No masks please--just a little makeup!
January 16, 2011 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Please help a non-makeup-lady find some makeup!

I don't like to wear a lot of makeup because I don't like the feel of a heavy coating on my skin, but I would like to wear a sheer foundation to even out my 40+ year old complexion. I'm looking for something that feels light and natural with sheer coverage and that doesn't make me feel like I'm wearing a mask. I'm willing to spend money on a product that may be a little pricey if I love it. Any suggestions or tips? What has worked for you?
posted by bookmammal to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (32 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Mineral powder! You can build up as much or as little coverage as you like, and it looks really natural while making your skin look great. It doesn't clog your pores, provides some sun protection, the minerals are actually good for your skin (my skin has always been a bit acne prone as an adult and this has cleared it right up), even if you forget to take it off at the end of the night.

I hated foundation - but this stuff is a revelation. Loads of brands do it now - find one that suits you and matches your skin tone.
posted by finding.perdita at 2:38 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

mineral powder can be good - but sometimes, especially with older skin - it can settle into lines, making them look more pronounced.

an option that doesn't do this is All in One Face Base powder sold at The Body Shop. i HATE foundation, but this stuff you can also layer, has coverage, and is very very light, even when you layer it. you can also wet it a bit to use as a concealer for any darker spots. it's the only thing i use.
posted by assasinatdbeauty at 2:49 PM on January 16, 2011

Best answer: For a sheer effect, I mix a dab of my Revlon foundation with an equal amount of moisturizer or sunscreen and then apply. I only wear foundation on special occasions, but I've found that if it's mixed with something else it evens out skintone without giving me that mask-like feeling.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:50 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mineral powder works beautifully on some but not for me. I use a tinted moisturizer (currently Benefit's You Rebel Lite though I have also liked Clinique's tinted moisturizers too). The key for me is to mix it in with a bit of Benefit's That Gal which really seems to even out my complexion. I have also had good look at Benefit counters with the sales staff helping try stuff on.
posted by pointystick at 2:54 PM on January 16, 2011

I second tinted moisturizer; I hate the mineral powders. I like lancome's, the bienfait the best b/c it has the highest SPF.

Super light, just evens a little.
posted by Kronur at 2:57 PM on January 16, 2011

I use MACs tinted moisturizer, it gives good coverage without settling into fine lines like some mineral make up does. I'm a big fan!
posted by Jubey at 3:02 PM on January 16, 2011

Late 30's here, and I look for the same thing in foundation- light and sheer... and it must go on easily. I hate spending too much time rubbing and dabbing and rubbing and dabbing. Two that I like: Lorac Breakthrough Performance and Diorskin Nude. They both have SPF, and go on evenly and easily. Yeah, pricey... but I go about six months on one bottle with daily use.
posted by kimdog at 3:03 PM on January 16, 2011

Make Up Forever HD Invisible Cover Foundation. It's designed to be invisible under harsh studio lighting for HD cameras, as well as to the naked eye. I have sensitive skin and also hate feeling like I'm wearing a mask, but I can use this and forget I have it on. It is very fine textured so even a tiny amount can be blended out smoothly and evenly, which is great for achieving sheer coverage. It is a little on the pricey side, but if you don't intend to cake it on it is worth the splurge.
posted by keep it under cover at 3:06 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I also hate the feeling of a heavy coating on my skin, and won't use any foundation-like thing other than Benefit Some Kinda Gorgeous Foundation Faker. I really feel like I'm wearing nothing when I wear it, but somehow look so much more polished.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 3:16 PM on January 16, 2011

Clinique Super City Block Daily Face Protector SPF 40. Very sheer coverage, whenever I wear it I get compliments on my skin (and I have pretty good skin as it is). Best, it's also a sun block. $20-ish a tube, but it lasts forever. If I want a little extra coverage, I use MAC blotting powder on top. Excellent for sensitive skin (in my experience).
posted by Felicity Rilke at 3:25 PM on January 16, 2011

i like laura mercier tinted moisturizer. it has just enough color to even the skin out. a 20 spf sunblock (it's enough in the winter) and never provides that weird line around the chin that says, i am wearing foundation. that said, try it before you buy it, i had to go a color lighter than the sales person suggested.
posted by memi at 3:32 PM on January 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

Mineral powder has been mentioned three times, but if we're up for a specific brand, bare escentials. I doubted all the mineral hoo-ha until I inherited my friend's makeup when she left town and couldn't pack everything. I haven't bought a single piece of makeup since that wasn't made by this company. It's perfection.
posted by namesarehard at 3:33 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a Bare Minerals fan too. But of course, everyone's different. Head to a Sephora and try different things. Pick a non-busy time and expect to go a few times. If you're starting out, I found this very helpful to hit the make-up counters so I could get a feel for the product, as well as try different lines to compare.

