I don’t always post about it, but every December I compile a list of my favorite beauty products of the year. I had a first draft completed for, “Products I loved in 2020,” but I decided to scrap that idea. Although I tested more makeup in 2020 than ever before, calling something a favorite has more impact when it’s compared to the twenty or more other products I had at my disposal, as opposed to just a handful.
‘Shopping my Stash’ has become increasingly important to me. I believe I will purchase fewer things if I am more familiar with the products I already have. I also want to feel the satisfaction of using up a product until it is empty. At the same time, there’s no need to keep the products I know I won’t use due to an incorrect shade match, being too heavily fragranced, not meshing with my skin type, etc. So, I will be disciplining the inner makeup hoarder in me and condensing my collection as well!
I also decided that in the swatch portion, I’ll include some foundation sample cards in case anyone is curious about additional shade matches from other brands!
Nars Sheer Glow in Macao – Nars Sheer Glow unseated the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD, which was my favorite foundation for 3-4 years. I love this product and whenever I wore foundation in 2020, at least 80% of the time, I was using Sheer Glow. I use the tiniest amount for light coverage and utilize concealer to cover the areas where my hyperpigmentation shows through. When I use a normal amount, which gives me medium-buildable coverage, I tend to skip concealer everywhere except under my eyes. I love the natural finish it leaves on my skin and it works amazingly with any tool I use, whether I use my fingers, a brush, sponge, or Blendiful. It lasts all day until I’m ready to remove it. My only complaint is about the packaging. This comes in a screw cap jar, which from experience, the exposure to air from frequently opening and closing the bottle will start to cause the foundation to get darker well before the expiration date or open canister number. So, I bought the pump that’s made specifically for this foundation in order to keep it as airtight as possible. However, when you put the pump cap on, the original bottle cap no longer fits. So you have to keep it as shown in the photo without a cap. Considering the $47 price tag and $6 pump, it’s a bit ridiculous that Nars doesn’t provide a pump cap with it, so I can store it like a normal foundation. Expensive items shouldn’t be poorly packaged.
It has been about 13 months since I bought this, and I have felt that the color is a little darker than before, so I may be getting rid of this foundation soon. However, I’m not fully ready to part with it, even though the PAO date has passed.
Cover Girl Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation in 600 and 620 – I can talk at length about this foundation because I started working on a post for it when it was released in December of 2019. It gave me so much trouble that I ended up abandoning the project. First, was the issue of the shade match; which 600 looked much darker in the original promo photos. 620 is still a bit light for me but it’s workable as this foundation is intended to give sheer to light coverage. It leaves a veil over the skin, like a tinted moisturizer, and it feels like a moisturizer in texture as well.
In the beginning it doesn’t feel greasy at all. It leaves a nice dewy finish at the start. I have normal-dry skin, leaning more on the dry side. The fact that within 2 to 5 hours this foundation turns me into a oily mess is shocking. I found that whatever primer I paired it with effected how quickly it took before my face would freak out and start producing oils at a rate I’d never seen before. I tested this foundation about seven different times and the end consensus was that I don’t recommend using any primer with it, and to set it heavily with powder after applying. Perhaps a mattifying primer would work. I can’t test that theory out since I have dry skin, so I don’t own any mattifying or oil controlling primers. The best result I had was mixing 600 with my Lancome Teint Idole Foundation (which was too dark and very matte) in a ratio of 75% Covergirl and 25% Lancome, in order to have enough pigment to lighten the Lancome shade. However, I still couldn’t get a decent look past 5 hours. There’s something in the Cover Girl foundation that causes my skin to produce an alarming amount of oils. Even still, it’s not worth the hassle for the low coverage this product provides.
I would say perhaps this foundation would work better for someone else, but as time went on more YouTubers started trying it out and two of the ladies I watch had strong allergic reactions to this foundation. In addition, I think this has a bit of a bread-like smell combined with milk or lite cream. However, I’ve seen some reviews where other people found the smell to be repulsive. So, I don’t even recommend giving it a try. I kept the bottles in case I ever did want to make a post about them, but now that I have the photos I need, they are in the garbage.
Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Foundation SPF30 in 440 Amber – I purchased this shade based on my Sephora Color IQ number, the complexion product matching system. Based on the initial color that comes out of the bottle, it looks like a good match. However, once it settles into my skin I can see a grey cast. I initially thought it was because the product was too light for me, but I believe it’s due to the addition of sunscreen in this.
