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Smart Foundations! My Mega-Foundation Try-out

I’m trying tons of “smart” foundations that multi-task, and here are some notes on what I think, as well as close-up images compared to the bare-skinned shot above, so you can see:

  • Coverage
  • Texture (matte, satin, dewy, etc)
  • Whether it can blur imperfections

(Aside from the fact that my face feels almost raw after repeated removals and applications…)

As a “control”, I applied all foundations with fingers on bare skin (except the only powder foundation I tested, which I used with the accompanying sponge) and without primer.

A couple are older foundations, some are new, and a few not released yet, so you can take a few notes about what to check out!

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Shu Uemura Face Architect Smooth Fit Fluid Foundation (Europe/Asia)

  • Velvet texture, medium-coverage, buildable
  • Most “poreless” and natural matte finish

Face Architect is a bestseller for Shu especially in the Summer heat and tropical climates because it’s designed to be sweat-resistant and to blend perfectly into the skin. The most impressive thing is how natural it looks even though it is matte and gives quite a bit of coverage.

My verdict: If you have combination or oily skin with a bit to even out, and you like quite a matte but natural-looking finish, this is a great one-step foundation. I personally wouldn’t apply too much powder over this foundation unless you have very oily skin.

Note: Shu in the US has a version of the Face Architect Foundation but it might not exactly be the same formula. Do try it out first as I can’t get hold of that version to compare them.

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Lancôme Teint Visionnaire Skin Perfecting Foundation (launching soon)

  • Dewy texture, medium coverage, buildable
  • Most “nourishing”

I’m a long-time Visionnaire serum user, so if you can pop the skincare benefits into a foundation (and include a concealer along with it), I’m all for it. This foundation is designed to blur imperfections, even skintone, and minimize the appearance of pores. I didn’t use the concealer in this demo, so you can see the foundation has plenty of coverage on its own.

Verdict: Lancôme doesn’t say, but I would personally recommend it more for normal to dry skins. The formula is non-oily, but it IS still very hydrating, so it might feel a bit too moisturizing or rub off easier on oilier skins, which might need something with long wear properties.

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Lancôme Mat Miracle 24H Foundation (Asia only)

Matte texture, medium-sheer coverage, slightly buildable

Silky and spreadable, “illuminated matte” finish

Mat Miracle is another specially-formulated lightweight foundation to combat heat and humidity. This is formulated with the same optical illuminators (Aura-inside) in the Teint Miracle foundations, so if you want a matte finish because you have oilier skin, but don’t want to lose the luminosity, this is a great option.

Verdict: Recommended for combination/oily skins. This is a good matte even for more mature oily skins because it doesn’t look aging and heavy, and doesn’t emphasize fine lines. I would say stay away if you have dry skin and dry patches though, because as you can see, it does emphasize flakes and make them appear even more visible.

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Givenchy Teint Couture Compact Foundation (launching soon)

Very matte, sheer coverage, not buildable

Most portable; nice luminous matte finish

This foundation is very lightweight and sheer for a powder foundation; not the same as what you’d get from brands like MAC. Givenchy designed this foundation with a mica-silicon-nylon complex to give a very light, matte and long-wearing flexible coverage that resists creasing or emphasizing lines, while it blurs the appearance of pores.

Verdict: Good if you want to cut shine, but it doesn’t give much coverage. Do not recommend this if you have any flakes, because any powder emphasizes those. Otherwise, it’s a pretty versatile lightweight powder foundation that would work well over concealer or for touching up in the middle of the day on most skins, because it’s very finely-milled and luminous.

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Givenchy Teint Couture Long-wearing Fluid Foundation

Satin finish, medium-coverage, buildable

Good coverage, with a lightweight feel

Teint Couture is a long-wear foundation that is atypical in that it’s not matte. It does even out the skin and reduce the appearance of flaws and pores, but with a satiny finish that is quite flattering for more mature skins. Like the powder version, it’s meant to stay supple, illuminate, and move with the skin all day.

Verdict: I’d say this delivers its long-wear promise better for normal to dry skins. I really like how it looks fresh for hours, and it does stay on without looking cakey, but if you have oilier skin and will be out in humid weather, it might transfer and crease a bit.

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Bourjois Healthy Mix (new formula)

Satin-matte finish, medium coverage, slightly buildable

Silky, lightweight feel, great price

This drugstore classic is a favorite of mine, because it gives a beautiful high-end finish and a demi-matte finish that doesn’t look cakey or flat. The new formulation is slightly silkier as well, so if you found the older version set a little too fast, this is easier to work with. It still contains the same fruit extracts to condition the skin, and the same long-wear properties.

