Function of Beauty: Is personalized haircare worth the prestige price tag?

Posted on November 14, 2018 under Reviews

After reading rave reviews of Function of Beauty from a few small bloggers whose opinions I trust, I somewhat reluctantly placed an order. I really wanted to try this personalized haircare brand because the promise seemed so vast, but I also kind of hoped that the product would disappoint so that I would not have to incorporate an $80 CAD shampoo and conditioner set into my regular life.

As some of you may have seen on Instagram, I recently went through a drastic hair change. I finally cut off all the old blonde, and I got bangs. Growing out my blonde has been a goal for a year and a half, and I’m very proud that I finally made it to this point. My hair is now healthier than it’s been in half a decade, which means I feel that I can give haircare reviews from a normal human standpoint, whereas before everything I said could really only apply to people who also had ultra-processed hair on the verge of death. My hair is of medium thickness and naturally wavy; I’m prone to a slightly oily scalp. I can get a bit of frizz, especially in humid weather. In the past few years I’ve started noticing some very mild dandruff (especially in the colder months), likely because the years of bleach dried my scalp out. I wash my hair every other day, though by the end of day two it’s definitely getting to a not-so-nice place. (Truthfully I just can’t be bothered to go through the whole washing and blow drying rigamorale every day.)

When you order from Function of Beauty, you take a quiz about your hair and your shampoo preferences which then allows them to customize a formula that theoretically addresses the needs of your hair better than anything else on the planet. My hair goals were strengthen, anti-frizz, shine, replenish hair, and soothe scalp. You’ll probably guess that I’m most focused on keeping my hair as visibly healthy as possible after years of bleach abuse.

I selected the scent Nude (P)each, mostly because it was limited edition at the time and I had FOMO. It’s now been made permanent. The scene is fine – definitely peachy, though it doesn’t linger in my hair at all after being rinsed out.

Function of Beauty orders come with a card outlining your preferences as per your hair quiz, as well as a sheet of stickers that I will hoard alongside my unused Glossier stickers.

Now that I’ve been using this shampoo and conditioner for a month now, I feel like I’ve gathered enough thoughts to write a proper review.

Texture

I am very picky about the texture of my shampoo. I can tell instantly if I will like a shampoo based on the texture alone. Almost without fail, shampoo that has a runny, gel-like consistency as opposed to a thick, stiff cream will not adequately wash my hair. My Function of Beauty shampoo is a lot runnier than the texture that I normally prefer. This makes it more prone to slipping out of my fingers and onto the bottom of my tub, which of course makes me brilliant with rage when I’m spending $40 on a bottle of shampoo. The conditioner has a much more reasonable texture and I have no complaints there.

Packaging

Get it? Functions! (I think – I was 2% away from failing Functions and that was seven years ago. Also I managed to pass that class without ever learning what a function actually is.)

These bottles are surely very aesthetically-pleasing, from the minimal text to the clear plastic that allows you to see the pretty colours. I almost feel like the main point of the packaging design is to be as Instagrammable as possible, and given Function of Beauty’s aggressive Instagram marketing this seems like a valid theory. Functional standpoint, I do think that we as humans have evolved to a point where we should no longer tolerate any shower products which cannot be stood on their caps. I am used to squeezy tube shampoo and conditioner packaging and I don’t wish to experience anything else. I do appreciate that Function of Beauty sends pumps to use with the bottles – because, trust me, trying to squeeze a brittle bottle to coax product through a relatively small opening is not fun. I must reiterate that there is no way to stand these bottles upside down, which means that when I get down to the last dregs of product – which I will CERTAINLY want to use up given the price tag – I will have to pull some lean-the-bottle-against-other-stuff manoeuvers just to use the product that is by its very definition mine and mine only.

If this were a drugstore product and it did awesome things to my hair, I could probably get over suboptimal packaging. But, of course, if I’m going to pay $80 for shampoo and conditioner, I want every detail to be thoughtful and functional. I don’t want to pay $80 for shampoo and conditioner and then have to work especially hard to get it out of the bottle. That’s just rubbing salt in the wound.

Efficiency

Let’s go through my hair goals. First, strengthen. I’m not sure that my hair is any stronger than it was a month ago, but it’s not any weaker, and I have been using heat on it a lot more often. (At its current length, it really only looks good when I blow it dry. Once it grows out some more I’ll be able to air dry.) I’d say this little routine shines in terms of its anti-frizz benefits. I’m noticing a lot less frizz than I was a few months ago, and that’s with the addition of frequent blow drying into my routine. The shine aspect is about average; I don’t tend to have incredibly shiny hair nor incredibly dull hair, and this does about as well as anything. The same can be said for replenish hair: in all fairness, there’s not much left to replenish since all the damage is now gone, but I used this on my bleached ends for about ten days before I got my hair cut, and it didn’t seem to do any better than Marc Anthony. Finally, soothe scalp – I haven’t noticed any itchy scalp or dandruff, though that could ultimately change with the weather. However, I was dealing with mild dandruff through the summer, which is now gone.

