Is it just me, or has anyone else been inconvenienced by the flood of early AM infomercials? When I get on the treadmill first thing in the morning, I want to watch something effortlessly entertaining to keep my mind off the monotony of the hamster wheel; yet, my go-to effortlessly entertaining channels (I’m looking at you Bravo and Food Network) are overtaken by hour-long soporific infomercials plugging skincare kits and cooking gadgets. I never thought I could get so sick of Cindy Crawford’s face, but reruns of Meaningful Beauty promos have rendered her anti-aging secrets utterly meaningless to me.

So I wasn’t feeling too kindly toward the infomercial breed in general when I was tapped to try a few items by Dalton Cosmetics, a makeup line sold exclusively on QVC, the 24-hour Energizer Bunny of product pushing. Dalton has a few selling points going for it: functional products, catchy demos, and a loyal following on qvc.com. The Mirage Face Blending Powder w/ Face Form Brush is one such product, with its “makeup artist in a jar” tagline and its five-star rating from 67 out of 104 reviewers on qvc.com. Doris Dalton, the founder of Dalton Cosmetics, calls Mirage Face Blending Powder “my favorite product in the entire world.”

What makes it so special? Mirage Face Blending Powder is intended to be your own makeup multitasker, capable of softly blurring minor imperfections, reducing red spots, or just tempering a heavy-handed blush application. The micronized powder is supposed to both set and perfect your makeup for the rest of the day. If you ask Doris, she will wax poetic about its three distinctive types of pigments: multi-tonal pigments so that the color doesn’t look flat, brightening pigments to add luminosity, and color-correcting pigments to conceal imperfections. The powder is paired with a contoured brush to hug the natural curves of your face.

My experience with Mirage did not exactly bear out the claims of the infomercial. Full disclosure: Behind closed doors, I am a face picker. Whether out of boredom, stress, or OCD, my skin often bears the brunt of my late-night compulsions, as I try to hunt down and clear out clogged pores. I often wake up to find my face covered in inflamed blotches. This shameful face-picking creates a vicious cycle that leaves me scrambling for concealer or other forms of cover-up come morning. I also suffer from a shine problem on my T-zone, and many mattifying powders that I’ve used over the years have turned my skin dull and dry.

From the start, Mirage seemed different from a standard drugstore powder. When applied on skin, its tint was neither bronze nor pasty. Just as Doris Dalton described in the infomercial, the product reflected the light and smoothed out my skin, creating a subtle radiance without any glitter. It was a far cry from flawless, but the red blotches from squeezing were well-camouflaged and the shiny streaks were nowhere to be found. My face was definitely more finished-looking than usual.

However, the blended effect was not to last. Like a Monet, my skin appeared glowing and even-toned from a distance. But upon closer inspection in a magnifying mirror, the dusting of powder on my forehead and cheeks was noticeable, and I had to do additional blending with the brush. By the end of the day, the skin in the nooks and crannies around my nose started to peel. My expression lines seemed accentuated, as the powder had gradually collected in the shallow creases. Clearly when it comes to applying Mirage, less is more.

I am fairly certain that this product would react like oil on water to dry, dark, or hairy skin. It is best suited for pale, oily complexions with few wrinkles. I got the sense that the more powder I caked on, the more visible and unflattering it looked. Besides feeling constrained to limit its use, I was underwhelmed by the application. The Face Form Brush seemed too flaccid to capture the loose powder and made a giant mess on my bathroom vanity.

The magic behind Mirage is fairly straightforward. Mica, a common inclusion in mineral makeup, creates the illusion of a smoother, more radiant skin tone. The powder’s light-reflecting effect can also be attributed to boron nitride, a non-toxic optical diffuser and lubricant. There is also minimal sun protection in the form of titanium dioxide. But that’s where the benefits fizzle.

The number one ingredient listed is talc, a controversial anti-caking agent that has been linked to tumors in the ovaries and lungs. Even cosmetic-grade talc can contain carcinogenic asbestos-like particles because its production remains unregulated by the government, allowing outrageously priced products like La Mer’s Powder Foundation (essentially a pimped out version of Mirage) to tout talc freely. Silica is another iffy ingredient, if in crystalline form (not specified here). Perhaps the worst offenders in the formula are the evil twins phenoxyethanol and chlorphenesin, both banned by the FDA in a nipple cream.

Though it promised more than it delivered, Dalton’s infomercial was not all smoke and mirrors. I got some satisfaction out of the even-toned effect I achieved with just a few sweeps of powder. In the end, however, the ingredients suffered from too many bad seeds and the “airbrushed” results were ultimately a mirage.

Ingredients:
Talc, mica, boron nitride, silica, silicone/elastomer, phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin, benzoic acid, butylene glycol, sorbic acid, titanium dioxide, iron oxide LC182, iron oxide LC381, iron oxide LC989