Beauty Without Fuss

Wednesday 23 July 2014

How to do: Foundation

By Luke

Oh sweet mother of god there are a lot of base products out there aren’t there? Foundations, tinted moisturisers, BB creams, CC creams, and everything in between. What are they, and what is best for you? Where on earth do you start?

Well there are a whole host of bases available, and all are good for different things, like, different times of year, different skin types. Any one person should ideally have at least two of the following list in their arsenal, in my humble opinion.


Light, translucent. Gently evens skin tone without covering too much up. You should be able to see your skin underneath and have it not feel heavy, or opaque. Ideal for on makeup wearers (who ARE you people??!!) and summertime. Comes in a variety of textures (oil free, radiant) and finishes (matte, dewy). Generally a fluid type, but sometimes comes in a compact. NOT a replacement for skincare generally. Just a name for a super sheer makeup.

GOOD FOR: A little bit of coverage, the summer time, when you don’t want to much on, generally everyone who wants a light easily applied makeup.

BAD FOR: Anyone that has hyper pigmentation (they generally will not cover this) or anyone that requires a fuller coverage base.

I RECOMMEND: There are a lot of these, but I like the Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser a lot Amazing array of colours, and textures, and I also love the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua (available nationwide, £32) . Less choice of colour, but a really lovely finish, and is virtually weightless. It also has light diffusing particles that are imperceptible, but work really well. Will need to give this a really good shake before you use it though. The NARS Tinted Moisturisers (available at, £29) are also amazing, and have a high SPF too. Tend to use these when I’m working outdoors.


There are lots to choose from here. Comes in all manner of finishes, dewy, to matte. All different types of coverage also, from really close to what one might consider a tinted moisturiser, to a full coverage where nothing shows through. All different types of texture available, generally for different skin types. Creamy for dry, oil free for blemish prone, or shiny, compact foundations for ease of use, to sprays, and the list goes on. Just so you know, I have yet to come across a foundation that I can’t make look amazing, regardless of the price, and the quality. It’s not good enough to slap it on, you do need to spend a little bit of time, not hours, but a bit of time working it so you get what you want from it. Colour is perhaps the most important thing here. But generally nowadays they are all pretty good.

GOOD FOR: Anyone that requires a bit more coverage, perhaps the more problem end of the skin spectrum.

BAD FOR: Anyone who thinks you need a foundation ‘for evening’. Not necessarily. Anyone that doesn’t want to cover 70% of their features. Anyone that doesn’t want to spend a little bit of time working a base on.

I RECOMMEND: Lord so many. But in my kit I have the YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat which I adore. Light coverage, and dewy finish, and comes in a great range of colours, I use these a lot and am forever running out. The Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus foundation (available nationwide, £29) is another one I love. Not wild about the range of colours here, could be more, but generally found that it’s a good match for just about everyone. Has amazing skincare benefits too. Another one of my all time faves is Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum (available at, £8.99)). Amazing stuff. And so reasonably priced and smells delicious. Also I do like the Givenchy Teint couture foundation (available at, £32.50). Great coverage, not too heavy, and a really nice finish on it. Particularly for skins that can’t make their mind up if they are dry or oily.


Generally formed of minerals (no surprise there) which act as a sort of flat pigment that sits over the skin, and when ‘buffed’ provide coverage. Lots of different ones on the market with varying degrees of quality and effectiveness. Generally contain a natural (as in not added) SPF due to the nature of the product, and the materials used. NOT a face powder in the traditional sense. Has little to no oil absorbing quality, and if it does, sorry. It aint a mineral powder proper.

I RECOMMEND: Well, there is a well known brand of this particular type of makeup that frankly, I just can’t get along with. I find it overpriced and frankly, rather chalky looking. AAAANYWAY, I hate to bang on about them, but the best mineral powders I have ever used are the Laura Mercier ones. They come in two formats. Pressed and loose, they cover well, have a good range of colours. Some may struggle to match up, but few will, and they last a while too. (£31, available nationwide)

GOOD FOR: Generally speaking anyone that is particularly sensitive (unless it’s a mineral sensitivity), anyone that wants a quick and easy application as these are generally brushed on.

BAD FOR: Anyone with very dry skin. Despite not having a huge talc content, they are still a ‘powder’ so can look a bit arid on dry skins. Anyone who wants to look totally matte. They DO NOT absorb oil in the way a setting powder does. Older skins may struggle with these too, as they can show up fine lines.

