Facing Foundation


It seems as though I have been searching for a good foundation for years. I’ll start using one then switch to another in the hope of finding something better.  It’s kind of a vicious cycle! If you have been keeping up with my blog and posts you already know that I have very dry and sensitive skin, so finding a good foundation can be very challenging. I have to find a good balance between coverage, one that isn’t too oily so that my skin doesn’t break out, and one that is not too drying that will emphasize the dryness I already have. Plus it cannot be too pricey. I know, I’m needy!

I recently decided to take a trip to Ulta to try to find something that checks all of my boxes. I love Ulta for this experiment because you can generally get free samples or cheaper sample sizes to try before you buy.  Their beauty advisors will also color match you for free, which makes this process so much easier. I specifically asked the beauty advisor to direct me to some foundation options for very dry skin.

I decided to try six foundations for this experiment. Before using I performed my normal skincare routine that includes exfoliating 2-3 times a week and using a rich moisturizer each night. I also used the same face primer (bareMinerals Good Hydrations Silky Face Primer) with each of the foundation products to provide a similar base and equal playing field. 

First up is Clinique Even Better foundation. I have never really used Clinique products, but have always heard good things so I was excited to try it. I was color matched to the shade “CN 0.75 Custard.” When I got home I was a little sad to find that this shade was still a little too yellow for my skin, but it was the lightest color they had that wasn’t white (#gingerproblems).  I applied the foundation and frankly, I was foundation7pretty disappointed. I found it to be quite greasy and it did not go onto my skin very smoothly. I attempted applying with a sponge, a silicone applicator, and clean fingers and just could not get it right. I tried wearing it anyways, but was disappointed to find that what I did manage to apply did not last long. For these reasons I personally am not a fan of this foundation. ($29.00 at Ulta)

Next up is bareMinerals Complexion Rescue tinted moisturizer-hydrating gel in shade “Opal.” This is also the lightest color you can purchase from the bareMinerals line.  Incidentally, this “foundation” is what actually started me on this quest for the perfect foundation. I have always had good results with bareMinerals products, but this one had to be the exception.  Originally, I was pointed to this product because it is supposed to contain moisturizer, is light-weight, AND long lasting. No, no, foundation10and NO. This foundation did not cover well at all and was not very buildable. It seemed to just sit on top of my skin which emphasized my dry and flaky spots even more. This foundation actually seemed to dry my skin out!  The color was also a little too orange for me. Although I really like many other bareMinerals products, I’m going to have to do a hard-pass on this particular product.  ($32.00 at Ulta)

 Since this was the only bad experience I have had with bareMinerals, I decided to give their barePRO Performance Wear Liquid Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 20 in shade “Fair 01” a chance. This one is MUCH better. I would not say that it has been great for my dry skin, but it definitely has not made it foundation6worse. This foundation does provide more coverage and is a little bit heavier.  For this reason I would not use it as a daily foundation but I think this would be great for a night out or special occasion. I noted that by the end of the day the product did settle into the pores and creases on my face.  A full size bottle of this foundation at Ulta is $34.00.

The next product I tried is Benefit’s Hello Happy Soft Blur Foundation SPF 15 in Shade “1- Fair Cool.” It is the winner! I purchased the sample (travel size version) of this foundation at Ulta for $10. I found that this product is lightweight, but also super buildable. It contains shea extract which helps to smooth and protect skin. It is more matte, and offers medium coverage. I applied this foundation4foundation with clean fingers, as I found it got a little streaky with other applicators. I didn’t need to use a whole lot of this make up; the travel size has (so far) lasted me over a month! The full size bottle at Ulta is $29.00.

I really wanted to try Tarte Double Duty Beauty Shape Tape Hydrating Foundation because I have heard such good things about it, but my Ulta store did not have this product in my shade. I hope to try it soon, and I will let y’all know what I think of it when I do! If you are interested in giving it a go, it is $39.00 at Ulta.

For my wedding I wore MAC Studio Fix foundation in shade “NC10″ (which can be found at Sephora or a MAC counter/store. (Mac Artists will also color match you free of charge!) It worked really well for me foundation11and had great long lasting coverage. I made it through pictures, the ceremony, and all of the dancing without it fading. I will say it was not wonderful for my dry skin, but it did hide imperfections very well. This would be another good alternative for a long lasting, full coverage foundation. It is $30.00 at the MAC store. 

As for drug store finds, in the past I have been very satisfied with L’Oréal True Match Super -Blendable Foundation. I wear the shade “N1”. I used to only wear this foundation, and I loved it until my skin started getting super dry. Although it is said to be a hydrating formula, my skin needed some more TLC. foundation9This would work well for anyone who classified their skin as normal, oily, or (kinda) dry, just not like the Sahara Desert dry, like me. It does provide medium coverage and is buildable. I also really like it because it is free of oil and fragrance, which can irritate my skin. It also come in 45 shades, and uses warm, neutral and cool descriptors to better match your skin’s natural undertone. If you are looking for a less expensive option, I definitely recommend this one. Runs $10.99 at Ulta, but can also be found at virtually any drug store. 

If you are not really into liquid foundations, I have two options for powders that I really like. I rarely use powders in the winter, as they just don’t set well on my dehydrated skin, but I love these products in the foundation5summer as light-weight options. My all-time favorite powder is bareMinerals Original Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 in “Fair 01.” This make-up is now available in 30 shades and is super blendable and buildable. A little of this loose powder definitely goes a long way! Of all the powders that I have ever used, this one is the best for dry skin. Although it may not go on as smoothly as a liquid foundation, it does not highlight the dryness. It is of course, mineral based too, so it never bothers my skin, but makes it look more healthy and luminous. It is $31.00 at Ulta.

My favorite drugstore powder is Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Powder in “Fair Ivory.” This is a pressed powder that works exactly as the name says. It definitely reduces the look of pores and makes foundation8redness and shine more matte. It is pretty light, but can definitely be buildable if you are needing more coverage. The best part about this product is that it is only $7.99! It also comes in a translucent powder that would work great as a setting powder.

As a side note, I avoid really creamy, stick foundations because I literally grew up plastering my face with grease-paint and cream ‘pancake’ foundations for dance and theater. They ALWAYS made me break out. They are another option, especially if you are looking for fuller coverage that will last all day and night, and probably through the next morning. 

SO here’s the catch:  Everyone’s skin is different. You might have oily skin, normal skin, or dry skin like me, or even combination skin, so there is a good chance that you will have a different experience with products than I did. You may love Clinique and absolutely loath Benefit…the real point is that you can try these different products without shelling out too much cash by testing samples and shades. To me, finding the right foundation is key for a successful make-up look because, duh, it is the foundation, the base for all of your make-up. Yes, you might end up “trying on” every formula there is, but when you find it, you will know and it will be SO worth it! 


What are your favorite foundations and dupes? Do you have a foundation that you use year round, or a different one for winter and summer? Let me know if you try any of these and what you think, good and bad!  🙂

XOXO, Cait B.

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