Can Foundation Really Be Waterproof? (And Other Details About The Next Generation Of Expensive Beauty Products)

Sephora Spy is back! Fresh from "SOS" training — it's the OT-8 of Sephoraologists! — our undercover Sephora operative Jasmine takes a turn for the scarily-technical this time around. Waterproof foundation! Hyaluronic acid! Uniforms like something out of the Starship Enterprise! Dimethicone-based foundation primers! And so much more. Estee Lauder and Revlon are just two fading giants in a Brave New increasingly multi-polar world of secretive $65-tinted moisturizer-peddling prophets like Perricone and rising giants exhausting the world's mineral supplies. Your questions answered, after the jump.

Q: Hi, I have a skincare question. I get spring allergies — really strong ones to tree pollen. As a result, I get itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, and asthma. Pretty lame. And though my skin isn't directly affected, the watering of my eyes and the constant use of tissues on my face cause the areas around my eyes and nose to chap. Like your lips chap. The skin gets rough, and very irritated; after a while, toward the end of my allergies, it'll peel like really mild sunburn. In the past I've just desperately stepped up my normal routine — moisturize twice a day, with more moisturizer. I use Clinique and always have — I adore it. When it gets really irritated, I'll put rosebud salve, Vaseline, or even Chapstick on it to soothe it. Worse, the irritated skin gets really dark and red, and makeup looks hideous on top of it. Is there anything out there that would help heal this skin without waiting out the three months of hay fever? I'm willing to spend a little cash on this. Thanks!

I have something for you! There is a product called Hydra Healer Maximum Strength Moisture Cream made by a company called Cosmedicine. The company was started by a doctor who has incredibly sensitive skin to the point where showering hurt him and he was perpetually red and flaky and gross like what you're talking about. So he made this stuff for himself, more or less. This product has 11% hyaluronic acid, which is a natural substance that bonds and binds to water. One molecule attracts something like a thousand molecules of water. So this helps you hold on to the water you have in your skin already. This is not a light cream, it's greasy as fuck, but it's probably less greasy than Vaseline or Rosebud Salve. I think you'd do very well with that. Bad news: it's $75 for an ounce. That amount should get you through an allergy season, though.

Q: I just needed to find someone that works at Sephora! If you wouldn't mind telling me a little about working there? We're opening our first Sephora here in Montreal and i just had my interview which went pretty well, the store director is new also she only started a month ago. I just wanted to know if we get reduced pay for the SOS training? Do we get paid at all? and what is training like? Is it hard to remember all the products? And how much is employee discount? And whats the uniform like? And how long do they take to call you back after an interview? The store director told me that SOS starts May 2nd so i'm expecting by next week! I always wanted to work at Sephora. How many employees are there in one store? I'm sorry for so many questions i just want to be ready!! thank you so much!

You are hilarious. So, you should be called back within a week, and if not, they don't want you. Yes, you're paid in full for training. Have you ever had a job before? Sigh. Training is like: they give you a big huge Trapper-Keeper full of information about your skin and your makeup and your eyes and all this other shit. You learn the "Sephora way" of putting on makeup and Sephora hygiene, which is basically how you handle the testers in front of the guest. Like, it's not a Q-tip. I mean, it is, but Sephora calls it a cotton-tipped swab, which is what you have to call it should you ever need to directly refer to that thingy you use to put whatever product you're helping someone test on the back of your hand. Then you throw that thingy out, never to be seen again. They will teach you, very specifically, to clean out sample jars with spray alcohol and a tissue before putting a product in them to give to guests. To put the product in the now extremely hygienic jar, you use a little spatula that you also then throw away immediately. No, it's not hard to remember the products. It all gets lodged in your brain against your will eventually. If you don't know a lot about skin care stuff, start reading all the backs of the products while you're in the store to familiarize yourself with the ingredients. Read the little Sephora catalog magazine-y thing. Or go on the website. Figure out what's up. The employee discount is 40% for Sephora brand things and 20% for everything else. The uniform looks like you got hired to work on the Starship Enterprise, but the Starship Enterprise was turned into a cruise ship and now you're a waiter. But you know what? It's very slimming. Maybe kind of like the kind of thing a female presidential bodyguard in the future would wear. I've thought about wearing it out before.

Q: I've never tried waterproof foundation before, but Sephora, break-outs, and the prospect of pool season have me tempted. Do any of Sephora's waterproof foundation/cover-up brands hold up to the pool and the beach?

