Secrets to Finding the Best Makeup Colors for Your Skin Tone

Airdate: 9/19/13

If you've ever stood in the makeup aisle at the drugstore and wondered which shade of foundation, concealer, powder, and so on was best for you, then this is your show! Paula and Bryan share expert tips on selecting the right makeup colors + which shades you shouldn't consider.

Paula Begoun: Hello. I'm Paula Begoun with Bryan Barron. We are part of the Paula's Choice Research Team, "Keeping you Beautifully Informed," or staying beautifully informed, or being beautifully informed. But, whatever it is, it's about being beautiful with information and facts and not hype and misleading advertising. That's what we do at That's what Bryan and I have been doing in the books we've been writing for years. "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me" is what we are best known for.
00:00:31 And we never want you to go shopping for any skincare or makeup product without us. But today we're going to be talking specifically about shopping for the best makeup products and how not to screw that up. How not to make mistakes, because being beautiful is the goal. And not wasting money. Well, wasting money isn't pretty.
Bryan Barron: It's not pretty!
Paula Begoun: So, let's not do that.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. We're going to give you some tips, some advice on what we use, what's worked for us to help find the best products for your skin tone.
00:01:02 So that you're not standing in the drugstore aisle with that glazed over look. I know you've done it before; we all have. There are so many products and so many colors and so many tempting claims. It's enough to just make you walk right out with nothing.
Paula Begoun: But, everybody walks out with something. Nobody leaves those department stores or drugstores…
Bryan Barron: It's that struggle, because part of you is just like, you know, throwing your arms up, "I give up!" And then there's another part that's like, "Yeah, but I'm here. And I need something."
Paula Begoun: I think it's one of the reasons infomercials are so incredibly, well, just very lucrative for many product lines and just so enticing for so many women.
00:01:39 Because somebody is sitting there telling you, "This is it. This is the best." I mean, there aren't cheerleaders at the drugstores. I mean, there are at the department stores, because you have the salesperson, but at the drugstore there isn't somebody at the Maybelline counter going, "Yeah! Wow! This is the best. This is going to make you this and that." So, infomercials get to be very seductive because very passively you can be sitting and listening to the most astounding sales pitch.
Bryan Barron: Not just infomercials though, but those very slick pitches that they do on the Home Shopping Channels.
Paula Begoun: Yes.
Bryan Barron: Because we get asked about Home Shopping brands quite a bit. And they've got the host there and then the women call in who talk about how wonderful the products are. Or they do a demo and it just looks amazing.
Paula Begoun: Actually, I was thinking of those as when I mean infomercials.
00:02:24 But I guess they're a whole different kind of genre in and of themselves.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. I look at those presentations as being more like live in the moment.
Paula Begoun: Oh, as opposed to…
Bryan Barron: They seem more unscripted and impromptu. Whereas an infomercial is definitely very, "First we show this, and then it's edited, and then we do this. And then they're going to intercut this."
Paula Begoun: Did you know that I actually in the years that QVC and HSN have been on, I actually rarely am able to watch -- I know this is a huge departure for what we're supposed to be talking about -- but I actually find the way they present and talk about skincare and makeup and the claims so left field that I don't have patience to sit and listen to the hype.
00:03:09 And often what I know to be, you know, often lies or out-and-out misleading; often not lies, just really misleading information that I literally can't bear it. So, despite what I do for a living, I flip through them very, very, very fast or just ask you. And mostly what we base, when we do our reviews, especially for skincare, it's always based on formulary and what does the research say.
00:03:37 And then I could take a look at what the claims say on the label. I don't have to listen to a half an hour show of people carrying on about the product to be able to tell a consumer what they're really, really buying. But, sorry, that was just a departure on QVC and HSN. Drives me nuts! But, before we start talking about how to shop for the best makeup colors for your skin tone, well, or just makeup colors that look beautiful on you is really the goal.
00:04:10 And definitely for your skin tone. So, this came up in talking with some people who specialize in skincare for dermatologists, and that actually should be a whole show about so-called Cosmeceuticals and products that dermatologists sell, but there is a product at the drugstore that is actually considered one of the best selling products in the skincare world.
00:04:39 At the drugstore right now is a product called Bio Oil. Bryan, have you seen this product? It's in an orange case? You've seen it?
Bryan Barron: Yeah. We reviewed it.
Paula Begoun: We reviewed it? Did I miss that?
Bryan Barron: It's been on the site for awhile.
Paula Begoun: How did I miss that? Oh, here I thought I had something brand new.
00:04:57 You know what it is? We have 40,000 products up there and only you remember everything we have.
Bryan Barron: It's crazy.
Paula Begoun: I remember nothing.
Bryan Barron: Let me read you what we said about the oil. But before I do that, though, so the ad -- is that an article you have there?
Paula Begoun: No, no. This is the product pulled off of This is their product information sheet. It's 4oz on sale for $17. Making claims about getting rid of stretch marks. I mean, it's amazing. And really, it's almost like the short list would be what they say it doesn't do.
00:05:31 But, it does everything.
Bryan Barron: So, we wrote, "Bio Oil is a product we're asked about regularly, mostly because it claims to tackle scars, stretch marks, and uneven skin tone, something many people are dealing with. The company maintains that it uses a breakthrough ingredient known as PurCellin oil. As it turns out, this oil is derived from ducks (it is the substance ducks secrete from their skin to keep their feathers waterproof), but it has absolutely no research proving it affects the skin concerns that Bio-Oil is touted as being able to treat. In fact, PurCellin oil isn't even included on Bio-Oil's ingredient list. Instead, you're applying a mix of mineral oil and emollients to your skin, along with commonplace vitamins and some irritating fragrant plant oils (which is at best confusing and strangely misleading). Several irritating fragrance ingredients are included, too, all of which adds up to an unabashedly poor product that should not be taken seriously because it simply doesn't make scars and stretch marks less apparent. All this can realistically do (beyond irritating skin) is provide some moisturizing benefit. That can help minimally if your skin is dry, but it won't change any other aspect of scarring, nor will it improve an uneven skin tone."
Paula Begoun: How did I not remember that?
00:06:40 So, I want you to know that I was reshocked by it. I was reshocked.
Bryan Barron: It has been awhile. It's been up on the site for awhile.
Paula Begoun: But you remember everything. You really -- Bryan is the brains in the group, obviously. He's also the beauty, but he's definitely the brains.
