I think we often forget just how important it is to have a good foundation in one’s makeup collection. When people ask me what my favourite type of makeup product is, without hesitation, my answer is always: Eyeshadow. I love colour cosmetics, and I love playing around with different eyeshadow formulas, finishes and shades. But when I sit down to really think about it, a foundation is actually an integral part of my makeup routine as well. If your skin looks uneven (whether it’s due to redness, breakouts or hyperpigmentation), you could be rocking the best eyeshadow look but your overall makeup look will still look unfinished. I think a foundation, whether it’s sheer- or full coverage, just pulls a whole makeup look together.
Flawless skin is the ultimate beauty goal, right?
The secret is to find the perfect foundation for your skin type and skin tone. Finding that perfect base is no easy task, so it’s best to stick to what you know. If you have oily skin, choose a matte finish foundation that controls shine. If you have mature skin (which is usually dehydrated), go for a hydrating foundation that gives you a luminous finish. And if have sensitive skin, opt for a lightweight, fragrance-free, sheer coverage foundation that evens out skin tone without clogging pores.
A couple of weeks ago I was trying to think of a way to start featuring more products in one blog post. I do have my ‘Beauty Snoop’ series here on the blog, but that is for mostly new products that I recently started using. Lately I’ve been receiving quite a few requests to talk about my favourite foundations, and the ‘not-so-good’ foundations in my collection. So I decided: Why not feature them in one blog post?
A new blog series was born, called: “5 xxx | 5 Reviews”. The idea is to review 5 products from a specific beauty category i.e. mascaras, face masks, highlighters, day creams, brow products, primers, and the list goes on. I’ll be sure to also include products within that specific category that I did NOT enjoy using, and obviously I’ll tell you why.
I think it’ll be a nice way for me to feature a handful of products to help you decide which 1 of the 5 might be best suited for your preferences and needs. What do you think?
I’ve been testing the below foundations on-and-off for the past 4 to 6 months, some have been in my makeup collection for longer than others, but I feel I can now give you a proper review of each one. Each product below has been rated out of 5 hearts (♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥).
Ready? Let’s go!
CATRICE EVEN SKIN TONE BEAUTIFYING FOUNDATION ♥ R132,95
What Catrice says: “The creamy texture of this foundation contains SPF25 and offers medium to high coverage. A dermatological study confirms that after just 8 weeks of daily application, the Even Skin Tone Beautifying Foundation visibly brightens pigmentation marks. The long-lasting, pampering texture also instantly covers colour irregularities and redness for a silky-matt, smooth skin tone.”
My review: I have the shade ‘020 Beige Rose’ which is the third shade in the range (there are only 4 shades in total). I found this particular shade is a good match for my skin, because it has a neutral to pink undertone. The foundation itself blends out really easily and leaves the skin looking even, yet natural. It contains no shimmer particles, but it does add a bit of dewiness to the skin and for that reason I need to set it with a powder. After about 3 to 4 hours, I need to blot and powder because my T-zone starts to look a bit oily. This foundation does have a slight floral scent, but it’s not too intense. If you have sensitive skin, though, then it might be an issue for you.
I like that the foundation contains SPF25 (every bit helps) and so it will, to some extent, protect your skin against sun damage. In terms of brightening pigmentation marks, I don’t think the ingredients in this foundation are potent enough to really do anything about hyperpigmentation. The Even Skin Tone Beautifying Foundation will cover dark spots, but will not brighten or lighten them in my honest opinion.
I’ll probably keep this foundation to use during Spring and Autumn when my skin tends to be more on the normal side (less oily T-zone). The main problem I have with it is that it initially has a semi-matte finish, but as the day goes on it doesn’t control oiliness, and it often feels like my skin gets more oily than usual whenever I wear this foundation.
Texture / formula: This foundation is fairly thick & creamy, but doesn’t feel heavy on the skin.
