Base Makeup

Foundations, Primers, Concealers + Powders I Love

March 8, 2010

I wanted to thank everyone who filled out my survey! I received quite a few special requests for certain topics, I’ll be covering the ones that received more frequent requests every once in a while. The first requested topic I’d like to cover includes foundations, powders, concealers and primers that I personally like.

I wrote about all the foundations I’ve been matched to and have purchased HERE. To clarify, these are the shades I’ve been matched to in both summer and winter months. I don’t use all 13 foundations right now, the darker colors were swatched from nearly-empty bottles that I had neglected to toss. And, yes, my skin is very odd in that so many different colors match my skintone.

My Skintype: I have normal but sensitive skin. I react to most sunscreens. I cannot use any MAC foundation, Kiehls lotions, Trish McEvoy skincare, Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation because my skin reacts horribly to all of these. I have not tried every single foundation or brand out there, but the ones listed below are the ones I have tried, liked or repurchased. At this stage in my life (28), I don’t have wrinkles, large pores, or much sun damage.

My Skin Coloring: I’m Asian and have yellow/olive undertones. I tend to tan easily – but often times I find I am in between shades for a lot of lines which makes it a challenge to find the right match, but being the foundation junkie I am, have been able to find quite a few that work with my skin-type and skin-tone. Right now, for MAC reference, I’m in-between NC30 and NC35.

How Do I Find My Matches for Color and Formula? I usually rely on the expertise of the makeup artists and sales associates I shop with. Anytime a new foundation comes out, I test them at the counter. I always request them to try on 2-3 shades along my jawline so we can both see the range, how they blend in etc. There are times when I will just match myself. If the artist isn’t busy, I’ll ask her to apply it all over so I can see the full effect and finish. If I’m ever unsure, I usually ask for a sample – I find it easier to get one when you make a purchase, even if it’s a small one.

Current Foundations in Rotation: I typically go for sheer to medium coverage. I don’t like SPF because there are some sunscreens that I get a reaction to. I also don’t like the way they photograph, but these days it’s almost impossible to find a foundation that doesn’t have some SPF in it.

  • Chanel Teint Innocence Shell 30 Liquid ($47) & Beige 40 Compact ($56) – Sheer to Medium Coverage and photographs great. Long-lasting coverage with a slightly dewey finish. There is a very subtle iridescence in the liquid version but it’s not noticeable on the skin. The texture prevents it from looking flat on your face. I also find the compact shades run a bit lighter than the liquid. These 2 are my Holy Grails of all time. (Repurchases = too many to count, but at least 4 of each)
  • NARS Oil Free in Punjab ($42) – I love the finish and color of this foundation. Right now, it’s just a tad dark. I’ve been matched to Santa Fe since I bought Punjab, so I simply mix a lighter highlighter with Punjab. It looks oddly peachy in the tube and swatched on the hand. It can oxidize and darken on the skin if you’re oily. I’ve heard that it makes some people break out, but I haven’t had any problems. I don’t think it’s for everyone so definitely get a sample to try out first. (Repurchases = 0, I have yet to hit the halfway point on this one.)
  • Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer in Natural Radiance ($42) – This is a nice sheer tinted moisturizer with a visible glow. Not recommended for oily skins. I like to use this and set with a powder foundation on the good-skin days. (Repurchases = 3 times to date)
  • Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk 5.5 and 6.5 (mixed because I’m in between shades) – if you tried the Luminous Silk, loved the finish, but thought the formula was too heavy/oily, Lasting Silk is the solution to giving you the same coverage and finish, but with a more matte finish.

Current Powders in Rotation:

  • Chanel Double Perfection Powder in Tender Bisque ($50) – My Holy Grail powder foundation. Good natural coverage, long-lasting, easy to apply and great for touch-ups. I also use Medium Beige when I’m darker. (Repurchases = too many to count, probably over 10 times)
  • NARS Powder Foundation in Fiji ($45) – This is the newest powder foundation I’ve tried. I was a bit confused about whether this was just a pressed powder or a true powder-foundation. It seems a bit too sheer to be a powder-foundation. I like to use this to set my foundation for a flawless finish. Using this alone over moisturizer gave me a chalky look.
  • Laura Mercier Translucent Loose ($34) – I like using this with a brush or puff. I love the colored powders, but unfortunately, I can only use Beige in the summer months and Ivory is way too pale.
  • Giorgio Armani Microfil 2 ($49) – Soft and sheer with a subtle glow. However, the shades in this product line are extremely limited. No. 2 is the darkest shade they currently carry. I don’t know what I’m going to use from Armani when I get tan.
  • Stila Illuminating Powder Foundation 40 ($28 for refill, $14 for compact) – One of those oldies-but-goodies products. I’ve been using this ever since I was in high school in the late 90’s. I find it’s best when you use this to set liquid foundation for a flawless glow. (Repurchases = 4)

