So, who's using a great foundation?
August 5, 2013 11:54 PM   Subscribe

Women of MeFi, tell me what's better than MAC Studio Fix Fluid.

I've been using MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation (in shade NW25, if it matters) for the past couple of years. I think it's great, but I'm wondering if I'm missing out on new/better formulations in other brands.

Criteria: sunscreen would be good (this one has SPF 15), but is not necessary as I use a high-protection base under it. Light, non-greasy formula that still provides decent coverage. No mineral makeup, please (tried it, makes my pores look huge.) I have fair skin with an oily t-zone, especially in summer; the MAC one is great for me in winter, but always feels a bit too oily/heavy for summer, especially during the day. Cost not an issue, within reason.

Is anyone using a really awesome foundation that makes their skin look dazzling? Thanks in advance!

(P.S. I'm not in the U.S., so there is no Sephora/Ulta here; I know I can go to a makeup counter and get advice, but I'm really after personal recommendations.)
posted by Salamander to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
NARS. Oh my god. NARS. Both their tinted moisturizer and their sheer glow line are phenomenal and I've gone through maybe 6 or 7 different brands of foundation over the past year or so in search of something that a) matches my skin tone and b) doesn't break me out.

The neat thing about NARS foundations is that they are on the full coverage end of things, so you only have to use a little bit mixed in with a regular moisturizer or primer and you get blendable, buildable coverage that lasts largely all day. I'm using the tinted moisturizer as my mainstay and dab the more matte traditional foundation in places that are red, dark, or blotchy for extra coverage.

Application techniques do matter with this line, though. The tinted moisturizer is best applied with clean fingers and then blended with either a wet sponge or a stippling brush; the sheer glow foundation works well for me when I use this brush and just put a tiny little drop of the foundation on my hand and then blend it onto my face using this technique. I'm one of those people who seriously struggles with makeup and I love how dewy and put together this brand makes me look. Fingers crossed that this is my forever brand, and maybe it'll be a good match for you, too.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:14 AM on August 6, 2013 [8 favorites]

Agree with Nars, it is just phenomenal.

I also love love love Giorgio Armani foundation - everytime I wear it, people randomly compliment me on my skin.

Lately I'm using Laura Mercier Cream foundation - well, it's called a tinted moisturizer but it has decent coverage for me. I like it because it is in a compact and I don't have to clean my hands when I'm done, and easily transportable. It has a beautiful finish and lasts all day if set with a good loose powder.
posted by shazzam! at 12:32 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

NARS, love sheer glow.
posted by greta_01 at 1:22 AM on August 6, 2013

I'm a long-time fan of L'Oreal True Match. I'm also fair-skinned with an oily t-zone, and it has worked well for me on both counts. Apparently the SPF varies by shade, but it's around SPF 17. I live outside the US and can find this at some drugstores and at my local Sephora-style perfume/makeup shop.

I also like Paula's Choice foundations; I've used All Bases Covered in the past, but you might want to try Best Face Forward if you have oiliness issues. Both are SPF 25. You have to order it online, and I think the range of products that are available outside the US varies.
posted by neushoorn at 1:33 AM on August 6, 2013

If you don't need full coverage, DiorSkin Forever is a great foundation, very natural looking. I have oily skin, and it doesn't slide off, even without a primer. It's pretty long wearing too.
posted by MFZ at 1:47 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Asian BB creams are pretty much the best thing I've used for me, in lieu of foundation. Keep in mind, most/all of them are for white/rather pale skintones. I run pale so, they're perfect for me. However, most of them oxidize and adjust slightly for tone, too, so they should be okay for you.

I like BB creams because they help me achieve a no makeup makeup look, and they blend really well and suit my skin more. I find the asian formulations better than their western counterparts, but I hear good things about the Garnier and Clinique BB creams. Also, just because they're a BB, doesn't mean they're a tinted moisturizer, the real stuff generally has more coverage than the western ones.

My holy grail of BBs: Ginvera Nude Cover -- which is a brand from Singapore. I tried the sample size before buying and it's still my favorite. It's SPF 30, and I feel it gives good coverage, and is really hydrating, which is why I like it. It's super lightweight.

Also like: Skin 79 The Oriental - People swear by the regular Skin 79 BB but I prefer this version just because I felt it was more slippery and liquid, and oxidized less. I think the regular version may suit NW25 more though. I feel it's a little gray in undertone. SPF 25.