Packaging: Love the packaging, the frosted glass bottle feels weighty and sturdy, plus it comes with a nice pump. I find I only need 2 pumps to cover my face and neck, with another half a pump to build coverage where I need it most (my upper cheeks, as I have sun spots there).
Finish: The foundation dries to a semi-matte, yet radiant finish. I like that it looks like skin, and gives you a natural yet flawless look.
Coverage: The coverage of this foundation is quite good, medium coverage that is buildable (but definitely not full coverage). It covers redness, and evens out the skin really well but if you have dark under eye circles or blemishes, then you’ll definitely need the help of a concealer.
Best suited for: I would say this foundation is suitable for normal and slightly dry complexions. As mentioned, I have combination skin (dehydrated cheek area & an oily T-zone) and unfortunately this foundation did not mattify the skin for very long (even after I set it with a powder), nor did it control oil. It will probably be okay for combination skin types during the colder months when the skin doesn’t produce as much oil.
Longevity: It lasts for about 4 to 5 hours before it starts to fade around my nose and cheek areas. I do have to powder around the 3-hour mark, because it can get quite oily (especially on a hot & humid day). I have worn this foundation on a relatively cool, rainy day and I still developed oil around my T-zone after a few hours.
Beauty tools: The foundation is creamy enough to be used with a makeup sponge or makeup brush. A dampened makeup sponge won’t absorb much product, and a good foundation brush (like this one) will buff this into the skin creating a flawless finish. I prefer to use this foundation with a buffing brush, though, because I feel it blends it into the skin for an almost airbrushed finish.
Shade selection: There are only 4 shades available in this foundation, which isn’t great if you have a medium to dark skin tone because the third darkest shade suited me perfectly (and I’m quite pale at the moment). This is, however, great news for fair-skinned gals, because the shade ‘050 Even Ivory’ is very light with a pink undertone.
Where to find: You can purchase Catrice makeup products at Dis-Chem stores nationwide.
L’ORÉAL TRUE MATCH SUPER BLENDABLE FOUNDATION ♥ R179,95
What L’Oréal says: “With patented colour technology, True Match precisely matches your skin’s tone and texture. Formulated with Precise Match technology so you can control coverage and fine-tune it. The ultra-pure formula contains no oils, fragrances, or pore-clogging fillers, so all you see is beautiful, radiant, flawless skin. With Vitamins A and C, wheat germ and grape fruit extract to keep your skin nourished, protected and healthy.”
My review: Let me start off by saying the original True Match foundation (featured here) was my ultimate favourite drugstore foundation for the longest time. The True Match foundation was reformulated and repackaged last year, and I remember still posting an Instagram photo warning my readers that the new foundation now contains shimmers. Well, as it turns out I compared the new bottle to my old bottle and was surprised to see the old one also contained light reflecting particles but they are a lot less visible (you almost can’t see them). When the new True Match foundation is applied to the skin, I hardly notice any shimmer particles (what a relief!). My perfect shade is ‘2R / 2C Rose Vanilla’ because it has a slight pink undertone. The ‘C’ range (for cool-tone) contains pink shimmers, the ‘W’ range (for warm-tone) contains golden shimmers, and the ‘N’ range (for neutral tone) contains a mix of both golden and silver shimmers.
Is the new True Match foundation still a favourite in my makeup collection? Yes, it most certainly is! It’s perfect for daytime wear and everyday makeup looks due to its decent coverage and lightweight consistency. It contains an SPF of 17 to protect your skin, but you’ll definitely still need to wear a good sunscreen underneath.
Texture / formula: The new True Match foundation has a silky texture and is a bit more runny than the original, because of this it feels quite lightweight on the skin.
Packaging: True Match is housed in a chic silver top bottle and comes with a pump, which means you can easily control the amount of product you use.
Finish: It has a semi-matte, yet radiant finish. I used the word ‘radiant’ because even though the foundation mattifies the skin, it doesn’t leave you looking like a flat potato (with no dimension). It has a soft focus effect, and makes the skin look airbrushed yet very natural as well.
