DESIGN DOUBLES The hottest threesome of the year
The latest foundations promise everything bar saving the world from nuclear disaster. But how can they possibly live up to their claims?
They are matte, but radiant. They give full coverage, but are undetectable on the skin. They offer 24-hour wear, but won’t cake or feel heavy. Seriously? Given the amount of money and research spent creating wonder foundations, it’s little surprise the latest generation of bases all vie for your attention by promising to perform small (and rather paradoxical) miracles. To work out how – and whether – they can, you might want to get a PhD in chemistry. Or you could just read this…
THE PROMISE LONG-WEAR BUT WATER-LIGHT
Why we’re cynical In order for a base to stick like glue, a blend of heavy waxes, thickening emulsifiers and sticky silicones has traditionally been required. And that doesn’t sound very lightweight to us. What they’ve done The secret formula has changed since you bought your first foundation. Now, pigments can be suspended in a liquid base of slippery esters (organic compounds formed by the reaction of
alcohol and carboxylic acid) and lightweight, but hardy, silicones. That ‘film-forming’ base is what lets pigments slick evenly onto skin, after which the esters evaporate and silicones lock in place to create an invisible film. Result: staying power and weightless coverage that builds without turning into cake mix. Does it work? Yes. But take note: with these liquefied formulas, long-wear need not equal full-coverage or ultra-matte. Three to try are: Estée Lauder Double Wear Nude Water Fresh Makeup SPF 30,
£32.50 (the liquid version of Double Wear Stay-in-Place), which stays on and looks so fresh even I (a heavy foundation-phobe) like it. Ditto the more matte The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation SPF 15,
£5.70, proving quality can come cheap. For serious cover and oil control, Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra Long-Wear Foundation, £35, is best – the matte formula is a no-brainer. Not full-on enough for you? Opt for cream formulas (not ‘serum’ or ‘liquid’ ones) brandishing words like ‘corrective,’ ‘airbrush’ and ‘full-cover.’
THE PROMISE HYDRATION AND SHINE CONTROL
Why we’re cynical Combination skin? There are new foundations that promise to keep dry patches hydrated and oily ones matte. A base with an actual brain: that’ll be the day. What they’ve
done There is no one approach here – it depends entirely on the foundation. One by Max Factor deploys a megadose of glycerine (which attracts water to the skin but is non-oily) for hydration. Powders, which mattify but can potentially be drying, are kept to a minimum, thanks to a film-forming polymer that leaves an invisible top coat to prevent them rubbing off. Another, by BareMinerals, avoids mattifying powders and film formers altogether. Instead, it coats pigments in hydrating, non-oily lipids similar to those in the skin, making them naturally fuse to your face. Silica and bamboo extract do the mattifying here – without the drying side effects.
Does it work? Yes, both succeed in hydrating and mattifying long-term.
Max Factor Healthy Skin Harmony Miracle Foundation SPF 20, £14.99, is perhaps the less sophisticated formula, with a powderymatte finish.
BareMinerals BarePro Performance Wear Liquid Foundation
SPF 20, £29, doesn’t look flat or dull at all, and its side-stepping of film-formers is a winner, as these can block pores in oily areas. Want another base for combo skin? As a rule, oil-free formulas that have sodium hyaluronate or glycerin among the first four ingredients are a good bet.
THE PROMISE SOLID TEXTURE, CLOUD-LIKE FEEL
Why we’re cynical Demand for portable compact and stick
foundations is increasing (who doesn’t do their face on the bus?), yet women don’t want to look like they’re auditioning for Ronald McDonald The Movie. But how the hell can you get a solid texture without an equally rigid finish? What they’ve done
They’ve basically solidified ultra-light ingredients that melt when you put them on your skin. Gone are the dulling talc and thick waxes (them again), and in have come blends of super-fine oils and waxes, pearl powders, and finely milled pigments with coatings that make them roll evenly over skin, flex
“Women don’t want to look like they’re auditioning to play Ronald McDonald”
with its movements, and resist coming off. Does it work? To my surprise (eek – a solid) none of these felt heavy at all.
Suqqu Frame Fix Moisturizing Solid Foundation, £49, leaves a glowy film of colour.
Nars Velvet Matte Foundation Stick,
£30, has the same melty quality but a more satin finish and airy feel, thanks to added flexible ‘matte rebound powders.’ The blending sponge that’s part of the stick is a stroke of on-the-go genius. Want full-on coverage? Vichy Dermablend Corrective Compact Cream Foundation,
£23, has a remarkably skinlike finish for something that covers even scars, thanks to vegetal lipids and mega-doses of fine pigments.
THE PROMISE GLOW AND OIL CONTROL
Why we’re cynical Thanks, we assume, to the global highlighter obsession, even the oily-skinned now want glowy foundations (demand has gone up by a whopping 100%). Cue bases that claim they can replace an oily sheen with a cosmetic gleam. Sounds likely. Not. What they’ve done
Hmm… depends on the brand, but lots of lightreflective and luminising powders and hydrators are
key. Then to tackle sebum and control spots and bumps, in come ‘intelligent’ powders and skin-clearing ingredients like salicylic acid and enzymes.
Does it work? Some better than others.
Shiseido Synchro Glow Luminizing Foundation, £34, has something called ‘Time Match Powder.’ It essentially glows on dry skin, but when it absorbs any sebum it turns semitransparent, controlling too much shine. Clinique Even Better Glow Light Reflecting Makeup SPF 15,
£27, is better if you’re very oily: it has optical luminisers, but is oil-free and packed with salicylic acid so efficient it’s too drying on my non-oily skin. Overall, keep an eye out for bases that are oil-free, but mention mica, pearl or silk powders for glowiness.
THE PROMISE A 100% SKIN COLOUR MATCH
Why we’re cynical Similar claims have traditionally come up short, and we don’t want to nit-pick, but if a foundation promises an exact match for every human, that means it needs, oh, 7.5 billion shades. What they’ve done
Lancôme’s service doesn’t try to match your skin with an existing shade (as some brands have done in the past), but employs a machine, based at London’s Harrods, that scans your
skin, determines its exact tone and then blends and pumps out a match on the spot, its coverage and hydration level determined by your preferences. A good 72,000 options are possible, which is rather decent.
Does it work?
Lancôme Le Teint Particulier Custom Made Foundation, £90, is brilliant for those who just can’t find their match. But what you can’t add is things like SPF, light-reflective powders and skin conditioners. You can do that with the Cosmetics à la Carte Foundation Matching Service, £55, in Chelsea. Here, specialists determine your tone with their actual eyes, taking into consideration how and where you like to wear foundation. Then they mix up a base with the colour, texture and finish of your dreams.