Putting long-wear makeup to the test

Putting long-wear makeup to the test

For makeup with staying power, look out for new generation long-wearing formulas.

Round-the-clock performance may sound an impossible dream, but it is becoming an everyday claim for the fast-expanding long-wear cosmetic category. I’ve put the claim to the test for some long days, but, sorry, I wasn’t prepared to say awake all night for the sake of some foundation, lippy and eye shadow.

If you’re a party person then a 24-hour product may be just what you need, but I figure most of us are happy if long-wear lives up to its basic billing of performing for a better than average outing. Based on a trial that didn’t keep me awake at night or risk pillow smudges from slap left on past bedtime, I’m happy to report that long-wear makeup mostly does last.

You’d have to ask the marketing departments of big beauty companies why they keep upping the ante on how long their long-wear lasts – 24 hours seems to be the new 12 hours – but I couldn’t face it. Instead I asked their research and development teams how the formulas functioned in the first place (see sidebar on facing page) and how come they are now much more appealing than the dry, matte feel of old.

“Back in the day when long-wear first arrived it was like something that locked into the skin – almost cemented,” remembers James Molloy, M.A.C’s directory of artistry for Asia-Pacific.

“Now you get creaminess and something more refined.”

Advances in technology explain why long-wear products – which have been about for several decades – have moved from niche to mainstream, from just a few lines to whole ranges. So too do convenience and performance.

Category pioneer Revlon says: “There will always be a market for the consumer who wants to put it on and forget and about it.”

Bobbi Brown says she was inspired by the needs of busy women with just a few minutes to do their makeup in the morning and no time for touch-ups through the day.

“Long Wear has become one of our most beloved product lines.”

An Estee Lauder spokesperson says: “This category is definitely growing as women require ‘less fuss’ makeup, that lasts the distance.”

Customer expectations are now for products that look and feel as good as the regular versions. This was seen first in lip products. Once long-wear was all about drying double-application lip coatings. These were marketed to time-poor and presumably thick-skinned women, now single-coat long-wear lipsticks can look and feel as nice as the regular thing, but with the bonus of stickability. We’ve talked about these before, so today the focus is on foundation and eye colour, where softer more moisturising textures are becoming standard.

Long-wear foundations are particularly useful in hot and humid environments, but women who want a low-sheen finish or have combinations skins are also drawn to them. (Mineral powder makeup is another option, it is not a long-wear product as such, but it achieves a long lasting look).

The arrival of long-wear for the eye area is explained by the lid being oily on all skin types and the demand for smudge-proof performance. As women age, eye watering becomes more common, so along with switching to a waterproof mascara trying longwear liners and shadows makes sense.

Terminology around long-wear varies from company to company. Revlon calls its long-wear formulas ColorStay and Estee Lauder uses the term Double Wear, but long-wear is the generally accepted description. It has transitioned from a mass-market oddity to securing a place in more indulgent brands. Underneath it all, another newish product, primer, is also driving enhancements in cosmetic staying power. While of itself it is not a long-wear item, primer gives a long-lasting result to whatever is applied on top. Primers are already being combined with serums and foundations, which points to the future for long-wear also. Multi-tasking will become a more pronounced trend. Skincare ingredients will increasingly be combined into long-wear cosmetics to deliver an even better short and long-term look and feel.

1. Revlon ColorStay Whipped Creme Makeup $38.95

A fine example of the much creamier textures now being achieved with the new more luscious long wears. This medium coverage, soft matte finish foundation comes in seven shades. Although the formula is oil-free, it is suitable for all skin types and considerably more hydrating than some of the liquids and the mousse-like texture mercifully doesn’t disappear on application. The solid glass jar is a good look at a good price. Claims 24-hour staying power.

2. Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay in Place Makeup $80

Lauder stands out in having a host of long-wearing foundation options ranging from a sheer finish liquid, to compact powder to an imperfection-disguising camouflage one for face and body, plus this medium-coverage favourite. It glides on easily and provides SPF15 screening, plus has the ability to absorb oil, making it attractive to those with combination skins and in humid environments. The Double Wear range extends to a lovely lipstick and the rarity of a luminous non-drying concealer. Stay in Place foundation claims 15-hour wear.

3. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Foundation $95

The oil-free, transfer-resistant formula helps create a barrier against heat and humidity giving normal/combination and oily skin a shine-free solution that is smoothly soft-matte. Powders within act to absorb excess oil from the skin and emollients lock in moisture for day-long balance. Or try the cream formula Even Finish compact. Big range of shades, including dark ones. The liquid comes with an SPF15. Claims 8-hour wear.

4. M.A.C Pro Longwear Foundation $70

Lightweight creamy feel with smooth coverage that can build from sheer to medium in 16 shades. Designed to function in any environment, with oil-control to keep skin looking fresh and natural. M.A.C recently added a nice creamy bronzer to its long-wear armoury which includes lots of lippy. I’ve happily worn the foundation near the equator and for once didn’t feel like my makeup had slid south. Shame it’s an SPF of only 10. Claims 15-hour wear.

