles gunk up easily, a fact that poses hygiene issues because the brush is nearly impossible to clean without compromising the product inside.
If you apply this with your fingertips, it does go on smoothly, feels lightweight, and dries to a subtle, yet luminous finish (with the exception of the Green shade, but more on that below).
In fact, for a primer with a satisfactory SPF, the texture and finish is impressive, and it looks beautiful underneath foundation or powder. Unfortunately, aside from the sunscreen, there are no beneficial ingredients for skin. Also, given that you must apply sunscreen liberally to get the protection rated on the label, it’s doubtful that anyone will use the amount they should. Consider this a nice boost to your foundation or moisturizer’s sun protection, but not your only means of defense.
- Silky texture and attractive finish means that this can be worn alone or under makeup.
- Both the nude and pink shades give skin a subtle luminosity.
- Can be used around the eye and works well under eyeshadows.
- Broad-spectrum, gentle mineral sunscreens make this a winner for sensitive skin.
- Brush dispenser wastes product and is hard to clean.
- Soft shine can accentuate fine lines rather than smooth them away.
- Green shade is tricky because although it applies sheer, you'll either see negligible improvement in redness or notice the skin where you applied this shade takes on a strange cast.
Fans of Dior’s Skinflash primers will recognize this product’s packaging and performance. Given that these Physicians Formula primers offer the added benefit of broad-spectrum protection, a fragrance-free formula, and cost a fraction of the price, the Paula’s Choice Team considers this another bona fide drugstore double that outperforms expensive department store products!
Active: Titanium Dioxide (2.9%), Zinc Oxide (3%), Other: Mineral Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isododecane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, C30-45 Alkyldimethylsilyl Polypropylsilsesquioxane, Dimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Silica, Magnesium Silicate, Paraffin, Glycerine, Aluminum Dimyristate, Caprylyl Glycol, Castor Oil Phosphate, Dimethicone/Polyglycerin-3 Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glyceryl Isostearate, Hexylene Glycol, Malachite Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Propylene Carbonate, Rhodochrosite Extract, Smithsonite Extract, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Sorbic Acid, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Water, May Contain: Chromium Oxide Green, Iron Oxide, Mica, Titanium Dioxide
There aren't really any doctors at Physicians Formula (the founder of the company was an allergist, Dr. Frank Crandell, but that was back in 1937), and no physicians currently sell or endorse it either. The company asserts that "The term hypoallergenic is more than just a cosmetic claim for Physicians Formula. It is the basis for every product that is created. Physicians Formula honors this claim through stringent product testing and quality control. In fact, Physicians Formula products are formulated without 132 known irritating ingredients still found in many cosmetics on the market today." While the line doesn't list the "132 known irritating ingredients" that they claim not to use, one of their newer products contains menthol, which serves no purpose for skin other than to cause irritation, and other products contain alcohol and witch hazel, which won't make any cosmetic chemist's or dermatologist's list of anti-irritants.
It's good that the skin-care products have been streamlined. There are some excellent makeup removers and a couple of gentle sunscreens whose sole active ingredient is titanium dioxide. Surveying this line in its entirety reveals that makeup is its major focus. However, as you'll see from the Physicians Formula makeup reviews below, things aren't exactly rosy there, either.
For more information about Physicians Formula, call (800) 227-0333 or visit www.physiciansformula.com.
Physicians Formula Makeup
Does this assortment of makeup products have what the doctor ordered? The enormous selection of makeup (no other line at the drugstore sells more individual pressed powders, concealers, or powder bronzers) has seen some noteworthy improvements in recent years, but far too much of it is still built on gimmicky premises or eye-catching graphics while performance and texture are given short shrift. And for a line where just about every product carries on about its goodness for sensitive skin and the non-comedogenic nature of its ingredients, they're not using anything that other companies aren't also using, not to mention that many of the ingredients that show up in these products (such as waxes and occlusive thickening agents) can absolutely clog pores.
Still, for a line with increased retail presence in major drugstores, you may be wondering just what to pay attention to, and the good news is that there are indeed some finds among all the mosaic powders and oddly packaged concealers. Physicians Formula has never done foundations and concealers well, and for the most part that still holds true today. Only one of their concealers is recommended, while the others are best described as dismal. The expansive powder category has several attractive options, including a pressed powder with sun protection and many worthwhile bronzing powders. You'll also find best beauty buys among the blushes and other key products, including the matte eyeshadows, felt-tip eyeliner, brow pencil, and a few of the mascaras. There isn't anything medical or extra-pure about Physicians Formula makeup, but if you know what to look for and are on a budget there are some products that any doctor concerned with the subject of beauty would appreciate!
Note: The shade range of this line does not cater to darker skin tones. In fact, for some products, only those with fair to light skin will find options.