Grand total: 20 foundations. Little bit much, but I’m a sucker for this one product category.
I chanced upon a thread on reddit about owning foundations – how many does one need, want, have, etc. and came once again to the realisation that I probably own too many foundations than a face ever needs. So here a round up of them and a quick breakdown of what works for me.
Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Éclat (original formula)
My original and gateway drug to the world of makeup and foundation. The old formula was perfectly dewy with a suitable amount of coverage if you had good enough skin. As my skin started leaning oily, though, the finish began to need powdering and matting down. The newly reformulated version trades in the fresh finish for longer wear, so in my books it’s no longer worth the time.
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation
The foundation that really taught me what long-wearing formulations should be capable of. It pumps out very thin and heavily pigmented, which means the brand’s claim of a single pump for a full face is actually true insofar as you’re content with sheered out coverage. But the real winning moment was wearing this out in the day then going over to a party and staying out til 10am the next day then getting home and wiping my face to realise there’s still foundation on the skin.
Clé de Peau Radiant Stick Foundation
THE LIGHTEST AND MOST COMFORTABLE THING I have worn on my face. It’s formulated brilliantly to achieve an essence-like weight (that is, watery and feather-light) with a great film former that allows it to spread and blend beautifully then set when it’s undisturbed. A day after testing this out, it jumped straight to the top of my rotation. It’s pricey because it’s Clé de Peau but I genuinely believe this to be a worthwhile luxury splurge – if anything, for the sheer joy of experiencing it on skin.
Clé de Peau Radiant Cream Foundation
Luxuriously thick and heavy with a gorgeous skin-like finish that doesn’t belie its high coverage. This is a great one for events or being photographed and wears perfectly with the brand’s stick concealer for truly perfected skin. It can, however, feel a little heavy – but it doesn’t pretend to not be.
NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint
First month: AMAZING! Second month: too greasy. While it’s positioned as a matte foundation, I really think this one’s for drier skins who want to wear matte without looking dry. It’s got one of the most amazing initial applications I’ve tried – it looks and feels like skin and almost melts on you instead of sitting atop. But, if you get greasy, a few hours of wear in will get a really sticky and goopy kind of shine which feels heavy and is impossible to powder into submission.
Guerlain Lingerie de Peau (2016 reformulation)
This one’s a strange thing. Makeup artists I’ve spoken to love it because of its high level of natural coverage, but I find that when spread and blended it wears a lot sheerer and almost medium. But it’s got one of those luxury brand finishes that you will come to expect at the price point, and really makes your skin look like itself but happier and better rested. Best applied with a mix of brush and hand – brush to lay down the pigment and spread and hands to finish and set with warmth.
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow BB Cream
When struggling between the CC and the BB, I finally settled on this one because of its Les Beiges association. The powder is one of my absolute favourites so it kind of decided the debate. It’s got more coverage than you’d expect from a BB product, but has a beautiful texture that spreads like moisturiser and imparts a recently-vacationing glow. It’s definitely a dewy finish, but it works best on drier days that call for a bit more nourishment and glow.
Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Cushion
I don’t like cushions because of how oily they finish – so Lancome offering up a long-wear option was great. Simple verdict is: compact is gorgeous, cushion itself is hideous, product is great. It’s their flagship foundation’s formula tweaked to squeeze out a mesh (it does not look anything like the Korean ones, but it is a lot better than Shu Uemura’s hideous versions) so there’s not much actual originality. But it wears great with a high level of coverage that can be touched up if you don’t powder down.
Innisfree Long Wear Cushion Foundation
The only reason I tried the Lancome cushion was because this Innisfree one convinced me on the category. The Long Wear version thankfully finishes closer to velvety/matte and has a great level of coverage while feeling fresh and lightweight. It’s quite nondescript because it works so well, but there’s a slightly tangy scent to it that I can’t decide yet if I like – and that’s more than half a year into use.
Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Encre de Peau
If it’s got a waiting list, I’m interested. This foundation got so much hype when and before it launched because of its touting of using NASA technology and its ability to be super lightweight, long-wearing and natural. It’s actually a super slick silicone-filled texture that unfortunately doesn’t wear as long as YSL would like you to believe. But it’s got a wonderful airbrushed and perfecting finish and if price and duration isn’t an issue, it’s beautiful.