With some of my shampoo/conditioner combos, I can get to day three before I have to wash my hair, but this routine reliably leaves me in need of a wash by day two. Now, this is definitely in part because my hair is healthier than it has been in years – I can’t compare how greasy it gets now to two years ago at the height of the bleach damage. It’s also impossible to stretch bangs more than two days before washing them (in the sink so you don’t have to wash your full head of hair because you have no time but want to trick people into thinking you’re clean am I right ladies?). And, of course, the hair goals I chose lean towards heavy hydration and nourishment, which will obviously leave hair less clean-feeling faster. That said, I sometimes have the feeling after blow drying my hair that it’s not totally clean even though I just washed it fifteen minutes ago, which I’m going to blame on that liquidy shampoo. (I am telling you, that type of shampoo never gets my hair fully clean, and I need to use so much of it to get the most minimal effect.) And while my scalp produces some oil, it’s not exactly greasy – my hair should feel clean for at least a day.

Value

This shampoo and conditioner do an admirable, better-than-average job of addressing two of the five things I paid a lot of money for them to do. While I am very much appreciating having less frizz and less dandruff than normal, I don’t think it’s controversial to say I can’t justify the high price tag in this instance, especially when combined with my complaints about texture and packaging. This is an incredibly interesting business model and I have no doubt that Function of Beauty does genuinely address other people’s concerns in a way that is worth the premium price tag. It’s just not quite there for me: I don’t feel that my hair is looking better than it ever has, and if it is that’s mostly just because I stopped bleaching it with 30 volume developer every other month.

Lipstick Collection: Reds

Posted on October 11, 2018 under Reviews

So, it’s been five months since the last instalment of this series, but better late than never.

I will always love red lipstick. A classic blue-based red is one of the most timeless lip colours possible; a vibrant warm red perks up my face like nothing else; a deep red is beautifully dramatic without being too out there. My collection of reds isn’t terribly extensive compared to some categories, but it’s absolutely perfect for my needs.

Here are my bare lips, for reference:

And comparison pictures (of a much larger collection) can be found here!

Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Red Diva

This is a true blue-red. It’s cheap as chips and I have no complaints about the formula – there’s a reason I keep buying these Rimmel liners! I know that twist-up products are a massive rip-off, but they do appeal to my laziness.

Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Romantic

Man, this is from very early in my makeup career. This precise tube is nearing five years old now. (It seems to be doing okay, though?) I’m devastated that Revlon has discontinued this, because if I ever get through it I don’t know where to start in finding a replacement. This is one of my most-used colours – it feels casual but special. It’s red for people who don’t want to commit to red. I feel pretty but not overdone when I wear it. When I think of my favourite lipsticks, I usually think of the bolder, more unusual colours. But when it comes right down to it, there’s not much I’d miss more than this one if my entire collection got destroyed.

(It does tend to look a bit pinker in photos, but in real life it’s categorically a lowkey, lovely red.)

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Annabella

Is this not the most amazing vibrant poppy red ever? Ugh, I love it so much. I used to be exclusively about cool-toned red lipstick, but I realized that true reds are too serious for every situation. A nice bright warm red, though, is just fun. God, I love this colour. And we are now far enough into this series that I know you all know how much I love the NARS Audacious formula.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Red Carpet Red

When I bought this lipstick I threw out all my other true reds because there was no way anything could beat it. And I fully stand by that – this is the quintessential red, very aptly named. The Charlotte Tilbury formula, while unnecessarily expensive, is great – it’s so comfortable and wears really well for a traditional bullet lipstick. I also sort of like how luxe it is – a true red is unparalleled in its classic elegance, so I can almost justify buying a bougie version of it. I’ve used a lot of this tube and I wouldn’t be surprised if I actually went through the whole thing. I’m definitely more into warm reds these days, but this will never go out of style.

ColourPop Blotted Lips in Lexi

Not once in my life have I longed for a sheer deep cool red, but when Aisling passed along this tube to me I ended up liking it a lot. I was already a fan of the Blotted Lips formula, and I do like the way this red looks. When I really don’t want to commit, I just dab this on in a very thin layer. It does photograph pretty similarly to Revlon Romantic, but it’s cooler and more serious, I think.