Bryan Barron: I didn't remember all the shows we were supposed to be doing!
Paula Begoun: But, mineral oil. Mineral oil. And then it is fragranced. This is basically eau de parfum.
00:07:07 It's lavender and it's synthetic fragrance ingredients. I mean, it is rosemary. I just…
Bryan Barron: So, I have a couple more things.
Paula Begoun: About this particular product?
Bryan Barron: One of the new features that we have on Beautypedia reviews at is that if you have a membership to the site, if you sign up and create an account -- which is super easy -- email address and a password is all you need.
00:07:32 But once you do that, you can leave what's called a member comment on any product that we review. And, of course, you can also review any Paula's Choice product that you've tried. We welcome those, too. But for Bio Oil there is two member comments. Both of them rated it one star, out of four. One woman said, "I was constantly using it and waiting for the wonder, but it never came."
Paula Begoun: Ha!
Bryan Barron: "Now, I'm not wondering why anymore." The other one wrote, "I bought this once and will never buy it again... after reading the cosmetics cop review! This product contains a significant amount of lavender oil which I heard is cytotoxic," which means it causes cell death. And then she wants to know, "Is the amount of lavender oil in this product likely to cause cell death?"
00:08:18 Yes. I can say that in the sense that if you…
Paula Begoun: Probably.
Bryan Barron: Yeah, probably. Because if you can smell the lavender oil, what was particularly startling about that fact is that the research showed that…
Paula Begoun: It doesn't take much.
Bryan Barron: It doesn't take much. About a quarter of one percent is about all it takes to start killing skin cells.
Paula Begoun: We can't say exactly how much is in this product, obviously .
Bryan Barron: Because we don't know.
Paula Begoun: Thos specific details we are never privy to. But, what we're always concerned about with any ingredient that can be problematic in terms of being irritating or not healthy for skin is really is that it's about reapplying it twice a day and that build up of problems for skin along the way.
00:09:02 Especially for irritation, because irritation is just a problem for skin and cell death is not a good thing. So, we always err on the side in our reviews for a bad, what we're worried about for skin in terms of what you will end up seeing in terms of collagen depletion, and irritation, redness, inflammation. Actually, that's the other thing important to mention, and I'm hoping I'm finishing a thought here. Is that one of the things about irritating ingredients and an ingredient like lavender, lavender oil, that can cause cell death is that you might not see that on the surface of skin. And we've said this before. But it so bears repeating.
00:09:45 Just because you don't see a problem on the surface of skin doesn't mean it's not happening underneath the skin. In fact, quite the opposite is true. It is absolutely happening. The best evidence of that is sun damage. You can go outside and it's a beautiful spring day. And you're walking. And you don't have sun protection on. And you might not feel a thing other than wonderful. You know, the fresh air…
Bryan Barron: The warmth of the sun.
Paula Begoun: Warmth of the sun.
Bryan Barron: You're in a good mood.
Paula Begoun: You don't get pink because you're not baking in the sun. You're walking briskly.
00:10:15 But your skin is absolutely getting hammered by sun damage. It is just one of those things in life. The sun is very carcinogenic. It's one of the most carcinogenic substances -- radiation sources out there in our world. And it's hammering you.
Bryan Barron: It is. But I think that's really hard for a lot of people to accept because just socially/culturally and across the world, the sun is a source of life and warmth and happiness. And, you know, you're in a sunny mood.
Paula Begoun: And I do love the sun. And I don't bake in it. And I don't go out in it without sun protection, because it's wonderful with limitation.
Bryan Barron: Exactly. But, yeah, it's just the whole notion of the sun being a carcinogen, it's just it's hard for a lot of people to accept.
00:11:07 You could look at cigarette smoke, and it's like, yeah, okay, I get it. Cigarette smoke is a carcinogen. It's got all kinds of terrible chemicals in it. I can smell it. Anything that smells like that can't possibly be good for me. You can't smell the sun.
Paula Begoun: You can't smell the sun.
Bryan Barron: All you know is that when it's out there's an extra spring in your step and you're feeling pretty good.
Paula Begoun: That's true.
00:11:27 That's really the problem is when you can't feel the damage, because people tell us all the time, we get challenged on it all the time. "Well, it smells good. I don't see any problems. I don't know what you're talking about." They say it's all good and wonderful. I don't know who "they" are, but the research doesn't support it. We can't do anything about what the facts are. And the facts are that irritation, sun exposure that you're not using protection, is just a problem. It's a problem like a lot of things in life that you don't necessarily feel in the moment, but in the long term you're going to pay for it.
00:12:01 But I went off on a tangent, oh, because we were talking about Bio Oil and I never remember what I write, which is why I need Bryan very close to me. But, did you write that? Who wrote that? That either had you or me?
Bryan Barron: Oh, I'm sure I did originally. But then…
Paula Begoun: But I know I edited it. Of course I saw it. We do it all together. I don't know. Okay, nevertheless, let's do makeup and how to make sure you…
Bryan Barron: I can't believe you can't keep the 14,000 products on Beautypedia straight.
Paula Begoun: I really need to work on that. Ha! But, you do!
Bryan Barron: Nah, I try.
Paula Begoun: Oh please. Please.
00:12:33 So, let's talk about foundation, because that's probably one of the most difficult ones to get right. In fact, I think it's one of the reasons cosmetic companies launch foundations all the time is women are all -- just like mascaras, you're always looking for the next best one, the one that's going to look the most natural, provide the most natural coverage. For mascara, is going to make the lashes look the longest and thickest. And it's also the hardest for any cosmetic company to get right. It's just they're tricky products because you put something on the skin to cover it up, tends to see it, rather than seeing the skin.
Bryan Barron: Speaking of foundation being a hard product to get right, from a formulary perspective, and performance and testing, how many versions of the Resist Anti-Aging Foundation did you go through?
00:13:21 Because you are super picky about your makeup.
Paula Begoun: I'm super picky about my makeup.
Bryan Barron: And one of the things that was really surprising to me when I was talking with Kate, our product development director, this was before the Resist Anti-Aging Foundation launched. And she came to me and she's like, "Bryan, Paula likes it. She's actually wearing it. And she won't give me back the sample."
Paula Begoun: I was actually wearing it.
00:13:47 It took about ten iterations.
Bryan Barron: Wow.
