Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Foundation matches

As you may have gathered, I'm pretty pale. Not porcelain, and far from the fairest person I know, but already too light to have a ready-made shade from MAC and many other mainstream brands.

Hopefully these swatches of some close-ish foundation matches will help both those looking for similar shades and anyone else looking to extrapolate from how colour products look on my face.

From left to right, they go from lightest coverage (medium) to heaviest (v. full). I personally don't have a use for very sheer foundations -- pigmented formulas can easily be sheered out, and if my skin doesn't need much coverage, I'd rather skip foundation altogether...

1. Illamasqua Skin Base SB02 neutral pink, medium coverage
2. Addiction Dewy Glow 01 Wafers neutral yellow, medium coverage
3. Nars Sheer Glow Siberia (my bottle spontaneously flung itself at the floor today, hence the Muji pot) cool yellow, medium+ coverage
4. Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet+ 15 neutral, med-full coverage
5. Paul&Joe Light Cream Foundation S 00 cool yellow, med-full coverage (NB this has been reformulated and now contains alcohol)
6. Shu Uemura Nobara stick 784 neutral yellow, full coverage
7. Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory yellow, full coverage
8. Graftobian HD Glamour Creme Lady Fair neutral, very full coverage
9. Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-1 cool yellow, very full coverage

Swatches on white paper to bring out the undertone differences

 Arm swatches -- natural light

Arm swatches -- natural light, by window

Bear in mind these are very heavy swatches on my inner arm, which is paler than my face; once blended out the shade differences are less apparent.

However, being even persnickitier about foundations than I am about...everything else, even slight mismatches or textural flaws, like, make my heart ache, which is where this arsenal of primers and mixers come into play:

A. MAC Face&Body White for lightening liquids or water-based creams
B. Rouge Bunny Rouge Bronzing Glow Liquid for darkening, and to add warmth and a sheen
C. RBR Sea of Tranquility to add pink and a sheen
D. RBR Sea of Clouds to lighten and add a sheen
E. RBR Metamorphoses Primer to create a satin-matte effect and conceal pores (I also love mixing this with eyeshadows and lipsticks)
F. Suqqu Makeup Base Creamy to add pink and help foundation apply over dry, flaky skin
G. Shu Uemura Stage Performer Instant Glow nominally a primer, I use this magical pore-perfecting, yellow-tinted cream instead of foundation, topped with some spot-concealer
H. Make Up For Ever HD Primer 5 Blue to cool shades down
I. Barry M Foundation Creme White for lightening thicker creams (this is much more pigmented than MAC F&B).

You'll notice that most of these add a glow -- it seems that paler shades tend to come in formulas which are really unforgiving to my dry skin.

A few other close-ish matches which aren't in my collection:
Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation 00 Alabaster neutral pink, light-medium coverage
Illamasqua Light/Rich Liquid 115 cool pink, full coverage
Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream 13 neutral, full coverage (I've swatched over a hundred BB creams and this is my only match)
Sonia Rykiel Fresh Gel 10 yellow, medium coverage

In summer, at my most 'tanned', I can also swing:
Alima Satin Matte N0 neutral, medium coverage
Chantecaille Future Skin Porcelain neutral yellow, medium coverage
Dior Diorskin Forever Compact 010 yellow, full coverage
Graftobian HD Glamour Creme Bombshell neutral, very full coverage
Laura Mercier Mineral Powder Soft Porcelain yellow, medium+ coverage
Lunasol Water Cream OC-01 neutral-yellow, medium-full coverage
MAC Studio Sculpt NC15 neutral-yellow, medium coverage (about a shade paler than other MAC NC15's)
Suqqu Frame Fix Cream 001, cool but very yellow, full coverage


  1. You mix the RBR primer with eyeshadows and lipstikcks? I need to learn more about that!

  2. Those RBR bottles are so pretty. It's a fortunate thing I am so averse to buying untried; otherwise I'd end up buying everything.

  3. I'm so interested in the Shu Uemura Stage Performer Instant Glow, could you tell me some more about your experiences with this product?