Current Primers:

I have no loyalty to one specific primer. I use something different everyday. I know it’s probably a big no-no, but often times I skip moisturizer and just use a primer. I alternate between the following:

  • MAC Strobe Cream (mini size from a travel kit) – I’ve repurchased this numerous times. I apply it all over the face under foundation for a subtle glow. It also works when applied over foundation/powder on temples to add a very subtle highlight.
  • Chanel UV Essential ($52) – I actually love all 3 Chanel Primers. This is my most recent love. Looks white but blends out clear on the skin. It has SPF 50 and supposed to protect your skin from environmental pollutants. The only downside is the steep price for the amount of product you get. I like this, but I’m not sure that I love it enough to justify purchasing again.
  • MAC Prep + Prime Skin Without SPF ($25) – This is a silicone-based primer with subtle pearl particles to smooth and even the skin. I like this because it helps my foundation last and look smooth.
  • NARS Primer ($33, regular version) – This one contains no silicone, oil, or synthetic fragrances. I find this works the best with NARS foundations. The formula has a gel-like texture.

Current Concealers:

Concealer is a product I neglect to apply on a regular basis. For many years, I avoided concealer because I couldn’t find one that didn’t emphasize my lines under the eyes. Most were too thick making me look aged. I typically only use concealer under the eye and around the nose. I’ve yet to find a concealer that works for blemishes. I find most of them emphasize blemishes rather than conceal them. A few that I like include (do note that I’ve never repurchased a concealer to date):

  • Le Metier de Beaute Eye Brightener in Revive ($36) – I call this my wonder eye product. I apply this after I’ve put on my foundation and powder under the eyes and it evens skin tone in a full coverage powder without looking cakey or emphasizing lines. The only downside is that it comes in 2 shades. When I bought Revive it was a perfect match. I’ve since gotten a bit lighter and it’s too dark for me now, so I will have to save it for the summer months.
  • Laura Mercier Undercover Pot UC-3 ($34) – I like that this has both the Secret Camouflage and Secret Concealer with a mini translucent powder on the bottom which makes it convenient for travel. It’s sturdy enough to throw in your purse. The fact that it has 2 shades and 2 different textures makes it nice to blend and mix according to whatever you want.
  • Chanel Correcteur Perfection (Long Lasting Concealer) in Beige Ivoire 20 ($40) – Pricey, but works wonders for under the eyes and around the nose. It has medium coverage that’s natural enough to blend in with the skin, but enough coverage to brighten the face.

If I had to pick just 1 brand to use powder, foundation, concealer and primer, it would hands down have to be Chanel. They have a wide variety of formulas for different skin types, ranging from sheer to full coverage. Their face products photograph really well and don’t give you that whitish cast that some foundations give with high-flash photography.

Please note that these are simply the products that I like best out of ones I’ve tried. I haven’t tried everything. I can’t guarantee that you’ll like any of these that I’ve listed.

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  • SS

    Great post! I love Shu Uemura's Architect Foundation and Cover FX. Have you found the Chanel UV 50 prevents you from getting tanned?

  • Thanks for mentioning that the Chanel Teint Innocence compact runs lighter than the liquid. I have the compact and I feel like it's a bit on the light side. I'll try the liquid next time. Yes, I am officially in love with Chanel foundation – just not the price tag. Do you recommend the powder foundation? I need med-heavy coverage to even out the acne scars on my face. Maybe I should stick to the liquid then.

    Aw…I love that Stila powder foundation – I still have the compact. one day I'll repurchase the refill. Hopefully when my skin miraculously becomes clear again!

  • Lexi – the Chanel DPF is my ULTIMATE HG powder foundation. Check out Medium Beige. I wear that one in the summer.

