My biggest frustration in all of makeup is foundation. I have a very difficult time getting that perfect match, some will look great at first, but then turn color. Some will settle in fine lines over time, some will turn my face into an oil slick and others are just down right bad.
A few months ago I was reading Allure magazine and there was an article “Immaculate Complexion” where makeup artist Pat McGrath, the high queen in all things makeup, was interviewed and gave instruction on how to get the perfect complexion. Pat has done several makeup lines from companies anywhere from CoverGirl to Dolce & Gabbana, and is one of the most sought after artists for the runway shows. So if Pat says something, I listen.
There were 4 foundations she recommended for different looks. The 4 are shown above, and I decided to test them to see what results I had with each of them and to see if what she said rang true. She said that in order to get a flawless look she works only with liquid or cream foundations. For sheer coverage she uses Lancome Teint Miracle, for a subtle look CoverGirl Clean Makeup, for a moderate look Maybelline New York Dream Smooth Mousse Foundation and for a complete look Laura Mercier Creme Smooth Foundation. Here are my results on each of these foundations:
Lancome Teint Miracle Lit-From-Within Makeup: First off the shade selection is vast so you are likely to find a match with your skin tone. If you already use a Lancome foundation, don’t assume the same shade will work, it most likely will not. I had a tough time going between a few shades to figure out which one works best on me because it has the “lit-from-within” reflecting particles it can be deceiving or a bit difficult to match. That said, once you find the right shade it really is a beautiful foundation. A step up from a tinted moisturizer for coverage, but yet gives you enough coverage to hide imperfections and the glow it gives your skin makes it look beautiful. I’ve tried countless foundations that give you that “glow” and most just make me look like a greasy mess. Not this one – it really is a dewy, fresh, youthful look. It applies easily as well and lasts nearly all day. $37.00
CoverGirl Clean Makeup: This foundation comes in 3 formulas – Oil Control, Normal and Sensitive Skin. I chose the Normal skin version. Finding a shade can be difficult because there are no testers at the drugstore, so you have to hold the bottle up to your skin and try and find a match. Not the easiest or most accurate. I vacillated between two shades and ended up with 120 Creamy Natural. Do not assume that if you choose a shade in one formula the same shade in another formula will be the same shade, it is not. Creamy Natural in the Oil Control was vastly different and it has a different number associated with the color. This foundation after 35+ years and many re-formulations (I remember my mother always used this when I was growing up) still has that same scent to it. I can’t quite pinpoint what that scent is, other than I call it “The CoverGirl Scent”! How does it work? Amazingly well. I was very surprised. It goes on easily and smoothly and stays put, doesn’t settle in fine lines and the best part for me – it makes my skin look like nice, smooth, healthy skin. No excess shine, no dullness, just nice skin. Around $8.
Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse– Described as ‘moderate’ finish by Pat McGrath, I would say moderate to full coverage. It comes with a sponge applicator and I found using it made the look very heavy on my face. I suggest using a brush or your fingertips to get a lighter, smoother application. It looks almost pasty in the jar rather than like a mousse, but it goes on nicely. There’s no glow with this foundation and on my face it was almost dull. It did make my skin look smooth, but it didn’t make my skin look youthful or fresh. I would say someone with younger skin might like this best. The shade selection is not great either. I used shade 180 Nude Beige and had just an OK match. Would I buy this again? Most likely not. Around $8.
Laura Mercier Creme Smooth Foundation– This is to be the one with “complete” coverage. I agree – this is full on complete coverage. It looks lightweight and whipped in the jar, and that’s deceiving. It does not apply easily and I found the best way to apply it is to take a dab and rub between your fingers to warm it up and get it thinned out a bit that way, then apply with your fingers to your face. It takes a bit of work to make this go on smoothly and quite frankly, I don’t want to spend that much time on a foundation to make it look good. After wearing it for a few hours, it felt filmy on my face and actually my skin looked better without any foundation than using this. I was greatly disappointed. The shade selection is sparse – online shows 12, but in Sephora I only saw a spot for 6 shades. I’m between the Warm Ivory and Sunny Beige shades. $50 and glad I didn’t purchase, but only got a tester sample from Sephora.
Do you have foundation issues like I do? What foundation have you found to work best? I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for roadtesting this! I love these kind of reviews!
