Wednesday, November 27, 2013

REVIEW: Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Finish Powder Foundation

We all know that I'm a sucker for three things: bright lipsticks, liquid and cream highlighters, and any foundation that offers a shade conceivably lighter than MAC NW/NC15. This blog's reviews clearly demonstrate my preoccupation with finding base products that are super-pale, relatively neutral, and workable on dry-combination skin. And when these products don't work out for me--when they're pale enough but way too pink, or when they're a beautiful formulation that runs too dark, or when they're the perfect shade but they eat my skin alive--I go through some intense mood swings. It looks something like this:

It's pretty exhausting and more than a little immature, I must admit.

Dolce & Gabbana has been a beacon of hope for me. Granted, the Luminous Liquid Foundation did not work on my oily OR dry areas in the slightest, and the Perfect Finish Creamy Foundation was just a bit too much coverage and work for my tastes (but it's perfect in all other aspects, so if you're a medium-to-full coverage cream foundation kinda person, for serious, check it out). But I continue to flock to the brand because, despite the terrifying price and the formulation discord, they have a super-pale, neutral shade that works for N5-10 skin: #60 Classic.

I should probably make it clear, however, that I didn't buy the D&G Perfect Finish Powder Foundation in 60 Classic. I bought in 50 Ivory. It's not very hard to see why:

While the Classic shade is pretty much identical in the Luminous Liquid and Creamy formulations, it's darker and pinker in the powder formula. You can tell this just by looking at the photos on the website, or by reading reviews: most of the people who report wearing Classic in the powder foundation are NW15, not N5-10 like me. So I went with 50 Ivory, the more neutral-yellow and paler of the two, and I'm glad I did. I'd peg it at about N10, so too dark for me as a foundation when I'm at my lightest, but doable right now (when I'm "slightly tan," ha ha) or when I just want to use it as a sheer setting powder.

This is not a cheap product by any stretch of the imagination: you're paying $59 before taxes for 0.53 oz of product, roughly half the size of most foundations. This is a powder, though, not a liquid, and as far as powder foundations go, the D&G appears to be par for the course in terms of size. Still, definitely a luxury product.

D&G gets this, and their products are made to look beautiful. The compact is a simple but beautiful polished gold, and it comes in a soft black bag. While it's pretty--and probably useful for preventing scratches, which I'm sure this compact will get--that black bag is a major cat hair magnet. I had to lint roll it before I took this picture to avoid feelings of intense cat owner embarrassment. Animal lovers, you have been warned.

The compact has a nice weighty feel to it and comes with a mirror and a sponge. Apparently the sponge applies the product well, but I'm not big on sponges and powder products; they tend to put a bit too much powder on my dry skin, leaving my face looking cakey. It IS nice for touch-ups, though, since my nose can get shiny throughout the day, and if you're in the sponges? There ya go.

Now, there are several ways to apply this foundation. You can press it on with a damp sponge, you can buff it in with a moistened brush, you can buff it on dry with a kabuki, or you can dust it over your face with a bigger, softer brush for super-sheer coverage/setting. Again, I'm not big on sponges, and rubbing a dry product on to my face is just asking for trouble. So I tried it out two ways: as a stand-alone foundation, buffed in to the skin with a dampened brush, and as a setting powder over a liquid foundation.

I used a Real Techniques Expert Face brush and dampened it ever so slightly with a spray bottle full of filtered water. Then I dabbed the brush in to the powder and gently swept it on to my face, working in sections and re-dampening the brush. It wasn't exactly a speedy process--it took me about 5 minutes to do 2 layers--but it gave me nice results. As you can see, I ended up with a satin finish and medium coverage. This was a bit surprising, because the Perfect Finish Powder is touted as a full-coverage product in press releases and reviews, and I found it to be a light to buildable-medium coverage sort of thing. Bear in mind, though, that my idea of "full coverage" revolves around super-intense products like the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer and Kat von D Lock It foundation. To some people, this might be full coverage.

It photographed beautifully in natural light and flash photography. Sorry about the blurriness of the last picture, by the way; my camera's been a beyotch lately....