The product claims sounded amazing and the beauty gurus were raving about this when it was first released. When I used it myself, I was impressed with how it wore around my smile lines. I have one specific crease that a lot of foundations settle into. However, this foundation really did keep that area looking smooth and covered up better than any other I’ve tried. With all that being said, I still hardly use this foundation purely because the grey tinge makes my skin look so dull and lifeless. Instead, I use a different foundation everywhere on my face but I will occasionally blend in the Shiseido foundation just onto my smile line. Since it’s such a tiny area, there isn’t much of a color differentiation. My bottle is going to expire in March 2021, so I will hold onto it until that date. SPF in makeup is notoriously an issue for those with darker skin tones, so if you have a lighter complexion where it wouldn’t be as much of an issue, I would recommend this one.
Laura Geller Filter First Foundation in Pecan – I bought this foundation when it was 90% off (only $3.80) at Ulta because they were dropping the brand from their stores. The shade match is a little more golden-orange than I liked, so I only wore it once. Based on that first impression, I believe it could be a decent foundation if I had a closer shade match, but there weren’t many other shades available for purchase. This foundation’s time has run out though, and I’ve disposed of it.
Clinique Even Better Makeup SPF 15 in WN 124 Sienna – As one of my Diamond Rewards from Ulta, I was able to redeem a free Clinique foundation. I was color-matched by a store associate, but Sienna is still a bit too light and not golden enough. Out of the 56 shades in the line, there are only 3 darker than my shade. The next one up was too dark, so I went with Sienna and figured it might work better in the winter months, which unfortunately it does not. I’ve had it for nearly a year, so I’m getting rid of it.
Tarte Face Tape in 53S Deep Sand 54G Deep Golden – I had help from an Ulta associate getting shade-matched to Deep Sand, which tends to be my closest match in Tarte’s foundations. I really loved the finish and coverage. I still felt like the tone was slightly off, but there wasn’t anything better suited for me in the range. So, I wore this a few times and went back to my other foundations.
Because I bought this in-store and can’t see past January 2020 in my account records, I’m not sure when I purchased this. I remember at some point the color seemed even more different than I remembered, which led me to purchase the travel size version online in Deep Golden in January 2020. I realized this shade was a bit too golden and didn’t look better on me than Deep Sand, so I never used it more than once.
I know there are a lot of people who don’t throw foundations away immediately after the PAO date. They continue to use them until it starts to be too long (going on two years), change in smell/consistency/performance, or until the bottle is used up. I try to be good about disposing of my liquid products, but sometimes I hold onto them for longer too. I bring this up because my older Face Tape foundation developed an extremely sticky consistency. I was a bit repulsed by that, so I checked the bottle and realized it only has a 6-month period-after-opening. That’s pretty shocking considering the price point and the amount of product you get. Foundations are usually good for at least one year.
My newer one is 11 months old and hasn’t changed its texture, but I’ve thrown it out as well. Purely based on the PAO issue, I don’t recommend this foundation.
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD in Y505 – I finally let this one go. I’ve been a fan of the original MUFE HD when my shade was originally 177 Cognac. When the Ultra HD version came out, I went through 2 other bottles of that. I loved the coverage and how beautiful my skin looked on camera. It had a nice natural/soft matte finish. If powdered, it was fairly transfer-resistant. My shade was a little more neutral than yellow/warm, but it still looked great on me. It was the shade I always referenced as my perfect skin tone before using Macao from Nars. For some reason, Y505 was discontinued, and that is what led me on the hunt to find a different “holy grail” foundation. When my color was discontinued, MUFE introduced Y508. I’m not sure if it was supposed to replace mine or how similar it is to what I used. What I do know is that Y505 in some of MUFE’s other foundations are slightly different across the board. I may try to investigate this further, but for now, I’m happy with Nars foundations.
Nyx Born to Glow Naturally Radiant Foundation in Nutmeg – This gives me a grey cast because the one I bought was too light for me. I didn’t try to buy another shade because Nars Sheer Glow feels lighter on the skin than this, while simultaneously giving more coverage, so I prefer that. This foundation also does not dry down as much as I’d like. This one definitely isn’t bad. It’s just a preference thing. January marks 12 months of having this foundation, so I removed it from my collection.
Beautyblender Bounce Liquid Whip Longwear Foundation in 4.10 and 4.35 – In June, using the same Sephora Color IQ, I ordered shade 4.10 even though it said “cool olive” and I’m always “warm golden” or “warm yellow.” I thought perhaps the matching system was intended to be like MAC with NC being my shade range instead of NW. I was wrong.
In November 2020, the foundation went on sale and since I did enjoy how the foundation looked on my skin, I decided to get a darker color to mix with. Without being able to see or test it in-store, or decipher in photos online, I didn’t want to try to and guess at a shade that was still too light for me and be unable to use yet another one. In the photo below, I was able to compare them to shade 4.30 thanks to a foundation sample card that I got with one of my online orders. It’s not too far off from my skin tone, just a touch too dark. As I already have two bottles though, I’m not going to buy a third.