Also like: Etude House Precious Sun Mineral BB - But I find it very thick on me. However, it's probably the best coverage. I need to hydrate more to get away with it. I use N02 but I think the W15 shade (sand beige) or W13 (Natural Beige) might be better for someone less pale. I have large pores too (on my nose) but this didn't seem to stick in mine. This is SPF 50, if I remember correctly.

Also like: BRTC Jasmine Water - But it has a really pale cast, with a bit of an ashy undertone. It's thicker and has decent coverage. SPF 30.

My mother is more tan and she likes Missha M Perfect Cover in #23. But she can often get away with the paler tones I use, by blending them away.

The best thing about BBs is that you can get them on ebay-- all the Korean sellers I've bought from (to date) have been legit. The other good thing is that most brands are inexpensive (Skinfood make great items, as does Holika Holika) and they tend to be very good quality for the price. The other good thing is that generally you can buy Sample Sizes for cheap, so you can get an idea of what might suit you. Also, most asian BB creams have some sun protection in them. It's usually super high, too, because they really care about sun protection. Lastly, they're a bloggers dream. Just image search for "[Brand Name] BB Cream Review," and you'll find someone who has tested it. That way you can see how thick coverage runs, and whether the undertone is yellow, pink, or grey.

As for regular foundations, I stopped using them. But I'm a big big fan of Lisa Eldridge, (a prolific UK makeup artist) and she has a few foundations she uses a lot in her makeup videos. You can watch foundation tutorials here. If you click on the videos, the description lists what foundations she likes. I tried the Healthy Mix Serum in store, and I really like it too.

Hope that gives you some more options!
posted by Dimes at 2:26 AM on August 6, 2013 [11 favorites]

I'm really pale, so my foundation choices are fairly limited probably than yours. I do really like Lancome's Teint Ultra 24h - stays on, the finish is much lighter feeling than other long-wear foundations (such as Doublewear, which I use if my skin is bad) and the shade choice is good - covers a variety of undertones. I'm about a NW10-13 and I use shade 005.

Sheer Glow is a nice foundation but too yellowy for me - but I've mixed it with other foundations to make them lighter.

I'm very pro getting samples so I can try them out over a day and check them in different lights, but where I am - in the UK - the higher-end counters sometimes give you samples (except for Space NK where I've been told 'we can't give them out in case someone has an allergic reaction') but anything 'drugstore' won't. I've made a few expensive mistakes this way as drugstore foundations hover around the £10 mark these days, and you can't take back make-up here even if it's completely sealed and left the store five minutes ago, never mind if it's a bad colour match for you. What I now do is take a little sample pot (you can get them from eBay) and pop a little bit of foundation from the tester into it so I can put it on at home.
posted by mippy at 3:19 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nars Tinted Moisturizer. Always. Forever. Amen.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 4:09 AM on August 6, 2013

Light, non greasy, light to medium coverage, try Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover Foundation. I adore it. It's the only foundation I've ever re-purchased. I'm sure that's partially for the fact that it comes in a shade that matches me exactly, but it also feels weightless and applies so smoothly.
posted by rachaelfaith at 4:59 AM on August 6, 2013

Seconding Make Up For Ever HD. It's amazing!
posted by echo0720 at 5:23 AM on August 6, 2013

This primer in concert with this foundation is just plain awesome. Now I wear this combo every day (over a base of simple moisturizer) - and it's great. Previously, I had stopped wearing foundation because even the lightest stuff was too heavy (or made my pores look huge) - it was frustrating because I really missed the smooth look it can give you. I tried their "how to look the best at everything" kit and now I can't rave enough about Benefit, I love it so much. I just buy those two pieces, the kit has powder and concealer that I don't really like/use.
posted by pazazygeek at 5:35 AM on August 6, 2013

After years and years of trying every foundation under the sun, I now use a Korean BB cream - Missha M Perfect Cover in #21 (I have very pale cool-toned skin) and now I won't use anything else. I get so many compliments on my beautiful skin when I use it. IME it really is worth the hype. (Missha has a website, so you can probably order it anywhere.)

In the past, I've used and liked Korres and Lancome liquid foundations. The Lancome especially came in a wide variety of undertones and shades (for different skintones) and different formulations and weights.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:38 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

I am in love with BB creams! I've never liked the feel of foundation and my skin is good, if slightly freckled.

