François Nars created 65 completely different looks for the Marc Jacobs fall/winter 2009 collection, but there was one common element: a flawless face. “Makeup is 50-percent skin,” he said on-set at a recent photo shoot. It’s true that even the best foundation can’t fix a problem complexion, but Nars was also acknowledging a modern beauty trend: foundation pulling double duty as
skin care. The latest crop of cover-ups features high-tech formulas with everything from a higher SPF to anti-aging ingredients, like those found in Nars’ new foundation collection, Immaculate Complexion. Both the matte and illuminating versions offer a smooth, sheer finish, but the brand has also focused on what happens after the makeup comes off. Thanks to an ingredient list that reads like the back of your moisturizer — a blend of vitamin C, amino acids and peptides — the line’s off-duty benefits include improving the skin’s texture and boosting radiance.
Foundation is becoming like skin care,” says Jackie Shawn, a Toronto-based makeup artist. “The formulas are really refined, so they can offer something more than just coverage.” Take Chanel’s Lift Lumière foundation-and-concealer range. Formulated for age-conscious women who also want full coverage, the foundation is packed with botanicals hand-picked for their ability to fend off free radicals that damage collagen production, while a tetrapeptide in the concealer promises to minimize puffiness under the eyes and lighten dark circles.
But Dr. Sandy Skotnicki-Grant, a Toronto-based dermatologist and the owner and medical director of the Bay Dermatology Centre, isn’t convinced that these skin-care add-ons deliver anything more than satisfaction from thinking that we’re getting more bang for our beauty buck. “The amount that you’re going to get [in a foundation] of any kind of pharmaceutical — whether it’s for anti-aging, brightening or acne — is a small percentage,” she explains. “If you want to treat aging, acne or other skin concerns, treat them separately and use your foundation as a makeup, not a moisturizer.” As for the higher SPF levels present in new foundations, Skotnicki-Grant maintains that a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher is still a must. “If you’re going to be in the sun for any length of time, the amount of sunscreen in your foundation is not adequate.”
Even with a heavy dose of proposed extra benefits, foundation textures haven’t been weighed down by their new job as skin-care multi-taskers. Instead, many are more lightweight than ever. Yannick Vaudry, international makeup artist at Yves Saint Laurent for more than two decades, has seen the thick, dull formulas of the past make way for a new generation of “second-skin” foundations and likens the transformation to the evolution of computers. (Think the wafer-thin MacBook Air vs. the clunky Commodore 64.) “Each formula is becoming lighter and longer-lasting,” says Vaudry.
Despite these new textures and technologies, Janet Pardo, senior vice-president of product development worldwide for Clinique, says that there are still plenty of “foundation-phobic” women. And for those who do wear foundation, there is often a disconnect between how much coverage they think they need and what they are actually getting — something the brand has learned through its h studies. “When [subjects] tell us what coverage level [they use], nine times out of 10 they think the foundation they are wearing is sheer when it’s really like a mask,” explains Pardo.
It’s this research that has helped brands like Clinique develop smarter formulas that might make such faux pas as “pumpkin face” and what Toronto-based makeup artist Diana Carreiro calls the dreaded “demarcation line” things of the past. Picking the right shade and blending are still musts, warns Carreiro, but these new formulations are a lot more forgiving than the old guard. Shawn agrees: “Before, you had to be very skilled to apply foundation; now, especially if the formulation contains silicone, it’s less likely you’ll make a mistake.”
Learn how to properly apply concealer here.
Application may be easier, but with so many choices, how do you pick the right foundation? Don’t be swayed by add-ons like anti-aging ingredients, says Carreiro. “They’re a bonus, but they’re not necessary if you have a good skin-care regimen.” Take note of your skin type too: Choose an oil-free formula for oily skin and a hydrating one for dry skin.
And, much like having a
selection of fragrances for different seasons, Shawn suggests investing in a foundation wardrobe. “Eyes and lips are the accessories, but your foundation is your little black dress.”
• Sheer, minimal coverage.
• Great option for warmer weather. Try Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15.
• Medium to full coverage.
• Work well on sensitive skin — pigment is derived from the minerals rather than synthetic ingredients. Try Laura Mercier Mineral Pressed Powder.
Oil-free and matte liquid foundations
• Medium to full coverage.
• Work best on oily skin, but all skin types can use them for a matte finish. Try Prescriptives Virtual Matte Oil-Control Makeup SPF 15.
Standard liquid foundations
• Water is the first ingredient.
• Work best on normal to dry skin. Try Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation.
• Good for normal to oily skin because of their light texture.
• Work well over sunscreen to reduce shine. Try CoverGirl TRUblend Pressed Powder.
• A cross between a pressed powder and a liquid foundation.
• Leave a matte, powdery finish. Try M.A.C Studio Tech.
• Designed with high-definition lenses in mind.
• Reflect light instead of absorbing it, blurring fine lines and imperfections. Try CARGO Blu-Ray Pressed Powder.
• Applied with a fine spray.
• With practice, they won’t streak or cake; they leave a light, even coverage for a natural finish. Try Dior Airflash Spray Foundation.
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