The Great Foundation Audit

By now, you’re no doubt aware that I’m a bit of a hoarder. I’ve been meaning to clear out my foundation drawer for a while now, so when I watched Anna’s “Makeup Declutter” video I was finally inspired to trawl through it and identify the good, the bad and the long ago expired…

The Great Foundation Audit

What I use every day

You’ll notice two common denominators in my everyday base products: they’re all lightweight and they’re all from the drugstore. If I had to choose one to take to a desert island, it would be the L.A. Girl Pro BB Cream, of which I have no less than five backups in three different shades. At the moment, I’m mixing it 50-50 with the Bourjois 123 Perfect CC Cream; an approach born of necessity when I needed to tweak my foundation shade, but a combination I have grown to love. The L.A. Girl BB Cream is effectively a tinted moisturiser, while the Bourjois CC Cream has medium coverage (it behaves more like a foundation than a traditional CC cream), but both look and feel like nothing on the skin. The Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation is easily the best “proper” foundation I’ve ever tried and one of the few I’ve ever repurchased. It goes on like silk, blends like a dream, shade 52 has the perfect neutral undertone for me, the coverage is light-medium so you can still see my freckles, and it makes my skin look luminous and, well, healthy. It’s not available in SA but you can order it on Amazon.

The Great Foundation Audit

What I use for nights out

Sometimes, a tinted moisturiser just doesn’t cut it. For nights out or “formal” makeup, I tend to go for something with a bit more coverage and lasting power. Estée Lauder Double Wear Light is a great example of this kind of base; in fact, it’s the foundation I wore on my wedding day. It’s pigmented but not heavy, it’s borderline invisible when buffed in properly and it gives the skin a really even tone without looking like a mask. L’Oréal Infallible 24HR Matte Foundation* has a similar level of coverage with a slightly heavier, more velvet finish. I use this when I have a long, hot day ahead of me and usually apply it very sparingly so that it looks as natural as possible, but it can highlight drier patches. When my skin is badly dehydrated and I need extra coverage but don’t want to look too makeup-y, Revlon Photoready Insta-Fix* is a better option as it sits a little more lightly on the face. It’s surprisingly smooth and creamy for a stick foundation (especially a drugstore one) and it doesn’t break down in steamy conditions. I actually forgot how much I like this foundation – I think I’ll use it tonight!

The Great Foundation Audit

What I should use more

There are a number of really good foundations in my collection that I don’t use as often as I should do. One of them is Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation*, which is described by the brand as “totally weightless coverage” (✓) with a “luminous, semi-matte finish” (✓). It truly is like an invisible veil of pigment on your skin, although it is so lightweight that I do think you need good skin texture to begin with, as it doesn’t have any smoothing qualities. The watery formula also means that it tends to be a little drying, so I get the best results when I use a juicy base underneath, like a tiny bit of facial oil or a rich moisturiser.

Another much-loved-but-under-used product is my Kiko Universal Fit Hydrating Foundation which I bought in the UK. The finish is that beautiful combination of glowy but not greasy, so it makes your skin look naturally beautiful. It has medium, buildable coverage, and feels really emollient and comfortable so it’s a fantastic option for every day. MAC Face and Body is a bit more tricky to use – it’s a water-based formula that you have to shake before use, and it contains a film-former so it sets as you blend it. It’s unlike anything I have ever used before – it’s invisible but it somehow makes your skin look like a doll’s, with a certain ethereal sheen (which you can blot with powder where you want to). It has the added bonus of being totally waterproof so it’s seriously good for hot, South African summer days.

The Great Foundation Audit

What I should get rid of

Just to be clear, these aren’t bad foundations (those don’t make it into my stash at all); they just don’t suit me or have fallen out of favour for one reason or another. A classic example of that is the Max Factor Miracle Match Foundation* which I really, really like but for some unknown reason it contains glitter. Actual specks of (very fine) glitter. It feels like a good quality, high-end foundation but the sparkles are glaringly obvious in the sunshine and as someone with oilier skin, I just can’t handle it. Dry-skinned girls may well love it though! Bourjois Happy Light is similarly gorgeous but it oxidises really badly on me, although I don’t remember it always doing this – it might just be a bit beyond its use-by date. These two Clarins base products – Everlasting Foundation+* and BB Skin Detox Fluid* – were sent to us to try and have been languishing on my dressing table ever since. The former is a little bit too heavy for my taste and the I’m just not a fan of the texture of the BB cream. I find it slightly greasy to be honest, so again perhaps better for girls with dry skin.

*PR samples

9 comments on The Great Foundation Audit

  • Niecole Smit

    I am so thankful for this post! I was literally trawling through blogs yesterday to find reviews on great drug store foundations.

    I have a very oily skin, and large pores on my cheek area, and super fair colour to go with it all, so finding that right foundation that not only lasts, but gives me enough cover without looking caky and that suits my skin tone is so hard, and I find when going to the cosmetic counters at stores they always try to sell me the most expensive brand! I’m currently using Clinique Even Better, and I have to say it’s not really been “even better” for my skin, and I’m so disappointed. 🙂

    But thanks to your post I will go have a look at the products mentioned and hopefully find something suitable for me 🙂

  • Simone Cameron

    Thanks for the tip on the 24H-matt. I tend to apply too much and get the dry patches. Less is more, I’ll remember that.

    • Jules (author)

      It also works very well applied with a damp sponge and “juiced up” with a hydrating spray like MAC Fix+ or similar.

  • Hildegarde_k

    I also watched Anna’s video and am now inspired to tackle my makeup stash. I’m just a bit nervous about throwing things out… Due to your excellent enabling abilities I have now found a new foundation to get excited about: I’ve never owned a MAC foundation but that face and body one sounds amazing! If I can enable you: did you see The Body Shop came out with a cushion foundation? I bought it yesterday and am deliriously excited to try it. 😊

  • Minelle

    Jules, great post! I was looking at MAC face and body. What shade do you use and do you apply with sponge? Tx

    • Jules (author)

      Thank you! I was using shade C2 although it wasn’t *quite* right for me – I think maybe N2/N3 (more neutral) would be better suited to my skin tone. And no, I wouldn’t use a sponge – the formula is water based so a sponge just soaks up all the product. It’s actually best applied with your fingers.

  • Ninna

    I am really struggling to find a foundation that is both lightweight and matte for my oily skin. My skin texture is smooth so I don’t need lots of cover. BUT I need a foundation which controls oil? How does the Urban Decay Naked work for oily skin? I have tried the Mac Face and body but makes me look crazy oily!

    • Jules (author)

      Hi Ninna! Foundations that are both matte and lightweight are few and far between… we can’t think of any that we’ve tried that fit the bill. The most mattifying foundation I’ve ever used (Jules) is the L’Oréal Infallible 24HR Matte Foundation but it’s quite heavy in coverage and consistency. We’re actually about to test the new Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation which, in theory, would be a good one for skin like yours. Keep your eyes on the blog and our social media channels because we’ll shout from the rooftops if it is!

      • Ninna

        I must say with my wedding the makeup artist used Loreal Infallible 24H Stay Fresh Foundation and it looked amazing- I just feel that I want something similar but more high end. and I feel after a few hours it cracks a bit around the mouth area. I am def going to try the bobbi brown skin long wear! Do you have any recommendations on a primer but that does not contain silicone- (hate that feeling) but that helps with controlling oil. I LOVE the feeling and look off Mac Sculpt but I shine so much with it. Thanks so much for your help so far!

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