BB creams have sunscreen, a small amount of tint and something that makes you radiant. I really like Garnier's, but I'm tempted to check our Rosie M. Banks's suggestion of Missha.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:59 AM on August 6, 2013

I use Tarte Amazonian Clay. It's a liquid foundation that works well for me - I've got combination oily and dry - worse in the summer. It lasts forever. I used to use Stila but it didn't really last. I know you said no mineral makeup but this isn't a powder foundation. Also I've got sensitive skin and this is pretty good.
posted by lasamana at 6:06 AM on August 6, 2013

YMMV, but I've been wearing Garnier's BB cream for combination/oily skin for a few weeks now and it's been a pretty good dupe for the Asian BB creams I normally use.
posted by evoque at 6:58 AM on August 6, 2013

MUFE HD is not a good one to try if you're sensitive to silicone - I am and it drove my skin nuts. You can't get it in the UK, so I wasn't able to try it out before I bought it and I wish I had. Sigh.
posted by mippy at 7:16 AM on August 6, 2013

Guerlain lingerie. It feels light on the skin but gives amazing coverage.
posted by fireandthud at 8:19 AM on August 6, 2013

A huge second to Giorgio Armani foundations. I've tried so many different foundations over the years and this is simply leaps and bounds above the rest. Never fail to get compliments on my skin when I wear it.
posted by WalkingHorse at 8:25 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the answers so far - keep 'em coming!

Nars and Giorgio Armani are looking good at the moment.

I'm not sure about the BB cream thing. My technique at the moment is to use Neutrogena Ultra Sheer in SPF 70, religiously, every single day:

, followed by foundation if I'm working or going out. I use a good half-teaspoon of Neutrogena all over my face and neck, let it dry (which doesn't take long, as it is lovely and matte), and then use foundation. I live in a hot, harsh climate, and I'm wary of relying on my foundation to double as a sunscreen, because...nobody wants to slap on that much foundation. (Does that make sense?)

Cheers again!
posted by Salamander at 6:58 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Revlon Color Stay does not budge after it sets
posted by Jacqueline at 1:24 AM on August 7, 2013

Can totally understand your reluctance, but don't let the 'if they claim they can do everything, they must do it all badly!' thought discourage you from BBs, because in my experience this isn't the case. I actually find foundation much thicker usually, and it gives me more of a 'makeup face' -- which is why I don't really go for it anymore. They also are easier on my budget (all the foundations I like that look natural, are always high-end brands like Guerlain or Chanel, ugh. lol).

They may not be for you, and some people just really hate them, but they might be worth a try. But most BB creams are light enough that you can wear sunscreen under them, but also wear them on their own. I find the sunscreen factor to be particularly good in them though.

I also live in Australia and have no problems with layering a sunscreen, moisturizer or primer with them. If you're out in the sun a lot, it should be fine to layer. If I'm not going out in the sun for more than 2 hours then I don't bother with it. I am much paler than you (just a teeny bit lighter than NC20) and I've never really needed anything much over 40 or so, as long as I retouch once a day.

Ebay has tons of samples for sale if you want to give it a try, and for the western BBs that are good, The Muse has a list of good western BB creams you should be able to try out at Myer or something. Also apparently good: Clairns, Garnier, L'Oreal Revitalift. Some of the western BB creams are broad spectrum anyway, so you'd need to layer a good sunscreen either way.

On preview, for the asian BBs I mentioned-- given you're you're NW25, I'd go for the darker Missha Perfect Cover one mentioned in #23. Or the darker Etude house ones (W24 or W15) in either "Precious Mineral Sun" or "Precious Mineral Bright/Cotton" (bright is dewy, cotton is matte) but those are both mineral. I'm sure you could get away with the lighter Ginvera one, given my mother can, but you'd need to blend a lot, and the BRTC one is probably too pale.

Either way, I hope you find something you really like.
posted by Dimes at 3:30 AM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

My beloved Missha BB cream is much more "natural looking" than the foundations I used to wear, even the organic Korres one. I wear mine over a moisturizer and color-correcting skin primer in lavender (I naturally have that "Professor Snape" look and this gives me a bit of color as well as smoothing out my skin). I use a brush to apply mine. Some people use their fingers, but I've never, ever liked to use fingers to apply my foundation. I find a good brush does the job best and will last forever if well cared for.