I have heavy bags, so I use Bobbi Brown concealer, then a coating of Bare Minerals, and that's about it for foundation.
posted by jlunar at 3:44 PM on January 16, 2011

I am VERY happy with Korres Ginger & Vitamins Foundation SPF 10, a "lightweight, water-based foundation that is packed with vitamins to balance the skin," according to Sephora.

I've found that the way to get a smooth, very natural look is follow these steps: 1) exfoliate with a gentle, chemical-free scrub, 2) apply a light moisturizer (sometimes I just slap on a tiny bit of vitamin E oil and let it sink in thoroughly, and on days when my skin feels tight or dry, I'll even add a drop of vitamin E oil to the foundation; you can buy nice bottles of silky vitamin E oil at Whole Foods). 3) apply the foundation ONLY where I need it. 4) brush on a little blush.

To avoid the heavy look, it's best to avoid pressed powder -- or just use a touch on shiny spots.

By the way, I'm in my mid-30s and have somewhat fair, sensitive, somewhat uneven tone skin.
posted by cymru_j at 3:48 PM on January 16, 2011

Olay Definitity Color Recapture is a very light tinted moisturizer with anti-aging ingredients and SPF 15. It does a good job of evening out skin tone a little bit without looking mask-like.

I like to top it off with Cover Girl Tru Blend pressed powder for a little more coverage. In areas where I need a lot more coverage I use Pur 4-in-1 pressed mineral makeup. I've tried a few mineral powders and this is the only one that I've tried that comes in a light enough tone, is matte and doesn't make my face itch.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:53 PM on January 16, 2011

All good suggestions-- I also recommend checking out whatever you buy on the Environmental Working Group's website to make sure everything you're putting on your skin is safe.
posted by enzymatic at 4:10 PM on January 16, 2011

The Estee Lauder Double Wear line (Double Wear and Double Wear Light) are excellent choices. It really depends on your skin type because, as others have noted, as nice as mineral powder can be, it does settle into dry skin in an unflattering way.
Lancome Teint Idol might work.
posted by oflinkey at 4:37 PM on January 16, 2011

Best answer: If you're concerned about the feel of the product, you might also try varying your application method a bit-- sponge vs. brush vs. fingers will all result in different patterns and quantities of product deposition, and a different final feel on your skin. I really like Laura Mercier foundation because it goes on best with a damp makeup sponge, making it refreshing and light-feeling to apply. Once on, I can't even tell it's there.
posted by Bardolph at 4:42 PM on January 16, 2011

Another vote for tinted moisturizer. For a very light, even apperance, I like to apply it with a slightly damp makeup sponge. Especially nice in warmer weather.
posted by ceri richard at 4:44 PM on January 16, 2011

Best answer: For makeup people who really know their stuff, try makeup alley. The boards are friendly to those who are experienced and inexperienced alike, and the product reviews are solid.

I find the easiest thing is tinted moisturizer - mineral makeup (and bare minerals is the most famous but not the best of them) is fine/great/whatever, but it's a little more finicky to put on and worry about (more worries about the right brush, application, etc.) You can apply tinted moisturizer with your fingers, and it couldn't be easier. They definitely come in different levels of opacity, but laura mericer is supposed to be the best one ever (can't personally vouch).

I just mix liquid foundation (revlon colorstay is amazing) with a moisturizer in about a 1:2 ratio and use that every day, and I love it. I don't bother setting it with powder or anything, and it still wears pretty well.
posted by R a c h e l at 4:51 PM on January 16, 2011

Definitely tinted moisturizer. I use Clinique, but I'm tempted to try some of the brands listed above.
posted by matildaben at 5:06 PM on January 16, 2011

I am in my mid-30s with a little bit of facial redness from mild rosacea. I don't wear foundation because I don't like how it feels or looks and I am also kind of lazy about makeup. However, I have found that Benefit's Get Even pressed powder works well for me. I just swipe it on quickly in a very thin layer in the morning after I moisturize and it gets rid of most of the redness and evens out my skin tone. Once it's on, I don't feel it at all. It seems to last OK during the day. Caveat: I have to be well moisturized before putting it on because it can be kind of drying.

