Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Foundation Collection - I

Having a perfect skin is the dream, right? I was blessed with that growing up, until adulthood caught up with me. The hormonal breakouts, neglected skin care, work stress, lack of sleep, pollution, chicken pox - ugh! This damsel in distress needed a knight in shining armour to the rescue. Luckily, she got more than 1 ;-)

Foundation.... and Photoshop :-3 While the awesomeness of Photoshop filters and airbrush miracles are out of this post's scope, let's see how right foundations help you get a smooth canvas.

Learnt from my Mom, I had this equation in mind:
Foundation = White Face = Cake Face = Baraat Dulhan = Over = Dad's Disapproval

After my Mom's high-end wedding foundations had rotten or taken away by relatives, she would simply keep one bottle on the vanity for "special occasions" once-in-a-blue-moon. On those occasions, she would be the last one to get ready in 2 minutes after dealing with the tantrums and special requests of our own preparation :-P Eventually, she'd forget to even put the foundation on. Luckily, she never needed it either. Kashmiri skin perfection. So, when I reached the age where she wouldn't frown on my foundation usage - and by that, I mean second year of my University - we'd get ONE bottle for BOTH of us in a common shade. That too from Anarkali Bazaar - Home of LaMcome, DiorE, Revlon PLUS, YS&L -_- Yep, we were shades apart too. If you know how replica/fake foundations are, they're all this grey-white gooey liquid that shopkeepers encourage you to buy for 'gora' result. If Mom and I were to wear the same thing, she'd just look like she dabbed a little too much loose powder, but my face would show up as if I had a timeout in our flour bin :-/ *sigh* Happy Days.

So, naturally, I'd been averse to foundation usage until a year or so back when I started off with Garnier BB Cream and built up my foundation collection gradually. Like 'real women have curves', 'right foundations suit' :-P Let's move on to what I keep and why I keep in my stash:

My foundation collection is an decent mix of drugstore picks with a couple high-end indulgences. Right now, the brands I own are Sephora Collection, Covergirl, MAC, Estee Lauder, and Kryolan. Before I introduce them individually, let me share my skin profile. It will probably give you a better reference when considering the same for yourself.

Facial Skin Profile: I have a fair-medium/medium shade in most foundations & concealers. It has neutral-to-yellow undertones. It's tricky to decide at times. My skin type is Combination. The T-Zone is prone to oiliness and the rest of the face leans drier. In summers, my skin mimics an oily skin with larger pores and sebum production. The colder weather has my skin dry in patches. I fairly even tone skin with puffy undereye circles and little pigmentation around the lips. I have a tendency to sweat profusely in summers and blush tomato-red in winters. The T-Zone has blackheads & whiteheads that remain to be a continued struggle. My forhead seems to be somewhat darker than the rest of my face at times when I have continued sun exposure. The neck is paler than my facial skin. I have a lot of moles, but no freckles. There are few dark spots of pimples that wouldn't budge and 5 noticeable chicken pox scars that I acquired as an aftermath of a recent bout. The frequency of pimples & zits is often in summers with most of them concentrated on the peripheral areas like sides of the brow or cheeks near the hairline. As for the hair growth, I have considerable peach-fuzz under my jawline and around the sides.

SEPHORA COLLECTION 10HR WEAR PERFECTION FOUNDATION was picked on a recent trip to Sephora, Dubai. I had been tanned as compared to my regular complexion, so all the foundations appeared grey-white on my skin. I wanted something in-between that I can use for an even-tone complexion during the tan and continue to use during summers. It was almost closing time at Sephora, while I looked at Dior, Chanel, Armani testers. I did not want to splurge that much and was confused on what would look the best on me. Shuffling through the aisles, a Sephora representative approached me and this was not like one of those local encounters where SA hog you till you run away. She was very nice and asked me if I would like to have a makeover done. My husband was roaming around with his friend because he thought I'd take my sweet time at Sephora - so I thought why not!? Well, she applied primer, foundation and powder on one side of my face with Sephora products and picked a couple of others in similar shade to the second half of my face. Interestingly, I liked the feel and appearance of Sephora ones. Then she didn't push me into buying these and asked to spend some time wearing these before picking anything. Sephora foundation was not too yellow, but very neutral and complemented my skin color. When my husband came to pick me up, he commented that I looked like a very...umm... HD version of myself. :-P Next day, my sole purpose in Dubai was to make to Sephora and grab this baby - which I did!

