Tuesday, 5 June 2012

How to Choose a High End Foundation

When I posted my foundation collection recently, I had someone on Twitter ask me for a post on how to choose a high end foundation. I find it quite difficult to recommend foundations a lot of the time because not everyone will like the same ones I do, even if we have the same skin type. 

As I mentioned, I struggle to find a drugstore foundation that works for me. I really enjoyed the Bourjois Healthy Mix and Healthy Mix Serum but both of those broke me out. So, this post is going to focus on choosing a high end foundation. I normally expect to pay between £20 and £30 for a foundation which seems excessive considering I could pick one up in Boots for around a tenner but for me, it's worth it.

If you've already got a collection of higher end foundations then you probably don't need to read this post as I'm writing this specifically for anyone who has been worried about spending lots of money on a foundation to find that it doesn't work for them. I apologise if it comes across as a little patronizing but I hope it helps someone! 

What's your skin type?
This is the first thing you should try to figure out as it determines what sort of foundation you'll need. If you have oily skin, I'd stick to oil free formulations whereas you might prefer a more hydrating formula if your skin is dry. If your skin is sensitive, be wary of foundations which are heavily fragranced. You can ask counter assistants to help determine your skin type if you're not sure but I've found that they often try to promote their newest foundations rather than what's best for your particular skin type so be aware of that.

What do you want your foundation to cover?
To me the point of foundation is to even out my skin tone and cover any minor imperfections whether it's a powder, a liquid or a cream. I'd say that unless you have a lot of acne scarring or other pigmentation to cover, you won't need a heavy coverage foundation. If your skin is already quite even and you're not prone to break outs, consider a tinted moisturiser or light coverage foundation. I like foundations with medium coverage myself because I can sheer it out by mixing it with moisturiser or I can add an extra layer on problem areas if I'm having a bad skin day. 

How do you want it to look/wear?
You have to consider is the finish you want and how long you'll need it to last. The finish of a foundation will vary somewhat depending on your skin type so be aware of that and if you have very oily skin, it's probably best to avoid anything which offers a very dewy finish and likewise someone with dry skin will probably struggle with very matte formulas. In terms of wear, I think you should expect to be able to get around eight hours of wear from any foundation for it to be worthwhile. I've tried a few that have disappeared in a couple of hours which is so disappointing! You can always aid the staying power of a foundation with a setting spray, primer or powder though.
 How're you going to apply it?
Think about the tools you may need to apply the foundation you end up with too. I like applying mine with a buffing style brush but some foundations work better with fingers (thankfully those are free!), sponges, stippling brushes or traditional foundation brushes. I don't think this is a huge consideration but it it worth thinking about since you don't want to end up with a foundation that looks lovely and wears well but only applies nicely with a £30 brush that you don't own.

Read Reviews
You can find foundation reviews in a variety of different ways. You can google the name of the foundation you're interested in and find some blog post reviews or you can check Makeupalley or YouTube. Ask friends what they use and recommend, especially if they have a similar skin type or tone to you and if you normally like their make up. The thing to bear in mind when reading reviews is that foundation is one of those products that really divides opinion so just because one is rated 3/5 doesn't mean it won't be the best one you'll try so take the scores with a pinch of salt and look out for reviewers who were looking for the same sort of foundation as you are.

Try a Sample 
(if you can!)
Once you have a little list of foundations you might like to try pop to your nearest department store and have a look at them. You can have a feel of the texture by swatching them and you can see what the finish is like by having it applied at the counter but don't buy anything until you've at least seen the colour and finish in natural light. I personally think it's a little bit tacky to go up to a counter and brazenly ask for a sample but if you can show that you've done a little bit of research on the particular foundation most counter staff will happily give you a sample to try. Chanel and Estee Lauder are, in my experience, the best for giving out decent sized samples which allow you to try the product at least four times. Obviously try to make sure the sample is the shade that you think will be the best for you; if you already think you know which shade you'll be, don't be forced into trying one you think will be too dark or too light. If you're not sure, just go with what the assistant gives you. Another tip I should include is that if you get the foundation sample in little sachets, grab a little empty pot and transfer the contents of the sachets into it, you'll get so many more uses out of it!

If you try a sample and don't like it, there's no harm done. If you like the product but think it's the wrong shade, try a different shade if that's possible. If you try it, love it and think it's the correct shade, go buy it!

Phew. If you've made it this far, congratulations! I hope this post was helpful and if you have any tips when it comes to high end foundation shopping, mention them in the comments.

Stace xx


  1. Great post. I only ever use higher end foundations so I cant echo your thoughts on getting a sample. Some counters are reluctant to do so but I have been matched in store before only to wear it out and find that its too dark/light in natural light after spending the best part of £30 on it. I know MAC have stopped giving samples, well my local one has anyway and I always find it a little cheeky asking but I think that the sales assistants can usually tell who is just after freebies and it helps if you are buying other products from them at the same time.


    beckys makeup

    1. Yeah, I usually ask if I'm buying something else but sometimes even if I'm not buying anything an assistant will offer a sample but that's only happened at Chanel and Estee Lauder. I've had samples from other brands but only if I was buying something else which is a bit annoying!xx

  2. A great post, very useful. I have acne scarring so I always need to try it over the scars not just a patch.

    It's handy to have a darker shade for the summer and a paler for the winter too.


    1. It's good to have a few different shades and textures so you can mix and match depending on what your skin needs but I know not everyone wants to go out and buy several foundations at once! As for acne scarring, I have some too and really want to try the Estee Lauder Maximum Cover foundation as a concealer over those, I've heard that it's great!xx

  3. I use the Chanel Vitalumiere Qqua foundation which is around £31
    which is a lot but I don't have the best skin so I feel like even though
    it IS expensive, it's one of the main prodcuts I use that gives me confidence which I think makes it worth it :)

    I know personally that when spending that much money on a product,
    choosing the right colour match for your skin can be quite a bid deal!
    I remember standing there trying to choose between two shades because I
    didn't want to spend all that money on the wrong one! Haha.

    Chelle x

    1. I'm using that one right now too - it's a touch too pale but it's the darkest I've got just now. It's a lovely product :) xx

  4. Fantastic post! Before I had first bought a high-end foundation I didn't really know how the high-end beauty industry works and was worried that I've be 'irritating' the sales assistant if I asked for help, so as she was busy serving another customer at the till, I just tried a couple of products on the back of my hand and went to tell her which I preferred. Big mistake. The colour ended up being too dark for me, the coverage was too heavy, the finish was too matte for my then-dry skin and I'd paid £25 for the pleasure! These days I tend to pick three brands I'm most interested in trying, spending at least fifteen minutes with the sales assistants getting a colour match and asking questions before being offered (and if not then I just ask for) a sample of the product to take home and try for myself. Don't be shy, ladies! Foundation can be expensive and you don't want to make a mistake.

    1. Thanks! I think the trick is to be nice and somewhat knowledgeable with the assistants, if they know they're not going to get a sale without offering you a sample, they're more likely to give one. At the same time though if you just walk up demanding one, they'll be less forthcoming; in my experience at least!xx

  5. Nice!
    i follow you on bloglovin,
    follow me back,? xx