Verdict: I’d actually liken the coverage and finish to Givenchy Teint Couture (fluid), and if you have yellow-based skin, this might be a better match. It does set more than the Givenchy, so if you have combination to oilier skins, this would actually last longer. The only problem is the shade range is dismal, which is a long-running problem for Bourjois.

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Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation

Satin finish, medium-light coverage, buildable

Radiant finish, fresh hydrating feel, great price

Healthy Mix Serum is a long-wearing foundation that is probably the closest texture match to Givenchy Teint Couture, but with slightly less coverage. It spreads very well, which is probably why it finishes more sheer. It also manages to stay fresh-looking for normal to dry skins.

Verdict: I won’t actually say this is for drier skins. It’s oil-free and fresh-feeling, and it does last pretty well even for normal and combination-oily skins, so I would just recommend this if you like a more glowy finish, instead of a demi-matte or matte.

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ZA True White Plus Liquid Foundation (Asia only)

Satin finish, medium-light coverage, slightly buildable

Hydrating, but fresh-feeling

Also designed to blur dark spots and pores, and give illumination and hydration, this foundation comes with SPF25 PA++ to protect the skin from the sun and prevent more dark spots and unevenness.

Verdict: I like the fresh hydrating feel and how this foundation can be sheered out easily, but if you want the full sun protection offered, you’ll need to really pack this on. It does add moisture but it also sets so the staying power is pretty decent, and this would work for normal/combi skins if you don’t want a matte finish. Probably not hydrating enough for very dry skins.

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Maybelline Pure Eraser Mineral Foundation (Asia only)

medium-full coverage, matte, slightly buildable

interesting mousse texture and sponge dispenser

This foundation promises to combine buildable coverage and a light but conditioning feel, to mask dark spots and pores, without a mask-like appearance. The foundation dispenses from a sponge-tip so you don’t need a separate sponge or brush, or your fingers.

Verdict: I do have to say I don’t quite agree that this doesn’t give a mask-like appearance. While it does cover pores and dark spots, the mousse texture is quite high-coverage and matte, and I find one layer is plenty if you don’t have a lot to cover. It also does grab on flakes and is the most “makeup-ey” of all the foundations tested here.

You can get a slightly lighter coverage using the sponge dispenser, but I personally don’t like the idea simply for hygiene reasons.

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Maybelline Super Mineral 24 Healthy Skin Foundation (Asia Only)

medium-full coverage, velvet finish, slightly buildable

creamy and blendable, but sets quickly

This is Maybelline’s Asian answer to Superstay foundation, and I’m actually wondering if they have the same formulations. I can’t say for sure because I don’t have a bottle of Superstay to compare, but this is one of the better Maybelline offerings right now considering I don’t like the heavy look of the Pure Eraser foundation, and the shades brought in for the Dream Mousse range is abominable (why do they think lighter skins are pink-toned - in Asia no less???).

Verdict: I would liken the coverage and feel to Revlon Colorstay for normal/dry skins (which is not available in Asia). It’s got a similarly-high amount of coverage and a rather natural-looking finish. It’s not matte, so like any satin or dewy finish foundation, it won’t mask texture like bumps or pits without setting powder.

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Clinique Superbalance Makeup (Not pictured above)

medium coverage, velvet finish, buildable

skin-like glow and fresh feel

This is an oldie, but it’s still a goodie and one of my favorites from the Clinique line-up. Superbalance is a favorite because it’s designed to balance oily and dry spots, which makes it great for a huge range of skin types.

Verdict: The color range is great, and the finish is perfect for me (i.e. a not quite matte, and not quite satiny “your skin but better” look). The fact that it actually DOES do a more than decent job of balancing combination skin just makes it all the better.

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Shiseido Sheer and Perfect Foundation

medium-light “smart” coverage, velvety finish, buildable

polished-skin finish

The newest addition to the Shiseido foundation family is a true-blue new-generation smart foundation that is designed to work with both oily and dry spots, while minimizing the appearance of flaws through color-correction instead of heavy coverage. I would just say it looks less like foundation and more like great skin. It also provides longer-term skincare benefits and a skin-like finish.

Verdict: This feels very lightweight and fine, and I think it would be better for combination/oily to combination/dry skins than skins on the very-oily and spot-prone end of the spectrum, because while it has some long-wear and oil-regulating properties, it’s not the typical super-matte type and won’t be totally smudge-proof or very high-coverage. The great thing is it smooths unevenness out without leaving any perceivable texture on the skin and I’m quite curious to see if I can get the long-term skin benefits!

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