Paula Begoun: We did go through ten different versions. I think we got it right, we got the basics right almost from the beginning, but then keeping the ingredients stable because there are functional, there are, for lack of a better terms, bio-active, or fancy ingredients in there that have an effect over and above just the coloring and the coverage that a foundation gives.
00:14:18 So, it was a tricky product to keep stable. It was a tricky product to make. But, we did get the basic right from the beginning in terms of coverage. The colors took a long time. I can't imagine what other cosmetic companies do, but getting colors that look natural on many different skin types. And we have fairly light coverage foundations. When you have heavier coverage foundations, getting that color right is incredibly, incredibly difficult.
Bryan Barron: Yeah.
Paula Begoun: We also have foundations with sunscreen.
00:14:53 I'm a big believer in sunscreen. I like layering sunscreens. I think it's the absolute best way to protect your skin. So, that's tricky. Resist was our first one without sunscreen, our first foundation, and I actually thought that would make it easier. It didn't. Made the testing easier because you didn't have FDA sunscreen testing, but other than that there was nothing easier about it. That was a little surprising. I was thinking it would be.
Bryan Barron: And clearly the work paid off.
00:15:23 it's been selling very well. And independent of the fact, because typically when something is new it's going to sell well just because it's new and people are like, "Oh, I'm curious, I want to try it. It's new." But, this has really got some good momentum behind it. And 127 customers who have tried it have left a review and it's averaging 4 stars out of 5.
Paula Begoun: You're kidding?
Bryan Barron: No.
Paula Begoun: Whoa!
Bryan Barron: Including this recent review. A customer named Annabelle says, "Future cult product alert. Shade Level Zero Porcelain is destined to become a cult item. It's genuinely pale without casting a horrible yellow, peach, or rose tone. I'm very pale and a makeup junkie. No other cosmetic company has this naturally pale tone. It sits beautifully on the skin all day. Is matte and works with powders and highlighters. I'm delighted it has no sunscreen. I hate SPF foundations. If you care about your skin you should wear a specific SPF separately and not depend on foundation SPF, which is never a complete defense."
Paula Begoun: Well, I don't know that I agree with that last part, but thank you, Annabelle.
00:16:34 That's a lovely review. And by the way, just for anybody who wants to post comments either on Beautypedia about other products we review, agreeing or disagreeing with us, also if you want to comment about Paula's Choice products on our website, we are pretty much like We do not edit reviews. If you like it, you like it. If you don't like it, you don't like it. And that's just fine with us.
00:16:59 The only time we edit is for really nasty words and stuff that doesn't have anything to do with the product and bad language or obscenities. But we leave it like it is, so feel free to come and comment on about other company's products we review. You don't have to agree with us. That's not the goal. The goal is to get an exchange going. Same thing with Paula's Choice products. We need to hear from you because we do a better job when we know what you want from us and what you don't.
00:17:31 So, let's talk about foundation. So, foundation is, especially shopping at the drugstore, is particularly tricky. In fact, of any product when people say, "What do you splurge on? What's a good splurge?" And generally I don't think any product is a good splurge. Well, I mean obviously splurge is dependent upon what your budget is. But, in terms of like is a $75 or $100 product worth it, or a $200 worth it, I haven't seen any product much over $40 or $50 that I think is worth it. Is worth a splurge.
00:18:08 The one product that is worth a splurge if you're not getting it right, if you feel like the color is always wrong or it's never quite looking like how you want it to would be a foundation.
Bryan Barron: Yeah.
Paula Begoun: And then that's what the department store is for, is you can sit down, particularly at the M.A.C. counter. The M.A.C. people love putting makeup on you.
00:18:30 But many of the cosmetic companies love doing makeovers and putting makeup…
Bryan Barron: Sephora is a great place for that, as well.
Paula Begoun: Does Ulta do makeup applications, too? Or not as much as Sephora?
Bryan Barron: You know, they do when they bring in reps from different lines, like maybe…
Paula Begoun: But they don't have it like Sephora does.
Bryan Barron: You know, I don't have a very high opinion of the employees at Ulta.
Paula Begoun: Uh-oh.
Bryan Barron: It's not that they aren't perfectly nice people, but at least the Ulta stores in our area, I think that they have a high turnover rate.
00:19:00 I don't think that the employees get much if any training on makeup or products. They're more just clerks and stockists. They're making sure that the shelves are clean and then even then they kind of fall down.
Paula Begoun: Oh my goodness.
Bryan Barron: Again, this is just in relation to the Ulta stores in the Seattle area. They may be different…
Paula Begoun: Wonderful in other places.
Bryan Barron: …anywhere else.
Paula Begoun: So, when you're doing, because Bryan and his team, I don't do quite as much of the hands-on research like I used to. So, your experience at Sephora is that there is more people, better trained.
Bryan Barron: Yeah.
00:19:32 Not only does Sephora have better training, better education. I've gotten some behind the scenes glimpses of that. They really do want to hire people that know, that can talk the talk. And they're genuinely interested in helping you find the right products for you.
Paula Begoun: Oh interesting.
Bryan Barron: And many of their stores have stations set up where you can try on different foundations with the assistance of an employee. You can try them on yourself, you know, throughout the store, because there are testers for everything.
00:20:01 But if you're just really stuck and don't know where to begin, you can grab an employee that has the makeup brushes around their waist.
Paula Begoun: So, does Ulta have the same availability of testers, just not a sales staff that can help you all that well?
Bryan Barron: Exactly. Exactly. I find that the Ulta Stores in our area, they tend to be understaffed, so they may have two or three people working and if one is helping someone the other two are ringing at the cash register. So, you're kind of on your own.
Paula Begoun: Okay.
00:20:27 Well, and sometimes shopping on your own is fine.
Bryan Barron: Is great.
Paula Begoun: But when you want help, that's not the best.
Bryan Barron: One thing that is great about Ulta's locations for the most part is that you are never too far from a source of natural light, which is a critical aspect when you're testing a foundation to make sure that you're leaving with the right shade.
Paula Begoun: How do you mean? The way the store is lit? Or the way it's laid out?
Bryan Barron: They typically have an all big window glass front. So, you can put on foundation and you can go and check it in daylight without having to leave the store.
Paula Begoun: Oh, I see.
00:21:02 Which is essential. In fact, I think a lot of why people get disappointed at foundations is because they can't try it on before they buy it, in natural light; because if you're in a department store in the middle of the mall, you're not able to easily get out to daylight. And often it looks really great in the store light, and then you don't have any clue what it looks like in the real light.