On my sweaty skin, it applied without any streaks, and made my skin look clearer - not brighter - but the tone of my facial skin. As for the oil control, I did not expect much and I didn't get much either. My face would still get greasy without compact & blotting sheets. It kept the shine at bay for about 2-3 hours, which is decent. This didn't clog my pores or cause any breakouts - not that I'd know of. I have slept a couple of times wearing foundation, which is not a healthy habit and I would strongly advise against it. My pores were airbrushed with this plus beauty blender. No particular need of wearing primer underneath. The foundation is semi-matte, so I could wear it in Winters as well, with a moisturizer underneath, of course. I am bad at noticing if a particular foundation oxidizes on me. They do slip off or get absorbed in my skin, but I barely apply to a medium coverage at best, so the absorption only gives a natural finish. This one turns dewy due to my natural skin oils and I like that look on my face, even during the hotter days when flat matte would be the best choice. Covering scars and dark circles, this one didn't do anything exceptional for those. I'd love to use it more often, but this one appears darker with my skin tone sans the tan. You won't find many online reviews for this one, which is a shame since it performs very very well on my combination & oily skin. If only transferability be managed well by it, I would have given this full marks.


UPDATE: Brought this one along on a recent trip up North. It definitely is darker than my skin shade right now, but after a while it gives off a smoothing effect :-) After 6 hours of wearing this, my husband asked what am I wearing on the skin because it is smooth and radiant! Paisay Pooray! :-P

ESTEE LAUDER DOUBLE WEAR MAXIMUM COVER has been my pick during my first short trip to Dubai. It was the biggest impulse purchase of all times. Sephora was closing and it was my last night in Dubai. I didn't shop anything, so I WANTED to buy something. I was not too sure of the shade in Estee Lauder's cult classic foundation and they were rounding up people to leave. I grabbed this and made a run for it. To be honest, I regretted the purchase because when I got back home, I thought of this to be a benign little tube. Much like a BB cream, perhaps. We were getting ready for a dinner and I thought, why not try the simple thing :-) A little pea-sized amount I applied to my face and tried blending with finger. It was SO pigmented that I felt my fingers are making the foundation multiply! It was just too much. My face and neck were done and still there's some left on my hands! Never judge a foundation by how it looks from outside. Lesson learnt :-P

I have not used it a lot because shortly after this, I had a bad case of chicken pox which turned me off from makeup for like 3-4 months. However, this definitely is one of the best formulations I have tried for a medium-full coverage. You might feel it to be a little intimidating. Such pigmentation that a little goes a long way. Expect that when you squeeze it out of the tube. It is best applied with a wet sponge in buffing motion. This with an undereye corrector and I don't even need a concealer. Darker circles would definitely need more work. The shade range was limited, so the one I got had neutral undertone which does flatter my skin. Moreover, the foundation does stay in place for over 5-6 hours. No breakouts or allergies with this. It was not exactly dewy finish, but a semi-matte one. The transferability was an issue, albeit a very minor one. Especially when I would use the touchscreen phone to take a call in sweaty conditions. Gross. Compact/Fixing powder sorted the problem for me though. It has a luxurious feel when applied, but not the same as Estee Lauder's cult favorite foundation. I was wary of the tube packaging, but you can control the amount that you dispense with it. I would however like to know how much foundation I have left - a task which is difficult to do with an opaque luxury tube. I intend to use it these summers and see if my experience changes. So far, it is one of the solid ones I have in my stash. Not my go-to yet, but let's see where it goes from here.


MAC STUDIO FIX FLUID SPF 15 has been featured in my Wedding Haul. The crazy load of makeup I hoarded. A lot of it was forgotten at the back of my makeup collection, but I did make good use of this one! I am still unsure of what my ACTUAL shade should be because anything between NC20-30 has been a good fit. Minor ups and downs, yes. Since I am more towards warm-neutral, I opted for the NC shade and to be on a safer side, picked NC25. I had my doubts about the foundation causing breakouts like several people complained. Thankfully, this and I clicked so well. This is the yellow-est foundation I own and that helps in the coverage. It's a medium-full coverage foundation with which a little goes a long way. You need a pea-sized amount with a sponge or fingers. I get better finish with a wet sponge or RT Face Expert brush. This is semi-matte, and transfers a little when I am used touchscreen in humid weather or wipe my face.

This has been particularly good to cover my dark circles. I use a peach corrector underneath my eyes and the pigmented areas on my face. I let it set a little in the skin and then apply MAC Studio Fix with a brush. Repeated sponge strokes sometimes disturbs the placement of the corrector. One downside to using a brush is the thicker coverage. That's not a biggie if you try to cover the face in smaller areas with minimal amount of the product. I am particularly impressed by how fresh and alive it keeps my face. One reason could be that it does not oxidize or slip away from my face. Transferring in humidity remains a challenge. For a new bride-to-be, this is definitely a dream to work onto your skin. It might not be THE best bet, but I do understand the hype behind this cult-favorite of MAC.


