A Pale Girl’s Misadventures in Foundation

Every beauty junkie has their vices. Mine is foundation. I am all about the base (base base the buttery biscuit base) and have yet to find my ONE TRUE FOUNDATION (otf.) There have been some close contenders. When I was young I pretty much lived and breathed for MAC NC15 while a couple of years ago I was near ready to run off and marry Estee Lauder Double Wear in Shell. Both were great foundations – but not flawless (making me look jaundiced and stripping my skin) and I realised I’ve tried a shit ton of foundation over the year’s so thought it may be worth sharing them with you.

I am first of all a pale girl. Like – a stone’s throw away from chalk white. I’m still on the search for a foundation pale enough for me that doesn’t cost ALL the money and has a formula and finish I like. My skin is pale pale (I suppose let’s go with very fair) and I’m a bit of a combo girl. My forehead likes a wee bit of shine and my cheeks like a bit more nourishment as they can feel tight. When I do break out it is nearly always round about my chin and if I don’t wear some colour people tend to just assume I’m ill. Foundation wise my experiences with finding a shade right for me has been…trying. Either I’m offered foundations that aren’t even close to the right colour for me (counter girl that is making me two shades darker, no) or jaundiced – as in, you would be pretty convinced my liver is ready to pack up in leave. So for you dear reader – an (abridged) history of my foundation.

Maybelline: Dream Matte Mousse in Porcelain Ivory

This guy was my first true love foundation. I discovered it quite my accident but it very quickly became the standard for me and my friends. We were a bunch of 16 year olds who wore way too much eyeliner and with looking back – skin that wasn’t actually that terrible. However this guy had a gorgeous light-weight formula and pretty much blanked out all our features earning it the nickname “Sex on the face” (we were 16…..and it was the very early noughties, I get a free pass right?)  Good matte finish and full coverage. Maybe too full (I sound like a blasphemer but yeah.) I didn’t find it lasted super long and would often have to reapply, which to be fair was super easy.
I did revisit it later and found that it dried out quite quickly and I found it a little bit cakey. Colour wise it wasn’t terrible but as a foundation it’s shade collection is still fairly limited.  A fairly limited run of colours and in retrospect still not a great colour match for me – however as high street foundations go it’s not bad.

MAC Studio Fix NC15

Bring me someone who enjoys a matte finish and hasn’t used studio fix and I will show you a straight up liar. This was my first “real” foundation that wasn’t from the high street and oh how I loved it. Mac was my everythang gurl. I was blinded by brand loyalty for a very long time and bought all the things and it was all down to this guy. However after a time I began to realise this guy made me a little bit – yellow. Definitely yellow. The thing is the formula is pretty good, the finish is good but the colour – not so much. 

Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid

Is it possible just to feel mild indifference to a foundation? I’ve never really felt passionately either way about this guy. It offers a medium to full coverage and the finish is perhaps a bit too satiny for me. The formula isn’t terrible and neither is the packaging (it’s pretty standard to be honest.) I guess the worst I can say about this foundation is that I found it unremarkable – distinctly average. Also 8 shades? Seriously – how you meant to get a colour match for anyone with that?

Stila Illuminating Powder in 10 Watts

This guy had me nearly converting to powder. I discovered this guy in Watt Bros for something ridic like £2 and it came in the perfect pale pale shade imaginable. My skin was having a brief romance period with me so I didn’t need anything too heavy This guy provided a light to medium coverage, felt great on the skin and lasted forever. I bought pretty much all of what the store had going, and the rest. Now Stila is back in operation fo realsies now I’m yet to dip my toe back in to the Stila pressed powder pool (at £18 it’s going to be pretty deep) but if the formula and finish is anything like my bargain basement foundation of dreams I may have to revisit. It kept my big shiny forehead at bay and was an excellent colour match. Still – I was not ready to go powder. I suspect if my skin becomes any less temperamental this could be a shout.

Calvin Klein Long Wear Pressed Powder in 106 Light

Another Watt Brothers number setting be back what, a whole £2? Good cover, good finish but could definitely feel it on my skin. It wasn’t quite the magic powder of dreams that I experienced with Stila, but I was shocked by how much coverage I got from this (medium) and the good colour match I managed to find. With Calvin Klein back making make-up I’d be interested in trying some of their other foundations as this was a pretty solid shout, if a bit cakey at times, but that may have been down more to my heavy hand than anything else. Also did I mention it was £2?

Make up Academy Pressed Powder in 1

Perhaps the single worst foundation I have ever used. The coverage is pretty decent but it felt heavy on my skin and oh the break outs, the horrible horrible break outs. This guy pretty much killed my brief love affair with powder foundation. Only £1 but still just a WORLD OF NO.