  4. Musing On Beauty: jump in and try! I got tired of trying to find matte lipsticks that my lips could take and took to patting some of this on top. It creates an awesome rubberised finish mixed certain loose shadows as well.

    Dain: I was sucked in by zuneta's cunning little sample pots, and I suspect most RBR devotees were too. The highlighters are standout gateway products to be sure.

    Alice: it looks a strange greyish gel-cream at first but takes on a pale golden hue as you blend it out. I tend to apply a pea-sized amount either under or over my sunscreen, all over my face. It blends in invisibly but somehow evens out minor redness, fills in pores, and just gives a very natural looking glow -- basically what a good TM or light foundation is supposed to do.

    Based on reports from friends, it seems to be that rare product that works equally well for very dry skin like mine as well as very oily. The Shu site shelves it under 'skincare' but I haven't noticed any of the benefits lingering after I remove it, so it's definitely 'makeup' for me.

  5. Thanks, really very helpful! Will definitely be giving it a try.

  6. Wow, thank you so much for the comparisons! NARS Sheer Glow Siberia is my perfect colour match, do you think the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-1 would also be a good match for me?

  7. Ali: definitely! :) It's sliiightly less yellow than Siberia but will work.

  8. thank you so much for the review...i'm actually interested in trying Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer but i'm still a bit confused about which shade would be perfect for me i'm a MAC NC15 do u think i shoul get the sx01 or the sx03 ??

  9. Such a useful post! Thank you! Have you tried Illamasqua Rich Liquid Foundation in 100/105 or Skin Base in 01? I'm trying to find a HG white for lightening -- since MAC Face&Body doesn't work for me :(

    1. Kate, allow me to answer to Leaf?

      I'm used to lighten my foundations. My favorite foundation (Chanel Lift Lumiere) is SO dark but I won't give it up because I adore it.

      I find Mac F&B too sheer, and Illamasqua RLF doesn't work for me (it slides and forms small pools of foundation in my pores). Illamasqua Skinbase has a white shade and it's very pigmented, so you can use a little and it won't change the texture of your favorite foundation. I find that Temptu corrector in white, also quite pigmented, is better for my dry skin.

      I hope this helps. I don't know if links are allowed, so google for Illamasqua+Temptu+makeupalooza and you can see pictures (review is in Portuguese).

  10. Thank you very much for this! After finding this post, I've actually decided to go back to foundations after being on a BB cream spree. We seem to have the same skin colour and type :D

    I've recently bought from your list the KA SSE, LM and Graftobian foundations, all of which work wonderfully (although perplexingly the Graftobian one leans too glaringly white in some lights, I don't know why!).
    Very glad of the KA SSE tip, as being on a budget I probably would never have made the plunge without a nudge from you - and it's frikkin' amazing!

  11. Great post! After a twitter convo on foundation, Musing sent me over, and I can see why- we appear to have almost identical skin tones! I have been curious about the Barry M white for a while- though I love my Lady fair/Bombshell Graftobian and #13 Perfect Cover BB, I also always find the need to try new things, and since it's rare for a foundation to be fair enough, I need to have a white on hand.

    My favorite is Face Atelier, but it's a little pricey. Coastal Scents used to carry a white corrector that has since been discontinued, so I'm back in the market for a lower priced white mixer. As you mentioned MAC F&B is so sheer it dilutes the coverage of my makeup, which is generally not welcome! Has anyone out there tried Face Atelier's version that can compare it to Barry M, Stargazer, Yaby or Manic Panic?

    1. I have tried Face Atelier, Barry M and Yaby by now :)
      My preference is for Barry M, but it's a thick cream and may not work with liquid formulas (will mix beautifully with Graftobian/Missha PC though).
      I find FaceAtelier slightly dry-looking and Yaby liquid extremely dry AND drying too (brings up all my flakes, makes foundation textures much more chalky).

  12. Great post! I love your swatches (it's so hard to swatch on pale skin) and I love that you added a list of primers. I have a few foundations that are either a tad too dark or too dry or matte, so this gives a nice overview :)