Matchmaker, Matchmaker, I’ll bring the veil | Physicians Formula pH Matchmaker Blush in Natural: review, photos, swatches

The product: Physicians Formula pH Matchmaker pH Powered Blush in Natural

The blush: This review goes into some pretty dark (read: critical) places, so I thought we’d start off on a bright note: the blush itself. I find I’m always nicely surprised by Physicians Formula products, and this one’s no exception.

For a shade called Natural, this blush is actually quite rosy. It’s a bright, warm medium-pink with a bit of shimmer; the chunky silver overspray on the dots wears off, but–despite what the internet may tell you–the blush itself does have some finely-milled shimmer as well.

(It’s possible that the overspray is just extremely reluctant to leave, but I really doubt it, seeing as some of the shimmer is fuchsia.)

Anyhow; the super-tiny silver and fuchsia reflects are visible mainly in the pan, but do make an appearance on the cheeks if you look closely. The blush itself is more than decently pigmented for a drugstore product, and should work just fine on most light, medium, and medium-dark skintones, though I’m guessing it’ll really shine on warm and olive skintones, specifically.

As the cherry on top, this blendable blusher layers well, too, so you can wear just a light dusting of powder for a really fresh, glowy look, or blend in a bit more for a full-on flush.

The packaging: Oh, pH Matchmaker products, you kill me. While I’ve been loving the blush itself, this packaging is way more clunky than it needs to be! The lid itself is the height of an entire Senna blusher, and it’s only a third of the height of the whole contraption.

In theory, I’m actually okay with this packaging. An LED-lit mirror and a cute brush tucked under the blush… it sounds good, right? But the thing is, the LEDs aren’t bright enough to apply blush by, and (after having them on for about ten minutes to photograph,) they’ve already burned out.

And then there’s the brush. I actually like thin brushes for certain products, and this one’s included in that statement — the blush itself is more than decently pigmented, and a thin, flat brush is a great way to get just a small amount of product at a time.

This brush, though? It sheds like crazy, which is always a pain, and after just a few weeks, it’s already starting to feel floppy and sparse as a result.

The kitsch: I’m not crazy about this whole “pH powered!” concept that Physicians Formula has going on, either. Photochromic powders, okay, kind of cool — having your blush look the same both indoors and outdoors is definitely a plus. (If it works, that is; I haven’t tested. I’m not even sure how I would, to be honest.)

pH-adjusting fluorescein-based dyes, though? Um, fluoresceins are typically involved in like, microscopy and blood stain detection, neither of which are particularly appealing concepts to your average consumer. Plus, acidity-fitted colour cosmetics don’t actually make sense — I mean, I could be an NW30 with a skin pH of 5.3, or I could be an NC15 (actually, I think I am; I can never remember) with the same skin pH.

The verdict?

Despite the fact that the last… five paragraphs solid were rife with criticism, I’m actually pretty fond of this blush. The packaging and marketing are awful, as far as I’m concerned, but the product itself — it’s worth a second look. It’s quite pigmented, really blendable, and the shimmer is surprisingly finely-milled, particularly for a drugstore product.

That said, I wouldn’t pay $15.99 for something this clunky. If you can find the pH Matchmaster blushers at 20-40% off, which Physicians Formula often is at Shopper’s or Rexall, then definitely pick one up; at full price, though, I think this one’s a pass.

The ingredients: 

Talc, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Dimethicone, Zinc Stearate, Zeolite, Dimethiconol, Sorbic Acid. +/- Iron Oxides, Mica, Red 27, Red 28 Lake, Red 7 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Ultramarines.

Physicians Formula pH Matchmaker Blush in Natural – in packaging

Physicians Formula pH Matchmaker Blush in Natural – pan

Physicians Formula pH Matchmaker Blush in Natural (swatched heavily, then lightly)

Physicians Formula pH Matchmaker Blush – brush compartment

Physicians Formula pH Matchmaker Blush in Natural – label

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  • Agreed, a lot of that packaging seems unnecessary. And even though I like to jump up and down in excitement at 'pH self-adjusting makeup,' I've always thought it was a little gimmicky too. I guess I just like to jump up and down in excitement in general?