00:21:26 So, the major thing about foundation is, of all things to try on before you buy it would be foundation. If you're not willing, or can't, don't want to shop that way and you do it buy it at the drugstore, then I strongly recommend you follow our recommendations on Beautypedia for the best products, which skin type they go with. That's a big deal. Whether or not a product is for dry skin or oily skin? Often what they say on the label doesn't really go with what the formula is. And then absolutely shop at a store where, you know, find out what their return policy is.
00:21:59 Because, if you get it home, you don't want to end up with a collection of foundations you don't like, because that's no fun. Think about foundation as a natural way to have even skin tone, not to change your skin color. Probably the biggest mistakes women make with foundation is wanting to either get a pink glow, or a tan-looking glow. Or they think they're too pale and they want a darker foundation, or they want a darker foundation or they want a lighter skin color and they put a foundation on that's too light.
00:22:30 And the idea with foundation is that it look natural but with enough coverage to even out, cover up pores, even out discolorations. But to look as absolutely natural as possible in almost any light. Not an easy task, but it is doable, especially following our recommendations. Bryan, can you give a few of your favorite foundations that we have on Beautypedia?
Bryan Barron: Yeah. If you have oily to combination skin, at the drugstore one of my favorites is L'Oreal's True Match Liquid Foundation.
00:23:08 They have a few other varieties of True Match foundations because I think that name has done really well for them. But the original liquid, which is in a tiny glass bottle, it has SPF 17. It now comes in 33 shades.
Paula Begoun: Wow.
Bryan Barron: So, it is by far the largest range of shades you'll find at the drugstore. Most drugstores don't carry every single shade, so if you're having trouble finding one you may need to check L'Oreal's site and order it online, but that's a good one.
00:23:33 I like Maybelline's Fit Me Foundation. Another good one with neutral colors. Let's see. At the department store, I'm trying to think, like more normal to dry skin, Laura Mercier's Satin Cream Foundation is a good one. M.A.C. just came out with a Mineralized Moisture SPF 15 Foundation. It's a liquid, but it's actually moisturizing. That's a really nice one, too, and it comes in M.A.C.'s typical range of slightly yellow to neutral undertones in terms of the shades, which is really what you want.
00:24:09 A little bit of pink or a little bit of peach if that's what happens to match your skin best. And I stress the word "little" is fine, if that's what works best for you. And oftentimes companies will label that pinky tone as beige. So, it's kind of like a neutral beige in that it looks classic beigy, but not overtly pink, and not overtly yellow.
Paula Begoun: Right.
Bryan Barron: And that can be fine.
Paula Begoun: Right.
00:24:33 Exactly. When it starts looking pink, and it starts looking orange, and it starts -- and then there's the other side of it where it looks so ash or so neutral that it actually starts looking green. That's not the goal either, or grayish actually. Almost grayish. So, that really rich slightly yellow/caramel kind of neutral beige undertone, that's great. And, again, when you try on foundation, make sure you put it on along your jaw line.
00:25:05 You're never wearing foundation -- when you were on the Hallmark Channel you said that they talked you into putting foundation on your neck when you did the…
Bryan Barron: They did.
Paula Begoun: The Home Show? What is it called?
Bryan Barron: I did a spot on the Home and Family Show.
Paula Begoun: With Christine…
Bryan Barron: Cristina Ferrare.
Paula Begoun: Cristina Ferrare.
Bryan Barron: Who is a doll. She was so kind and she was such a huge fan.
00:25:27 I wasn't -- I'm new at this, the whole media thing, and I wasn't expecting the host to literally pull me aside and say, "I just want you to know I love your book. And I love Paula. And I love what you guys do."
Paula Begoun: Oh my gosh!
Bryan Barron: Honestly, she couldn't have been nicer. I turned to our publicist afterward and I said, "Do you think she was putting me on?"
Paula Begoun: No, no, no. Those hosts do a lot of things, but they don't ever…
Bryan Barron: So, that was really, really wonderful to hear.
Paula Begoun: Oh, how lovely. How lovely.
Bryan Barron: Oh, so the foundation. Yeah, the foundation on my neck.
Paula Begoun: Oh, sorry, yeah.
Bryan Barron: So, when you do these shows you have to come to the set in what they call camera-ready, which essentially means you're doing your own makeup and hair.
00:26:05 Now, on the Home and Family Show they had, in their green room they had their makeup artist in there who was available for touchups. So, before I went on camera she said, "Well, you know, your makeup looks great, but we should do something about the neck, because it looks like you have some irritation from shaving." You know, with the whole carryon thing and the travel and what you can bring in your silly little quart-sized bag, I can't take the shaving cream that I normally use.
00:26:31 So, I was using this cheapy Gillette stuff and I was shaving early in the morning.
Paula Begoun: Oh no! So, did you get red? And you did get red?
Bryan Barron: I tore the dickens out of my neck. Honestly, it looked bad.
Paula Begoun: And you didn't have our Anti-Redness Serum.
Bryan Barron: No! I didn't.
Paula Begoun: It didn't fit in the quart-sized bag.
Bryan Barron: And this gorgeous Swedish makeup artist who's just got like a perfectly fit body is kind of in my face. And she's like, "Oh, and I see you have the razor bumps." I said, yeah. So, she said let's put some foundation on your neck.
00:27:02 But I'm wearing a white shirt. I said, "I don't know." I said you really have to make sure that it doesn't get on my color.
Paula Begoun: Oh, it's not human possible!
Bryan Barron: Well, I managed to get through the segment on the show without it getting on my color in a noticeable way. But then by the time I got to the airport later that afternoon and loosened my tie and I was in the men's room, it was like, "Oh man! There's makeup all over my collar."
Paula Begoun: Which is one of the reasons we so strongly recommend the foundation needs to match your face exactly. It does not go on the neck.
00:27:32 Even if that was kind of a good idea, although I can't -- there is no logic to it. It's just too expensive. You would have your clothes at the dry cleaner all the time. Makeup is for your face, not for your clothes. And there's just no way to keep it off of your clothes, especially in the winter when you're tending to wear higher collars. But where do you stop it? When you do put it on your neck, unless, I mean, do you stop it at the base of our clothes.
