Our Rating: 5 stars

Amarte's Natural Finish BB cream ($57) is best explained by the following sentence, which flew out of my sister's mouth the moment she saw me wearing it:

"Your skin looks amazing! Wow. You literally have the immaculately even skin of a 12 year old. "

That pretty much sums it up! Amarte gave me a flawless, even complexion and a dewy natural glow, the likes of which you only see on kids and Photoshopped celebrities (and that's in spite of the fact that it was actually a shade too pink for my skin). It was so perfect that at first I felt a little plastic, but not because I looked fake, rather because mannequins, Barbie and the airbrushed faces of supermodels don't have zits, pores, redness or squiggle veins, and for the first time since I was 12, neither did I. Instead my skin looked even, fresh, and not at all made up (trust me, my sister cries "pancake!" at even the slightest hint of face make-up or foundation). It also created a great base for my blush, which looked more vibrant against my evened-out complexion and lasted pretty much all day.

It did take just the littlest bit of experimenting to get things right. The first thing I noticed about Amarte is that it was a lot thicker than I expected it to be and a little goes a very long way. I found that not quite a full pump will be more than enough for your entire face. And for those who use face powder, loose powder is much better than pressed powder, which in my case got a little gunky. Amarte offers SPF 36 protection, and though I preferred to pair it with my more powerful sunblock, I didn't notice any extra freckling (my nose and lips dot-up within minutes in the summer, I love it, but do worry about what it means as far as future wrinkles are concerned) when I used it alone.

My skin, which is prone to both eczema and pimples, fared fine. My pores weren't clogged, I didn't break out, and it didn't induce any eczema. All in all, I've never looked better than I have with Natural Finish. Again, it blended perfectly with both my sunblock and with my Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum. Amarte also appears to be sweat-proof, lasting through my two-hour dance classes.

Amarte began 1994 Korea, in a dermatological clinic to address specific skin care concerns and aesthetic interests, and became a formal company in 2001. In 2005 Amarte began its relationship with Dr. Craig Kraffert, an American dermatologist and the founder of DermStore.com, who was in Korea looking for new products to sell on his website. Since then, Dr. Kraffert has worked with Amarte to develop new, high quality products, and to expand the Amarte line in America. Natural Finish features some impressive ingredients, not the least of which is Human Ogliopeptide-1, discovered by Dr. Stanley Cohen, who received a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his research on it. Made of 53 amino acids and also known as EGF, it stimulates new cells, renews cells at a higher rate, and is both safe and stable. Natural Finish also uses Elemental Sulfur, which has anti-acne properties, and also helps relieve dandruff, rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis. It has my personal favorite, Aloe Vera Extract, and it packs in a lot of EFAs, which come from argan kernel Oil, shea butter, and caviar extract taken from Sturgeon.

While Amarte does nourish even as it restores you to your pre-teen glory, it's guilty of some dubious ingredients, including talc, which has been linked to cancer, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate and phenoxyethanol. While the talc and Phenoxyethanol are the last two ingredients, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate is one of the sun-blocking agents (though it is only 5% of the cream). Because full-face make-up is for me, typically an emergency response and not part of my normal routine (though that may change!), I'm not overly -concerned about it. But I do want to mention it for those who use BB creams on a daily basis.

Right now there are only two shades of Amarte Natural Finish BB cream, light and natural tint. According the website, more shades are "being actively considered for future launch," so hopefully Amarte will soon have products for people of all skin tones. I've been using Natural Tint, which as I mentioned was a little pink and just a little light for my skin, but because the cream is not overly heavy, my powder managed to correct the tone discrepancy.

Amarte is a great cream and one I'll use for special occasions, emergency situations and anytime I'm in the mood to look my best. I hesitate to use it on a regular basis, simply because make-up can be so addicting. As I replied to my awestruck sister, "See, this is what I hate about make-up - you look so good when you put in on, but it will be really disappointing tonight when I take it off.

"Yeah," she said, "but I really wouldn't stop wearing it, if I were you."

Ingredients:

water, propylene glycol, cetyl ethylhexanoate, glycerin, cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 dimethicone, Macadamia integrifolia seed oil, Argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil, human oligopeptide-1 (EGF 2-nano), caviar extract, Portulaca oleracea extract, Aloe barbadensis leaf extract, Althaea rosea flower extract, Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), elemental sulfur, allantoin, collagen, dimethicone, iron oxide, ferric oxide, tri-iron tetra-oxide, stearyl dimethicone, sorbitan sesquioleate, butylene glycol, sodium chloride, talc, phenoxyethanol, Titanium Dioxide 7%, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate 5%