Lancôme Matte Shaker in Kiss Me Chérie*

This is the only liquid lipstick formula I will tolerate. It is so thin and comfortable on my lips, and while it isn’t as long-wearing as something like Stila or the ColourPop Matte formula, it lasts longer than regular bullet lipsticks while basically feeling like one. This is a cool red that somehow finds a perfect balance between deep and vibrant. It means serious business, but it’s not somber.

NARS Velvet Lip Pencil in Cruella

Ahhh, my 2015 Sephora birthday gift is still going strong. This cool-toned, slightly dark red is a perennial fall/winter staple. Lip pencils are probably my absolute favourite lipstick format – they’re so easy to apply, and I love that you can sharpen them for total precision. This formula is great, too; it applies so smoothly, feels comfortable, and wears well.

NARS Velvet Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl

Another classic NARS colour. I absolutely love this super vibrant strawberry red with pink undertones. (It kind of leans coral in some photos, but if it’s anything but red it’s pink!) It’s pure fun, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

I guess seven red lipsticks isn’t exactly going to win me any awards for minimalism, but I think I cover all the bases here without any overlap. I’m really happy with this collection and I probably won’t add anything to it in the near future. Also, does NARS kill it with their reds or what?!

Review: Makeup Revolution Fast Base Stick Foundation in F1

Posted on July 10, 2018 under Reviews

Let me tell you something. Sometimes you meet someone on the internet in 2006 and 12 years later you are still friends with them. Sometimes that person keeps a box full of their old castoff makeup that they give to you whenever you visit. Maybe there are other people like that out there with other names, but I am talking about my friend Aisling, who I met online when people still used MSN to communicate and who I have now spent enough time with in real life to consider “a friend” instead of “an internet friend”. (I have been to all of the flats she’s lived in and neither one of us has revealed ourselves to be murderers, so I think it’s real.)

Aisling is a fellow Canadian, though she now lives in Brighton, which is the most adorable seaside city that I love visiting even though it’s literally always grey and rainy when I’m there. I’ve been there four times now and the weather is always TRASH! But that’s okay, because I always get a box full of Aisling’s old makeup to go through. Also, I get to hang out with her, and she introduces me to insane British reality shows. (I firmly maintain that British reality TV is balls to the wall, and since reality TV is my main academic interest I think I’m qualified to make that statement.)

The things Aisling gives me fall into three categories. We have nice stuff that she just didn’t want (and it is this category that allowed me to discover the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes, which I fell in love with and then in turn made my mom fall in love with). We have garbage that I also do not want but that she puts in the box on the off chance that I will liberate it from its fate at the bottom of the trash can. And we have things that she hates but that I want to try anyway. Many times I also end up hating these things. Like, she warned me about Urban Decay All Nighter. I can’t say she didn’t!

One of the things Aisling passed on to me on my last (grey, drizzling) trip to Brighton was the Makeup Revolution Fast Base Stick Foundation. Aisling hated this product and told me that it looked like “crusty garbage” on her face. She very adamantly told me that she wanted me to include that phrase in this blog post, so here I am, reporting this faithfully. I am no stranger to my face looking like crusty garbage because I have dry skin and that’s the way it goes sometimes. I will cut to chase here and say that this foundation does NOT look like crusty garbage on my face, so there is hope for you too.

Shade Range

Like the Conceal and Define Concealer, this foundation launched with eighteen shades, which is pretty good for a drugstore range. (I see that the concealer range is now up to twenty-five shades!) The foundations are labelled with F and a number, with no indication of undertone, although MUR does claim that cool, neutral, and warm undertones are represented in this range. You can see the darkest four shades swatched in this video. As I’ve now left the UK, I can’t comment on which shades are actually sold in-store, although I know for sure that only about half of the concealer shades are stocked in Glasgow Superdrugs.

In terms of the lighter end of the spectrum, the shade F1 is fair with a grey-pink undertone. I do best with neutral or cool yellow tones, so this isn’t a perfect match for me, though it’s passable. The pink doesn’t come across quite so strongly in photographs, and it looks more seamless in my pictures here than in real life.

You can see that The Ordinary and IT Cosmetics bases have more yellow in them compared to MUR F1, which is quite a bit cooler and greyer. I do find it interesting that the shade is so different from C1 in the Conceal and Define Concealer – you’d think there’d be some consistency across base products in the same line! On MUR’s website, they recommend F1 “for fair skin with neutral undertone”, but I think you’d need to be leaning significantly pinker for this to be a perfect match. F2 is apparently “for fair skin with yellow undertone”. Looking at the swatches on Superdrug’s blog, F2 does appear to be a hair darker than F1. I think it would probably match me pretty well, but if you’re very, very fair with neutral to warm undertones, it might be too dark.