00:27:59 Does it go down to your chest? It doesn't make any sense. But, you do want to apply it at your jaw line when you're testing a foundation and look how it compares to your neck area. And that difference should be minimal to none so that it's seamless, so that you don't look to one degree or another like you're wearing a mask. When your face is darker than your neck, or vice versa, you always go somewhere in between, especially at the jaw line, so that you try to even out between the two.
00:28:31 Trying to find a good foundation when you have tricky skin you absolutely want to take advantage of the makeup artist at either the department store or Sephora, or do it on your own at the drugstore if they have testers. Actually, Walgreens now has 300 flagship stores with regular fancy nice makeup departments where they have testers and people to help you. I guess that's going to be rolling out in a lot of cities around the country, so you'll be able to have better ability to get to trying on makeup at the drugstore.
00:29:07 I think they plan on having over 1,000 of these next year. So, foundation is a big deal to try on before you buy it. And so in that regard perhaps the department store option is good. But, you know, some of the ones that Bryan was mentioning, give it a try, especially the one with the more neutral shades that you were commenting on, because it's almost difficult to make a mistake.
Bryan Barron: Yeah.
00:29:31 Companies are getting better, even at the drugstore, of how they segment and arrange their shades. And they're using like an undertone, like neutral, or cool, or warm as opposed, and then numbering from like lightest to darkest with one being the lighter one and seven being the darkest. That's actually a much more helpful system than just calling something Classic Beige, Soft Fawn. What the heck is a soft fawn?
Paula Begoun: We've made that mistake trying to name our foundations.
Bryan Barron: We have.
Paula Begoun: It's a problem. It is a problem. How do you describe a color? You might as well, you know, it's that classic thing of trying to describe an elephant, five guys at each end of the elephant. How do you describe it? You can't. It's too complicated. It's too subjective.
00:30:17 But when you do…
Bryan Barron: On the other hand, though, you have to call it something.
Paula Begoun: You have to call it something!
Bryan Barron: When you've got multiples of one product that are different colors, like you can't just say this is our All Bases Covered Foundation.
Paula Begoun: I have a lot of sympathy for cosmetic companies struggling with how to describe a product that's a color to a consumer. Lipstick colors. So, I think it's why some of them, like a company like Benefit, just has funny cute names for their products, just because I think they just say, "Well, give it up. There's nothing I can call that that's going to speak to anybody."
00:30:50 Urban Decay did that, too, right? They just had the strangest names for their lipsticks and their eye shadows. But I think that the best thing you can do, so we've explained about foundation, but to move on to say eye shadows or blushes. In that situation there isn't any matching or not matching. That gets more random in terms of how do you look at what kind of colors and how to put colors together.
00:31:23 And as a general rule, the easiest thing you can do, and I mean this -- since there isn't a lot of great information in fashion magazines, but definitely the way they do their makeup on the cover of the magazine is some of the best stylistic makeup in the world in terms of what's fashionable, what's looking good. Or, just how celebrities are doing their makeup in the fashion magazine.
Bryan Barron: Yeah And the intensity of the color, specific to eye shadow, and especially blush, though the intensity of those colors to the model or the celebrity's skin tone.
Paula Begoun: Exactly.
Bryan Barron: You're not seeing somebody who's really fair wearing a purple blush.
Paula Begoun: A plum or deep mauvey kind of blush, or black lipstick.
00:32:14 Well, I mean maybe in some of the extreme. You don't want to go to the back side of where they're doing extreme makeup looks. We're talking about the classic makeup looks, what the celebrities are wearing. You're not seeing somebody like Nicole Kidman with her classic red hair, or Julia Roberts with her classic auburn hair wearing hot pink, swipes of blush, and deep orange anything.
00:32:42 So, the colors that the women in the fashion magazine are wearing that is more along your skin tone and hair color that you admire, those are the colors to lean towards. It is the easiest way I can think of to put together a makeup routine. And when in doubt, less is more, particularly for eye shadow. Please do not take a swipe of blue, or a swipe of green, or a swipe of any one color and stretch it across your eye and say, "I've got my eye makeup on now."
00:33:18 If you're going to do eye makeup, it's more complicated than that. And sometimes what's best of all is just to get your foundation and blush on, a little bit of concealer, and mascara, and go have a good day. As opposed to brow stuff, why? Bryan is pointing to his brow! I have brow stuff on.
Bryan Barron: I know. Just in terms of…
Paula Begoun: Brow stuff -- I mean brow filler.
Bryan Barron: Paying attention. If you don't want to do the whole eye shadow/eye design type thing, you can go a long way by doing some mascara and a little bit of eye liner and then making sure that you do something to your brows. Because the brows from the face. And if you have a well-groomed, nicely filled, defined brow, you can get away with wearing pretty much no eye shadow and still look really put together.
Paula Begoun: You know, it's funny you say that.
00:34:10 One of the things I've been struggling with as…
Bryan Barron: Because eye shadow scares a lot of people. They're like, "Uh…two colors? I can barely pick one. Help!"
Paula Begoun: I was a makeup artist for a long time and I've been doing television and my own makeup. I mean, I've never actually had -- I always do my own makeup. It's a thing for me. But now as I have hopefully, gracefully, with a lot of effort and fighting grown older, I actually find myself, I like wearing less makeup as opposed to more.
00:34:44 And as my brows have been changing, which is just ever so driving me crazy, I'm filling them in more because that's a major way that I'm shaping my eyes, exactly the way you're saying it. And speaking of shaping the brow, which is just almost as difficult as eye shadow, one of the things I like though is that there are these new eyebrow bars in some of the department stores.
00:35:10 Nordstrom has them. I know that they exist in other parts of the country and other parts of the world where you can go in and sit down. And with different product lines, not just one product line, they have the brow product from many different companies and the makeup artist there will show you how to fill in your brow.
00:35:32 What I do from Paula's Choice, one of my favorite products, I mean, I keep in my car, I keep in my purse, I keep in my makeup bag, is our Brow and Hair Tint, because I use it for my eyebrows and I also use it when my gray roots start showing on my hair line. I put some of the sable color we have there as well. So, I use that, I've used that for years. It's one of our longstanding -- actually, I think it's almost been there…since 1999.
00:36:02 I think it's one of my older, the line started in 1995.
Bryan Barron: It's never gone away because it's fairly unique in the industry.
