Sunday, May 6, 2012

At the Vanity - Foundations for fair skin

Foundation, being the base upon which all other makeup relies, has a big job to do. It must even out the complexion, but do so imperceptibly. It must not be too thick, must cancel out oiliness while not drying out the skin, must last for hours on end, must not oxidize so much as to change its color once on the skin, it has to match the wearer's undertones, it must be in an acceptable price range, it must work with certain types of moisturizers, primers, etc. It's the quarterback of the beauty team, if you will. If it doesn't hold up, everything else falls down around it.

Since most of the population has skintone that lies somewhere in the middle of the color spectrum, makeup companies tend to offer shades that complement these medium-hued skin tones of their most populous customer base. Because of this, very fair folk and very dark folk sometimes get the shaft when it comes to color selection. I've lost count of the number of times I have swatched the lightest foundation shade offered in a brand's selection and found it to be too yellow or orange.

And another one bites the dust.

We've all seen the person with the unfortunate telltale line foundation across her jawbone. It's a battle trying to color match for foundations like Revlon, Maybelline, Almay and others because there aren't any testers available in stores, leaving you to eyeball the color and hold up the glass bottle to your skin in the hopes that you can get a good judge of hue and finish. But should you visit department stores or Sephora where testers are available, you'll inevitably spend a pretty penny. While there are definitely some great formulas to be found in the drugstore aisles, unless you know for sure which works for you, the department store brands - due to the availability of testing the product out - may save you money in the end because you'll know before a purchase is made which formula is your best personal match.

In my search to find a formula that would match up to my skintone, I swatched quite a few shades to hopefully give other fair-skinned ladies an idea of how some of these shades pull. I've always matched to the lightest shade in every formula, so if you are usually the lightest as well, I hope this is helpful. Though by no means an exhaustive list, there are a few of the more popular foundations that have been swatched.

Starting from the top right column, going downward and then looping back up, I've numbered the shades.

1. Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra Lift and Firm Makeup in Ecru
2. Shiseido 'The Makeup' Dual Balancing Foundation in 100 - Very Light Ivory
3. Estee Lauder Equalizer Smart Makeup in Pearl
4. Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation in Fair
5. Dior Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Hydrating Makeup in Ivory 010
6. Dior Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Creme-Gel Makeup in Ivory 010
7. Make Up For Ever High Definition in 120
8. Make Up For Ever High Definition in 115
9. Make Up For Ever High Definition in 110
10. Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet in 15 - Alabaster
11. Lorac Breakthrough Performance Foundation in SMS 1- Porcelain
12. Lorac Natural Performance Foundation in NP 1 - Porcelain
13. Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation in Porcelain
14. Cover FX Natural FX Water Based Foundation in E0
15. Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H in 100 - Ivoire
16. Lancome Teint Miracle in 1N - Ivoire
17. Nars Tinted Moisturizer in Finland
18. Nars Sheer Matte Foundation in Siberia
19. Nars Sheer Glow Foundation in Montblanc
20. Nars Sheer Glow Foundation in Siberia
21. Nars Sheer Glow Foundation in Gobi
22. Benefit Hello Flawless! Oxygen Wow Liquid Foundation in I'm Pure 4 Sure Ivory

I took an indoor/without flash, indoor/with flash, outdoor/shade and outdoor/direct sunlight to try and capture the shades the best.

In my opinion, Make Up For Ever's Mat Velvet, Nars' Sheer Matte Foundation, and Estee Lauder's Equalizer in Pearl are pretty good color matches. However, as you can see, many of them are orange.

Ah, such is the light life. What are your suggestions for a foundation? Any that have worked well for you?

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