I've recently decided to go hunting for my holy grail high-end foundation and graduate from drugstore brands. The only thing is, I don't own any or know where to start! After much research, I was able to narrow my list down. Below are the samples I collected from Macy's, Nordstrom, and Sephora.
Before I get started, I should explain what I was looking for to match my skin type. I have combination skin (dry cheeks, oily t-zone, esp at forehead and nose) and prefer matte finish foundations. Now I'm no expert, but the different type of finishes are matte, satin, and dewy. Since I'm oily within a few hours, I definitely do not like dewy foundations because they only contribute to my oiliness. I'm not too sure what "satin" means, but I'm guessing a powdery sheen. I love matte, but other people find this finish to be too fake and sometimes cakey. (I will share my secrets below for matte foundations!) A good foundation for me means medium to heavy coverage, long lasting stay, and no oxidizing (turning orange)!
Let's take a look!
from left to right:
top: Chanel Mat Lumiere, Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 60
middle: Kiehl's Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer, MAC Pro Longwear
bottom: Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet +, MUFE HD Invisible Cover, MUFE Face & Body, Nars Sheer Matte
1) Chanel Mat Lumiere (Cendre 30) - My favorite, yet the priciest at $54. :( This foundation gives me a matte finish that is soft, powdery, and smooth. The coverage is medium and the lasting power is pretty decent for something like an 8-hour day. I love it... why do you have to be so $$$$.
2) Shiseido USP SPF 60+ - This face and body lotion has such a cult following! I was looking for something to wear under my makeup this summer without making everything melt off. The consistency is runny, but slightly thick. It blends in very nicely. I liked it, but still iffy about purchasing a full sized bottle only because I don't want to add another layer to my skin!
3) Kiehl's Super Fluid Defense SPF 50+ - This consistency is very runny so make sure you shake it up! This dried to a powder touch after blending, but like I said, I don't want to purchase because I am scared of breaking out with more layers on my face. (I like both sunscreen products equally.)
4) Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer vs. Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer (Sand) - The lady behind the counter told me I was sand in both formula's, but that was not true! I tried the original TM and I turned as orange as an Ooma-loompa. The oil-free TM was a much better match, but left me SOOO oily. I was disappointed because these TMs have won so many awards! I did like the natural finish it gave right after application, but I think the asian in me prefers BB creams.
5) Mac Pro Longwear (NC130 & NC125*) - I was matched to NC130 when I first went to the counter. I told her I think I was NC125, but she said it was "totally" 130. Wrong! I went back for NC125 and this is my second favorite of the bunch!!! I will definitely be purchasing this foundation for only $30. (Actually I'll be buying it with a discount, but I'm gittin' it). This foundation is matte, long-lasting (alllll day), a perfect color match, medium coverage, and does not oxidize. I get scared of MAC foundations because they always break me out, but this definitely works for me. I say check it out of you're prone to oil production during the day.
6) MUFE Matte Velvet + (35) - This product has so much rave in the Youtube community of the oily-skinned. I was so excited to try it, but it turns out it just made me even more oily. The coverage and color range are great, but the formula just doesn't work on my skin. I think it would be great for slightly oily skin, but it's not strong enough for me. My sister also had the same problems! I say get a sample before purchasing... It didn't have great lasting power either.
7) MUFE HD (123) - Now this foundation is HOLY GRAIL in the Youtube community. If you haven't heard of it... then you've been living in a cave. But honestly, it didn't work for me either. This foundation does give a flawless finish, but would work much more beautifully for people with normal to dry skin. This line is great because there is such a huge range of colors, so that's great for people who have problem finding matches. This foundation also left me very oily. I used up the rest of the tube on days when I only had be out less than 5-6 hours. Other than that, it just couldn't hold up.
8) MUFE Face & Body (32) - This was the winner for MUFE surprisingly. I thought it would be similar to MAC's Face and Body, but it's completely different. MAC's F&B is a water-based liquid foundation that has nonexistent coverage. It was so dewy that my faced melted off within hours. The MUFE, on the other hand, performed great on hot summer days. The weird thing about this foundation is that it has a GEL base. It's all jiggly-wiggly when you pump it out. However, it blends to a powder finish and is completely buildable in its coverage. The staying power was pretty decent too. I think this foundation was the closest to the notion of having a "satin" finish. The verdict for my skin type: this MUFE foundation beats the other two cult favorites for face, but MAC's F&B is good for the body.
9) Nars Sheer Matte (Stromboli) - This foundation is overlooked compared to its nemesis, Nars Sheer Glow. These obviously either offer a glowy (satin) or matte finish. I decided to give Sheer Matte a go since I like matte finishes. I was pleasantly surprised by this foundation. It has a light to medium coverage that is buildable, and not overly matte. The color matches pretty well with my skin. I did realize that the staying power is decent, but after about 6 hours my skin just doesn't look quiet fresh. I think it eventually oxidizes on me.
So what did I learn?? Chanel breaks the bank, but is worth it. I did give in and buy Chanel Vitalumiere (review to come!), but I think it will be a while till I splurge on Chanel Mat Lumiere. Instead, I learned this is why MAC must be so successful thanks to real high-end prices. haha The Pro Longwear does what I need and I won't feel AS bad spending the dough on this foundation. The two drugstore long-wearing matte foundations I will still remain faithful to are the Maybelline Superstay 24 and Revlon Color Stay. Don't worry babies, you won't be forgotten!!
And my tips for matte finishes? Always apply with a damp sponge (Beauty Blender, Ulta or Sonia Kashuk dupes, cosmetic wedges all work well) because it evens out the formula over the face and prevents cakiness. You can always add on a highlight on your cheekbones to add the "dew" and you have control over where it is applied instead of all over your face! Bronzer is another great way to add depth back into your face. Nars Laguna, Tarte Park Ave Princess, Laura Gellar Bronze and Brighten, Elf Contour ($3!!!!!), Benefit Hoola, Too Faced Chocolate Soleil, and Urban Decay Baked Bronzer are all great and promising options.
And my final tip... Go go go go get samples!!! GO WITHOUT SHAME!!!! :D