Paula Begoun: Some companies come out with them every now and then. And then they kind of don't last. I don't know why. It's such a, to me, such a basic when you don't have much eyebrow hair, much like when you don't have much eyelashes. You wear mascara and what a brow and hair tint, which looks similar in performance, and you can go to our website of to take a look at what ours looks like, it works a lot like mascara over the brow, except it's very light and thin.
00:36:41 It doesn't build as much thickness at all, so it's minimal intensity building, but it makes whatever lashes/eyebrow hair you have look more defined. And so I do that first. And then I fill in the spaces with our, well, with a powder or a pencil. I prefer powder to pencil, but some people prefer pencil. It doesn't matter. The major thing is to never make your brow look like you've painted it on.
00:37:14 The major thing is to not have this line of pencil -- greasy, waxy pencil -- crossing your eyebrow. Nobody thinks that's eyebrow hair. It doesn't look like.
Bryan Barron: No.
Paula Begoun: You haven't fooled anybody.
Bryan Barron: No, no, no.
Paula Begoun: And the idea when you're filling in your brow is to have it look, just like foundation, you're making it look better but not fake. Foundation isn't supposed to make your skin look fake. It's supposed to make your skin look even and natural. Same thing with the brow.
00:37:45 I don't quite get that, just this pencil thick look, greasy, smeary. I don't know what that is. Don't do that. Stop doing that! Not that you're doing that; I'm talking to the audience at large. Actually, I love the way you fill in your brows, Bryan. I think it's great.
Bryan Barron: Oh, thanks.
Paula Begoun: Which I don't know that I've seen your real brows in a long time.
Bryan Barron: These are my real brows.
Paula Begoun: You don't fill those in?
Bryan Barron: Typically no.
Paula Begoun: Are those not filled in? Have I always thought you filled in your brow and you don't?
Bryan Barron: Maybe.
Paula Begoun: You have perfect eyebrows.
Bryan Barron: That's what the makeup artist on the show said that fixed me. She said, "What do you do?"
Paula Begoun: Only I've known you for 14 years!
Bryan Barron: She said, "What do you do to your brows?"
00:38:24 And I said, "What do you mean? I pluck them."
Paula Begoun: Oh, now I'm depressed. Oh, now I'm depressed. Bryan, you have perfect brows.
Bryan Barron: I shape them myself.
Paula Begoun: Oh, you shape them perfectly.
Bryan Barron: Oh good.
Paula Begoun: That's just, okay, what else don't I know about you? Don't tell me. I don't want to know…
Bryan Barron: Let's wait until we're not recording.
Paula Begoun: Don't tell me! Let's talk about lipstick.
Bryan Barron: Real quick.
00:38:49 The only other company that I know of that offers a product similar to Brow Hair Tint is Bobbi Brown's Natural Brow Shaper. Hers is an option. I would urge you to check out ours first, if for no other reason than ours costs $9.95 and hers is $22.
Paula Begoun: And they're pretty identical.
Bryan Barron: Well, I think ours has a better brush, because our brush is the dual-sided.
Paula Begoun: Oh right!
Bryan Barron: So, you've got the longer bristles to kind of get that soft, swept look. And then the shorter bristles…
Paula Begoun: Smaller, so that you don't get too much product on.
Bryan Barron: Yeah.
00:39:19 Yeah, hers is more of that classic Christmas tree brush, the conical shape.
Paula Begoun: Oh, like a mascara brush?
Bryan Barron: Yeah. Yeah.
Paula Begoun: Oh, right! Right. Okay, I like mine better. So, in terms of lipstick…
Bryan Barron: Lipstick.
Paula Begoun: So, in terms of an overall makeup look, and again, I can't stress enough how beneficial looking at a fashion magazine can be to determine how to put together a makeup look. But as a rule, makeup doesn't match your clothing. It doesn't match your eye color. It doesn't match your hair color. It's an outfit for the face. And generally as a rule the eye shadows are neutral, in different gradations of beige to brown, with maybe a little black.
00:40:07 Maybe you could a little navy or slate. We're talking minimal color because we want to see the shape of the eye, not the eye shadow color you're wearing. The blush should be a harmonizing blush to your own skin color. So, in other words, if you have that red, you know, hair color going and you're pale, wearing a hot pink deep mauve just doesn't go with anything.
Bryan Barron: No.
Paula Begoun: And so a very soft, pale pink, salmony, corally.
00:40:35 Orange works on very few people on the face of the planet.
Bryan Barron: As a quick aside for blush, I think it's very important for women who wear makeup to become comfortable with choosing and feeling good about wearing blush, because it can do so much for the face. And what I see on a lot of older women, and hear from them via email is that they don't wear blush because they don't know -- either they don't know how to apply it, or they're unsure of what color to pick.
00:41:05 And as women and men, although men typically aren't wearing blush, but we start losing color from our face.
Paula Begoun: Right.
Bryan Barron: We just don't have that natural flush anymore. And so blush becomes, especially if you're wearing other makeup, becomes very important.
Paula Begoun: Very important. Actually, that's a good point and I do think that it gets intimidating for a lot of women to go to Sephora or a department store and ask, "Can you put a little blush on me and see how it looks." They think they have to buy it because the person showed them.
Bryan Barron: Right.
Paula Begoun: Or, they put it on and they go out and they go, "Ah! I look terrible."
00:41:38 And don't realize they can blend it down. Maybe the person put on too much. Or, they could just go back in and try something different, or try something different the next time.
Bryan Barron: Yeah.
Paula Begoun: I think some of the softest flesh colors, if you're afraid of blush. Probably, and Bryan, you always know this better than I do. But I think Clinique, given it's at the department store and you can try it on, has some of the softest shades of blush.
00:42:03 In fact, I know in the past one of the negative things we've said about Clinique is the colors sometimes go on too soft; you barely can see it. And it takes forever to build. But, if you're afraid of putting on too much blush, I tend to overdo blush. It's kind of my own personal little quirk. I always have to -- I always check my blush way too many times in the mirror, because I do get carried away. But if you're afraid of blush, then going towards the lines where the blush colors just by how they've formulated, the company has formulated them, don't have a lot of pigment.
00:42:38 Then you could put on a very soft amount of blush. In fact, it's almost impossible to put on too much blush. Clinique is the one that comes to mind, but who else would you recommend?
Bryan Barron: Clinique is a good one. I like Sonia Kashuk's Beautifying Blush, which is at Target stores. M.A.C. has a blush called Sheer tone.
