Every now and again, one of you asks, so did you ever find a foundation? For those of you interested in my foundation drama, here´s my final report.
I found the search for my “perfect” foundation fascinating. Unlike fragrance, I´m not looking for something quirky and offbeat in my foundation. I´m looking for something that gives me more even-toned skin with the least made-up look possible. I outlined my requirements and you all made your recommendations several months ago.
While it might seem counter-intuitive, it bears considering: there is no universal idea of what constitutes an “attractive” foundation. Look no further than the faces of the women who are selling it – I am often astonished at the amount of foundation they spackle on, and how matte they keep it. While the sweet young girls at Sephora may be hiding blemishes, some women are clearly going for a heavy-handed finish on what appears to be reasonably flawless skin. For instance, the Armani SA here, a very pretty young woman, wears makeup like she´s an extra in one of those Tim Burton movies. I like my foundation to have a little sheen on the finish, which to me looks “natural,” but I´m sure many women would look at my idea of a perfect finish and rush for the powder or blotting paper. All of this my way of saying, this was my dabble, it was fun, and Your Results May Vary. All of these involved at least two tests, one applied by me (I tried to get samples to take home) on the principle that if I couldn´t duplicate the effect it wasn´t worth it.
Armani Luminous Silk Foundation – the SA hooked me up with 4.5. I thought it would be ridiculously expensive coming from Giorgio, but it´s $55, the same as the Chanel I use (although they want you to buy their $45 sable brush to apply it with). Indoors, the finish looked amazing, and the color is a perfect match. Outdoors … I struggled to sort out what the problem was, until it came to me – LSF makes me look like I´m wearing really expensive foundation. When what I want is for my face to look like skin, only better. There´s something about the way LSF sits up on my face that isn´t quite right. I´m going to try again with a different moisturizer underneath it. Also it´s probably a heavier layer than I´d apply myself, and I want to try with a sponge. UPDATE: I got a take-home sample of this. I can´t get it to sit right on my face; as some MUA reviewers complained, it pools in my pores. (BTW I´d never really thought about my pores until I started trying foundations. Who knew something could magnify your pores so profoundly?) Also, I´ve now been matched by Armani SAs a 4, a 4.5 and a 5, which is humorous. Really lovely foundation, though, if it works for you. I think it would work better on less dry skin than mine.
Prescriptives – this is connected to the Armani story above in a funny way. I´m not a good match for any of Prescriptives´ ready-made colors. I had the (really nice, friendly, knowledgeable) Prescriptives lady fiddle with one side of my face, about an hour after I´d done the Armani. She told me after trying a few that frankly she thought the finish and color on the Armani LSF was fantastic on me, and I should try a different moisturizer or foundation base underneath and give it another whirl. This from an SA at Nordstrom. Now, that right there is the kind of honest advice I really appreciate. She gave me a generous sample of their cool serum base which I like a lot.
By Terry – we tried this at Barneys; the SA put pink-eraser-colored stuff all over Patty´s face, some kinda luminating thing. It was heinous. A perfect match if you are an oompa-loompa with pink undertones. Other than that, it´s perfect. She said, looks great on everyone! Which you know is pretty much your signal to flee. Also, their salesperson is insane, and kind of a witch to boot. I tried some of their regular foundations on my own because she wouldn´t speak to us any more after we wouldn´t buy the pink stuff.
Laura Mercier – I give up, they must hire the CIA to train those women, maybe using Tasers and deprivation techniques, I don´t want to know. I understand that in order to give me a good result, you have to prep my skin a little, including removing whatever crap I already have on there. It´s harder and more time-consuming to test foundation than it is to test, say, lipstick. But let us find the balance between slapping a foundation on dirty skin and trying to sell me, over the course of 25 minutes, five skin care products you want me to use and still we don´t seem to be getting any closer to actually putting on the foundation. I get all crabby and have to go do deep breathing in the ladies´, where, by the way, they stock their sink with the Laura Mercier gourmand stuff, and I am telling you, if you put the coconut-almond or whatever hand goop on, it will haunt you for the rest of your life, no matter how many times you scrub your hands. Stay Away.
Make Up For Ever Face and Body Liquid Makeup – The winner!! Several people recommended it in response to my request. Perusing the reviews at MUA, I was surprised and amused by how strikingly similar the positive reviews were: they all sounded like women with my skin. They were women with dry/pale/red/sensitive skin, hoping to cover rosacea, looking for non-matte/natural/satin coverage. I was particularly amused by one reviewer who, fascinated by the ultra-naturalness of the finish, decided on a whim to see how many coats she could apply before it looked freaky. She gave up at seven. (It sounds like something I would do).
Armed with those reviews, I gave it a whirl. I´m glad I read the reviews, because I was prepared for the really odd texture – it´s sort of like a runny pudding, and a little gelatinous. Not disgusting, but a little surprising compared to most foundation I´ve tried. It comes in a wide-mouth, heavy glass bottle and I can´t imagine anyone applying it with something other than a sponge or a brush. It dries pretty quick, so you don´t want to dawdle. Also it smells strongly of something like alcohol. None of that filled me with great hopes, frankly, but I was already there, so why not. I tried the shade almost everyone recommended: Ivory 20, which in the glass bottle looked right — a pale, true neutral somewhere between bisque and beige.
The stuff looks amazing. Another weird bit is, given the texture and the way it dries, for the first few minutes it has that tight feeling on my face, like something´s maybe gonna crack. But I kept looking in the mirror and beaming at the finish. It toned down the red, matched my skin beautifully, had a satiny finish that looked neither dry nor greasy, and did a surprising job of minimizing my pores. It didn´t look like really good makeup. It looked, as one reviewer said, like skin, only better. It seems particularly well suited for summer in D.C., that is, unlikely to melt off my face in the humidity. I also love that I can use it to cover up the age spots on my chest and it doesn’t come off on my clothes.
At the end of all this foolishness, I wound up with:
Make Up for Ever in Ivory 20 (I think their lightest shade)
Lancome Renergie in Clair20, which has a really wonderful finish on me, and which is just slightly pinker than the MUFE and a little more luminous. Combined with a tiny bit of bronzer I think it´s a particularly attractive finish in the evening, and I like that I can basically smear it on with my fingers in a hurry, touch it up with my palms or a sponge, and still wind up with an excellent satin finish. I´ll probably wear this more in the winter, it´s very moisturizing (and I think would be a disaster on those of you with oily skin.)
I tried several foundations from Estee Lauder but could not get a good color match; the new Armani, I forgot what it´s called, the moisturizing one, doesn´t provide enough coverage. Anyway, it was fun, and thanks for all your help.