Not just make-up, savvy formulas have skin-boosting benefits, too. Flawless, longwear, smoothing — these are all the qualities you want from a foundation, but it shouldn’t just be about the finish. You’re wearing it all day, so why not get it to work for your skin, not just on your skin?
Smart new formulas fuse skin care with make-up, to leave you with a better-looking complexion all day long. It’s all there in the name — it’s literally the foundation to your entire look, so make sure you get it right. We asked two make-up artists to share their top tips on what you need to consider next time you’re trawling the beauty aisles.
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Update your formulation
Still wearing the same foundation you did 10 years ago? It’s time for a new one. Your skin isn’t the same as it was back then and requires different coverage and consistency.
“The best way to tell when it’s time to change your formula is when your foundation no longer blends seamlessly into your skin and doesn’t minimise the appearance of fine lines, but instead highlights them and makes them appear deeper and more defined,” explains make-up artist Sabrina Melei.
Start with an oil
“An oil-based foundation is the most universally compatible formula,” Melei says. “For dry skin it gives hydration and glow, as well as nourishing oily skin. If you’re on the oilier side, just set lightly with a powder to make it long-lasting and mattifying.”
Hit up hydration
The key to better-looking skin is hydration. “Your skin needs so much more hydration upwards of your mid-30s,” says make-up artist Hayley Dutton. “The more your skin glows, the younger and healthier you look. Choose formulas that include hydrating and anti-ageing ingredients such as vitamins E and C, and other anti-agers such as collagen and peptides. All of these ingredients nourish your skin, giving you the best chance of achieving a glow.”
In your 50s or over? Pick a formula with keywords like ‘luminous’, ‘radiant’ or ‘dewy’ on the label in a light to medium coverage. “Stay well away from powders — these can actually make your skin look older by accentuating lines and dulling down your skin,” says Melei. If you prefer powders, strategically place them on oily areas like your T-zone, or under your eyes.
Conceal and correct
Finish off your base with concealer under your eyes and over any spots. “Under your eyes is definitely an area that needs more attention as you age, so a luminous and highlighting concealer infused with peptides and vitamins is best,” explains Dutton.
“I also like to add concealer on other areas around the face that are starting to sag, such as by the nose outwards and down towards the outer corner of the lips and areas around the chin for a mini face freshener.”
Your questions answered
There’s much more to achieving the right look than buy and apply. Here, Melei and Dutton answer your questions about how you can get the most out of your foundation.
Do I really need a primer?
“Yes! Especially when it comes to more mature skin,” says Melei. “It’s an invisible veil and the key ingredient in filling in fine lines and smoothing over any imperfections. Primer will even out your skin imperfections, protect your pores from pollution and ensure a longer-lasting finish as it blocks the natural oil secretions from your pores.” Dutton agrees.
“Primers are the key to creating the perfect base and the part of your routine where you can address any skin issues before applying make-up so you have the absolute best base to work with,” she says. “If you find you have dry skin, opt for a luminous, hydrating primer. If you have oily skin and feel quite shiny throughout the day, go for a mattifying primer.”
What’s the best way to apply?
Melei recommends using a slightly damp foundation brush with a spritz of setting spray or facial mist. “Using a brush is also the most sustainable and hygienic method,” she says. “I love using a dabbing motion and bouncing the brush off your skin. This will give you the most coverage while also using the least amount of product.’’
How do I find my perfect shade?
If you can’t test on your face in-store, your next best bet is to test on your jawline or décolletage. “It’s the closest comparison to the face and where most people’s peripheral vision is, plus the sun tends to hit it naturally,” explains Dutton. The tendency is to match it to your chin or side of your face, but Dutton warns that because the skin there is much fairer, you may end up with a shade much lighter than your neck and décolletage, and an uneven colour.
“I suggest starting with the shade you think matches your skin, plus a lighter one and a darker one, applying a small amount of each shade to your décolletage side by side and looking for the shade that blends into your skin best. If you almost can’t see it, that’s the winning shade!” To figure out your undertone, Melei suggests looking at your veins: “If they’re blue or purple, you’re a cooler tone; if they’re green, you’re a warmer tone.” Try these…
1 The hydrator
The Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt’r Hydrating Longwear Foundation ($52, at Sephora) is formulated with grape-seed oil, a natural anti-inflammatory ideal for acne and sensitive skin. It also contains sodium hyaluronate, a more stable salt form of hydration hero hyaluronic acid, for moisture.
2 The brightener
Enriched with coconut water and probiotics, the Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer ($49, at Mecca), is a nourishing primer not only extends the wear of your foundation, but also works to smooth and brighten your skin by creating the perfect base under make-up.
3 The mattifier
The Revlon Colorstay Life-Proof Foundation Stick ($12.47, at Chemist Warehouse) sweat-proof stick is ideal for oily skin or those whose make-up usually wears off by lunch. The stick makes it a cinch to apply and its highly pigmented coverage is super versatile — for either a lightweight or heavier matte finish.
4 The anti-ager
The Clarins Everlasting Youth Fluid ($65, at Clarins) formula has been developed just like skin care. Its anti-pollution complex gets to work on wrinkles and dark spots, while chicory extract wakes up collagen, and the blend of konjac micropearls and argan oil plumps and smooths.
5 The soother
A cult favourite for a reason, the Cover FX Water Cloud Primer ($59, at Sephora) is a foundation-boosting base has a unique gel-mousse formula infused with calendula water to soothe inflammation and increase moisture. Ideal for red or rosacea-prone skin.
6 The pore minimiser
Acting like a mask, the blur technology in Beauty Blender The Leveler Pore Minimizing Face Primer ($48, at Sephora) uses a combination of niacinamide and high-performance silicone to glide over skin like a barrier. Humidity-proof and reflective, it extends the life of your make-up and enhances the texture of your skin.
7 The glowmaker
Infused with skin-brightening mica pearls to enhance luminosity, the Rimmel Lasting Radiance Foundation ($22.95, Priceline) also doubles as a shield against pollution.
8 The smoother
The new liquid-to-powder formula in the Kat Von D True Portrait Foundation ($52, at Sephora) contains a combination of spherical powders with an elastic core to ensure it never settles into fine lines or wrinkles, but rather smooths over them for a foundation that moves fluidly with your skin and flexes with your expressions.