The perfection of imperfection

I birthdayed last week (surprisingly pleasant for happening during lockdown) and got my first covid jab on the weekend. Sore arm and feeling a bit exhausted which is what friends have reported (body of this post was written last week so if I felt completely rubbish I at least had something for Monday).

I’ve been watching too much of the French TV series Spiral set in Paris and it got me musing about this subject, the perfection of imperfection. I’m particularly taken by the Josephine Karlsson character’s makeup. She’s a light-skinned red-head with a lot of freckles and the makeup artist accentuates her skin beautifully. Whatever is used as makeup must be a wash because you can always see the freckles – she’s never wearing a mask of base. Lots of black mascara and sometimes a pop of eyeshadow and/or a red lip, but always that skin the star.

Anyway, this sent me off thinking about makeup. It’s been a year now that the world has changed here (we didn’t go into lockdown until late March but I stopped in-person yoga in late February when I offered a couple of people hand sanitiser and they refused it – ie, I decided it was time I retreated from situations I didn’t feel were safe). I don’t Zoom except for yoga and bar dog and solo walks I’m wearing a mask when I’m out. I had an appointment with the notary regarding a document recently and was masked the whole time. Which is to say I’m not wearing makeup at all right now (I did infrequently over last summer but really that was only a swipe of concealer and cream blush every once in a while). Even eye makeup. I just find I can’t be bothered. Which is sad. Really sad.

Anyway, the skin thing got me thinking about makeup again. I do have a foundation which I sort of feel meh about so I have decided it’s time to experiment a bit. I want coverage for when I have to look decent (actually what I really want is something I really feel excited about wearing – I need small excitement) but I don’t want heavy. And really I want to play.

In the past I’ve used (that I can remember) Laura Mercier TM, It Cosmetics stuff, Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue, and I had my makeup done years ago at MAC but found I disliked their foundation and concealer. Oh, and Bobbi Brown of some sort (meh), Armani (meh), Ellis Faas (nice, but hated the delivery system – those pens) and Chantecaille TM (meh) – most oxidised and I’m really not going to go down the primer path. I want enhancement, not full cover.

My all-time favourite foundation was the Prescriptives stuff that was personally blended at Bergdorf. So much fun and really worked well on my skin.

So, if you are a makeup wearer what are you playing with right now (if not, what else has taken your fancy)?

Help me out here. What do you love for coverage that still shows your skin? Do you have trouble with oxidation and if yes which products have worked?

  • Alityke says:

    The Chanel Water based foundation in the Les Beiges range is a cracker & sounds like just what you’re looking for

  • March says:

    Super late comment, but: I’m pale w freckles and I like my skin to look natural. I’m a big fan of Australian Gold tinted sunscreen (the fair to med one) which doesn’t look orange on me and is I think SPF50, gives a nice finish that isn’t matte OR shiny, and it’s mineral not chemical.

  • Ariel says:

    I have a rec for a couple foundations from the same line. Atomic Cosmetics (formerly based in Seattle, U.S.A, now in Arizona, U.S.A.) is a very small company with good sourcing and meh customer relations/shipping times. Hands-down the best foundations I have used. For context: 39 years old with lots of sun damage, wrinkles, and melasma.

    I use the Showgirl Strength Spackle foundation for performances and fancy nights (it was originally formulated for drag queens) and I can attest that it does not wear off on shirts as long as one wears a finishing powder or a setting spray. I’m 4’10.5″ and my main dancing partner is 6’2″—you can be sure I’m mindful of not staining clothes. It will rub off a bit on the inside of a mask, but won’t get mussed- at least on me. It covers my melasma and makes my skin looks perfect, even without primer. It’s also what I use when I want to play with eyeshadow and/or eyeliner (I suck at these. I have tiny eyes and making them look bigger is hard.)

    For everyday, I use the Nudie Cutie. It has some SPF (I put it on top of really good SPF) and brings a nice cohesion to my face without erasing freckles (or the melasma, sigh.) Very easy to blend, very lightweight, doesn’t rub off (no finishing spray or powder required).

    I love NARS concealer and Becca’s underage brightener with these foundations or on their own (I apply foundation first.) This, plus a brow definer, is my go-to on days that I see people when masked & outside.

    I WANT to play with more lipsticks/liptints. The only good one I have right now is from NARS. I used to love BITE, but not since they went totally vegan and stopping using lanolin. Any recs?