...and don't be fooled by this picture, either: the D&G definitely gives me a great effect, but it's not "Photoshop in a pan," despite what that first picture suggests. Again, camera's been a bit wonky, so some of this photos are a tad smeary.

ANYWAY, what you CAN see is how well it wears on me. I had some slight shine and wear after 4 or 5 hours, but nothing too dramatic, and it was easily blotted away. People with super-oily skin may find that this product isn't matte enough for them, or they may want to top it off with an additional mattifying powder. Dry skinned folks who like a little more glow will want to add some setting spray to the mix.

I would also like to note that some of my favorite bloggers and kinda-sorta-skintwins haven't had as much luck with this foundation. If you're dryer than I am, have a lot of problems with skin texture (roughness, flaking, etc), or need a foundation that's completely neutral, the D&G powder won't work for you. I'm more apt to recommend it to people with dry, normal, or slightly oily skin and very few textural issues.

The one issue I, personally, had with this product as a stand-alone foundation is that it can be a bit tricky to blend creams over top. I had zero problems with liquids (Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors and Beach Tints) or thinner creams (Yves Saint Laurent Creme de Blushes and ye olde Urban Decay highlighters), but tackier, thicker products (MAC Blushcremes) were a pain in the tuckus to blend. I think they just get "dried up" even further in the powder. No major deal; I'll just avoid wearing a few cheek products when I'm rockin' this bad boy out.

So it's nice on my skin and it's good for travel and I like it as a foundation, blah blah, whatever. Now it's time to talk about what I really love it for: setting a liquid foundation.


Lightly dusted over my t-zone with a very soft, fluffy brush, the D&G Perfect Finish Powder foundation is a thing of beauty. It tones down the inevitable shine my nose (the only part of my face that gets super-shiny) and adds a smidge more coverage to the discolored portions of my face. It doesn't look cakey, dry, or thick, and it doesn't feel heavy on top of another foundation. It just sits its finely milled self on my skin like fairy dust. Any doubts I've harbored about matte powders on dryer skins have been silenced.

Bear in mind, however, that I tend to use sheer tinted moisturizers or light-coverage foundation--I was wearing one layer of MAC Face & Body here, which amounts to light, slightly dewy coverage. If you're already using a medium-to-full coverage and/or uber-matte foundation, adding this powder on top might give you some odd-looking skin. (I could've tested it over the D&G Creamy foundation, but I already know that'd be overkill for me, so I didn't bother.)

As further proof of how luxurious this foundation feels and how surprisingly well it sits on my mostly-dry skin, here are some macro shots. Please note that the itty bitty flecks you see in the first photo are not skin flakes or lumps of powder, they're fallout from a Chanel Illusion d'Ombre shadow. You are welcome to click for some super-creepy zoomy-in-ness.

One layer, applied wet.

Two layers, applied wet.

Lightly dusted over MAC Face & Body foundation. I'm currently between MAC N5-10 and mix about 2 parts F&B White to 1 part F&B N1.

 As a final note, the texture of this product is really, unbelievably beautiful. Applied dry, it's soft and smooth; applied wet, it takes on a slightly creamy texture, similar to that of a cream-to-powder blush. It does not dry me out or sit on my skin--it melds.

It's a bit early to label this product a Holy Grail. And I'm pretty conservative with that title, anyway. But this powder has done some incredible things: it's changed my opinion of powder foundations on dry skin, it's become a staple in my daily foundation routine, and it's convinced me to continue to purchase a $60 product without batting an eyelash. Because it's worth it.

And now I'm feeling like:

RATING: 5 out of 5


  1. What cream eyeshadow are you wearing? it looks great.

  2. I think I need this, you look beautiful.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. You look great wearing red lippy!
    ~Pauline @Kallony

  5. Have you tried "Armani Lasting Silk UV Compact SPF 34"? If you do, i'd love to know how you feel about it. I heard a lot of good things about it but didn't get a chance to try it out yet. (I have dry and pale skin as well, but probably not as pale as you do).Thank you!

    1. No, I haven't. Armani foundations usually run too dark for me, and most contain ingredients I try to avoid like alcohol denat. Also, that foundation is specifically formulated for more oily skin types.