Coverage: Despite the lightweight formula, the coverage of True Match is really good – medium coverage that is very buildable. One layer cancels out the redness on my face and immediately evens out my skin tone.
Best suited for: This foundation is most suited for normal, combination and slightly oily skin types. If you have combo or oily skin, you will have to set the foundation with a powder unless you prefer a luminous finish. If you have very dry skin, then I imagine this will cling to (and accentuate) dry patches.
Longevity: True Match lasts very well on the skin (about 7 hours) before I can see the first signs of fading around my nose. Around the 6 hour mark is when I start to see a hint of oiliness on my T-zone, but nothing a quick blot and powder can’t fix.
Beauty tools: The new True Match works best with a synthetic makeup brush (like this one). I have applied it using a dampened makeup sponge (like this one), but I have a feeling since it is slightly runny in texture, the sponge does soak up a bit of product. You can also use your fingers to apply True Match, but I prefer not to use my fingers – it’s just personal preference, I find it’s a bit messy and I’m too lazy to get up to go wash my hands.
Shade selection: L’Oréal created True Match with the idea of having shades that are true to skin tones, instead of generic shades that only suit a limited amount of people. There are currently 9 shades available in warm, cool and neutral undertones with a good range of light, medium & dark shades. A little birdie told me that 6 additional shades will be launched in June 2016 – so in total there will be 15 shades.
Where to find: L’Oréal products are available at Dis-Chem, Clicks, Edgars and Red Square stores.
PHYSICIAN’S FORMULA YOUTHFUL WEAR SPOTLESS FOUNDATION ♥ R229,95
What Physician’s Formula says: “Skin-perfecting ultra-fluid foundation delivers flawless, spotless coverage and a finish so natural it looks invisible on the skin. 35% Silicone formula and true-colour pigments create a revolutionary, weightless liquid veil that feels as if you have no makeup on. Say goodbye to spots! Powerful, brightening cosmeceutical ingredients help improve the appearance of dark spots, age spots, and sun spots instantly and over time. Broad spectrum SPF 15 protects skin and helps prevent new spots or discoloration from developing.”
My review: I purchased this foundation mainly because of the packaging – silly, I know! I did do a bit of research before I bought it at Dis-Chem, and thought the water-based formula sounded very interesting (especially since there aren’t a lot of water-based drugstore foundations available in South Africa). I’ve always wanted to try the L’Oréal Magic Nude Liquid Powder Foundation (which isn’t available here) and based on my research, the Physician’s Formula foundation sounded quite similar in consistency and finish.
I was pleasantly surprised by this foundation, it has a really nice texture that glides on and evens out the skin without much effort. The formula is very hydrating but doesn’t slide around like some of my other hydrating foundations. And even though it feels like a serum foundation, it gives the skin a lovely satin finish that is almost powder-like. My skin feels like silk in the best possible way, almost like the foundation becomes one with your skin. One thing I have noticed, is that it’s very important to shake the bottle quite well before you use it as the foundation does tend to separate.
I have sun spots and hyperpigmentation on my upper cheek areas, and although this foundation does contain ingredients that aim to treat & lighten dark spots (not blemishes), I haven’t seen a noticeable difference yet. Perhaps one would see a more brightening effect if you used it every single day, but I like to change my foundations quite often. It does contain SPF15, which will protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun for a limited time, so I definitely suggest applying a SPF as part of your skin care routine underneath.
I really, REALLY like this foundation – it’s one of my new favourites because it gives me that ‘second-skin’ look and feel, while also covering most of the uneven tones in my skin. I have the first shade ‘Light’ and I find I do have to use my Shade Adjusting Drops from The Body Shop to lighten it up since it does tend to oxidise within about 10 – 20 minutes (and ends up being a shade too dark for my skin). The shade selection is very limited, but we’ll get to that a bit later down in the blog post.
