Whether it's a post-holiday budget or a 2015 resolution to save more money, now is the time when many of us tighten our belts. To help with those goals, I'll be highlighting drugstore beauty buys in my weekly Product Reviews all month long, starting with Almay Smart Shade Anti-Aging Skintone Matching Makeup ($17.99 at London Drugs). It's not exactly a new launch, but it's a reliable standby with a cult following—and for good reason.
First, the lowdown on how it works. Almay's shade-sensing bead technology turns the foundation to an exact shade match for your skin. Pick the best shade (light, light/medium, or medium) for your skin, squeeze a dab out, and massage onto your face with clean fingers. The warmth and pressure of your hands will turn the white bead-flecked formula into the precise shade of beige you need. (I left it partially unblended in the photo above so you can distinguish the foundation from the rest of my hand.) No guesswork or brushes required.
In my 2 months of testing, I've received more compliments about my "perfect" skin than I have in ages from acquaintances and professional makeup artists alike. While part of it is down to good genes and a careful regimen (more about that next week), I can't help but think Almay Smart Shade is also responsible. The semi-sheer formula virtually disappears into skin after it's blended completely and lasts all day without getting cakey. It minimizes flaws and redness while still letting skin's natural texture show through for a "no makeup" look. For my winter-pale, hydration-challenged face, I've been layering it over a rich face cream, and then adding concealer and illuminator where needed. Come summer, I'd wear it over a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a higher SPF.
Finally: What's the difference between the anti-aging and regular formulas? The anti-aging version is thicker and more hydrating, less watery, and has a higher SPF to boot (20 instead of 15). Even if you're a teenager or a twentysomething, I say go with the anti-aging formula. After all, the need for sun protection and hydration transcends age brackets.