Where I live, the sunscreen already contained in the BB cream is almost always adequate. If I'm going to be tromping around outdoors at, say, an amusement park or an art and wine festival, I might layer an additional sunscreen underneath or just wear a hat.

For all their claims to be all things to all skins, BB creams - at least the good ones such as Missha that I've used - are not cakey and obvious when they are well matched to your skin and applied with a light hand. In fact, I think they look more natural and less makeup-y than foundation. Most will "oxidize" to your skin tone. And Missha, at least, offers a variety of shades.

By most accounts, the Korean BB creams and some of the Western ones like Garnier are the best. Many of the Western cosmetic brand BB creams are merely tinted moisturizer under another name sold to cash in on the BB cream bandwagon, so buyer beware. Makeupalley is a good place to go for reviews; also you can google "BB cream reviews" and beauty blogs will pop up and you can read the reviews there.

But really - try Missha M Perfect Cover. If you have trouble getting it, MeMail me and I will find it for you. I am that evangelistic about it. :)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:56 AM on August 7, 2013

Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer SPF 20 for the win. Go get a sample. Right now.
posted by corn_bread at 8:08 AM on August 7, 2013

I'm also a big fan of the BB creams now, especially the Korean ones. In my experience, the US versions are lame imitations. I tried that Garnier BB cream and it had like no coverage at all! On the other hand, I've used several varieties of Missha, which you can order from their website, and I love them all.

The best US BB cream I've ever tried is the one I'm using currently (just bought my second tube), Physicians Formula Super BB Cream. Great coverage. I am pretty pale (normally wear like the second lightest shade of the MUFE HD foundation, another great product except it has no SPF), and I wear the Light to Medium in the Physicians Formula. It's just a tiny bit more color than I normally need, but I like it because I can still blend it out and it makes me look less corpse-like, always a nice option in the summer time.

Like everyone says above, try to get samples. CLEARLY everyone's skin is very different and they get different results. Some people love the Garnier, I found it too moisturizing and not enough coverage. That Benefit Porefessional stuff? People seem to love that too but it was awful on me - it had a strange cast (because it's kind of tinted) and it pilled up when I tried to apply my foundation over it.

Good luck. :)
posted by Groovymomma at 9:01 AM on August 7, 2013

If you're layering over a chemical sunscreen, I'd double-check on sunscreen ingredients if you're interested in layering BB cream on top. Some sunscreens can degrade quickly when combined with other sunscreen ingredients (avobenzone degrades faster with uncoated zinc oxide/titanium dioxide, for example) so that would cancel out any protection you'd be getting. Missha Perfect Cover uses zinc oxide and octinoxate, so if you put that on top of your Neutrogena which uses avobenzone the zinc oxide will degrade the avobenzone, which is what provides protection from UVA wavelengths 310-360nm in the Neutrogena. Octinoxate also reduces the photostability of avobenzone, so you end up with a bunch of confused sunscreens on your face not knowing what's going on. Chemical sunscreens also need to be absorbed into your skin to provide SPF protection, so any layered chemical sunscreens on top of other chemical sunscreens end up doing nothing except interfere with your first layer of protection.

You're probably better off finding a foundation without sunscreen and really piling on the Neutrogena for sun protection. Nars Sheer Glow is nice, though from the samples I've tried it really, really clings to dry patches. Nars also leans yellow from what I hear - if you have pink undertones MUFE or Lancome/Dior/Guerlain might suit. Guerlain has some lovely formulations but they're extremely pink; grab a sample from a counter if you can.

I like Kevyn Aucoin's Sensual Skin Enhancer. It's a very thick cream foundation/concealer/mixer base. There's kind of a steep learning curve for applying it to suit your skin, but once you get the hang of it it's pretty fantastic. It's meant to be mixed with primers and moisturisers to make your own base and used full-strength as a concealer. Shade matching is difficult, so it's best to match at a counter (if you're in the UK Space NK carries Aucoin's line) where you can try all the shades out. It's not super cheap, but it's cheaper than Nars Sheer Glow and it's so pigmented that wee tiny pot will last a long, long time. I'm the same colour as dead fishies and SX01 is a pretty good match, though slightly pink. Applied as a spot concealer over sunscreen it makes for a very smooth finish.

Good luck!
posted by zennish at 3:53 PM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

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