Buckle up my darlings, because this is a pretty long one as you might have guessed from the above photo.
I know product round ups like this are usually done at the end of the year, but I have been testing foundations for about a year and a half now and I decided that with both the Singles Sales (November 11th) and the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales all kicking up a review might not be a bad thing. Not only for you, but for me as well.
While I still have foundations that I want to try out, working through some of my existing products doesn’t seem like a bad idea. I have to say, there were some I forgot about until I pulled them out of the drawer. So let’s do a quick rundown of foundations past. The links will take you to the more in depth reviews of each product. As there are around twenty products I’m covering I just wanted to keep it to the basics (sort of a foundation review cheat sheet). And yes there are some I left out. The ones on this list are the ones I liked enough to keep around. Because I was trying so many, if I didn’t like the product and knew I wasn’t going to use it, I passed it along immediately rather than keep it around so someone else could get a use out of it. These are the products I kept around.
The first one I have to mention is the Pretty Vulgar Cool AF Lava Water Foundation. Mostly because the shape of the bottle insures it will remain out on my dressing table. Which is not a hardship. It is a pretty bottle. I tried putting it in the drawer and the little birdie bent. I really liked this foundation. It was lightweight and wore well throughout the day. When using it, I would go for a water based primer rather than a silicon based one as it plays better with the water based ones.
So having covered the one foundation that is constantly out on the dressing table, let’s move into some of the drug store foundations that made the top of my list.
The Pacifica Alight Oil Free Anti Shine Clean Foundation was one of my earlier foundation trials and to be honest I forgot it was in my drawer even though I reached for it a lot in the spring. It is too tall to stand upright and rolled right to the back and hid. I may have to figure out a way to keep it out. I added it to my makeup bag this week and I have to say I also forgot how much I liked it. It was one of the better drugstore foundations. In fact it was in the top three of the drug store category. It had about a ten hour life span on it so it isn’t the best for transitioning from office to night out but for a consistent work day drugstore foundation it is in my top three.
To continue with the drugstore products, we’ll go to the Wet ‘n Wild Photofocus. This is one of those that got a lot of publicity and it is easy to see why. It does perform really well and it is one of the least expensive products I tried. The applicator is a cheap plastic wand so I would recommend either replacing it with a pump top (you can generally pick them up in the dollar store, or at least there were some there on my last visit to the dollar store. If not they can be relatively easily ordered on line) or dabbing it on your hand. Trying to use the plastic wand on the face was just a mess, at least for me. The biggest issue for me was the paint smell of the product. It is strong, really strong. I did notice however that If I used the Wet ‘n Wild foundation consistently then throughout the week the paint smell sort of aired out. If I let it sit capped for a week, the scent returned as strong as ever. Scent and wand aside, it is a good affordable product.
The Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless and the Catrice HD Liquid coverage both rank slightly higher than the Wet ‘n Wild on my personal foundation meter. I enjoyed using both and really liked the price of these products. They are good products and don’t break the bank. I also had no issues getting them to work with any of the primers I used this past year. The Maybelline Fit me was slightly better than the Catrice because occasionally I could wear it without a primer if I wanted. The instance was rare but the Maybelline looked pretty good without a primer. Better with of course, at least with my skin. My only issue with it was the fact that is was an open bottle without a dropper or pump. I am actually looking to find a pump that fits the bottle. If it does I will be a happy camper. The issue with the open top is user error to be honest. I just dispense more product than I need if I have to pour.
The NYX Professional Makeup Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil was fantastic to use when I wanted a very light make up day. It covered up redness and dark spots but felt light against the skin and blended really well. It was one of the best light day drug store foundation products I tried and it is one that I will consistently repurchase. It looked really good with a primer but okay without.
And then we get to E.L.F. I’m going to be honest, E.l.f. took the drugstore/affordable foundation category for me. While the tinted moisturizer I adored was discontinued and shall be mentioned no more, this left me with two e.l.f. foundations. The ELF acne Fighting Foundation and the Elf Flawless Finish Foundation. The acne fighting foundation is one that I could happily reach for every day. I could very easily see myself picking up two shades and using it year round. In fact since I am already putting in an order with elf for the holidays (I have several 12-13 year old girls on my list who are just getting into makeup so I’m putting together a little bag for each and let me tell you each of those bags is getting one of those Bite Sized Eyeshadow Palettes) I will probably be picking up a backup of the elf Acne fighting foundation.
This is not to say the flawless finish foundation is not fantastic. It is more of a conference call, speaking in public, out to dinner sort of foundation, for me anyway. I would happily reach for it then. The acne fighting foundation is just an everyday sort of product that I know I’ll go through fast.