Texture / formula: When it comes to consistency, this foundation is unlike any other foundation I’ve ever used, it’s thin & watery and feels like you’re rubbing a lightweight serum onto your skin. After a few seconds it literally melts into your skin, leaving you with an even and revitalised complexion.
Packaging: I think Physician’s Formula did really well with the packaging of this foundation, they chose the best delivery system for the runny consistency. If it were in a squeeze tube or pump packaging, it would most definitely dispense too much product. With the dropper, you can really control the amount you need – drop by drop.
Finish: This foundation gives the skin a satin, slightly powder-like finish.
Coverage: It does an amazing job of evening out my skin tone, plus it’s definitely buildable as well. It won’t cover heavy acne scarring or really dark spots, but will definitely lighten and brighten them. You will definitely still need a concealer to cover dark under eye circles and sun spots, but Youthful Wear Spotless does a superb job of covering up redness. It doesn’t settle into the larger pores on my face, and gives a healthy, brightened and youthful look to my skin.
Best suited for: I think this foundation is suitable for all skin types – it’s hydrating enough for dry skin, and gives a lightweight powdery finish for normal and combination skin. I always set my foundations with a powder anyway, it’s just a habit. So if you have combination skin, then you might be able to get away without setting it initially (but might have to blot and powder after about 4 hours). If you have dry skin and you find the finish of this is too powdery (it’s not a matte finish, more velvety), then you can always apply a nice hydrating primer underneath.
Longevity: Staying power is great, even with my oily T-zone skin I can get 8 – 10 hours’ wear on a cooler day, and 4 – 5 hours’ wear on a very hot & humid day. It tends to fade a bit faster on warmer days, but only around my nose area. You can always up the staying power by applying a primer beforehand and an oil-controlling powder after application.
Beauty tools: There is a cute little buffing brush included in the packaging (take a look at this image), but I forgot to take a photo of it since I never use it with this foundation. I find it way too small to use for foundation application, almost like trying to paint a room with an arts & crafts paint brush. Physician’s Formula suggests dropping a few drops onto the brush and buffing it into skin but I have found this technique to be wasteful – whether you use the included brush or any other foundation brush, dropping the foundation directly onto the bristles only makes the brush absorb most of the product. I would suggest using the dropper to drop 4 or 5 drops onto the back of your hand, then using your fingers to dot it around the face, and only then going in with a foundation brush like the Sigma F80 or the Real Techniques Buffing Brush. This foundation is way too runny for a makeup sponge, and you’ll end up wasting most of the product since it will be absorbed into the sponge before you can apply it to your face.
Shade selection: For me, the biggest fault with this foundation is that it has such a small shade selection – only 3 shades are available (Light, Medium, and Medium Beige). I own the lightest shade, and I find it’s still too dark for my skin tone. It also has a slight oxidizing issue, so if you have very fair skin then you might want to give this foundation a skip (unless you already own the Shade Adjusting Drops from The Body Shop).
Where to find: Physician’s Formula products are exclusive to selected Dis-Chem stores.
Top Tip: I have actually found a better use for the small, slanted Youthful Wear Spotless foundation brush – it’s great for applying cream and liquid highlighters (like this one, this one and this one) because it allows for very targeted / precise application.
MAYBELLINE DREAM SATIN LIQUID FOUNDATION ♥ R169,95
What Maybelline says: “For a satin-perfect skin tone – perfectly smooth, naturally unified, luminous and soft. Its formula combines the lightness of a mousse and the coverage of a foundation. Its texture embraces the skin for a unified coverage with no excess, refines skin texture and gives skin tone a soft and satin finish.”