Perhaps the most misunderstood, overused new term in the beauty market to date. Save for that awful ‘hypoallergenic’ rubbish that means zilch, but that’s a rant for another post. BB creams are not tinted moisturisers, and tinted moisturisers are not BB creams. A lot of BB creams on the market are IN FACT tinted moisturisers under a zeitgeist name. BB Creams were invented in Germany, not Malaysia as is commonly believed, by a Dr who wanted her clients to be able to wear a base that covered the rather inflammatory effects of her aggressive anti ageing facials that would also benefit the skin. The BB (or blemish balm, not beauty balm) was born. A unique product, with pigment suspended in rich skincare that evened out tone and redness and also helped the skin to heal. It was quickly adapted by the Malaysian market as a staple favourite, and then of course we heard about it a mere 10 years later, and acted like it’s the second coming. The formula since has been diluted down and down to such an extent that to be honest, if you are considering a tinted moisturiser or a BB cream, there is so little in the difference, you could quite easily use either to the same effect.

I RECOMMEND: There are few actual BB creams out there. Dr Jart (available at, from £9) is the closest I have come across. I am not wild about the colour of them though, but they feel nice and are easy to use. Without doubt, the best one I have ever used is the Stila 10-in-one HD Beauty Balm (available at, £26). Not strictly a BB cream, but has the same effect. I used this on myself when I had a quite reddening lactic acid peel, and it worked a treat. Love the finish on this. Another one I like is the Rodial BB Venom Skin tint (available at £35).

GOOD FOR: Anyone wanting to try something OTHER than a tinted moisturiser. Anyone who wants an uber natural finish, with the added benefits of skincare.

BAD FOR: Anyone expecting a fuller coverage.


Yet another product that has been around for eons, just rediscovered and given a new name. Commonly known in the industry as colour correctors, I have been using similar incarnations of these for nigh on 10 years. Now though, some have the benefit of a smart delivery system that means instead of effectively staining the skin, which is what they used to do, they become part of it, similar to the way a BB Cream pigment is delivered, and are thus much easier to use, and less like to make you look like Shrek.

I RECOMMEND: I am extremely old fashioned and tend not to use these, as I go for the colour correctors instead. That said some really nice ones have landed on my desk over the last year or so, My fave is the Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream (available at, £30). I have heard stories that despite the name, it can leave the skin feeling quite dry, but adequate skincare underneath sort of stops this. It does now also come in a handy compact. The Bobbi Brown ones are also good and come in a variety of colours for different concerns.

GOOD FOR: Anyone with high colour, or feels their skin could do with a ‘boost’ of radiance or more even tone. There are different colours for different needs. Green for anti redness, peach for dullness etc...

BAD FOR: Anyone who wants coverage. These work together with your base to make a more flawless appearance.


I have no idea. Not sure I want to know either. See: cynical marketing efforts by beauty companies.


To use a sponge or a brush? I would probably guess that 7 out 10 women do not use either, as it’s seen as a bit cumbersome, and takes a bit more time. Well, this isn’t necessarily the case. There are a whole host of tools to apply foundation that can make the world of difference to the finish. Here is a very general guide:
    A sponge should never be used wet! I hear this happening a lot. No. Just no. It will affect the foundation to such an extent that I am pretty sure you’ll be looking at about 20 minutes of good wear. Always use a dry sponge, preferably one you can wash and re use.

    There is no real benefit to using a sponge over a brush or vice versa, it really is personal preference. As a very general rule, a brush will place the foundation well, and buff it in, where as a sponge is an excellent idea for moving the product around, and blending it around the edges of the face.

    No sponge or brush need be used with a BB Cream or tinted moisturiser. They are too sheer really for this sort of application. Fingers all the way here.

    Please for the sake of your poor face, make sure that you CLEAN your foundation brush and/or your makeup sponge. Even if it is just you who is using it, it will still gather all sorts of bacteria so a good wash once a month (or more) is HIGHLY advisable. This can be done simply with some hot water, and some washing up liquid. Dry them flat on a tea towel overnight.

    A little foundation from the bottle or pump on the back of your hand rather than dipping it into the bottle itself is advisable. Hygiene being incredibly important here.
I RECOMMEND: Just your common or garden makeup sponge from Superdrug. I prefer the Oval shaped ones as they are easier to get into the smaller areas of the face than the triangular ones. To me, it makes no difference if you use a latex free sponge or not. Save for should you have an allergy to latex.


I recommend the following:

MAC 187: Large head of duo fibre hairs. One set synthetic, one set natural. All cut different lengths so excellent for buffing in any foundation. I just go in circular motions all round the face. Don’t be afraid by the ‘seams’ this brush leaves initially in the foundation, as soon as you keep buffing, they disappear to a flawless finish.
MAC 183: Same as above, but with a smaller head, great for getting into smaller areas, or if the 187 is a little intimidating. Both available at

Estee Lauder Foundation Brush: Perfectly sized, and cut to place foundation. Using the flat side of the brush you literally paint it on, until you have the desired finish. Available nationwide.

Glamcor Finish Brush: Superb buffing/finishing brush. Huge head on it again with the duo fibres that are shorter. Excellent for finishing a foundation by gently using the very tips of the fibres to gently buff over the surface of the base to really give a flawless finish. Available at

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