Packaging

This is as far as it rolls up.

This packaging is not exactly my favoured aesthetic; I’m not a huge fan of the rose gold and nude combo, but then, I’m not a huge rose gold person in general. (Sacrilege, I know!) However, it’s certainly cute and seems to situate this foundation a step up from its £5 price point. The stick twists smoothly up and so far everything appears to be sturdy. At £5 I’m really only looking for functional packaging; the fact that it looks relatively cute (if not overly expensive or to my personal taste) is a bonus.

Both the matte plastic tube and the shiny rose gold accents will attract fingerprints, which real beauty bloggers would wipe off prior to photographing but which I leave because I’m a #normal #relatable #real person.

The Fast Base Stick Foundation contains 0.21oz or just under 6 grams of product. That’s comparable to Hourglass (0.25oz), Clinique, and NYX (both also 0.21oz), but considerably smaller than Lancôme (0.31oz), Anastasia/Tarte/Maybelline (0.32oz), and MUFE (0.44oz). However, at £5, the cost is so low that I think the slightly stingy amount of product is allowable.

Application and Finish

The Fast Base Stick Foundation can be applied with a brush on my normal-to-dry skin. I’ve been using the above pictured MUR Face Precision Oval Makeup Brush, also passed on from Aisling. (The brush is double the cost of the foundation, which seems a bit silly.) Dense, Artis-style brushes work the best with a cream formula, in my opinion – flimsy brushes are just not going to blend adequately. However, I get the best finish with a damp sponge. With a brush, I get slightly fuller coverage and a satin finish; with a sponge, I get reduced coverage and a much dewier finish, plus a more natural look overall. It’s nice that I can technically apply this foundation with a brush, but I’ll admit that I’m not likely to.

I generally associate stick foundations with thick, heavy coverage, but that’s not the case here. By my standards this is a nice medium coverage that feels surprisingly lightweight on my face. My only other foray into the world of stick foundations was last summer, with Hourglass, and that one was substantially thicker. (I ended up returning it because I just didn’t envision it as an everyday product for myself, though it did dutifully get me through my friends’ wedding.) I appreciate that this is a slightly less intense option for those of us who prefer a more natural base.

Here’s how much I apply to my face. Excuse the out-of-focus picture; I think you get the idea.

You can definitely get more coverage if you apply more (uh, duh), but I find that over time it will start to look particularly heavy in areas with multiple layers.

And here’s are some before and after shots. In the before shots, all I have on are moisturizer and sunscreen.

I think you can see that this foundation does not, in fact, look like crusty garbage on me. The water from the sponge meshes really well with the foundation to create a lovely dewy finish, though it does dry down a bit throughout the day. The coverage certainly isn’t full, but it substantially evens out the redness on my cheeks and does a decent job of covering my forehead zits.

Wear

I tend not to set this foundation with powder, and it wears pretty well over the course of a busy, active day. It looks marginally better at the end of the day if I do use a strategic dusting of loose powder, but I prefer not to use powder since I do have a dryer skin type. As I mentioned, when I’ve tried layering this foundation I don’t think it wears as nicely, but when I apply one layer it looks decent by the end of the day.

Here I am a little after six at night, after applying it around nine in the morning, working a full eight hours, and walking for forty minutes in the hot sun.

You can see that it’s worn off around my nose, which happens with basically every foundation. My nose does look, perhaps, like crusty garbage, but that is because that particular side of my nose has been dry and crusty for three months now. (The other side is unaffected. It’s very weird.) It’s a bit heavy around my chin, but it looks really nice across my cheeks.

My forehead looks incredibly shiny, but I literally took these pictures immediately after walking home from work in thirty degree weather, so that might have something to do with it. If I’d blotted before taking these pictures, my forehead would have looked similar to my cheeks. I guess I just really wanted to put a closeup of my sweaty forehead on the internet, you know?

Overall Thoughts

I still prefer a nice emollient liquid foundation for its versatility: I like something that I can blend out with my fingers if I’m in a rush. But stick foundations have their upsides too, primarily how travel-friendly they are. I certainly did not think that a £5 foundation that was described so harshly to me by my trusted friend would end up satisfying me, but it really did. I’m still a bit iffy on the stick foundation format as a whole, but I find this one to be a good example of its genre.