COVERGIRL OUTLAST 3-IN-1 FOUNDATION is my makeup LOVE! I got it on a hunch from Beauty Hub over a year ago. My love for this one is well-documented in the favorites and beyond :-) Covergirl is not available in Pakistan, which is a bummer! The shade range for the product is extensive, so you might face issues in picking the best one for your skin color. If you browse online, you might get more confused with some people saying that this oxidizes, so better to pick a shade lighter than your skin and let it get normal over the period of time. I feel all foundations do get absorbed in your skin one to an extent. Ordering online is tricky, but I recommend trying, read blogs for the comparable shade to your current (perfect) shade, and if you can ask on makeup/social groups if the users can guide you better. I used MAC NC reference to narrow down my search to 832. I have yet to try more shades to see if there is a better fit out there for me. Otherwise, I am perfectly happy with this complementing my skin tone!

I have applied this one in all seasons, with fingers, foundation brush, buffing brush, stipling brush, sponge, and a beauty blender. Gives me a flawless finish. Just minor differences might occur, but I find the slightly damp beauty blender working THE BEST! Even though it says 3-in-1, I have barely ever skipped concealer with it. The coverage is light-to-medium, but you can layer it up as per your desired coverage. I am particularly impressed with how weightless it felt, yet covered all my problem areas very well. It had an overall smoothing effect - not the lackluster flat matte. It does dry pretty quickly, so start working with smaller areas for an even tone and finish. When I say it dries out, it doesn't mean that this would give you a completely matte finish, but a soft-matte one which stays luminous in summers (on my oily skin) and a comfortably matte finish in Winters (I prep with a moisturizer underneath). It does not settle in pores mostly, but the days when my skin is acting out by making the pores mimic gaping craters, I opt in for pore-refining solution(s) or primers. A wise advice would be to pick a primer or base product that doesn't ball up. Tea Tree Pore Minimizer and Smashbox Primer (LIGHT) were nightmares to wear under the foundation :-/

So, does it transfer? Yes. By now, I believe all foundations do :-( *silent sob* Most of it could be my fault. I sweat profusely - if I hadn't grossed you out before, let me emphasize on this :-/ Anyhow, despite the issues of oily face in Summers, this foundation stays put for over 5-7 hours. If I layer it on lightly, the results are visible till 5 hours. In cases where the weather is pleasant and I put it on enough for a formal event, it stays fresh till 7 hours. However, I must commend that this one turns like your second skin - it will be flexible and cover your bumps/craters nicely too. I used it through my recovery from chicken pox and was satisfied with the lack of cakiness of this one :)

The question whether it oxidizes on me or not, it is harder to tell. It does not turn orange-brown any way but changes ever so slightly with time. Most of it could be absorption into your skin. All-in-all, it is a foundation I depend on and have used half a bottle - that says a lot about it since I am not an avid foundation user.


KRYOLAN TV PAINT STICK can be the title of my poems and more! You might have seen them being used by parlors in a dingy street to a high-end MUA in Pakistan. For this to gain that level of praise and usage, it must be something great, right? Well, this is! It might not be the BEST makeup stick foundation, but pretty darn great, still! You can read summary of my experience with these in the 2015 Favorites post as well. I find FS45 best suited for NC20-25 while FS38 is suitable for NC30. I strongly recommend all of you to test the shades at a local counter before picking them up.

TV Paint Stick is a multipurpose product that you can use as a color corrector, foundation, concealer, contour stick and camouflage makeup. The range of shades is diverse, but we find relatively limited one here in Pakistan. It was previously deemed a professional-only product, but this has been a ladies favorite for long. I still shudder at the pre-party chaos at my Naano's when all ladies within the range of 15 to 55 would grab that one loner Paint Stick in God-Knows-What shade and then blend ferociously on our skins :P Believe me, when we entered at a place together, people would know by the streaks of foundation on our faces that we are one family - perhaps having some genetic pigmentation issues (God Forbid) :-D

Moving back to the performance, I have seen mixed reviews. While some vouch for these no matter what, others think it is too heavy for their skin and clogs the pores. I agree with both these statements. It is an excellent medium-to-full coverage foundation that looks nice in front of camera. For stage professionals, TV/Films, and Bridal scenarios, this is still the go-to product. Since it is a heavier product, direct and repeat application on your skin with improper cleansing will clog your pores and cause breakouts. You need right technique to blend it well in your skin. The trick is again to work in smaller patches. For full coverage, the traditional foundation brush is good. Otherwise, for lighter and even coverage, a wet sponge works. It does not control oil and is prone to slip from your skin, so setting it with powder is ESSENTIAL in Summers.

