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Price Tag Cage Match: Boots No7 Make-up Base vs. Everything Else

By Amalah

Review of Boots No7 Make-up Base
So I was wandering the cosmetics aisles in Target the other day and came across what looked like one of my 2008 wishes come true — a drugstore-brand foundation primer. Specifically, Boots No7 Mattifying Make-Up Base, priced at a delicious $9.99.
Now, Target brags that Boots is the U.K.’s number-one cosmetics line, and why would Target lie to a person? Of course, if we were to export the U.S.’s number-one line, I’m guessing we’d be talking…Maybelline? Or Cover Girl? But still. $9.99! For a nice-sized bottle! I practically did a little jig right there.
no7%20colour%20calming%20makeup%20base.jpgBoots has two primers — a basic white cream and a green-tinted correcting version for overly-red complexions. I tested the green one on the back of my hand and…holy lord, is that stuff GREEN. It didn’t absorb very much and made my skin look sickly and, well, green. There’s no way my face needs that much tint, so I opted for the other one.
And I’m just going to skip all the crap and tell you now: I’ve used this stuff over two different moisturizers and under three different foundations. And. It’s awful. Possibly one of the worst products I’ve tried in awhile, and I am kind of baffled. Did anyone…like, try this stuff before they bottled it up for sale?
A good foundation primer can do any number of helpful things. It can fill in and minimize fine lines, absorb oil and shine, even out a blotchy skin tone AND keep your foundation out of your pores to prevent blemishes. Even if you love your moisturizer and foundation, adding the right primer is like installing a supercharger under the hood of your Lamborghini.
No7%20Mattifying%20MakeUp%20Base.jpgThe Boots base does not seem to do any of these things. While it comes out of the bottle like a cream, it smears on very dry and streaky — like a diaper rash cream with cornstarch. I couldn’t figure out if I was supposed to keep rubbing it in (like the green version, it doesn’t absorb easily) or leave the white gunk visible on my skin. After using it, my fingers are covered with white pilly bumps and my face looks flaky and dry…but the flakes are actually the primer.
When applying liquid foundation over a primer like Smashbox or Clarins, your skin’s surface should be silky and impossibly smooth. It’s very easy to get an even, natural-looking coat of make-up. Applying my Sue Devitt over the Boots was like…man, I still can’t come up with a good metaphor. Like putting makeup on a dirty car? Or a cinderblock? My make-up was streaky and the Boots base pilled up MORE with every stroke of the foundation brush or my fingers. Everything was just dry, dry and more dry.
It does live up to one of its promises, however, which is no shine or oil. Since the stuff goes on sooooo dry it absorbs every speck of oil your face may produce during the day. So perhaps if your face is oily (and I mean EXTREMELY oily, like one big oil slick all day and all night), this stuff might work for you.
With the anti-shine factor in mind, I pulled out some powdered Bare Escentuals foundation and tried that over the Boots. (I get really shiny with the mineral make-ups if I don’t prime first.) And…yuck. I took extra care to fight with the texture of the Boots to get it on evenly and smoothly, but then blotting with the powder brush undid all that and I got the weird pills and flakes all over the place. It caked up around my eyebrows, made my cheeks look like they had chunks of skin flaking off, and…yeah. Yuck.
I keep waiting for some drugstore brand to reverse-engineer a bottle of Smashbox and offer a cheaper version — and I feel like one day that WILL happen and I WILL find it and I WILL buy it and spend all that money I save on some wine. But sadly for us all, that day is not today. Thanks for trying, Boots, but I think you may want to go back to the drawing board.

Published January 21, 2008. Last updated January 21, 2008.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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