Thanks for the detailed review.
These are great reviews. I’ve heard alot about the Lancome Teint Miracle. Maybe now I’ll have to go try it!
Thank you for the great review. I tried the Teint Miracle and it didn’t work out for me–coverage was way too light and it didn’t last for more than 4 hours on me. I’m using Lancome Teint Idole and like it alot. I don’t tend to like matte finishes as it gets into my fine lines but this one seems to work quite nicely. I’m still on the prowl for a good high coverage foundation that will give me a nice dewy look, not have my fine lines show up and can be long wearing. I don’t ask for much, do I? hehe
Kat- foundations are the bane of my existence! Have you tried the new Burberry foundation? That has more coverage and isn’t matte. Or Chanel Vitalumiere – again a bit more coverage and dewy.
I have a hard time with foundation – it either breaks me out, makes me super shiny/oily, looks fake, or some combination of the above. I like how Bobbi Brown’s skin foundation looks on me, but it’s a little too moisturizing. Ditto Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer. Chanel Mat Lumiere felt nice but looked too heavy on. *sigh*. Still trying!
Sounds like we have many of the same issues! I can’t wear Bobbi Brown’s Skin Foundation – it separates on me. Have you used the Chanel Mat Lumiere in the compact or liquid? I have both, and am actually wearing the compact one today. But, I always use a brush and not the sponge included. The sponge makes it too heavy. Another good one to try if you don’t want too much moisture is NARS Sheer Matte Foundation.
Hi, Kari. I know it takes some time, but I solve this problem by mixing foundations. Too moisturizing + too drying / too dark + too light / too much coverage + too sheer. It may sound more complicated but in fact I find it easier and more effective than too keep the endless search and be frustrated time after time. And this is the way I get what I want. 😉
Thank you for the review
Nice post Kari!
I think it’s one of the best things we do…tell the truth!
You know I finally tried Armani’s foundation and I do like it quite a bit. It faltered for me when the temperature dropped. Coupled with bronzing powder, my skin felt matte and tight.
I have fallen in love with Kimara Ahnert’s products (www.Kimara.com) Her foundation is very light weight and feels almost like a tinted moisturizer. I am using Natural Glow and love the finish. It gives me dewey coverage and a pop of warmth, so I can bypass the bronzer.
Glad we are all in the same boat Girls!
I love very thin constistence, but pigmented foundations for a full coverage as my face tends to go red and it is oily – so I love Dior (the first and only Dior foundation I like) Forever. I use shade 22. I also love Helena Rubenstein Colour Clone in Shell. Both of these have lots of pigment and go on really thin. The Dior one is kind of scented and I have to be careful about applying it around my eyes as they are kind of sensitive. I work as a nurse in a hospital and often have to use a surgical mask and the wonderful thing about Diors foundation is that it is still there after using surgical masks a countless times 😉 I love that!! I do not have to bring it with me in the purse because I know it stays on all day <3 That is foundation love 😉
I have the same problems finding the perfect foundation that you do! Thanks for your honest review of these 4 foundations-especially your opinion of Laura Mercier-the most expensive one! I might bite the bullet and buy the really expensive Armani foundation that a lot of beauty bloggers are raving about. If you have any feedback about the Armani foundations, please share.
The Armani ones really depend on your skin type. The Lasting Silk UV is good for oily skin, but not if you are dry. When my skin is dry it tends to separate. The Luminous Silk is nice, however I personally can’t give it the rave reviews like everyone else. I can’t seem to find a shade that looks good on me and it’s just nice on me, not “wow”. When my face is oily I do like the Face Fabric foundation for a nice, matte coverage that feels like velvet. For a more full coverage that’s very creamy and doesn’t get much press, my favorite of the Armani foundations is the Designer Shaping Cream.
I have some make-up artist friends, and they always stress a few tips.
– you need a great moisturizer to start. I’d agree. It helps the finish of the foundation. I have been using CoverGirl Clean for years! It does smell a bit like Noxema, but it’s a scent that I find comforting by now!
– only put the foundation on the areas that you need! it shouldn’t be a mask. I use it blended on my nose, eyes (to prime) and over the cheek bones. I used to use it everywhere, but it’s not needed. I also used to wear it to hide dark circles, but a good eye cream will deal with that.
Thanks for the tips!