This doubles as my favorite facial and undereye concealer but if you want a fuss-free application, I recommend using a brusha and working in lighter layers. Pat slightly with ring finger. It creases and settles into fine lines around the eyes, but nothing a little dusting of compact won't solve. It lasts evenly on my skin beyond 5+ hours. It absorbs, slips and creases very much. Some also complain against this turning grey on them. That would only be due to two reasons - You're not using the right shade or your skin needs color correction first. We don't always have an even pigmentation on our facial skin - just like any other part of the body. What I'm saying might be an overkill, but you might need more than 1 sticks for yourself if you want to use this, yet experiencing issues.

TV Stick has competition by other local and international companies producing stick foundations. Handling this one is sometimes tougher when you don't have enough time or patience to work through the harder texture or face the lack of proper blendability. For those cases, it is best to revert to liquid/powder foundations or may be other sticks with softer texture (that can bear the heat and humidity though). This is one foundation I never wear overnight due to its heavier texture. You must also cleanse properly following its usage and make it something of a not-too-regular consumption. Many tag it as a party/formal foundation. It can be both, if you take care of your skin and use a layer of moisturizer/primer/serum between the skin and the product to save it from damage. Despite so many negatives that I highlighted, I am still a big fan of this. Cult-follower. If I objectively pit it against other foundations, it does have its shortcomings and a lower grade is simply due to that fact. I still love it to the moon and back


Let me share the swatches that you can compare. Once I put them together, all foundations felt so different. For reference, I have tried swatching on the inner of my arm. All pictures below are not edited (color enhancement or filters) to show the true depiction of how colors look against my NC20-30 skin. You can see how they look in different lighting as well.

Direct Natural Light - No Flash

Direct Natural Light - With Flash
Indirect Natural Light

Before I finish the foundations post, I'd take a moment to remember those who have gone - foundations sold off during a blog sale. Revlon Colorstay Whipped Foundation, Max Factor Face Finity 3-in-1, BeautyUK Matte Foundation - they were very all really good in performance, but I was either reaching out less for them or the shade selection wasn't too matchy-matchy. Had to say Adieus to them with a heavy heart though. Revlon Colorstay Whipped will definitely be coming back in my collection soon in the right shade <3 It is a must have for normal/combination skin beauties.

Let me know if you find this post helpful. Since I started this post, more foundations were added in my stash which I shall feature in a Part 2 of this after using them to form an opinion.

What are your foundation aspirations? Mine would be to try and own at least two more high end foundations from Chanel, NARS, Guerlain, Dior or Lancome!

If you use any of these, please do share your experience in the comments below for all of us to read!




  1. Wow that was really thorough! I'm new to foundations and this is very helpful. Good work Bia!

    Would love to have you on our blog sometime (: hope you'd follow too! xo

  2. I miss my covergirl :(
    Nice post helpful n a great read like always esp the "pigmented disorder" lolz

  3. Wow amazing collection. MAC studio fix foundation sounds great. I have estee lauder double wear on my wishlist. Looking forward to try it soon IA.

  4. Bia this post is making me laugh so hard especially the line that you went to buy foundations from Anarkali bazaar that were fake. You won't believe that before searching about makeup, I knew nothing. Once before Eid I had 13000 PKR and I went to Jhaal Faisalabad to buy makeup and I only spent 2000 PKR on makeup and bought all the left money back home. For 2000 PKR I bought some Rivaj lipsticks that were pathetic, a foundation for 150 PKR, Just Imagine! and a Shiseido Loose powder only for 250 PKR! oh man I laugh and regret so bad whenever i think of my stupidity and above all I was happy with what I bought and foolishly gave all my money back to my mom. After coming to know about makeup, now I know how much of a high end brand Shiseido is! This was one awesome post and if you ever buy Nars or Chanel foundation then I've heard really good things about Nars sheer glow foundation and Chanel Vitalumeire. I hope I spelled it right:) That covergirl one is on my wishlist. Stay blessed and I love your blog:)

    1. hahaha.....can you believe it in local market's you can buy M.A.C. lipstick in 150+ .......dupes I tell you

    2. They are not even dupes. The worst things ever. 😉

  5. Amazing amazing amaaaazinng post as always bia! I am NC 20-25 and this post helped me a lot!

  6. the best post of foundation I ever read ......thanks for such a detailed post hmmm I am also suffering with my chicken pox marks +acne marks and thanks to my fair complextion I know they are never going to fade ohhh you dig out sorrows from my heart if you know any cream that affective on these marks please recommend me too bia?????

  7. Such an amazing collection! Love the covergirl foundation <3

    Much love,

  8. I wanted to buy cover girl foundation but I wasnt so sure about but thanks to your review, Im gona get it InShaAllah;)

  9. Hi there. Could you telme your sephora foundation shade. Mayb it helps coz im confused abt its shade to buy.:-)


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