May 9, 2011

Monday Beauty Blog-Foundation: Every Face's Best Friend

Daniela Corte’s models arrived to the show already styled (and indeed they were lovely) so instead of writing about someone else’s makeup I decided this week that I would write about one of the most important, and misunderstood aspects of makeup: FOUNDATION!!!

Every time I meet with a new client, I am told that they hate foundation. They will then also tell me about how they use a ton of concealer, and that they wish their skin looked more even. But they do not want to wear foundation.

That is normally when I have to start my “foundation has come a long way” speech. Most women seem to think that foundation is still the pepto bismol pink paste that their grandmothers wore that left a thick crusty border along many their jaw lines. Bad foundation, poorly applied foundation may still be that. But rest assured foundation has come a long long way.

First of all, let’s address what foundation is designed to do. Foundation is designed to even out skin tone. Not cover it up, but to even it out. If you have a blemish or dark under eye circles, you would cover them with concealer, not foundation. This misconception is why I see women with very nice skin wearing full coverage foundation in an attempt to cover a blemish or two. It is also why I see women who have blotchy skin but are fearful of foundation wearing way too much concealer instead of simply wearing a beautiful medium to full coverage foundation.

As I stated in my opening, foundation has come a very long way in that past 15 years. Since our StyleWeek Providence color sponsor for January was Laura Mercier I will use Laura’s foundations for my examples. I am including photos of me wearing each formula with a primer. These photos are unretouched. They are taken in the same natural light, on the same day at approximately the same time. No concealer or powder is applied in any of these pictures, just primer and foundation. My skin will in no way appear perfect. But you will get a more clear appreciation of what foundation does, and what it simply cannot do. You may also find a new appreciation for concealer. After looking at these pictures lord knows, I love concealer a lot more.

Ideally your foundation should match your skin perfectly. If your body is much more tan than your face you may want to go a shade deeper. However, this will also mean that you would need to apply foundation to your entire face and not just uneven areas. Another option is to match your skin and balance things out with bronzer. Foundation that is too light can often appear “goth” and too dark does require a good deal of finesse. So for most people I suggest taking the goldilocks approach and aim for just right.

For people with fairly even toned skin who need just a slight improvement or people who are sincerely foundation-phobic tinted moisturizer is a nice start. Laura’s tinted moisturizer is a very lightweight foundation (I am convinced they named it tinted moisturizer because they didn’t want to say “foundation” and scare off many prospective clients). It is the easiest formula to apply. It can be applied with fingers or with a sponge. It doesn’t replace skin care (don’t let the term “moisturizer fool you) instead it provides a sheer veil of coverage that helps to make skin appear smooth and even. There is also the bonus of having a spf 20 to protect your skin. Tinted moisturizer will not however cover real blotchiness or discoloration.
Nude Tinted Moisturizer with Primer

For those of us who need a little more coverage a liquid foundation is going to be just what the makeup artist ordered. I find most women are best off with a medium coverage foundation. Laura makes a few formulas that fit in this category. The moisturizing foundation and oil free foundation both leave a semi matte finish, cover most tonal issues, and photograph beautifully. These are best applied with a sponge over a primer (more about primer in a bit). Fingers and brushes with this kind of product tend to leave too heavy a finish.
Warm Ivory Moisturizing Foundation with Hydrating Primer

Another medium coverage foundation formula and possibly my personal favorite of Laura’s formulas is the Crème smooth foundation. This is an anti-aging formula made to diffuse the appearance of fine lines while evening out skin tone and is the longest wearing in my experience. This also looks best over a primer. However this one is made to go on with fingers. This leaves a soft finish, not quite matte, not quite dewy and photographs beautifully. Not a formula I would recommend for oily skin types or people concerned with shine, but it is a dream for us dry skin girls.
Warm Ivory Creme Smooth Foundation with Hydrating Primer

Now there are times when someone wants their skin to be 100% flawless. Whether it is a photo op, a high school reunion, or just Tuesday; this is when a full coverage foundation is in order. This is also when many of my clients stop cold in their tracks expecting me to pull out a trowel and start piling makeup on their faces. I cannot emphasize this enough, full coverage foundations are brilliant when applied properly, nad you do not need to be Michelangelo to accomplish this. Laura’s full coverage foundation is her Silk Crème foundation. It is oil free and had a velvety radiant finish. It is the formula I use the most when shooting pin up photography. A pea sized amount is all that is needed to get the job done. Too apply a full coverage foundation properly, dab a bit onto an area of the face with your fingers and buff it into the skin with a sponge. Work small areas at a time and just keep buffing.
Rose Ivory Silk Creme Foundation with Hydrating Primer

A few things to consider when choosing a foundation, almost all foundations look better with a primer underneath. Primer is NOT just another step that someone is trying to sell you. It creates a barrier between your skincare and your makeup. It gives skin a smoother appearance minimizing the appearance of pores and fine lines. It also increases the duration of wear of your foundation. I personally prefer primers with little to no silicone. I find silicone based primers photograph beautifully but just don’t wear for extended periods very well. I also find that many people break out when using a silicone based primer. This is all a matter of preference so when in doubt experiment. Most counters and beauty stores will gladly give you samples. If you know you are the kind of person who just is not going to wear a primer there are some formulas that work very nicely as stand alone products. The tinted moisturizer is a good example. I also like the Vitalumiere Aqua from Chanel without a primer.

I also think that most women benefit from having a wardrobe of foundations. Just like stiletto pumps are not appropriate for all situations, neither are all foundations. A tinted moisturizer is more than enough for most of us at brunch or the supermarket. But most of us would like to look a little closer to flawless when having a job interview or attending a cocktail function. It’s never a bad idea to have a few options. Play with foundation. Play with textures. See how a dramatic eye changes when worn with matte skin versus dewy skin.

 Try to remember that makeup is fun. It doesn’t need to be work. It is a beautiful way to change your look without a big financial commitment. You can buy a whole new luxury makeup wardrobe including brushes for $500. That won’t buy most of us a designer dress, let alone a wardrobe. And you can wear that makeup every day! The best part is if you don’t like how something looks; you can always wash it off and try again.  Rediscover your love for playing with makeup.

Next week I will be talking about how to contour. Send your questions and topic requests to

1 comment:

  1. This is a very good tip...there are various types of skin and accordingly the foundation has to be used.The oily foundation has to be used for the extra dry skin and the vice versa.