Foundation comes with so many rules.
From shade match, texture, finish, oxidization, to application, it’s difficult to get it all right. I remember the first time I tried wearing foundation in my freshman year of high school. After a long day of what I thought was looking BEAT, I checked my compact to see that my flesh had turned the color of a tangerine.
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Since that day, I took a step back from complexion makeup to just fully embrace my natural skin. However, being a male and constantly shaving my face day-after-day, I am prone to nicks, irritation, and just straight-up cuts on my face. Fortunately, I have just learned to live with it, but some days I want to step up my game.
Fenty Beauty’s highly anticipated launch of 50 iconic foundation shades in a new powder formula, Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Foundation ($36), piqued my interest. Not only did the faceted gemstone shaped compact scream #shelfie gold to me, but the ultra-matte finish of this foundation seemed to be just what I need to cover my nicks from shaving.
Is Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Foundation safe for the skin?
What surprised me the most about this new foundation was its talc-based formula. As a frequent customer at my local barber shop and daily shaver, talc was nothing new to me and made me even more interested in the foundation. From my own experience, talc has been long used as the final step in the face shaving process. It helps remove excess moisture and oil while camouflaging darkened stubble.
After doing some digging, I was a bit hesitant due to the fact talc as an ingredient in cosmetics is not considered “clean.” I spoke with the Environmental Working Group to better understand why talc is commonly used in cosmetics.
“Talc is often used to improve the texture and feel of cosmetics, to absorb moisture, or as an inexpensive filler,” says Dr. Tasha Stoiber, a senior scientist at EWG. “In November 2020, EWG reported that laboratory tests found asbestos in one in seven [cosmetic] products assessed.”
“Geologically, talc and asbestos can be formed from the same parent rock, which is mined for both cosmetics use and industrial use,” explains Dr. Stoiber.
Benjamin Knight Fuchs, a registered pharmacist and cosmetic chemist, gave us further insight. “Talc is considered an inert property, meaning it doesn’t have any activity.” In other words, this powder is not actively doing anything to my skin like my AHA would. “It does have mechanical properties. For foundations, it helps facilitate the adherence of the foundation material to your skin tissue, but it doesn’t have any biochemical properties,” says Fuchs. “However, if you breathe it in, the particles are so small, it can cause problems in the lungs.”
Beyond being a staple in barbers and groomers cabinets for centuries, talc is touted for its astringent and mattifying effect. I spoke with a Los Angeles-based dermatologist and author, Dr. Jessica Wu for more information on this controversial ingredient.
“The health concern with talc is that some batches may be contaminated with asbestos fibers, which have been shown to cause lung cancer when inhaled,” says Dr. Wu. “The biggest risk is using loose powders containing talc, which you could easily inhale into your lungs. Pressed powders are of lower risk. The lowest risk would be using liquids or creamy foundations containing talc, since you are less likely to inhale these products.”
Just because claims exist that asbestos has been found in talc-based cosmetics doesn’t mean that all powder foundations are contaminated, especially the new Fenty Beauty one. But unfortunately at this time “the FDA does not require mandatory testing of talc supplies and does not require safety testing of cosmetics before they go on the market,” according to Dr. Stoiber at the EWG.
Talc isn’t necessarily bad for your skin. “Talc has proven safe as long as your skin barrier is not impaired,” says Northern California-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Caren Campbell. “There have been reports of people developing irritation or allergic reactions to talc, so those with sensitive skin or eczema should try to avoid talc,” adds Dr. Wu.
In my experience, liquid and cream foundation always end up sitting on top of the skin and settling into my pores. They would also require constant touchups, and by five o’clock, the concealer would look like mustard stuck in my beard. In the back of my mind, a powder foundation seemed like the best option to cover up my lazy shaving gashes while also settling nicely into my stubble as I went about my day.
The Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Powder Foundation was my first foray into the Fenty Beauty world, and boy was I due for a #FentyFace. I stopped into my local Sephora where I got my first Fenty Beauty shade match (my shade is 210). The foundation is available in 50 unique shades perfected by RihRih herself.
As a guy with zero patience for a multi-step foundation routine, this foundation covered all the bases in a single sweep and had the staying power as if I applied a primer and setting powder. The product itself was practically invisible to the naked eye while blurring out fresh nicks and correcting any redness. No matter how hard I laughed, smiled, or removed my face mask, the foundation remained in place.
I wasn’t seeking a full coverage beat that I would apply to my entire face. Rather, I was looking for a product that I could apply directly to problem areas without looking like I had makeup on. Since the shade was a perfect match, the powder blended in seamlessly into my freshly shaved face. Even though I had placed the powder in very specific locations, my face as a whole was even in tone. I followed Dr. Wu’s advice on application.
“Since the Fenty powder foundation is a pressed powder, I think the risk of lung irritation is lower than a loose powder, and I think it would be safe to use, especially if you apply carefully, says Dr. Wu. “Gently press into your skin using a sponge rather than a brush (which can kick up powder into your nose), and try to hold your breath when applying it.”
To avoid inhaling any product I opted for an extremely dense foundation brush, even though the compact comes with a sponge. I precisely stippled the foundation into the skin using gentle tapping motions. With a single coat of powder foundation, my skin was flawless, my pores were blurred, cuts were covered, and razor burn vanished. My skin appeared silky, smooth, and soft to the touch.
Will I use this product every day? Probably not. But for those days when I want to go the extra mile, this powder will always be what I reach for. Despite the large claims surrounding talc in cosmetics, this foundation is safe to use as long as you take precautions while applying. Like most beauty products you always run the risk of irritation, so taking caution when trying new products and understanding what ingredients work best with your skin type is critical.
– Fenty Beauty by Rihanna just launched a new powder foundation, Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Powder Foundation
–The powder foundation is talc-based, making it ideal for men who shave
–Available now at Fenty Beauty and Sephora for $36.
BUY or BYE?
If you’re not sensitive to talc, it’s a definite buy. Buy HERE for $36.