My review: I bought this foundation at the beginning of this year when I was a bit more tanned, and so the ’30 Sand’ shade I have now is a teensy too dark for me (especially now that we’re moving into the colder months). I don’t see this as a huge issue, because I can always lighten it using my Shade Adjusting Drops. The foundation is super blendable and doesn’t dry too quickly, so it’s easy to work with. Coverage is pretty darn good, so I like to wear this foundation for everyday makeup looks when I want something that evens out my skin tone but still feels nice & light on the skin. If you’re looking for an affordable, easy to apply, buildable coverage foundation with a semi-matte, yet natural finish…well, then this is for you!
Dream Satin Liquid doesn’t accentuate my rather enlarged pores, and doesn’t settle into fine lines / wrinkles either. As always, I do set this with a powder because I prefer a matte finish initially that will help to control the oil my skin produces throughout the day. I see a setting powder as a preventative measure, if you have combo / oily skin and you take the time to set your foundation then it’ll take longer for your natural oils to start peeking through. The foundation contains an SPF of 13, which isn’t very high, so you definitely need to apply an SPF underneath as well.
Texture / formula: The consistency is thick and creamy, however, it doesn’t FEEL heavy on the skin at all. On the contrary, I sometimes forget I’m wearing any foundation at all.
Packaging: I like the slim glass bottle with the foundation pump – it allows you dispense just the right amount of product, so there’s no wastage.
Finish: A very good balance between semi-matte and natural, although on oily skin it will most definitely look more dewy than anything else. It leaves my skin looking ever so slightly airbrushed, but not entirely flawless.
Coverage: I would say this provides a good medium coverage that can be built up to a fuller coverage if desired, but be careful – if you apply too many layers, it can start to look cakey. It covers up redness, and evens out the skin but I’d like it to cover imperfections a bit better.
Best suited for: Dream Satin Liquid is most suited for normal, dry and combination skin. It’s oil-free, non-comedogenic, and fragrance free, so theoretically it should be suitable for sensitive skin as well. I don’t have sensitive skin at the moment, so I can’t comment on that. It doesn’t cling to, or accentuate dry patches but if you have really dry skin, then I would suggest applying a hydrating primer as your first step. I don’t recommend this for oily skin types as it doesn’t control oil very well, and you will have blot & powder every couple of hours.
Longevity: As mentioned, I have combination skin and with this foundation I have to blot & powder after about 4 hours to keep my skin looking fresh and matte.
Beauty tools: You can literally use any type of makeup application tool with this foundation – dampened makeup sponge, fingers, or foundation brush. On the days when I’m looking for light to medium coverage with a more natural finish, I will use my dampened Beautyblender. And when I want something a bit more full coverage, I like to buff this foundation into the skin using my Sigma F80 Flat Top Kabuki brush.
Shade selection: There are 9 shades available, ranging from light to medium-dark. If you have a very dark complexion, then I don’t think you will find a shade that is suitable for you unfortunately.
Where to find: Maybelline products are available at Clicks, Dis-Chem, Edgars, and Red Square stores. You can also purchase this foundation online at Takealot.com.
MAX FACTOR MIRACLE MATCH FOUNDATION ♥ R219,95
What Max Factor says: “A revolutionary new product that cleverly combines flawless-looking shade matching that blurs imperfections and nourishes skin with hydration. Feeling like a moisturiser on application, Miracle Match Foundation is the first from Max Factor to contain a new silicone ingredient that behaves more like a moisturiser and enables high-performance blendability with medium coverage.”
My review: This newbie from Max Factor aims to find that perfect shade for you, while giving a healthy, flawless look to the skin. Traditionally, full coverage foundations can look a bit too heavy and / or too cakey. Max Factor Miracle Match Foundation bridges the gap between coverage and colour match – it aims to offer high coverage, expert shade precision with a very lightweight feel for flawless and healthy looking skin.
I have the lightest shade available in South Africa, called ’50 Natural’, which has a rather strong peachy undertone. Miracle Match blends extremely well into the skin without much effort, and feels very comfortable to wear. This foundation does contain light reflecting particles to help brighten the complexion, leaving you with radiant-looking skin. I agree with their statement that it feels like you’re applying a moisturiser, but for me, this foundation provides light coverage. It is buildable, but still I feel like this is more of a BB cream than a true foundation. It evens out the skin quite nicely, but you will definitely need the help of a corrector and / or concealer to cover up any imperfections.
