Foundation / Physicians Formula / Reviews

Review: Physicians Formula Healthy Wear SPF 50 Powder Foundation

I’m back with a new review!

Physicians Formula is a drugstore brand that I’m rather fond of. When I first started wearing makeup, they had the most precious Victorian inspired packaging for their khol liners and cameo powders. It seems they’ve gotten rid of that, but the quality of their products tends to be very good for a drugstore brand. I wore their pressed mineral foundation for several years before moving on to other brands.

This week, the Healthy Wear line is 40% off at CVS, so I decided to pick up something to try out. I debated between the tinted moisturizer and the powder foundation, but as I’ve been lemming a new foundation for a while (I’m looking at YOU, Jill Stuart Smooth Silk Powder Foundation…), the choice was obvious.

This normally retails for 14.95USD, but it was an even 9USD after discount. As I’ve recently gotten into couponing in a big way, I wish I’d saved some of my coupons for this, but it’s a lesson to all of you out there who think a $1 or $2 off coupon isn’t such a big deal! Pair it with a store’s sales, and sometimes you’ll make out like a bandit. I think the normal price is extraordinarily steep, and even with discount, it was high for a drugstore brand. Does it warrant the price?

There’s a kitty somewhere in this picture. 🙂 Can you find her?

What does the company say? From

  • Delivers maximum SPF 50 broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and full coverage with a soft-matte finish.
  • Protects- SPF Boosters and Mineral-based sunscreens provide SPF 50 protection without residue or greasiness.
  • Prevents- Potent antioxidant blend helps prevent future UV damage and premature signs of aging.
  • Restores- Licorice Extract & Tomato Derivatives help brighten skin and diminish the appearance of sun spots.
  • Hypoallergenic. Fragrance Free. Paraben Free. Non-Irritating. Dermatologist Approved. Non-Comedogenic. Oil-Free. 

The packaging is adorable. I don’t normally like the color orange, but the brightness and shimmer of the orange, paired with the hot pink is something really striking. It’s bold without being cheap or tacky. The compact is definitely and obviously Shiseido inspired, but that’s not such a bad thing when it’s done right like this is. The ribbon, though impractical, is a cute touch.

Though I can’t say for certain, I believe Physicians Formula was the first drugstore brand with a hygienic compact separating the sponge from the foundation. I recall my mineral foundation from years back was similarly designed. It may just be the newness of the compact, or maybe part of the design, but unlike some other compacts the foundation pan is rather rigidly connected to the hinge and as such, when you open it up, the sponge is immediately exposed.
It may be that it was designed this way to allow one to immediately access the sponge, but it seems to me that I’d rather have the mirror at easy access instead. Incredibly minor, but just something I noticed.

Does the shade seem light to you? It was the darkest one they offered! I chose Creamy Beige, the swatch of which on the package is MUCH darker than the powder within. One of the biggest drawbacks is the lack of shade selection: there are only four shades, and they are definitely geared towards the pale ladies. So, you ladies who have trouble finding a foundation for your alabaster skin, check this out!

Fortunately (or unfortunately, as I’ll be getting to), the shade matches my skin tone relatively well. But, it may be disingenuous to say that it matches. It would be more fair to say that it’s so sheer that it might not well exist at all. Here’s where my review goes downhill: this is less of a foundation more than it is a finishing powder.

Now, this makes a GREAT finishing powder. Although the ingredients include talc, which may be irritating for some women, the powder sops up shine and really does create a half-matte finish, perfect for the hot summer weather. Even better for summer is the added SPF 50. Now, the directions only say to “apply generously and evenly before sun exposure”, so we’re left to wonder how much is enough; I would never risk going out in the sun with this as my sole form of sun protection, but it’s an incredibly convenient way to touch up your face AND sunscreen at the same time while out.

BUT, my problem comes with the fact that it’s clearly meant to be a foundation. Heck, it’s in the name. Instead, this is like a tinted moisturizer but in powder form. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer at least a medium coverage from my foundations (all forms). And, as many powder foundations fall prey to, it will cake up and look very powdery if you try to layer it for extra coverage.
The included sponge, although cute, is very stiff, rubbery and just not very good at collecting or distributing product. I use a kabuki brush, and the compact seems so firmly packed that I really have to kick up a literal dust to get any appreciable amount of product on the brush. At least it’s hard to overdo it?

Oddly enough, the powder itself smells distinctly of sunscreen. In fact, it smells almost identical to the Hard Candy Sheer Envy tinted moisturizer I reviewed recently; a distinct sunscreen smell with something sweet-ish and unidentifiable. I do smell it faintly upon first applying, so sensitive noses take heed.

So, what’s the final verdict?

+ Widely available
+ SPF 50
+ Airbrushed finish

– Coverage might be TOO sheer, depending on your needs
– Relatively expensive for drugstore foundation
– Included sponge is rubbish
– Shade selection is extremely lacking

Packaging: 9/10
Quality: 5/10
Value: 6/10
Overall: C+ This foundation is only a foundation in name; don’t buy it expecting anything more than sheer coverage. It works great as a finishing powder and to tote around for sunscreen touch-ups, but the high price may not be enough to justify this, especially considering most medium-skinned girls will be out of luck trying to find a shade match.

I tried to take swatch pictures on my hands, but even on the highest macro setting, my camera couldn’t pick up any noticeable difference! I couldn’t see one in real life, either…

As an aside, I’ve noticed the Hard Candy TM really excels as a makeup base. I’ve been layering it with Urban Decay’s Surreal Skin Cream to Powder foundation and the results have been amazing! My skin looks completely flawless, smooth and poreless and glowy. It’s hard to make anything last in this hot and humid Louisiana weather, but this combo makes it through a sweaty shift waiting tables.

Until next time! ❤


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