Yeah, none of it is really waterproof, even if it says it is. It might be water resistant. Whatever. Your best bet is to probably wear something super heavy that will wear off more slowly. I think is good is Laura Mercier's Stick Foundation That shit stays ON. It's thicker than what you might be used to. They are not kidding when they say it is full-coverage. I tend to recommend this to older women who have a really extreme makeup look going on already. Make Up Forever's Panstick foundation might be good, too, especially if you mix it with concealer. It was made by the woman who does makeup for Cirque du Soleil, so it's going to last a lot longer than a lot of other products under adverse conditions. This range has lots of amazing shades. Alek Wek and Tilda Swanson could seriously both find something that suited them from Make Up Forever. Honestly, though? Unless you are absolutely sure that your skin is like scaring-small-children hideous and it's not just in your head, just go have fun at the pool and don't worry about foundation, especially if you're acne-prone.

Q: Now for my real beauty question. I have become a tweezing addict, I have all of my facial hair completely on lockdown without the help of lasers or chemicals. However, my under jaw and upper neck area has developed this gross pattern of dark spots. I'm African American and have a light skin tone; the only thing that I can attribute it to is how men get shaving bumps, but mine are not bumps, they are dark spots. I've never had acne and the rest of my face is great, to the point where I don't wear foundation or powder. I have oily/combo skin so i just blot and wear blush and mascara. What should I do about the spots? I'm wary of lightening creams, these seem not good for darker skin. Also, I can't NOT pluck. Letting hair grow on my neck and chin is not acceptable. Thanks for any help you can offer!

Basically, you have hyperpigmentation. Melanin is something the skin produces to fight trauma, which is the reason that people get tan from the sun before they burn. Anyway, plucking counts as trauma. Jesus, now that I think about it, you are hardcore. I can't imagine plucking hairs out from the underside of my chin. I think I'd wake up the neighbors with my shrieks. Can't you just shave it? I might do that. Anyway, there are a few things you can do if you want to lighten hyperpigmentation gently, without resorting to hydroquinone. I mean, I love hydroquinone. I'm olive-skinned and it doesn't do anything creepy to me. But if you're not into essentially bleaching parts of your face, DDF Intensive Holistic Lightener might be up your alley. Peter Thomas Roth also makes one called Potent Skin Lightening Gel Complex. These awesome science fiction sounding names make these products sound a lot more intense than they actually are. Use a Q-Tip and put it directly on your spots. It should do some kind of something for your problem.

Q: Do you use a primer? Are primers all basically the same thing, or do different ones give different results? Which ones should I spend my tax refund on?

If you have oily skin, large pores, or acne, there's a product in the skincare section by Dr. Brandt called Pores No More. You can use it before makeup or wear it by yourself. Basically it's like putting a product on that has ingredients that will treat your skin type. One of their main ingredients is still dimethicone, which is the ingredient that is in primers, typically speaking. Then Smashbox makes a million different primers in about a million different colors that all do different things. Mostly, they are pigmented for people who are trying to correct their skin tone, which I think is often some musical theater shit and not necessarily something a woman just going to work or something needs. Some of them aren't corrective, though. I'd go for one of those, like maybe the Photo Finish. That's popular. Anyway, these are also dimethicone based.

Q: I just saw your interview on Jezebel.com today for the first time. I have to say that it was possibly one of the most entertaining things I've read on a blog. I really familiarize with you because I worked for Shiseido for a long while and I, too, am a huge product junkie. ...which leads me to my next question... I'm just about to run out of my face cream (Fresh) and my eye cream (Shiseido Bio-Performance). The face cream is.. well... "eh" The eye cream I love, but am looking into other options. I have combination skin. Any recommendations? Best, Matt

Awww, it's a BOY! So cute. Anyway, Shiseido Bio-Performance is really heavy! You're not fucking around, are you? Well, I don't know much about you, but if you're into Bio-Performance, you like stuff that a lot of other people will think is super-greasy. Primordiale Optimum is a day cream from Lancome that I think is called "Primordiale" because it is typically purchased by old ladies. Anyway, that's good and thick and oughta do something. Christian Dior has an eye cream called Capture R60/80 Wrinkle that is really emollient and it has that tech sounding name that makes me think men could get into it. People swear by this stuff. It really does kind of de-puff your eyes and smooth out the wrinkles.

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