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.

Check out the latest in foundations that are great for your skin in this gallery

Pick the best type of foundation for your skin on the next page …


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.”

Tinted moisturizers

• Sheer, minimal coverage.

• Great option for warmer weather. Try Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15.

Mineral foundations

• 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.

Powder-based foundations

• Good for normal to oily skin because of their light texture.

• Work well over sunscreen to reduce shine. Try CoverGirl TRUblend Pressed Powder.

Cream-to-powder foundations

• A cross between a pressed powder and a liquid foundation.

• Leave a matte, powdery finish. Try M.A.C Studio Tech.

High-definition foundations

• Designed with high-definition lenses in mind.

• Reflect light instead of absorbing it, blurring fine lines and imperfections. Try CARGO Blu-Ray Pressed Powder.

Airbrush foundations

• 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.

Check out the latest in foundations that are great for your skin in this gallery

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