    SS – I just got the Chanel UV a week ago. It's been eons since I've been in the sun and it's been cloudy here for the past week. So I can't really tell if it will prevent me from getting tan or not. The SAs told me it's more of a protective base. I'll have to report back later – it may be a few months though, lol before I can tell.

  • well I suppose this means I should pull out that chanel concealor which i've owned for almost a month now and actually use it πŸ˜›

  • Thanks girl – I actually hit the pan of my Chanel foundation compact. I will check this out in person. I'm just concerned with the coverage – looks like I'll have to purchase a coordinating concealer!

  • Thanks for posting this series! I too am sensitive to sunscreens in foundations. I'll have to check out the chanel one to see if that one reacts me. Have you posted about your skin care regimen before?

  • I just bought a backup of Chanel UV Essentiel! I was using Neutrogena healthy defense for years, and suddenly switched to Chanel…and my skin balanced out so significantly! No breakouts since I made the switch (which I made in August), not even hormonal stuff! Love it!

  • Beehappy

    Hi there! I just want you to know that your blog is AMAZING! You are very classy and your style is flawless. There are so many miserable people out there who will say or do anything to make others feel the same way they do:( don't let their negative aura stop you from doing what you're great at! Keep up the great work and good luck to you:)

    I also had a few questions:
    have you ever used the Chanel double perfection to set the teint inn liquid? If so is it too heavy?
    Do you use anything over the Chanel compact? If so what product?
    Is the Chanel uv fluid somewhat drying?

    Thanks for your time and input!

  • phiphi

    Thank you for reviewing & sharing, wonderful as ever.
    I never tried Chanel tient innocence liquid in person but read many raves before.
    May I suggest Kanebo's "Impress" cream foundation? (available in cream, liquid & compact)
    My cousin used this foundation on her wedding day, absolutely gorgeous! last all day & even better on photographs.
    Have you ever tried Sisley phyto teint-eclat? this got many raves, as far as I know, too.

  • I have wanted to try the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, but have combo, oily skin. I may try her oil free one. Nice post.

  • i love loev love Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer! It's a surprise discovery for me and i am hooked since.

    girl, that's a lot of products that you love! LOL

    nice post!

  • RmC

    As someone with the same skintone as you (NC30 – 35, depending on the season), this post has been extremely helpful to me — thank you, thank you, thank you! I have blown so much money on foundations over the years, and your evaluations really help. Your color combo / swatches are also a great resource (I love nudes and taupes too).

    As someone who's been visiting your blog for a few months now, I just want to say that it's a great resource for people who are just learning, or wanting to learn more, about beauty. The way you put a "look" together – when you show us the materials you use to create one all together, in one shot – this is something no other beauty blog does, and it's really unique. Keep blogging! I read alot of beauty blogs, and yours is one of the best ones out there.
    – Rachel

  • Thanks for sharing! I always love seeing what base makeup other people use, since I used to be a base makeup addict. :p

    I loved Chanel Teint Innocent (liquid) too, but then I noticed that the lightest shade was still a bit too dark for me, which would make me look not as fresh and porcelain-like. So yeah, as much as I love Chanel's base makeup, I can't use any of them due to color mismatch.

    I just bough a new foundation today, which is the newly released MAC Mineralize SPF 15 (cream) foundation, which I haven't used yet. Will post about it on my blog soon! πŸ˜‰

  • AcademicGirl

    The Le Metier de Beaute Eye Brightener is intriguing. Do you find it covers under eye circles or just "brightens" like the Laura Mercier Secret Powder?

  • Have you ever tried ClΓ© de Peau BeautΓ©'s Concealer?
    It has a heavy price tag, but for me was almost worth every penny, and I only say almost because I just don't think there is any reason for a concealer to be that much money, but alas, I did find myself repurchasing when my tube finally ran out. haha.

  • great post. i completely agree *hands down* if i had to chose only one foundation – it would be Chanel's Teinte Innocence – great coverage and feels light. I'm not sure 'why' Chanel gets such a bad review from most beauty bloggers… it must be the price which deters beauty bloggers – but it really is worth it =)
    Love you blog. I could read it for hours and hours xo

  • Anonymous

    I have to completely agree with you and what faye said! Chanel is amazing! I really don't understand why so many people don't like Chanel foundations.. Lovely blog! πŸ™‚