    • Ariel says:

      Becca’s underEYE brightener. FFS, autocorrect.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I like Nars but it doesn’t like me. TM was yet another that oxidised. At some point it stocked a red LS with gold bits in it which I really like (can’t recall the name). Dancing sounds a wonderful thing.

      • Ariel says:

        Ah, boo. Sounds like oxidation is a regular problem 🙁

        I haven’t been out dancing for over a year, and expect it will be another year or so more…but there is always kitchen dancing 🙂

  • Musette says:

    this is…. spooky, Cinnamon. I just started a draft called … um… ‘The Perfection of Imperfection’, I kid you not! obvs I will change the title. but that’s just…. weird, innit?
    Yours is more fun, anyway – and I just started looking at makeup again – I’m a HUGE Prescriptives fan, using their sheer foundation (Antelope, which is such a bizarre name); since I’ve crossed the Rubicon into ‘a certain age’ I can’t easily manage full coverage anymore – and, tbh, I don’t want to. Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer for when even the sheer foundation is too much coverage. And, for reasons unplumbed, I have gone hard in the eyeliner paint (and always eyebrows, lest I end up looking like an underbaked scone) xoxoxo

    • Cinnamon says:

      Snap 🙂 Prescriptives is what I wore when I first started to use makeup on a daily basis. Loved the stuff. And the MUAs were very good at coming up with a basic ‘face’ which was easy to not mess up. Eye liner … I love the idea of EL and I do use it (when I’m actually putting on makeup) but I wear glasses (sort of given up on contacts over the past year) and find putting on liner a bit difficult. I think I need to focus on that …

  • Kathleen says:

    I have been most happy with Chanel foundations over the years. I’ve used the Bobbi Brown Skin Serum Foundation with SPF per a friend’s recommendation and liked it. I used a SPF moisturizer, and like additional SPF in makeup.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Which SPF moisturiser do you prefer? I’ve sort of given up on that as even this far north I want at least factor 30. Sun’s out today for the first time in ages. Makes such a difference.

  • Dina C. says:

    One of my friends from high school and I have always been into cosmetics, and we’ve been into the Trinny London line lately. Trinny is the British gal from “What Not to Wear,” and she’s made a whole line of cosmetics now. She does cream eyeshadows, cream blushers & lipsticks and glosses that are all in little round pots that stack. She also does tubes of foundation & concealer, but we haven’t explored those as much yet. Like you, I’ve tried LM, BB, It, and drug store brands, too. During pandemic, I’ve been doing skin care, sunscreen, concealer, eye makeup, blush, and lips while I’m home. No foundation unless I’m performing on camera for live streamed church. For me It’s too depressing to schlump around the house without any face on…it makes me feel hideous.

    • Musette says:

      I know, right? I can’t stay in pj’s, either. I need to be showered, dressed (hair dressed, as well) and I need to have shoes on. It’s bizarre.

      as long as I have eyebrows on, I’m okay, though I do wear lipstick at home because No Mask. It makes me feel Human. Or at least human-adjacent. xoxox

      • Dina C. says:

        Yes!!! I totally agree with real shoes, too. Otherwise I feel like it’s a sick day. Today I’m wearing a Hermes scarf tied on my head 70s style like Ali McGraw, and my 20 year old daughter is giving me serious side-eye. chortle

    • Cinnamon says:

      You see, that’s the thing. I’ve reached a point where I need to be doing ‘something’ rather than just doing the skincare.

  • Ellen Byrne says:

    I’m 65 and still love Chanel foundation. You can choose full coverage to sheer. There’s a good range of color and it doesn’t oxidize on me. I also tried the Ilia line this year, tempted by Facebook ads. I like the serum and foundation but ultimately decided Chanel was still the best for me. I would like to try Trinny London but need to see testers so I’m not buying blind.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I think I tried Acqualumiere years ago. Maybe I need to have another go. I like the ‘idea’ of how Trinny London works but like you would need to test in person before committing.

    • Musette says:

      Ellen, I absolutely LIVE in Chanel Sublimage face cream! Zombies coming? That is one of the things I am grabbing, as I dash to (I hope) a zombie-free space! xoxo

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon,
    All my make up is for stage and a put it on with a trowel. Nothing for you here.
    Have you tried any of the Korean B B Creams? They are basically a tinted moisturiser with excellent reflective properties. They are light and semi concealing but in photographs you are practically flawless while still looking real.
    Portia xx

    • Cinnamon says:

      Thank you, Portia. It was very nice. Had to work but fancy takeaway and nice gifts. It’s actually sort of hard to get the Korean stuff here right now. I think Superdrug has some lines but I’m not hanging out in a shop right now…

      • Musette says:

        omg. My MANNERS! Portia, thanks for the nudge.

        HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Cinnamon!
        and omg, yes! on the BB creams. I’m a treatment junkie and there is almost nothing as phenomenal as Korean skincare (I’ve read that ‘skin’ (v. makeup or other attributes) determines the standard for Korean beauty). I use a number of lines, including the Missha Time Revolution and the Aquagel stuff that you rub off, taking 2 or 3 layers of dead skin with it. I can’t go as far as the 14 steps that some do, but I do 3 or 4… and my skin is SO happy! xoxo

  • Zazie says:

    Hi Cinnamom! I love makeup as much as perfume and wear if for the same reasons: the incredible amount of pleasure it gives me.
    In makeup, choosing the colors, the textures, is so exciting, not to mention the actual application: the brushes, the challenge, taking care and giving love to my face, having fun…
    Lockdown or not lockdown, I wear perfume. And cannot leave my eyeshadows palettes alone. Though I try. But then I feel I’m missing out and compensate with lipstick that I would never be bold enough to wear to the office and/or without a mask. 😉
    Foundation is the item I get least excited about (I usually stick with concealer: though I love makeup, and I love perfume, I wear them sparingly, just enough to have fun)
    In foundation, I hate mask-like coverage, and whenever I find the right foundation texture, one that is perfecting while looking like healthy luminous skin, the shade is not right. I have a light-to-medium skin tone, with a neutral warm undertone (I am a deep autumn). I agree that Chanel (as mentioned above) has a variety of really great formulas but nothing for my (very common) coloring.
    Maybe you are luckier than me!
    Also I get that not everyone is obsessed as I am with color and tones. I see the difference and cannot unsee it…
    But I do have some holy grails to highly recommend (all on the expensive side, unfortunately)
    Surratt dew drop foundation.
    Suqqu the cream foundation.
    And the best: Dior airflash, which comes with quite the shade range, not just in depth, but also in undertone, which is what really makes the difference.
    You don’t need to spray it on the face: you may spray directly on a damp sponge. 😉
    I also love most Tom Ford foundations, great undertones, my favorite is the stick foundation, which surprisingly can achieve a very wide range of different coverages depending on the application method…from light to full full full.
    I suggest using a very dense brush, if you like to see your freckles, as you sure should! Good luck with your quest!!!

    • Cinnamon says:

      Sigh. I am wearing perfume right now — just not MU. We were meant to go to Japan for last cancelled hols and I had this huge list of things I wanted to try, like Suqqu, and do. But it didn’t happen and now is unlikely to. Sad face. I love the look of Tom Ford colour cosmetics. Will really need to get a makeover by one of their SAs once that’s possible…

  • Ann says:

    I only wear foundation if I’m going out, but not generally for work. These are products I get in the US so I don’t know if you could get them – I like full coverage options since I wear it for special occasions.

    Josie Maran Vibrancy – from QVC

    Doll 10 – from HSN

    My mother-in-law does a lot of home shopping, and she gave me the shades that didn’t work for her and I really liked the product so I have re-ordered.

    Good luck!

    • Cinnamon says:

      This is the thing: I want to find something I can add seamlessly to my AM routine (which is currently serum, moisturiser and sunscreen) so I feel a bit more put together even though right now I don’t go many places. It is more for me than the world. I think I can get JM on amazon here. Never heard of Doll 10.

  • masafi says:

    La Mer-I am 66 years old and have dabbled in every brand. It is expensive initially, but I am surprised how little I need to use; one pump is enough. The shades are forgiving, I am a med-light neutral and I have never found a better color match/formula that looks this good.

  • Bev says:

    Charlotte Tilbury is a good line for me.

  • Gina T says:

    I am not a makeup fan and wear minimal: bare minerals powder, brown eye liner on lower lid, neutral tan eye shadow to smooth the lid, maybe mascara, and a lip stain or gloss. But I have been taken with the Sunday Riley face care regimen and bought all the products at a hefty sum. I am 51 and starting to show my age. I love them. Moisturizing with not a single breakout or redness (other than a rash and hives when I applied a lavender lotion on my chest over the product).