While all of these products are ones I will be using down to the last drop and all are ones I have no problem repurchasing, for those interested in an absolute ranking, here we go. The two Elf foundations share the number one spot. I love them both and will keep both around. I just wear them for different reasons and can’t really decide between them. NYX Bare With me takes the number two spot with Pacifica coming in a very close third. Maybelline fit me comes in fourth with the Catrice HD Liquid coverage a close fifth and Wet ‘n Wild hitting at number six.
While I didn’t include it in the drug store foundations I also tried a foundation from the Ulta Brand. I used the Ulta Beauty Youthful Glow Foundation Serum Drops. It is one of those foundations you really have to remember to shake. The lid got a little messy on me. It is the curse of the screw top lid. I will say the messy didn’t stop me from using it. I would definitely repurchase this foundation. And in all fairness, since I put this in a separate category (at least mentally) from the drug store foundations, I did try out a Sephora foundation. As you can see it is no longer in my foundation drawer. I didn’t use it up. After a week, I passed it on to someone else because I knew I wasn’t going to be reaching for it. Which sort of says enough about that one.
From the drug store foundations we are going to move into the stick foundation category. There are three that I tried out and quite frankly I would purchase all three repeatedly. The Anastasia Beverly Hills stick foundation requires a little bit of warming up before it blends into the skin so what I tended to do was open it and turn it upside down, placing the product against the back of my hand for a moment while wrapping my other hand around the tube. After a few seconds it was warm enough to apply well by brushing my foundation brush across the top of the product. I ended up with a circle of foundation dotted onto my hand, but it wasn’t a lot of wasted product. And it really only took a few seconds. After that it blended beautifully into my skin. The shade I picked up is more for summer wear for me so it will be set aside and used up once my tan returns.
The Nars Velvet Matte stick is a winter shade for me so I am pleased to see it emerge from the drawer. I have enough product left in the tube that it can easily be used up this winter. It is still a little too light for me right now but soon…soooooon it will be called into use. It is a fantastic formula. It is creamy enough that I don’t have to warm it up and it stayed in place all day. I know that shouldn’t surprise me as Nars is just a fantastic brand, but this is one of my favorite products from them. To be honest, I actually like the formula of this better than the liquid foundations I’ve used in the past.
The Kristofer Buckle Triplicity stick foundation was the top of the top for me in this category. It melted beautifully into the skin with a fantastic matte finish that wasn’t too cakey or heavy. It was light and looked beautiful on the skin. This year when I found myself between foundation trials I often found myself reaching for this to fill the gap. As a consequence I am actually running quite low on this product and will need to reorder. I picked this up in one of the Kristofer Buckle Vanity kits. I had already fallen in love with their Cashmere slip lipstick and one of the vanity kits came with a lipstick, mascara, powder and this foundation stick. I think the entire kit was $28 and I thought it a great way to test out the brand. I also thought the products would be travel sized but it turned out they were all full sized products so it was a fantastic deal. I enjoyed all the products, but this foundation stick is tops.
The Kosas Tinted Face oil was the only oil foundation that I tried…well…ever actually. So I have no other oil based foundation products to compare it to. However it is a really good foundation. As it is oil thee is a bit of a shine to it, but the shine is easily powdered away. The oil is absolutely weightless and the foundation stays in place all day. The only issue I had with it was one of texture. Because it is an oil product it sort of flows onto the skin and takes up the shape of the skin below. It is perfect for a no make up look, but not so great if you have large pores or texture. With a pore filling primer underneath this worked fantastically well and was quite frankly one of my top products. And yes that means it beat out both the Kristofer Buckle and E.L.F. While it does need a primer underneath, choose your primer wisely. Oil and water don’t mix so chose a silicon based primer and make sure it is a pore filling one to give yourself the smoothest canvas possible.
There are two foundations that I liked when I used them initially, but as I’ve tested other products have slid down the scale. They are both excellent products and I have no problem finishing them out, but in all fairness, they have slipped low enough on my list that I probably wouldn’t repurchase them. These two are the Too Faced Dew You Full Coverage Fresh Glow and the Wander Beauty Nude Illusion Liquid foundation.
I liked both of them when I used them, and I still like them enough that I have no issues continuing to use them until they are gone. They were among two of my earliest foundations to test out and quite frankly several of the ones that came after them were better. That is just the nature of the trials. It doesn’t make them bad, because nothing that actually made this list is bad. It just means they are on the bottom of the best I’ve tried.
With Wander beauty the issue is the doe foot applicator. While I appreciate that it is in the package tightly every time I pull the applicator out, the product sprays out and makes a mess. That, more than the product is why I rank it so low on this list. It falls down on packaging and not product. The product itself is still fantastic, I just don’t like the mess and get annoyed by it. If the packaging were different, this would be a different story, because it is a good product.
