Don’t let ‘Project Runway’ make you buy this

Like lots of people, I looked at the L’Oréal True Match Roller foundation and laughed. Really? They want us to apply makeup with a tiny little paint roller? Ridiculous. I rolled my eyes (not my foundation) and moved on.

L’Oréal Paris True Match Roller

Then that sneaky Collier Strong got to me.

Fans of “Project Runway” are familiar with Strong, consulting makeup artist for L’Oréal, due to his many appearances on the show to consult with designers on sponsored challenges and runway looks. In the course of working with a designer on this season’s Studio Secrets eye shadow challenge, Strong busted out the True Match Roller and talked about what a great way it is to apply foundation. He may have used the word “ingenious”; I don’t exactly recall. At any rate, the bug was planted. Honestly, I should have known better. As far as I can tell, all the foundation used on “Project Runway” models is applied with an airbrush, not a funky little sponge roller. I don’t for a moment think L’Oréal would have been rollering makeup onto those models’ faces if they didn’t happen to have the True Match Roller to promote.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks later. It was the day of my brother’s wedding and I was out of foundation, having run out of my usual makeup and thrown away a bottle of the Revlon Photo Finish, which everyone but me seems to be in love with. I didn’t have time to get downtown after helping set up for the reception to get to Nordstrom for some expensive-but-reliable Lancôme, so I swung by Target to see what I could come up with. On the L’Oréal aisle, I paused in front of the True Match Roller. Collier Strong seemed so excited about it… it couldn’t be too terrible, could it?

The silly little roller was red flag #1. Red flag #2 should have been the fact that the True Match Roller doesn’t come in my color. In L’Oréal’s terms, I’m smack between a C2 (Natural Ivory) and a C3 (Creamy Natural). The True Match Roller comes in either C1-C2 (Alabaster/Natural Ivory) or C3. I decided to default to the lighter shade, thinking I could make up the difference with bronzer if I had to.

When it came time to roller the foundation on to my face, I was horrified to find I was painting pale, streaky stripes all over my face. C1-C2 is not the right shade, it turns out, if you’re somewhere between a C2 and a C3.

Try.Believe.Love. kit

That was the first problem, and if the shade had been a better match for my skin, it wouldn’t have been a problem. The second problem, though, was this: A roller, which is a great device to use to paint a wall, is not the perfect way to paint a face. A wall is flat and has straight edges. A face — well, a face is anything but. In order to get good, even coverage, I found I had to press much harder than I was comfortable with, especially around the eyes and nose. And then the product still required lots and lots of blending. On the day of the wedding, I warmed my entire face with my hands to melt the makeup a little bit, then blended with my fingertips. After all that, I still ended up going over it with some mineral makeup powder I had in a drawer (the remnants of the Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Try.Believe.Love. kit I picked up at Sephora last summer; I tried, but neither believed nor loved), which defeated the whole point of buying foundation in the first place. I knew I had the mineral makeup, but I specifically didn’t want to use it — it’s not great for photos (too reflective).

Ultimately, if the shade had been a better match, I might have been happier with the product, although if I hadn’t been using the Clarisonic I probably would have been much less happy with the application (I wouldn’t recommend it for skin with any kind of uneven texture). The fact remains that a paint roller is not a great way to apply paint to a surface that isn’t relatively flat and rigid. I think it may be possible for some people to find happiness with the True Match Roller, but if you take it for a test drive, be prepared to spend a lot of time blending.

L’Oréal True Match Roller Foundation
Bottom Line: The makeup is decent, but the applicator leaves much to be desired.
Price: $$
Tip: If there isn’t a tone that’s a near-perfect match for your skin tone, this probably isn’t the product for you.

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