    • Cinnamon says:

      I am happy with my skincare. Interestingly, skin is the happiest it’s been for years (Emma Hardy cleanser, cheap hyaluronic serum, Ordinary moist for day, Votary cream at night, Ultrasun sunscreen). Have seen SR on CultBeauty. Will have another look.

  • MizChristian says:

    Like you, Cinnamon, I have not had occasion to wear makeup for a donkey’s age. I have been working from home for years so, pre-pandemic, wearing makeup was something I only did if I was going out. Since lockdown in March of 2020, I wore makeup once, last June, when I went to meet a friend for out door happy hour.

    Recently I read about Bobbi Brown’s new company (Jones Road) and her new makeup line for the company. It’s all ‘clean beauty’ (which frankly I am sick of hearing about) and designed so that your skin shows. I ordered 2 of the ‘foundation’ pencils, the Miracle Balm in the soft rose shade, one of the glosses in a nude shade and the navy liner pencil. Prior to ordering, I watched her videos, introducing the line as well as a few where she applies makeup to various subjects. In addition, I watched a lot of YouTube videos where people talked about and applied the different products.

    For reference, I am in my 60s, have uncolored pure silver hair, am very fair with pink undertones, have bright blue eyes, long, blonde eyelashes and light, sparse brows. My skin is in good shape for my age-few wrinkles, no age spots or broken capillaries but on the dry side. My biggest complaint is a sagging jawline, but no makeup is going to fix that. Anyway…

    I LOVE this line! The pencils come in 25 shades. They are easy to use, don’t drag or give a chalky look, they LAST all day and do not oxidize. I used color #1 as a concealer around my eyes, around my nose and on my chin, and then color #2 just to cover my nose, chin and a bit on my cheeks. They blend like a dream and are not oily or greasy as some stick foundations are. The Miracle Balm is amazing. You get such a glow from it, it’s unreal. It looks like highlighter (which I gave up on, as I could never get it right) and blush all in one and it, too, lasts all day. The balm can also be used on the lips. It is long lasting as well and looks lip your lips but better. I did not like the gloss as it was too warm a color for my complexion and it has peppermint oil in it, which dries my lips.

    I curled my lashes (no mascara) and applied a thin line of the navy pencil close to my lashes and then smudged it. It was the perfect casual eye look, and like the other products, it lasted all day. I simply looked like myself but better. My skin looked great but not at all made up, just ‘finished,’ if that makes sense. And no, I do not work for Jones Road/Bobbi Brown. I’m just a woman in her Third Act who still wants to look good without spending too much time or money on products.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I too work from home. It’s just that I’ve reached a point where I ‘want’ to look a bit more put together — even if it’s just for me. Had not heard of the new Bobbi Brown company. Will now need to look it up.

  • filomena813 says:

    I still like Chanel for foundation. They have several that are very light and just enough coverage to brighten up your natural skin. Right now I am using their Vitalumiere’ Teint Parfait Effet Seconde Peau.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I love looking at Chanel eye shadow quads. They are simply beautiful. But I’ve reached a point where I know they would mostly sit in my makeup drawer, languishing. Oh, I do have a Chanel hippie (just the one) which is a beautiful red (Coromandel).

  • taxi says:

    Estee Lauder Fresh Air is translucent. Les Beiges and Aqualumiere, both Chanel are light too. I’m in Calif so when outdoors & need sunscreen, I use Skinceuticals tinted ss or Paula’s Choice ss. PC is more occlusive than SkC but I’m very pale, pinkish & have trouble finding any foundations the right color.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Hmmm… we’re pretty much the same latitude as Montreal. In winter sun comes up at 9 and sets at 4 (it’s getting better now). I do wear sunscreen almost every day already so don’t need that included. Will look at the Estee Lauder.

  • Tara C says:

    I can’t abide foundation, it makes my face feel smothered, so I only use powders. Right now I’m using Givenchy under eye liquid concealer with Charlotte Tilbury setting powder, then Hourglass blush and ambient lighting overall face powder. I mostly use Clinique eyeshadows and mascara. On the rare occasions where I need long-lasting results, I use Nars eyelid primer. Then a creamy or sheer lipstick.

    • Cinnamon says:

      This is the thing. Beyond oxidising, many things I’ve tried over the years have just been too much. I know you can simply spot apply but I want something that is an all-over gentle wash of colour.

  • Dohotay says:

    Trinny London. I just started using it and am liking it!