00:43:00 We didn't rate that as among the best, but it got a good rating. And good is still good.
Paula Begoun: Good is still good.
Bryan Barron: There's no reason not to consider a product we rate good. It's just not the best of the best. But, in the case of M.A.C.'s Sheer Tone Blush, that's a great option. M.A.C.'s regular blushes tend to have what we call…
Paula Begoun: Too much pigment. Saturation.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. Too much pigment. What a lot of makeup artists will call a "strong color payoff," meaning that one stroke of the brush and you're like, "Wow! Blush is not for me!"
Paula Begoun: Exactly. So, you want to lean towards the blushes that go on very soft and sheer.
00:43:34 If you're afraid of wearing too much, because erring on the side of no blush doesn't do your makeup look justice. Because you will look pale. And then especially if you're wearing a pale lipstick color…
Bryan Barron: Yeah.
Paula Begoun: It becomes almost like a why bother. And you're cheating how beautiful a glow you can actually give to yourself. When in doubt, a soft pale pink, slight hint of pink on the cheeks, works for just about everybody, mostly because blushing, what we do naturally, because the veins and capillaries in our face, they show red when you blush.
00:44:13 You are always blushing some shade of red, pink, rose, whatever. You're not blushing orange. You're not blushing brown. You're not blushing black. You're not blushing mauve. You're blushing some shade of pink. So, on almost every skin tone some shade of pink for very pale skin, a very soft translucent pink for darker, darker, even into ebony skin tones. A very soft shade, a deeper shade of almost going slightly red, but soft red, looks magnificent.
00:44:51 Looks magnificent. And then lips. The lip color can be all over the place, but again, it's one of those things where if you go too dark, and too gothic, and too obvious, then all I'm looking at is your lips. And I'm not seeing you. Keep in mind that your makeup, just like hair color, if you wear -- absolutely it's an option in life, as we were just having lunch, to see people with pink stripes of color in their hair and purple color, and half blonde and half blue and half green.
00:45:22 Whatever you choose to do, but absolutely when you do something that obvious, that is all anybody is seeing. And they're thinking, "I wonder why you spent so much trouble doing that. " But, however, given much of fashion and makeup is just personal choice. There's nothing good or bad about it.
Bryan Barron: Or right or wrong.
Paula Begoun: Absolutely. And it's about what decision are you making. What do you want people to see about you, because sometimes that is all they'll see, and is that the only thing you want them to know about you?
00:45:55 And if the goal is to be beautiful and attractive, think twice about what somebody is really -- what are you communicating about your look. So, strongly a lip color that goes a long way usually is one that is in a matching range to your blush. That you stay somewhat coordinated. So, neutral eye, beige to some shades of brown, to dark brown. Blush, soft pink for the darker ebony skin tones into the red family. And then the lipstick in the same kind of balance.
00:46:30 And then, again, lipstick freaks people out, either too heavy or too sheer. But that's just personal preference. You just want to stay somewhat coordinated and orange lipstick with a pink blush can just look odd.
Bryan Barron: And if you are going for, you got everything else in place, you're going for a professional daytime look. Maybe you work in an office environment. Lipstick, or at least a lip color of some sort, be it a chunky pencil or whatever, that gives some color to the mouth is imperative.
00:46:59 If you're nervous about lipstick, start experimenting with it more because just slicking on some gloss, it either is going to make you look too teenager-ish, or you're going to look like -- it's not going to, it just doesn't go. It makes the whole face look out of proportion.
Paula Begoun: Right.
Bryan Barron: If you have no color on your mouth.
Paula Begoun: Right. And particularly one of my pet peeves, and this is one of the things that drives me crazy for myself in particular, is that when lipstick starts wearing off, and lip gloss wears off faster than anything else, and then you're constantly taking it out and slapping it around. It never builds any color.
00:47:40 It's gone almost the minute you put it on. It's almost a useless endeavor. So, generally I recommend using gloss over lipstick if you want that shiny look. To just use lip gloss all by itself, you're going to be constantly pulling out that wand and applying it and swiping it over all the time because the color just doesn't look.
Bryan Barron: As a general rule, yeah.
00:48:04 There are some glosses that go the distance a bit more. But, yeah, there's no…
Paula Begoun: Not much.
Bryan Barron: Long-wearing lip gloss is an oxymoron.
Paula Begoun: It is by definition, actually, because it's a gloss. It slides right off.
Bryan Barron: So, quick question for you though. And I was bringing up dressing for the office, doing more of a full makeup.
00:48:25 How important do you think it is for a woman to get her makeup right in terms of, it's always a woman's prerogative whether to wear makeup or not.
Paula Begoun: Right.
Bryan Barron: But, in our society, if we're dealing with a woman who is working in a professional office environment, how much makeup -- I mean, obviously she needs to wear some makeup. Wouldn't you agree with that?
Paula Begoun: I would agree to some extent that it's much like any outfit, any business outfit that for a woman, much the way a guy has his business outfit, a woman has her business outfit. And I think that in a -- you know, we're talking about a CPA. We're talking about an attorney.
00:49:03 We're talking about an attorney. We're talking about an executive, a CEO, CFO. Some level of marketing, that when you're in a professional environment, then yeah, I do think some amount of makeup. It doesn't have to be a lot. I'm talking about a little bit of blush. Very little bit of blush. Little bit of lip color, foundation, maybe concealer. Mascara can even be an option. A little bit of brow filler if you don't have much brow definition.
00:49:31 Just the minimalist of makeup, simply because you're getting dressed in an outfit and then for a woman part of that is the face. However, obviously that is total personal preference. A lot of very successful women don't wear makeup at all. But generally speaking, some amount of makeup is considered kind of standard in the professional world.
00:49:56 But I tend to be very loose on any absolutes about makeup simply because it is such a personal preference. For me, what I worry about the most for women is when they try to do makeup -- if you're going to err on any side, if it doesn't look right don't do it. And so for women who are awkward with makeup, or uncomfortable with makeup, wearing red lipstick and you look like you missed your mouth because you don't have a good hand, or you don't know how to use a lip liner, or you don't know how to get an even line going.
00:50:34 Or, you get stripes of blush or choppy. You can't keep your hands off your face, so by the end of the day your foundation has fingerprints all over it and is half off. So, in the long run, you're better off doing nothing than getting it wrong.
Bryan Barron: Yeah.
