Q: I decided to try some Borghese products that you recommended. First, I must say I loved Borghese's Liquid to Powder Blush. The second product I tried was the Spa Lift Moisturizer with an SPF of 8. I tested the sample at the counter and it felt nice, so I paid my $40 and went on my merry way. Much to my surprise, when I got home and opened my brand-new moisturizer, the liquid inside was yellow-green. The sample at the counter was white. Thinking it was spoiled I tried to return it the next day. I told the salesperson my story and she said, and I quote, "It's supposed to be that color because of the special ingredients in it." Needless to say, I trusted myself and returned it anyway. What do you think about this one?
A: Congratulations on being a wise consumer. But Borghese seems to be as confused about the discoloration as you are. When I called Borghese's public relations department in New York City, they acknowledged that this was indeed a problem (but they didn't say "problem," they called it a "situation") with their Spa Lift Moisturizer SPF 8. When I called Borghese's consumer relations department they seemed to be totally unaware of the problem, but were very nice about encouraging me to return it, even offering to pay for postage. When I called different Borghese counters to see how they described the problem, I got strange responses just as you did. The woman at Nordstrom's Borghese counter explained the discoloration resulted from the vitamin E in the product being exposed to sunlight. Another woman at a Macy's Borghese counter said because of their rare formulation the color was not stable. Neither woman could explain why it only happened in some of the Spa Lift containers and not others.
I'm not sure why some of these products are turning color, but I suspect it is a problem and not a desirable change. It could be rancidity or simply a formulation problem, but there is no way for me to know. One thing for sure: the color change is definitely not a result of "special ingredients." You did the right thing by returning it, and I'm sure Borghese will eventually correct the problem.
Q: I'd like to offer some comments on products you've recommended. I was really pleased to try some of L'Oreal's products after you announced they no longer test on animals. I especially like their Visuelle Powder Blush in Cameo; it's a terrific contour color. I've been pleased with Almay's Cheek Color in Soft Pink as well. Of the many mascaras I've tried, 2000 Calorie by Max Factor has the best brush and went on without clumping. Unfortunately, it also flaked off and irritated my eyes. Now I'm using L'Oreal Accentuous and it seems OK. Physicians Formula eye shadows in Smoke and Taupe are quite nice.
A: Thank you for your feedback regarding the cosmetics I have recommended.
It helps immensely to hear how a product works for a wide range of women.
Q: Please give me your opinion of Bienfait Total SPF 15 ($30 for 1.7 ounces) by Lancome. The Lancome salesperson tells me it has only 0.25-percent AHA derivative, which is fine with me because I only want it for a sunscreen and moisturizer.
A: Bienfait Total is an OK sunscreen but it is hardly exceptional, and for them to even mention the 0.25-percent AHA is a bit of a joke. Under 2 percent and any AHA ingredient is nothing more than a water-binding agent (helps to keep water in the skin) or pH balancing ingredient (helps neutralize the alkalinity of a product). Lancome has promoted Bienfait Total to the point of overkill, which explains the exorbitant price for this rather standard SPF 15 moisturizer.
Paula Begoun publishes the Cosmetics Counter Update. For an introductory copy of the subscription newsletter, send $1 for shipping and handling to: The Beginning Press, 5418 South Brandon, Seattle, Wash. 98118.