In all my years writing about beauty I have probably produced more articles and answered more questions about foundation than any other product. It appears that despite all the information available to us, and the multitude of brands on offer, it is still the one product that confuses many of us, as illustrated recently when I walked into a well known sandwich bar and the girl serving me had a face three shades darker than the rest of her that ended right at her chin. I was horrified but, not wanting to embarrass her, I said nothing – although for the past couple of weeks I have been wondering should I go back and offer her some basic colour matching advice.
While colour matching isn’t a problem for me, it did get me thinking about how we view ourselves and how others see us. No doubt that poor girl thought she looked great when she left her home that morning. When several new foundation formulations landed on my desk for review I thought the greatest test of all would be to see how others viewed them. With this in mind I wore them all on different days to see what sort of comments (if any) they elicited. In all cases I didn’t use a primer and on top of the foundation I used a little under-eye highlighter and a stick concealer. I set the whole lot with the same loose powder and for touch-ups I used the same compact. Here are the results:
The first one I tried was this long wear formulation with an SPF 10 from Smashbox in shade 1.2. I was due to see a lot of friends that evening so I figured this would be a good test for the product. I applied it at around 1pm and it went on easily enough and gave good coverage, although it did seem a little heavy compared to some of the formulations I’ve tried, and it also seemed to be darker when applied than it looks in the bottle (this is why you should always test before you buy). I checked on it a couple of times during the afternoon and it seemed to be holding up well. I did a minor touch-up using pressed powder and a bit of concealer at about 6pm but I would expect this of any foundation. At around 7pm I actually bumped into a friend of mine who is a make-up artist and one of the first things she said to me was that my foundation looked great with really even coverage, which I thought was s good compliment for the brand. Arriving at my destination I received many compliments from people who thought my skin looked great and as the night was winding down at around 1am it was still holding up, although I had performed another couple of minor touch-ups. I arrived home at around 3am and it was still intact and it actually took some serious cleansing to remove it. I didn’t quite wear it for the 15 hours but I’m pretty sure it would have gone the distance.
Verdict: This is definitely long lasting but a bit thick for my liking. It didn’t require excessive touch-ups and it made my skin look evenly toned and smooth. It does take a bit of effort to remove though, which is the last thing you want after a long day. Worth checking out if you have a day long event such as a wedding coming up, but a bit much for everyday use. 6/10
The second offering that I tested was this formulation with an SPF30 in Creamy Beige. Given that the 15 hour formulation had worked so well, this had a lot to live up to. I again applied this at about 1pm and it felt much lighter on my skin than the Smashbox product and went on evenly and without fuss. Immediately after application it looked fabulous and my skin looked smooth and flawless. I had a lot of appointments in the afternoon so plenty of people would have the chance to give their opinions on how my skin looked. The first person I met also writes about beauty products and they actually asked me what I was wearing because they thought it looked really well. However three or four hours into the afternoon the coverage didn’t look nearly as smooth and was rather patchy and I had to do quite an epic touch-up. No one really commented either way on my skin and while it remained comfortable, by about 9pm the coverage seemed to have worn very thin. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary and it wasn’t an especially humid day so I was quite surprised by this. I actually had to reapply it over what I was already wearing at about 10pm as at that stage it looked like I wasn’t wearing anything at all. This contains moisturising ingredients and promises to minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and while my skin certainly felt hydrated it definitely didn’t have the smoothness you expect when you’re wearing foundation. When I arrived home at about 1.30am it had almost disappeared, as testified by the minimal residue on the wipes I used to cleanse my face.
Verdict: This is fine for a few hours but doesn’t live up to the 16 hour promise. It feels lovely on the skin and for a couple of hours after application skin looks plump and radiant but this is temporary and it soon becomes patchy. This is a good price point and fine if you only need to look “done” for a few hours. 3/10
Touche Éclat is probably one of the greatest cosmetic success stories ever. There are very few women who regularly use make-up who haven’t at least dabbled, if not completely fallen in love, with the magic pen that manages to conceal even the most tired looking under-eyes. It’s no wonder then that, 20 years after its launch, YSL decided to release a foundation that harnesses the same technology. I tried this in shade B60 (there are 22 shades), which I had colour matched by the lovely ladies at a YSL counter. I was actually quite surprised by how dark it looked in the bottle but upon application the colour was so close to my own skin tone that it actually didn’t look like I was wearing anything at all. This doesn’t have an SPF and I didn’t apply any on the day I tried this out as it would have detracted from the experiment, since I was testing all the products under the same conditions. However if I had to put an SPF on with this it would definitely affect the texture. This is incredibly light – definitely the lightest of the three formulations – and your skin really feels like it can breathe while wearing it. The initial effect was so good that even I had a bit of a “wow” moment. I applied this at about 2pm and went to meet a friend for a coffee. This was the same friend I’d met when I was wearing the Smashbox foundation and she was very impressed by how sheer and smooth this was and felt the coverage was good. We were together most of the day and met other friends who equally commented that my skin looked really good. By about 7pm, while it was still in place, it definitely wasn’t as “radiant” as it had been and there were a couple of patchy areas that demanded retouching. From then on, every time I checked, the effect was definitely lessening. I got home about midnight and while I was obviously still wearing something, there were a couple of patchy areas and if it hadn’t been for the fact that they colour matched my skin so well, these patches definitely would have been noticeable.
Verdict: This is a fantastically sheer formulation that really lets your skin breathe and looks great upon the initial application. The fact that it doesn’t have an SPF is worrying and you will get, at most, five hours out of it before you’ll have to do some serious touching up. This is light enough for the summer and for humid weather but would also see you through autumn and winter when skin is exposed to drying central heating as it leaves the skin feeling plump and moist. Expect to reapply at least once on long days but all in all a lovely product. 7/10
Main image credit: Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Éclat Foundation