MAC Cosmetics Face & Body
I’m not interested in Glossier’s Skin Tint because Face & Body exists. The MAC classic only really works when applied with hands – it benefits greatly from being warmed up and rubbed in. Reading around will tell you it’s super sheer and only really good at evening skin tone out and it’s true. It wears super fine and almost not there, but it’s a great option if you’re looking for something truly sheer and natural. On good skin days, this is the best foundation to really show off glorious natural skin.
Tom Ford Traceless Stick Foundation
Perfection in a twist up. It’s big and fat tube of sticky pigment but it wears so so wonderfully. True to Tom Ford pricing, it’s extravagant but really comes into its own when photographed. The shades lean ever so slightly yellow but on me wear like lit from within warmth. In natural light, which really is the toughest customer, it looks like I have nothing on my skin except the best condition it could be in.
Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation
Perfect all around. If there were a grading matrix for coverage, finish, wear time, balance of glow and matte, etc. the Koh Gen Do Aqua would sit squarely in the high numbers for every single grading category. Coverage is in a comfortable buildable medium; it finishes fresh and silky without ever getting shiny or tacky; it takes on oil buildup beautifully and improves over time. It’s really the best all-around archetypal idea of foundation.
iT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream
Don’t let the name fool you! This one’s a full coverage product with great hydrating benefits and admirable SPF performance. The brand’s dermatological philosophy really shines in this one product: it combines benefits to skin, sun care and coverage. My first time with this was really surprising because despite its high coverage, it wears a nice and high level of dewy and – best of all – when removed left my skin feeling softer than it was before I had it on. The shades are a bit tricky to get right and I sometimes mix two to get a better fit. Else, I’d actually recommend going for the darker shade if possible and wearing less but seriously sheered out. Something about the colouring in this imparts a bronzing and tanning effect when you wear a very thin layer of this in a slightly darker shade.
Chanel Le Blanc Whitening Compact Foundation
Unimpressive as a foundation, but great as a finishing powder. It’s quite a sheer powder that I think wears best dusted over a liquid formula as a finish. The upside of it is its brightening characteristic. It’s hard to pinpoint, but there’s a very subtle luminosity with this that’s really becoming when worn.
Shu Uemura Petal Skin Fluid Foundation
What a surprise! The Petal Skin is inspired by the tactile experience of running your fingers over flower petals and the product actually delivers. It’s a bit thicker than you’d imagine, but it blends effortlessly and wears in a beautiful place between shine and matte. In essence, it’s a velvety finish that takes on light in the right places and stays matte enough where it’s important.
CoverFX Custom Cover Drops
A little gimmicky, but really great for adjusting coverage and tweaking undertones to suit when other products don’t match up perfectly. For a while, I loved a single drop mixed in with my sunscreen for off days with sheer coverage. Now, I use the neutral shade (which is a bit off – I should be wearing the warm one) to slightly bring down overly yellow products or to balance out bronzed looks.
By Terry Light Expert
Whoa – three more I missed out! And how could I forget this gem from By Terry. The Light Expert is a strange click stick pen but the liquid foundation that is dispensed is greatly hydrating with medium coverage. It’s got hyaluronic acid in which is great because foundation will apply on nicely plumped skin and, bar the lightest shades (which lean pink), has a great undertone of warmth. It’s a little goopier than I’m used to, but the brush it comes in is actually pretty good at blending the product out. It leaves a few streaks but those are easily tapped into place.
Estée Lauder Double Wear Nude Cushion Stick
The cushion stick from Lauder is thankfully a sheerer and more forgiving version of its famous Double Wear formula. It’s actually comparable to the original Touche Éclat in terms of radiance, and wears nice enough for the first 8 hours. After, it tends to pill a little and doesn’t take oil well – but a nice enough easy option if you’re not going to be out for long. It’s a cute gimmick, but for what it’s worth I’d prefer a more traditional liquid or cushion format with longer-lasting product.
MAC Cosmetics Prep + Prime CC Cream
This was one of my first forays into CC creams and is actually true to its colour-correcting purpose. I have the shade Apricot, which is a warm shade that I find works best on waking up and imparting health and colour back to my skin. My skin is too warm for the other shades to really work, but fair skins will benefit from the Lavender one to reduce sallowness; red patchiness will be helped with the Yellow shade that neutralises uneven pigmentation. It’s got the tiniest bit of coverage and a commendable SPF of 30, which makes this one of those almost nothing at all days type of product.
4 March edit: added 3 more products because I plain forgot I had them.