Estee Lauder Maximum Cover in Light

I remember it clear as day. I walked up to the Estee Lauder counter and asked for the fullest coverage they had. I pretty much wanted to look like I had no face. The lady on counter looked at me reluctantly but my skin had been having a shit time of it as of late and my rational response was to make it disappear completely. And they she showed me maximum cover. “Used mostly for people recovering from surgery” she told me as she demonstrated it on my tattoo. Boom. Gone. RING ME UP GURL. And for so long I used this as the way to give me no face. I came in like 3 shades and even Light was a touch (just) too dark for me, but the real problem with this is the formula. This guy suffocates the skin. It is like wearing a mask. And oh how it dried. Don’t get me wrong, this guy is great to have in your make-up bag for bad days and works a treat as a good concealer. They offer a few more shades now (6) which is I suppose, baby steps so may be able to get a closer match. Every day foundation though, give that a miss.

Estee Lauder Double Wear in Shell

Was there anyone who did not use double wear? I swear there was a moment in the blogosphere where this was the go to product. We all fell for it and with good reason. Great colour, great coverage – if a little heavy. This was great for a very full coverage but without the mask unnatural effect of max cover. That said, this hardly gave you a natural finish either. For a long time I found it hard to fault this guy other than it was a bit heavy and soon came to realise how drying it was. In winter my skin becomes near reptilian and feels it is about to fall off at any given moment. If I was still rocking double wear I would have a certain – scalish quality. I still think this is one of the stronger foundations I’ve used for cover and colour but the actual formula just is a bit too drying for my skin for day wear. Perhaps a good one for a night out. 

Laura Mercier Silk Creme in Soft Ivory

THIS GUY. This guy right here is right up there as my current foundation of all time and it truly is a wonder why I ever use anything else. I sliced open the tube of this guy to get to more of it’s creamy deliciousness. The colour is perhaps my favourite and closest to my own skin tone and the actual formula is lovely and moisturising. Lasts for ages, applies easily and very creamy. It’s one of the foundations that gives me a great coverage (medium to full) and while keeping a very fresh and natural look. I remember being a bit unsure about this at first because before I was def part of the camp of MATTE TILL I DIE. The colour selection for this foundation is pretty limited (10 shades, what the what) but I’ve found soft ivory is a very very close match to my own skin. I’m coming back for you soon Laura Mercier, I promise I’ll never stray again. Comes in a nice wee tube which packaging wise is pretty unremarkable but perfect for shoving in to the bottom of your bag. The closest I’ve ever come to my OTF.

Shu Uemura Face Architect in 284

Moving away from solely matte finishes, this guy offers a gorgeous natural looking satin finish. The colour for this guy is great and I LOVE the formula –  but this foundation is best if your skin is for the most part – pretty decent. I like that I could build up the coverage with this guy and it never felt too cakey, however if broke out wasn’t the best guy for hiding it. It has a lovely radiant finish and worth checking out if looking for something lighter with a more natural finish. I did have to crack out the powder to set this one though and avoid my dreaded shiny forehead. Nice clean minimal packaging, but nothing too exciting.

YSL Touch Eclat in B10

Furthering my exploration in to more satin finishes. I’ve def moved away from wanting a straight up matte coverage to something that looks a bit more natural and healthy. This guy offers a medium coverage and is very rich and moisturising – and of all my foundations is the one that made me look the most glowy. In the bottle it looks a lot darker but on the skin swatches a beautiful creamy ivory. It feels quite lightweight on the skin, covering most of my skins big bads (not all of them though) without feeling like I’m wearing a mask. It comes in 22 shades so should cover a broad selection of bases. It’s a great winter foundation but maybe a little bit too satin in it’s finish for me. I’m yearning to go back to something a little bit more matte – but for what this is it’s a great foundation. Packaging is nice and sleek although perhaps a little bulky.

Illamasqua Cream Foundation in 115

Perhaps the greatest selection of shades across the board from the brands I’ve tried. When they say their foundations are pale they mean PALE. I didn’t even go for the lightest shade (which is just straight up white) instead opting 115 which describes itself as “for the very fair with neutral undertones.” If you have a near porcelain skin tone 115 is pretty much made for your skin. This one applies almost a little too cool for me but with a bit of wear settles down in to a more natural look. The formula is nice and creamy though will stick to your dry bits (boo.) I found application with my brush a pain and it went on a bit streaky but blended well with my fingers. Offers a nice medium coverage but not fabulous for build up. It is a gorgeous foundation and the packaging is to die for and HOLLA £10 in the sale, so I kind of had to try it. For the price I paid it’s a nice wee foundation for the bag but sweet jesus, what the feck am I meant to do with that tiny sponge? Bit redundant no? Great shade selection and worth checking out although you don’t get a lot in the pan.

So yeah – I’ve pretty much got around with my foundations and Laura Mercier Silk Creme is still my favourite. I’m dying to try Bobbi Brown and I’m curious (although very sceptical) about Dainty Doll. GOSH apparently have a good selection of pale pale shades for a cruelty free high street alternative so I am sure my search for the perfect foundation is far from over. Do you have any faves?


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