The Too Faced is just more dewy than I like. It is not over the top dewy but it is dewy enough that when I use it I feel the need to apply more powder to balance out the dewy. So in this case it is more of personal choice in finish. It is a good product, I am just not a dewy person.
The Ciate Extraordinary Foundation was a new one for me this year as well, and I have to say I liked the foundation. Actually this seemed to be the year of Ciate. Every time I turned around Subscription boxes were sending new Ciate products my way. I think I am one bronzer away from having an entire face of Ciate London products. Their blush is one of my favorite blush formulas actually while their primer was only so so. The foundation I would purchase again. It was a good solid foundation that didn’t look cakey or peel up around the nose and mouth. It wasn’t heavy on the skin either which I always consider a plus.
There were two Becca Foundations in my trials recently; the Becca Ultimate Coverage 24 Hr. Foundation and the Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation. I would buy the Becca Luminous Perfecting Foundation again in a heartbeat. I like the way it looked and I liked that it was buildable. I would probably not buy the Ultimate coverage foundation because it is ultimate coverage no matter how you apply it. I am just not an ultimate coverage kind of person. My wheelhouse is medium coverage. There are occasions where full coverage is necessary and I have no problems using this for full coverage necessities, but to be honest, those sort of events are few and far between right now. So for me the Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation is a Becca hit for me, but the Ultimate Coverage is a pass because I m just not going to enough events to justify repurchasing it.
Despite claiming to be full coverage I found the Yensa color + face Skin on Skin BC Foundation Full coverage to be a light medium coverage product. Which for me is well in my wheelhouse. It is part of their Super 8 line and I have to say I have been having really good luck with that line. I’ve repurchased the primer from that line at least twice and I have to force myself not to use the Yensa lip oil every day and to try reaching for other products. It is an absolutely fantastic lip oil. But we are not discussing lips (they just sort of sneak in when I’m not looking), so back to the foundation.
For extremely light weight products the Hey Honey Trick and Treat cc2 Active Moisturizing cream with Honey and Propolis and Purlisse Perfect Glow BB Cream Spf 30 are my go to products. Both I tried out in sample sized form. The Purlisse Perfect Glow I finished and now have a full sized in my dressing table. Resisting opening it until I use up a few more products has been quite difficult. I still have a week or two left in the Hey Honey trial sized tube but once it is gone a full sized replacement will definitely be ordered.
And finally, we come to the most expensive foundation on the list. I tried this in a sample packet. Koh Gen Do lets you order the samples in ranges so that you can determine your shade. I read so many raves about this and saw so many fantastic reviews that I had to try it. As it is a $77 foundation it is a little pricy so the samples were also a cost effective way to test it. After all, I didn’t want to pay $77 and be stuck with a product I hated or that was the wrong shade. And I will also confess that I was secretly hoping I hated it. Yes, I know there are much more expensive foundations out there, but the foundations I usually purchase tend to be in the $35-40 range. I did not want to fall in love with a more expensive foundation.
But I did.
The Koh Gen Do Aqua foundation was fantastic. I cannot recommend it highly enough. The only reason that I did not purchase it immediately is because I wanted to clear out some space in my foundation drawer before I did. It is one of those products where I know once I purchase the bottle I am going to use the bottle until it is gone and simply not reach for other products. Part of that is the cost. I would not want to purchase it and then let it go to waste. I also wouldn’t want other products to go to waste while I was using it. So what I am doing is watching the sales to see when the foundation does go on sale so I can plan when I want to purchase it. If you are interested I would highly recommend picking up one of their sample packets. They come in bundles with two packets for each shade in that range (Light, Medium, etc) and there is some overlap. The shade that worked best for me was the darkest shade of light which is also the lightest shade of medium. I ordered both packs to make certain (I think the sample packs are $6-8). I got two uses out of each packet. I kept a little jar with the product so that I could just squeeze the packet into the jar. Because it is a thin enough formula that was the best way not to make a mess (and to not waste product). It also let me be confident in ordering my shade.
So after a year and a half of testing foundations, these are the products that made the top of the list. They were worth remembering to me at least. While I did make some attempt at ranking them, to be fair all of them are ones I would use again, minor annoyances aside. Anything I wouldn’t use again has long since been escorted out of my dressing table. So even ‘bad’ on this list is still pretty darn good. I know I covered a lot of products her in very little detail, but the links with the products will take you to my full review of each of the products if you want more information. I figured this was already going to be a long post without adding the nitty gritty details to it, but I also figured a foundations list might be helpful for anyone looking to stock up during all of the lovely sales that are just around the corner.