We've trucked through my cheek products and lipstick stash, so it's on to the foundations and concealers! While I've tried close to a hundred different bases (no exaggeration), these are the products that have stayed in my collection for an entire year or that will definitely see continued use throughout 2014.
Bear in mind that:
- I am a MAC N5 at my lightest, N15 at my darkest, and my undertones are neutral/cool yellow. This means you're going to see a lot of paler products.
- I've done reviews for several of these products (so use dem tags!), as well as breakdowns on how to use the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer and MAC Face & Body.
- I usually prefer a lighter coverage product. Some of these can be worked up to a higher coverage, and I've tested full-coverage foundations in the past, but you won't find much of that in my regular collection.
- I have combination-dry skin, meaning most of these are not going to be known for their oil control properties.
- The only reason my collection lacks drugstore products is because most DS brands do not make super-pale, neutral shades that work for my skin type.
And now the products!
Paula's Choice Barely There Sheer Matte Tint SPF30 in Level 1 (Fair/Light) -- Works for N10-15 skin, neutral beige undertone. This is exactly what the bottle says: a sheer-coverage foundation that stays matte, but not chalky, and provides some sun protection. The formula is incredibly smooth and creamy; despite having a matte finish, it never dries me out, and I can wear it comfortably in the winter (albeit sans powder). I recommend this product to anybody looking for a tinted moisturizer that will give you some coverage and won't turn you in to a giant greaseball.
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly -- Works for N10-15 skin, cool yellow undertone. This is one of the palest and most cool-yellow concealers I've ever seen, which is what initially drew me to it. At first I thought this product was far too yellow for me, but it always photographed beautifully. I quickly realized I was smearing way too much on my undereyes; now, I wipe off the doe foot applicator, apply the tiniest dot, and blend it out with my fingers. I don't find that this product is particularly "radiant"--it sets to a satin-matte finish on my normal undereyes--but it also doesn't dry my skin out, which is a bonus. Definitely a great slap-it-on-and-go kind of concealer.
MAC Face & Body, 2 parts White to 1 part N1 -- Works for N5-10 skin, pink undertone; when I darken up, I use a 50/50 mix. Everybody and their mother knows that, despite the strong pink undertones, this is my absolute favorite foundation. It evens out my skintone, but never looks like makeup. I've actually brushed 5-6 layers of this stuff on somebody's face, and it still looked like real skin, and she said it felt weightless. I keep waffling on trying C2 for a more yellow undertone, since it appears to be quite a golden yellow...we'll see what the new year brings.
Tarte BB Tinted Treatment Primer in Fair SPF30 -- Works for N5-10 skin, cool yellow undertone. I absolutely hate the name of this damn thing because...well, ok, partially because I always mix the words up, but also because I think it's a bit misleading. Yes, you can use this product as a primer, and yes, it's definitely a tinted BB cream-esque product. But you can also use it as a base in and of itself. The coverage is quite sheer, so you'll need concealer for your undereyes or acne, but it otherwise does a good job of evening everything out. Fair warning: the texture is very silicone-y, which can be disconcerting for some.
MAC Pressed Blot Powder in Light -- Translucent and therefore usable on a wide range of skintones; I've seen it used from N10 to N20 skin. This is not the queen of blot powders--I know for a fact that there are products with better oil control properties, more natural ingredients, etc--but it works great for my skintype. Why? Because I can use it on my oil slick of a nose to matte everything up without it getting cakey, and I can dust it over the dryer parts of my face with no adverse effects. It's pressed (I can't handle loose powders), the packaging is sleek and convenient, and it's affordable, especially if you have a pro-card. I use this powder exclusively for touch-ups and oil blotting, as it doesn't really provide coverage or correction. Tip: if you need a new powder puff, just buy some of the CoverGirl ones; they fit perfectly in to this compact.
Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in Sx01 and Sx02 -- Sx01 works for N5-10 skin with a cool yellow undertone; Sx02 works for N10-15 skin with a neutral-pink undertone. I tend to use Sx01 for my face and Sx02 for my undereyes. These are the most densely pigmented base products I've ever used; as you can probably tell, I only have small samples in my collection because I swapped away the full jar. I was never going to use the whole thing, you need so little! These are my go-tos for long trips, since they can be mixed down to make a tinted moisturizer, used as a concealer, or carefully applied for fuller coverage.
Clinique Airbrush Concealer in Fair -- Works for NW10-20 skin, pink undertone. Hyped up by Lisa Eldridge and several YouTube stars, this concealer isn't my favorite because of how sheer it is. I mostly use it as an undereye corrector for other concealers, or as a "if it fell out of my makeup bag I wouldn't be completely devastated" kind of product. That's not to say that it's BAD, it's just that there are other products I greatly prefer. Still, it's a good makeup bag staple because of how quick and easy it is to apply, and because it's nigh on impossible to overdo it.
Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Finish Powder Foundation -- Works for N5-10 skin, cool yellow undertone. This is the only powder foundation that's ever worked on my dry skin, and I have to admit that I love everything about it except for the price. Touted as a medium-to-full coverage matte product, I find it to be more of a light-to-medium-coverage satin finish powder, depending on how it's applied. I mostly use this as a setting powder over my foundation; it provides a little extra coverage and makes me look flawless, but not "made up."