I’ve come to the conclusion that this foundation is more suited for someone who has ‘almost perfect’ skin, someone who doesn’t need a lot of coverage but still wants that little something extra to even out the skin. For me, this will be reserved for days when I’m having a good skin day.
Texture / formula: The texture feels creamy and nourishing as you apply it, and then lightly dries down and becomes almost one with the skin.
Packaging: I really like it when a foundation is packaged in glass bottle with the foundation pump – it’s just so much easier (and more hygienic) to use. This one from Max Factor didn’t disappoint!
Finish: Miracle Match has a matte, yet luminous finish (thanks to the tiny golden shimmers). Not luminous as in dewy, luminous as in bright and youthful. Don’t worry, the shimmers are hardly noticeable once applied to the skin. It allows the natural radiance of my skin to shine through without looking too glowy. Miracle Match contains less powders and added translucent micas, so the skin is not entirely mattified, nor is it left feeling dewy – it adapts to your skin for a finish that is uniquely yours.
Coverage: The formula offers a light coverage that evens out the skin in a very natural way. It doesn’t accentuate pores, fine lines or dry patches – it leaves your skin looking like…well, skin. You can definitely build up a couple of layers of this foundation to increase the coverage, but I’d much rather just add a concealer to the areas where I need it. Two pumps cover my whole face and neck area, but bear in mind it provides the coverage of a BB cream. If you want medium coverage, then you’ll have to apply 3 to 4 pumps (and that’s just wasting product for me personally). That’s why I say, I’d much rather only use this foundation on the days when I don’t need the extra coverage.
Best suited for: There’s no doubt in my mind that this foundation is suitable for all skin types, mainly because it is so lightweight and sheer in coverage. Vitamin B & E, and the added light reflecting particles will give dry skin a subtle radiance, and the light matte finish will be suitable for normal, combo, oily and even dry skin. IF you have very dry skin, then I would recommend applying a hydrating primer underneath.
Longevity: Miracle Match lasts quite well on my skin, after about 5 hours it still looks good and hasn’t faded around my nose or chin area. I don’t think it is particularly oil-controlling, but it doesn’t exacerbate any natural oils that my skin produces. On a warm day, though, I do have to blot and powder around the 6 hour mark.
Beauty tools: This foundation is creamy enough to be applied with a makeup brush, dampened makeup sponge or even the fingers. If you are after a bit more coverage, then I suggest using a buffing brush with synthetic bristles.
Shade selection: The shade selection is not that great, and I’m sad to say the 4 shades that are available in South Africa will unfortunately not to suit everyone.
Where to find: Max Factor products are exclusive to selected Clicks stores.
The swatches you see below are quite heavily swatched, just so that you can see the shade and undertone of each foundation. The shade on the right (Max Factor Miracle Match) looks a bit lighter in the photo than it actually is, I imagine it’s because the light was reflecting off it (and it hadn’t set yet).
Shew! Now that was quite a long blog post… I had no idea I had so much to say about each foundation. PLEASE let me know in the comments section below whether this is something you would like to see more of i.e. ‘5 Primers | 5 Reviews’ or ‘5 Hair Oils | 5 Reviews’ or ‘5 Face Masks | 5 Reviews’. It can be anything – but I need you to tell me what you would like to read about. You can even suggest specific products that you would like me to review, for example: “Luzanne, I would like to see you review the new Smashbox Primer Oil as 1 of the 5 primers.”
I love receiving feedback, it really helps me to stay on track to create content that you enoy reading.
P.S. Please bear in mind, we all have different skin types and skin tones. Even if you have combination skin, your skin might produce more oil than mine (and a certain foundation might not work as well for you).