As someone who unfortunately has had troublesome skin since puberty, foundation has been an absolute must for me. Totally paramount in my make up routine, I never leave the house without it unless I'm hitting the beach. I've always dreamed about being able to use a few dabs of concealer here and there, or a light tinted moisturizer and be good to go. Not that it's annoying to actually apply foundation, but who the hell doesn't want perfect skin? My skin has been clear but I still deal with redness and acne scarring. Finding the right foundation can be tricky and when you find one that works it's like the cloudy skies part for those magical Jesus sun rays to come through and angels start to sing. Right? Well, at least for me...
So this is my current foundation collection and yes, I realize I have quite a few. For years and years I was a serial monogamist when it came to foundations, it didn't cross my mind that I would need more than one. Fast forward to now I have over a dozen because I love testing out products and I think maybe the absolute holy grail formula will be found in the next one I buy *eye roll* but each of these fit whatever particular "mood" my skin wants to be that day. All of these are also formulas that I really really like, I return products that don't work for me (i.e. Charlotte Tilbury Magic foundation, Tom Ford Traceless Perfecting Foundation, NARS All Day Luminous Weightless foundation) but amongst them are some real standouts.
And now for my favorites among the favorites (in no particular order):
1. Givenchy Lingerie de Peau is listed first coincidentally but it's probably my favorite formula ever. Quite fluid in consistency but coverage is a very solid medium and can be built up to full. Since it's thin, it glides easily on the skins surface and really adheres to my face. After a few minutes it looks seamless and like my own skin without any makeup on, which is what this foundation is described to do. Pores are gone even without a primer and it stays put for hours although I haven't yet tested it out in super hot and humid weather. The finish is a slightly dewy and glowy. Light fragrance and SPF 20. Only cons are that alcohol is high on the list and the color runs a little pink on me so I have to mix yellow pigment.
2. NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer is a little deceiving because it's got way more coverage than your typical tinted moisturizer which are normally sheer. This is a lighter medium coverage with a creamy texture and really natural finish. Definitely true to its name it has a bit of a radiance. It's a formula that seems to work just about whenever especially if I'm feeling a little bit dry because it doesn't cling to any patchiness or look cakey, so it's easy to wear. SPF 30 and stays on for several hours without breaking up.
3. NARS Sheer Glow was a foundation I've worn for several years. A lot of people will think that due to its name it's very sheer with a lot of glow, but it is in fact referring to just a "sheer glow" and has medium buildable coverage. I had oily skin and it worked for me but I had to blot throughout the day regardless of any foundation I wore. However this didn't make me into a super greaseball just by application. Like the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer this formula is also very easy to work with. I've used Stromboli (comparable to MAC NC-30) consistently but this past winter I was the palest I've been in forever so I picked up Punjab to match me better. The whole range runs pretty yellow so if you've struggled with finding warmer shades maybe look into this. Since it's SPF free it's a good choice to wear when you'll be in flash photographs. It doesn't come with a pump but I've never minded.
4. Too Faced Born This Way is a full coverage formula that hugs the skin and blends in beautifully to look natural but it's not undetectable on the face. I first picked it up when it came out and when my skin was oily. It did NOT work, it was grease slick city from the get go and I was blotting my face like crazy. It's oil-free but a hydrating formula due to the infusion of coconut water. I was so sad to have to return it because application and the finish was so pretty. When my skin normalized more I tried it again and it's been a happy love story since.
5. Surratt Real Skin Foundation Wand is a newer product and Troy Surratts only foundation. It comes in a unique tube with a flat angled buffing brush attached which I find to be a bit useless since the diameter of the brush is small and difficult to evenly spread the product. But I just squeeze the foundation onto a palette and use a different brush to apply. This goes on like a dream! Slightly thicker in consistency and literally seems to melt into my skin and looks so natural with a medium coverage. It works well solo but when paired with the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer it's a knockout combo which I've mentioned on my Snapchat. The packaging makes it easier for people who like to apply or touch up on the go. Only con is that the amount of product inside is 0.5 oz which is half the standard amount, so for $65 this is very expensive.
6. Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation has been written about so many times as an industry standard and a favorite to so many. From Japan it's a liquid mineral foundation that's supposed to provide a very natural finish that mimics a post-facial glow. Coverage is a lighter medium which is enough for me to be satisfied with it but I have to use it when I'm having a good skin day because it doesn't build up that easily. If you're looking for something that looks super natural and feels lightweight I would definitely recommend checking this out. A con is that there is a very limited number of shades available, this caters to fair-medium skin tones only.
So in addition to my favorite foundations I wanted to include some "foundation helpers". These are products I mix in to help with color correction or matching my skin tone.
Make Up Forever Chromatic Mix in Yellow is a tiny bottle of pure water-based pigment (also available in oil-based) that I add to any foundation that runs a little cooler (like the Guerlain Lingerie de Peau). I had no idea products like this existed until this year and I'm totally obsessed. In the winter my skin seems a little harder to match and make up can look pink on me so I add about two drops to this onto a palette with the foundation, mix it up and it's a perfect match!
NIOD Photography Fluid is not a primer but a thicker serum textured liquid you can either wear on its own or under foundation to help neutralize discoloration and flaws. It's dispensed by a dropper and the liquid itself is a creamy pale shimmery gold color, it is SO pretty. It's called Photography Fluid because it refracts light to make you look like your best self in real life and in photography, basically a real life Instagram photo filter. When swatched on bare skin there is a sheen but not from shimmer particles, it's just a glow and with foundation over it the glow is much more subtle but I suppose it depends on how sheer your foundation is. It's very similar to the Becca Backlight Priming Filter in finish but that has a pink undertone whereas the NIOD is yellow/golden. I'm very into the strobed/highlighted look but prefer a subdued effect rather than wanting my glow to be seen from space and this paired with a highlighter is gorgeous, I especially can't wait to wear it with tanned skin.
The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops in "Lightening" is pretty self explanatory, a pigment that will lighten up any foundation. It comes in handy if you don't want to drop the money and buy another shade of the foundation you use. This doesn't change the texture or performance of the make up and though it has a pink tinge, I don't see that it changes the shade. Also comes in a darkening color but I've heard mixed reviews on that one.