Paula Begoun: The same way you wouldn't leave your house with your blouse half off your body because you couldn't figure out how to button it up, if you're not adapt at doing some aspect of your makeup, don't do it.
Bryan Barron: Don't do it.
Paula Begoun: That just ends up looking bad all around.
00:51:06 So, air on whatever you do, do it perfectly, or drop it out, don't do it.
Bryan Barron: Because regardless of how much or how little you do, or which products you use or don't use, the right makeup should make you feel better about yourself. It's about feeling empowered. It's about makeup building confidence.
Paula Begoun: It's true.
Bryan Barron: It isn't about "I can't face the world without this makeup" At least it shouldn't be, but I think for a lot of people it is that way, unfortunately. But, makeup should be a very powerful accessory.
Paula Begoun: Exactly.
00:51:40 Actually, that's really well said. Makeup should be about making you feel more, just like putting on a beautiful outfit has its impact on you, putting on beautiful makeup can have the exact same impact. I think that when makeup becomes the only way you can feel beautiful, I find that problematic. I think that that's sad. For some women it is how they operate in life.
00:52:08 But I believe there are many ways -- well, I don't believe it, there are many ways to be beautiful in the world and one of them is with makeup and one of them is without makeup. When you're lounging around the house or you're out, as long as you have sunscreen on, and you're out in your sweats or whatever you're doing, actually makeup in those situations can look kind of odd. You could look overdone.
00:52:34 But what makeup hopefully gives women when they're applying it right and the colors are balanced is a sense of feeling beautiful as to give a look of being -- of looking put together, just like the rest of your clothing makes you look put together. I'm jumping off on a tangent. I'll never forget a comment -- my older sister is a doctor of psychology.
00:53:01 And I remember when I wrote my first book, "Blue Eye Shadow Should be Illegal," so many years ago, and I remember telling her that, you know, geez, I'm just writing about makeup and skincare. It's just makeup and skincare. I get so worked up about it. And, you know, I'm a feminist. I'm a conservative feminist. I've been that way for years, and years, and years. I mean, does it really have meaning to be talking about skincare and makeup and to get so worked up about when cosmetic companies lie to women.
00:53:33 And my sister said one of the most, for me, empowering things I ever heard is she said, "Keep in mind that a level of psychological health is when women start taking care of themselves. That a sign of psychological depression, sometimes, especially for young women, but for lots of women, a sign of psychological depression is not grooming yourself. That often you recognize that your patient is doing better when a patient starts taking care of themselves.
00:54:04 That a sense of being beautiful, a sense of caring for yourself is a sign of mental health." And I want you to know that that has followed my career through all of the 20 books I've written, through every product I've ever formulated, that how we feel and how we look, a lot to do is about beauty. And that when we do start taking better care of ourselves and find ways where that reflects who we are in the world, it is, there's no better word for it than beautiful.
Bryan Barron: And it resonates. You've told that story to me before, you know, off the mic, so to speak.
00:54:42 That resonates with me though with every testimonial letter that we get from our customers, where they will, and we get letters like this where women, or sometimes men, will write in and say, "Your products changed my life."
Paula Begoun: Yeah.
Bryan Barron: And you think, you know, that's a bold statement. I mean, talk about treading into infomercial territory.
00:55:04 But how do you argue with somebody who takes the time to handwrite or send you an email detailing that because of our products they can leave the house again. They like looking at themselves in the mirror. They like what they see staring back at them.
Paula Begoun: Yeah.
Bryan Barron: That hits at home for me every time.
Paula Begoun: Every time. It makes what we do so meaningful on so many levels. The whole office can send around these letters. It makes us all feel so proud. Customer service loves sending us those testimonials. You send it around.
00:55:38 And obviously they're on our website, too, because people can post their comments on our website. And it is, it makes my life have meaning in ways that I..
Bryan Barron: It does.
Paula Begoun: It keeps me going. Because the industry, I mean, how many times do I say, "I need a new job. I can't stand it anymore. I have to get a new life. The cosmetic industry drives me crazy."
00:56:00 I'm yelling in my office about another crazy product that has come across or some claims or, you know, oh gosh, I don't even want to go through the list of products that drive me crazy. And I'm thinking I can't stand it anymore. And then a woman writes and says, you know, "I don't know what I would have done without your information. I've wasted so much money and I'm done doing that."
Bryan Barron: It's the kind of praise that we love it. I'm not going to shy away from that.
00:56:31 And it makes me, for years I had a really hard time going to parties or being in social situations where typically we would talk about what you do for a living. And I never quite knew what to say because even when I said, "Oh, I research and review skincare cosmetics," more explanation was needed, because you always kind of felt like the other person was like, "Oh?"
Paula Begoun: "What does that mean?"
Bryan Barron: For example, if someone says, "Oh, I'm an attorney. Oh, I'm a dermatologist. Oh, I'm a CPA at Price Waterhouse or whatever."
00:57:08 It's like, okay, you know, you just know from that title that, wow, that's an important job. You've got stature and status. And, you know, nowadays, especially with all of the beauty bloggers and anyone who has internet connection can write about this kind of stuff. It's easy to start feeling less important.
Paula Begoun: Right. And what we do that we have a lot of ego behind, when I'm not yelling and screaming in my office, is that we don't just write -- sometimes we write just what we think. Makeup in particular is often, as we've been talking about, is often more subjective than anything else.
00:57:45 But particularly when it comes to skincare, it's really about the facts. It's really about the research there. We can't tell you how much time and effort the Paula's Choice Research Team spends making sure that when we look at a formulary we know what you're going to be putting on your face and what is going to be the benefit or the negative.
00:58:05 What does the research say is the best possible state-of-the-art things you can be doing to take care of your skin. And what are the things you should not be going that research says is a problem? We have a ton of content on our website at and, of course, there's all the Beautypedia reviews. Thousands of products that we tell you what works and what doesn't.
00:58:29 The best makeup that, we actually do more hands-on testing for skincare. It's more research-based if not exclusively research-based. And what we do is not just tell you what we think, but what extensive research shows is what will take the best care of you. So, Bryan and I are part of that Paula's Choice Research Team. We've been waxing poetic about our many years of trying to get the best information to women and men around the world.
00:59:00 Paula's Choice is in 50 countries around the world, so we're doing an okay job. We're going to do better and better though. So, stay tuned. Come visit us It's worth taking a look, if nothing else, just to get some of the best information with the best research.
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