Friday, September 6, 2013

Foundation round-up

First, in the way of background (and in the way of a confession), I haven't actually been using foundation lately.  I've been riding the wave of the less-is-more trend and converted from high-coverage fluid foundation to tinted moisturizers about a year ago.  The switch inspired me to take better care of my skin and just looks more natural overall.  I have very light skin with red undertones which has proven hard to match so my primary problem with most foundations I've used is just that I can see them.  Here are my thoughts on what I've been through in the last couple years.

Dior Forever Flawless Perfection Wear ($47) - I love Dior products.  Especially their Hydra-Life moisturizer line and their nail polish.  But this formula is not forever, it's not even less transferrable than other high-end foundations I've tried, and the lightest color is not light enough for me.  It's actually a little orangey.  It is high coverage though and high quality so if you can find a color match this might be for you.  No SPF by the way. 

NARS's Sheer Glow foundation comes in in TONS of colors.  you'd think that would have solved my matching problem but NARS on the whole is a little too yellow for me, I've found, particularly in the lighter skin colors and highlighters.  I tried Siberia and discovered that for the first time in my life I had found a makeup line whose lightest color was (gasp!) too light for me.  Impossible.  But it was true, I looked like a mime.  So I tried Mont Blanc and that was better.  I should mention that I have no time or patience for mixing, I don't think that will ever happen. The foundation does give a sheer glow and stays put well.  One thing I really love about it is that it's super buildable.  Again no SPF.

I've had an amazing experience with Smashbox's high-def consealer, it's one of my 'don't leave home without' products (I actually have three on hand - one at home for morning spot treatment, one in my makeup bag, and one at work).  This is one of the few products I'm using right now that is a repurchase.  Since the concealer has worked for me, I tried Smashbox Studio Skin 15-hour wear hydrating oil-free foundation ($42).*  This is a great foundation for its price.  Great coverage, buildable, and looks really natural once it sets.  The lightest color is just a smidge darker than I'd like but I've worn this for months at a time without letting that stop me.  The coverage on this is so great in fact that when I'm using a lighter tint all over I sometimes use this as a spot-treatment consealer on trouble areas.  The only reason I gravitated away from this is because I was looking for something with lighter coverage.  I still pull it out for nights out and photo shoots. 

Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer ($43) is constantly hailed as the best-selling, best of the best, holy grail type of tintend moisturizer.  It's ok, but I didn't like it as much as the others I've tried.  The coverage is good, it has a broad spectrum SPF of 20, but it's not illuminating (they do have an illuminating version that I haven't tried), and - here's the dealbreaker for me - it does concentrate in pores as you're applying it so you get those tiny light dots that I don't get with Chanticaille's Just Skin or the NARS tinted moisturizer. 

Chanticaille's Just Skin ($66) has proven to be amazing for me.  This is my top choice tinted moisturizer.  You get what you pay for, right?  It looks so natural, no collectin in pores, it has great illuminating properties (NOT sparkly) and while the color choices are not many, color choice is a little less important with a sheer tinted moisturizer like this.  Alabaster (lightest shade of course) was a great match for me.  The only thing I'd change is the SPF, it's only 15 and it isn't labeled broad spectrum which is usually a hint that it's not. 

Seeking a higher SPF and a lower price tag I turned to NARS Pure Radiant tinted moisturizer with broad spectrum SPF 30 ($42).  It comes in lots of shades which is nice because this is a high-coverage tinted moisturizer.  It has better coverage than some foundations.  True to its name, it does leave a radiance and that dewy glow that I love.  Again with the yellow tint though.   


So here I was, blissfully ignorant to the fact that there are quality and matchable foundations out there.  Here's the thing I've noticed after my year of tinted moisturizer.  While it works for the dewy sheer look, it also can look a little too dewy after half a day and just melt right off your skin (this of course could be helped by setting powder but I personally can't stand all-over face powders - they make me look so old).  If you're like me and do a lot of moisturizing, you don't need tinted moisturizer for the moisture.  There is such a thing as too much moisture.  And it turns out tinted moisturizers are not the only way to a sheer luminous finish.

There is a better way.  And that way is Guerlain!  Yesterday, a trip to Neiman's beauty department to pick up something else altogether (isn't that always the case) introduced me to the holy grail of light-coverage foundations. After years of trying to find a natural, sheer, luminous product, I think I may have found it in Guerlain  Parure de Lumier Light Diffusing Foundation ($59). 
The coverage is light, the color is amazingly natural - Guerlain seems to have really gotten that 'skin shade' that everyone else has trouble with.  The finish is luminous as advertized and it stays put and looks less oily than a tinted moisturizer.  The downsides are that it is not particularly buildable.  This is a true base layer.  Also the SPF 25 is not broad spectrum.  It has some UVA protection but not as much as the UVB SPF 25.  Also it's scented, as I think most Guerlain makeup products are.  It's a beautiful scent and doesn't linger (it won't compete with your perfume) but that might throw some people off.  Since I was looking for a true light base layer the lack of buildabilty doesn't bother me and I have resigned myself to using a broad spectrum SPF lotion on top of my moisturizer so any added SPF from the makeup is a bonus.  For me, it's the obvious choice. 

So how about you all?  What are your go-to base layers? 

*As an aside, I'm not particularly plussed about whether a foundation has oil or not. Oil used to be a bad word in the skincare world and now it's the fountain of youth. I am more concerned about how it works - does it look good, does it stay put, does it irritate my skin. The fact that it does or doesn't have oil in it usually doesn't tell me much about how it works and is not an automatic breakout sentence.

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