    Anyways, gorgeous color! Are you going to depot this one, or leave it as is?
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    • Nope, no depotting! I don't exactly… I mean, where are you supposed to put a square blush, y'know? You could throw it in a palette, but then you'd have to take the whole damn palette with you if you wanted to throw it in your purse, and–

      Okay, the logistics of this are starting to frighten even me. I'm going to pretend we're not having this conversation and just flap my hands a bit with you instead. :D

  • Ahahahaha, and there's the rub. I have always been confused by the whole "matching to your skin pH" concept. It's a measure of acidity/basicity and has nothing to do with skintone…??? Ah, well. I'll put away my scientist cap (and degrees :P) for now.
    My recent post Lips + Tips: Fuchsia

    • Haha, my thoughts exactly :P It's a bit cool to have something that pH-matches, but it makes no sense in context with skintones! I guess just for the… novelty? Maybe?

  • Ciambella

    I had the same likes and dislikes about this blush, especially the clunky packaging! I stuck a magnet in the brush compartment of mine and made a freestyle palette out of it. I'm kind of sad that the lights burn out so quickly, though–that makes it less useful to me as a potential emergency flashlight. :(

    • Ooh! Okay, that is an idea that hadn't occurred to me. I wonder what I could fit down there! :D

  • Deb

    Excellent post. I'm always gratified to see a blogger point out both the pros and cons of a product; it's much more fair, honest, and accurate for your readers. Now a mini-rant: self adjusting cosmetics? Really? This has gotten a little stupid in the cosmetic world. I realize they are trying to compete and sell products. I think what I'm concerned about is the blatant violation of the truth in advertising laws. These products cannot do what they claim for many, many reasons. Some of which you pointed out with the ph comment and a whole lot more. Is there really anyone out there that actually believes a makeup product can customize itself to you?

    • Thanks, Deb! It's good to know that my (frankly, ridiculously long) in-depth pro/con lists are useful to some of you ;)

      The science behind pH-adjusting colourants is solid, actually (just look at any pH indicator, like a methyl red or bromothymol blue or something), it's just that it doesn't really translate to the beauty world — they're making minute adjustments to small variances in skin acidity, not your skintone. It's like antioxidants in beauty products; they do "slow signs of ageing," but only in a petri dish!

      Aaaanyhow. What I'm trying to say (and failing to do so concisely) is: I agree with you on this one, but I think there are definitely other things (ahem, three shades of black for one mascara formula, and lash inserts in mascara ads) that make me far angrier! :p

    • Oh! And as a P.S., Physician's Formula is actually in the clear on this one — unlike a number of other brands, they make no claims about skintone itself (just its pH)!

  • I have this blush as well and while I didn't use the light bulb long enough (OK, I still haven't touched or photographed it) , it's such an unflattering lighting so I usually just shut it right off. I am actually fine with the the under-compartment (as least I don't have to flip it to actually see the mirror) since it's the perfect size for square-shaped blush depot, that fits nowhere else.

    • GAH. Agree, agree! It's the kind of light that might have, theoretically, sort of, in a way, been just decent enough to help you apply blush — but at the cost of a huge blow to your self-esteem :p

      I'm not crazy about any of this packaging, but the mirror and brush, I can work with. (Happily, even, if the brush was a little better!) The LEDs, though? Those have got to go!

  • Emily

    Don't forget that there are $9 rebate stickers for this product, so with 40% off sales, you can get it for $1 or so.

    • Oh my goodness! I didn't know that these ones had rebate stickers — thanks for the heads-up, Emily! :)

  • I love Physician's Formula–I think they make really great blushes, bronzers, and highlighters (their Mineral Glow Pearl powders are amazing!). I definitely agree on the whole gimmicky thing though. I've never bought into it the whole thing. That being said, I do really want this blush, as well as Stila's Custom Color Blush in Coral. They're just pretty :)
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    • I so wish they would just cut the gimmicky brand image — I'm kind of besotted with the products themselves, too, and they definitely don't need the gimmicks to sell! If anything, I feel like it cheapens the image of the brand, you know?

      Anyhow. You should pick this one up; I think you'd like it! ;)

      (And P.S. I totally have my eye on the Coral Custom Color Blush, too. Gimmicks be damned; the shade looks so cute! :p)

  • I totally get where you're coming from. The color is nice but…the rest of the product just seems to fall short.
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    • Yeah :( Which is why I think it would be prefect if you could find it on sale — maybe it's unreasonable, but I feel like if 40% of the product is annoying (the packaging), then you should really only be paying for 60% of it (the blush itself) :p