There was a time in the beauty world where foundation options were shameful. If you’re older than 30 you will vividly remember a vast period where there was one universal shade to choose from; an orange-based beige that was meant to suit every woman regardless of her ethnicity. This oompa-loompa option was also only available in one consistency; a thick, cream-liquid that required serious arm work to blend in perfectly and would easily solidify if stored somewhere too cold. Things had to change, and thankfully they did. Quickly. Leaps and bounds in shade innovation and consistency development have meant that we are finally in a beauty addicts’ dream come true, where there is a foundation for every skin colour and type.
Even better, something very interesting is happening right now in the foundation game. A new wave of complexion enhancers are being brought to our attention and they’re even more ingenious than ever before. Here’s why. It used to be that if you wanted a full-coverage foundation you had to opt for a thicker, heavier texture as that was the only way that brands could pack in all the pigment to fulfil the concealing requirements. This is no longer. Brands have found ways of suspending pigments that still punch a serious pigment hit, in lighter, more flexible textures that make it feel like you’re not wearing anything on your skin.
But why should you opt for a lightweight foundation option, especially if you’ve always relied on something that feels heavier, and maybe more comforting?
‘These new, lighter foundations create a healthy glow, a radiance you just can’t get from a heavier matte foundation,’ says global makeup artist Sandra Cooke (she’s done the faces of Solange and Kate Moss). ‘Most of them have light-reflecting particles that create a gorgeous luminosity. Plus, what I would say to women who perhaps reach for a thicker foundation because they’re trying to conceal bad skin; it’s not good to over-cover. It will only draw more attention to the areas you’re trying to hide. By choosing something lighter you will avoid foundation settling into spots or scarring, which makes it look cake-y. If you feel you need the extra coverage then use a slightly heavier concealer in those areas, but otherwise these lighter foundations are only going to do great things to your skin. I promise!’
Avoiding over-covering is a key point in this discussion. It may seem counter-intuitive to apply a lighter foundation onto skin that you feel needs more coverage, but this new breed of foundations contain such clever pigments that you will still get coverage, just in a more subtle, natural and youthful way. Forget the overly obvious, mask-like foundation vibe; that is not what your skin should look like. Plus, many of these lighter foundations also contain skin-boosting ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and antioxidants, meaning the more you wear it, the better your skin will get and therefore the less foundation you may feel you need to wear.
Then there are the inescapable beauty trends. Overly obvious foundation hasn’t been the look du jour for several seasons now, but even more so at the S/S17 shows. At Roberto Cavalli models looked like they were just wearing a whisper of foundation, allowing any freckles and natural cheek colour to shine through. And at Isabel Marant, model’s skin was buffed with the lightest of foundations. And it even transcended the catwalk onto the FROW, where Kim Kardashian West swerved her usual heavy contouring for a much lighter, just-a-hint-of-base look at Balenciaga.