The one drawback I can see is that it doesn't come in very many shades. But if one of them worked for you, I'd recommend getting a sample to see if you like it. I find the Benefit people to be quite generous with their samples at the in-store makeup counters.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:27 PM on January 16, 2011

Almost Makeup by Clinique is my favorite. Super sheer tinted moisturizer with SPF 15. I've used it for years and love it.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:27 PM on January 16, 2011

Best answer: Start with tinted moisturizer. There is no need to get into powder at this time, especially mineral powder, which is extolled by many but which, on my skin, just acts like mud. Because it is mud.

You need to go to a department store or pharmacy armed with a hand mirror, and then go around all the testers. Put a vertical stripe of each color across your jawline. Then take the mirror to a source of daylight. The color which matches you is the one that seems to disappear into your skin.

Once you have a shortlist, buy the cheapest one. Buy, also, a cosmetic sponge. In fact, get a bunch. Each week, throw the sponge away and use a new one.

Place a Smartie-sized dot on your forehead, the apple of each cheek, each cheek plane, your nose, your chin, and each eyelid. Using the sponge, blend very carefully from the centre of your face outwards. Blend in the same direction as the growth of the little hairs on your skin. Be extra careful around the jawline and hairline to avoid the dreaded "tidemarks".

Luckily, tinted moisturizer is much more forgiving of mistakes than all other kinds of foundation, but this is the technique to use so you will get lots of good practice in.

You have a start! Foundation is the most difficult makeup thing to deal with, so once you've mastered this you will already have some serious makeup fu.
posted by tel3path at 6:09 PM on January 16, 2011 [5 favorites]

I love Trish McEvoy's Even Skin. It makes my skin look so even, and I find it totally weightless.
posted by TG_Plackenfatz at 7:24 PM on January 16, 2011

I never wore makeup regularly before Benefit's Hello Flawless. It's a powder foundation but is as light as air and just makes my skintone look even. I have big pores and some laugh lines, and it doesn't settle in at all. Mineral makeup is a distant second for me, but even that is about a thousand miles ahead of any other makeup product I've ever tried.

I note that this appears to be the fourth recommendation so far for a random Benefit product, so you might want to just visit a Benefit counter and see what works for you. Their products are generally amazing and worth the money.
posted by gatorae at 7:31 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

A cheaper alternative to Bare Minerals is Prestige Cosmetics, which makes a comparable mineral foundation. I especially love their Skin Loving Minerals 3-in-1 Powder Concealer. It's a little hard to find, but at $10, it's worth the hunt.
posted by Fuego at 7:59 PM on January 16, 2011

I also don't like heavy coverage and I started out with MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Natural (aka "MSFN" on the Makeup Alley forum). It's a pressed powder looking thing, really light and makes my skin look amazing.
Since then I've gotten into foundation and I really like Bobbi Brown Skin foundation with SPF 15. Very light and moisturizing.

Also remember, you don't have to cover your ENTIRE face. Use a foundation brush and focus on key areas to even out skintone. For myself, I concentrate on my forehead, the crease around my nose, and jawline to blend out.
posted by like_neon at 3:22 AM on January 17, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks to all for great suggestions. I tried mixing some foundation I already had with my moisturizer this morning and it looks and feels excellent and is SO EASY. Why didn't I think of that? Luckily, I have AskMe so I didn't have to!
posted by bookmammal at 7:59 AM on January 17, 2011

I avoided foundation my whole life and am a minimal makeup wearer but for the past year have been using Laura Mercier's tinted Moisturizer. Very light. highly recommended.
posted by knolan at 9:13 AM on January 20, 2011

I've also avoided foundation my whole life, but recently started wearing mineral makeup and have found an amazing mineral foundation that is very light and sheer feeling on my skin that I highly recommend from one non-foundation wearer to another here: Orglamix.

My favorite one is the Whole Grain Organic Self-Adjusting Mineral Foundation. My complexion looks very balanced and smooth when I wear it, but it looks very natural and doesn't feel like I'm wearing anything.

I can't say enough great things about the quality of these products, and the price is great. She has a lot of options for different sizes and sets, including an option to blend a custom color just for you.
posted by katy song at 12:52 PM on January 20, 2011

Also giving a big thumbs up to mineral makeup. I LOVE it and it keeps my skin from breaking out.
posted by beebers at 11:18 AM on January 24, 2011

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