I am not an expert in the department of beauty essentials or foundation discovery and/or application. This post is written based on my own experience and opinion, so take from it what you think may apply to you.
I started using Lancomé back in 2008 after I attended a free Lancomé thingy where they made my face up and made me look all pretty. It was after using that foundation that I realized just how heavy my Mary Kay foundation was. The Lancomé lady told me that my skin was nice, and that I did not need a lot of coverage. She suggested that I only used a squirt of the Lancomé foundation, that’s all. And I have been following this rule since 2008.
But back in February of this year, I went to buy my foundation and realized that Lancomé had discontinued my line and come up with a new one. I seized the opportunity to shop around. I went to MAC, Cliniqué, Estée Lauder, and Lancomé (to get their new line) for a sample of their foundation.
1. Estée Lauder: Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup ($36)
2. MAC: Pro longwear foundation ($31)
3. MAC: Matchmaster SPF foundation ($33)
4. Cliniqué: Perfectly Real Makeup ($25)
5. Lancomé: Teint Miracle ($40)
So here are the things I learned about picking the perfect foundation:
1. Determine your skin type: dry, oily, or combination (I’m combination), as this would help you not bother trying certain types of foundation. Example, if you have dry skin, then you want something that is hydrating or moisturizing.
2. Ask not what your foundation can do for you; ask instead what you need your foundation to do for you: If you already know what you need your foundation to do, this will narrow your search again. Example, do you need it to cover up acne? You need something with SPF? Do you want it lightweight? All day wear? Illuminating? Most times, you cannot get this all in one foundation.
3. Have an open mind: Don’t stick only to brands that are marketed for Black people. Or don’t stick only to a certain type of foundation, like liquid or cream to powder. Be open to new ones.
4. Shop around: Go to department stores where there are beauty experts (like the ones listed above), and ask them to match you AND give you a sample. The experts behind these counters are trained to help you pick the best foundation for you, based on skin tone, skin types, and coverage needed.
5. Experts actually make mistakes: The lady at Estée Lauder (who was Black by the way) completely missed my shade. The shade she gave me made my face look like I just had a mud bath. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But honestly, she completely missed my shade. What she gave me (pictured above) is like five shades darker than I need it.
6. Don’t test foundation on your hand: Most Black people are different shades all over their body. Your hand is not where you wear your foundation, so why would you test it on your hand? Test it on your jaw line instead, between your face and your neck. Make sure it matches both your face and your neck.
7. Do NOT test for your shade online: This is worse than testing it on your hand. Testing for your shade online is as crazy as becoming a surgeon online. Okay, maybe not as bad … but still pretty bad.
8. Don’t buy the drug store brand at first: Not everyone would agree with this, but I think that at first, you shouldn’t use the drug store brand. This is because you cannot test it the way you test the department store brand (like MAC). Plus, there is no one to ask for guidance when you’re buying the drug store brand.
If you’re wondering about the conclusion of my research, I am sticking to Lancomé. It really is the best one for my skin. Both of the MACs were too heavy for me. They were my color, but no matter how little I used, it still felt like a lot. The Cliniqué wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t perfect. The Estée Lauder was completely not my shade, but even if it was, it had a matte finish that was just too much. The Lancomé goes on really easily, like colored lotion.
The Lancomé foundation is meant to last for about three months, but because I use so little and not very often, it lasts for about nine months for me, so although it’s the most expensive foundation compared to the rest I sampled, it has the most value for me.
Happy foundation-shopping. May you shade find you.
P.S. MAC, Clinique, and Estee Lauder are all the same company. MAC was made for makeup; Clinique was made for skincare, and Estee Lauder was made for perfume, but somehow, they all ended up with makeup. If you had to pick one out of these three for makeup, I’d start with MAC.