5. Yves Saint Laurent Teint Resist Long Wear Endless Comfort Foundation $91

A nice natural semi-matte medium coverage which provides some luminosity, is transfer resistant and carries an SPF of 10. The oil-free liquid retains a comfortable feel and can be worn by normal through oilier skins. Claims to be long-wear and performs accordingly, but YSL doesn’t put a time-frame on it.

6. Clarins Everlasting Compact Foundation $78

Before specific long-wear formulas came along, cake foundations were the default options for lasting coverage, especially for those with oilier skins. The downside was “cake” could also be the look. Now lighter weight, light-reflecting creamy powders give a gentler look as with this Clarins example. Its polymers give good skin grip while white clay absorbs oil. There’s also a version for liquid lovers, but this compact is portable. With an SPF15 mineral screen. Claims 15-hour wear.


The eyes have it as the new area of long-wear makeup interest. We trial some of the latest:

1. Smashbox Limitless Cream Shadow in Neptune $38

Neptune (sea-green) and Amethyst are two new stay-put shades in the Smashbox selection. They fix well as you’d expect from a company that uses film and studio performance as a benchmark, but despite the creamy feel there is not a long window for blending. The finish is also more matte than many, making the darker shades less appealing than the lighter ones Claims 15-hour wear.

2. Bobbi Brown Metallic Long-Wear Cream Shadow in Beach Bronzed $57

The velvety softness of these shadows is unusual for a long-wear eye product, but they really do last and without sliding into the creases. The gentle colour choice runs from neutrals through soft metallics, with five extra shades out now in a seasonal update. Older women will find these shadows more forgiving and easier to apply and blend than some “stiffer” ones. Claims 12-hour wear.

3. Revlon ColorStay Eyeshadow Quad In Precocious $31.95

Clever quad gives more space to the lightest highlighting shade and less to the darker defining ones. Sixteen options range from dependable shades like these to more intense options, all easily blendable and using ColorStay’s anti-smudge, crease and fade formula as in the recently launched Creme Gel Eyeliner ($27.50) and Smoky Shadow Stick ($17.10) out next month. Claims 16-hour wear (up from 12 hours).

4. Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Colour Eye Shadow Duo in Classic Khaki $69

A smart new look and colour range from Elizabeth Arden in shadows that combine long-lasting properties with skincare ingredients that help smooth the delicate eye area. Colour pigments are encased in antioxidants in a silicone shield to spread easily. This duo is typical of the wearable shades, which range through warm and cool tones and matte and pearl finishes. Single shades, of which there are 32, cost $49. Claims, justly, to be long-wear, but without a specified time.

5. L’Oreal Color Infallible Eyeshadow in Cosmic Black $21.99

Look out next week for L’Oreal’s mini makeup collection, L’Or Electric, inspired by the glamour of the Cannes Film Festival Three new powder shades are added to its Color Infallible eye range, including this one which despite its name is more glitter-infused khaki than ebony. The plastic pottle is a little fiddly. Claims 24-hour wear.


Silicones and film-forming polymers are the secret of long-wear makeup formulas, locking colour pigments on to the skin.

Successful long-wear formulas for lips are the hardest to achieve; a drier finish lasts better, but a creamy one feels best. Keeping powder and creamy eye shadows in place is tricky. Mascara lasts the longest of any product, because it stays where placed. Liquid eyeliners use volatile compounds which evaporate to leave a water-proof film and gel also has stickability.

Advances in polymer technology are allowing softer more moisturising liquid and creamy mousse-like textures. An example is Revlon’s new patent-pending ColorStay Whipped Creme Makeup, inspired by developments in the food industry. Research staff from Revlon and Elizabeth Arden answer Viva‘s questions.

What makes long-wear last?

“The (patented Revlon ColorStay) formula contains a silicone resin primarily for its film-forming attributes. It helps hold pigments in place while providing water-resistance. With the foundation this is based on a combination of volatile materials and powerful film former dissolved in them. When the volatile component flashes off it leaves a comfortable thin, flexible layer of film on the skin for long-lasting wear properties.”

How has the technology improved?

“New polymers have been developed that adhere well to the skin and form flexible films. Traditional pigments are easy to wash off and are not long lasting. mineral pigments are treated with these silicones and polymers to form tenacious films.”

What is ahead?

“With the busy lifestyle of today’s consumer we see the need for long-wear continuing,” says Revlon.

“Long-lasting makeup that is dry is becoming a thing of the past,” says Elizabeth Arden. “These dry makeups were formulated using volatile liquids; as the liquid evaporates on skin it can leave a matte dry look. The bouncy mousse texture in foundations and eye products is long lasting; we see this evolving with interesting lightweight textures.”

How long is long?

Revlon says it is possible to develop products that would perform for longer than 24 hours.

Stockists: Selected department store and pharmacy counters; Maybelline and L’Oreal also in supermarket and variety stores. M.A.C exclusive in Auckland to Smith & Caughey’s and its Britomart, St Lukes and Botany stores. Smashbox stockists see here.

By Janetta Mackay
| Email Janetta

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