If someone is able to find their match, I do recommend this foundation, although I think they may be discontinuing it considering the severe price drop. The formula is a bit thick, but I think that makes it perfect for using with the Beautyblender, since the damp sponge will give it a slightly thinner consistency. I’m keeping both.
L’Oreal Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation in Hazelnut and Copper – I bought this based on Tati’s rave review. I did really enjoy the beautiful dewy finish. I wasn’t satisfied by the shade matches, as I felt like they oxidized towards the end of the day. I also felt like they didn’t dry down as much as I liked. Also, this foundation smells a bit like perfume. I kept using them initially but eventually I grew tired of how long it took before I could no longer smell it on my face. Ironically the newer bottle I bought, Copper, expired a few months ago. The first bottle, Hazelnut, expires soon. I went ahead and got rid of both.
Uoma Beauty Say What Foundation in Brown Sugar T1W – I absolutely love how lightweight this is and the gorgeous finish it leaves on my face! Despite being thin, it can be built up to full coverage. It feels so hydrating to my dry skin! The brand calls the finish a “vibrant matte” but on me, it still has a glow. Although the Brown Sugar and Bronze Venus categories cite oily/combo skin as the most common skin type, which would lead me to believe this formula wouldn’t be as nice on someone like me, it still somehow feels like there are oils in it even though it’s a water-based product. If I’m able to find a less orange shade match that better suits me, this could potentially become my new favorite foundation! It’s my understanding that the Brown Sugar shades tend to have a lot of orange in them in order to correct hyperpigmentation, which is a common issue for those within this skin tone range. This makes me wonder if getting the neutral T1N might still be too orange, or if that shade might be too dark for me. I’m within the Bronze Venus range for the contour and highlighting stick, but the Bronze Venus T3W and T3N looked like it might be too light for me based on photos. I’m waiting for a sale before I try to pick up a second bottle, which will likely be Bronze Venus T3N. My local Ulta doesn’t carry this brand in-store, so I will have to guess blindly. Shade matching in-store doesn’t always work for me anyway.
Because this foundation is the runniest one I have (even thinner and more watery than Dermablend drops), I dispense it directly onto my face before strategically dotting it in other areas with my finger. Then I either use my fingers or a brush to blend it in. The Blendiful soaks up too much foundation if you apply it directly onto its surface before putting it on the face. However, if the foundation is applied to your face already, the Blendiful works well to smooth it out. I do not recommend using a damp sponge, for fear of further diluting the product, unless you plan to use extra pumps of foundation with it.
*NOTE: At the time of posting, this is currently 40% off at Ulta! I ordered Bronze Venus T3N. Wish me luck!
Dermablend Flawless Creator Lightweight Foundation in 70W – This foundation has the closest consistency to the Uoma Beauty one, however, it doesn’t give the same finish and doesn’t have quite the same texture. It also looks light in the swatches above but when it fully dries, the color darkens to a very close skin tone match for me. Although I can use this all over my face, my favorite use for this is as a lightweight but full coverage concealer with a natural/semi-matte finish. I got the idea from Marlena Stell, Makeup Geek founder, who frequently uses this foundation as a concealer in her live makeup videos on Youtube. Once I bought the Pat Mcgrath concealers, I stopped using this for a few months, but now I’m using it again to cover my dark circles and hyperpigmentation. A little goes a very long way and if the tiniest amount isn’t used, it can look almost mask-like. They weren’t kidding about this being full coverage, which is why I prefer to use this as a spot concealer. 1-4 drops can be mixed with moisturizers, serums, sunscreen, etc to create a sheerer complexion product but I haven’t done that yet. I like the formula as is.
I think it may be time for me to toss my bottle of 70W, due to some perceived changes, but I’m not ready to let it go yet. Ulta had this for 50% off a week ago, but they don’t carry 70W. I still bought 72N hoping it could work for me, and it does as an under eye concealer, but being slightly darker and slightly more orange is enough to be mismatched for the rest of my face unless I use one of my light yellow setting powders (such as the Laura Mercier Honey shade) to balance it out. However, it looks too drying if I set it with powder. Unlike other complexion products I own which aren’t intended to be mixed, the Dermablend drops are a multi-use product. I’ve only had 72N for a few days, so I will experiment with it some more to find out the best way to utilize this shade in the future.
Milani Conceal + Perfect 2 in 1 Foundation and Concealer in Amber – Because the shade match was off, I honestly didn’t give this product enough of a chance to be able to review it. I’ve had it for 16 months, so it needs to be tossed out.
Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear 24H Long Wear Foundation in 500 Suede W – This is the oldest foundation I have in my collection and it survived multiple declutters because I kept saying to myself I was keeping it to mix with any foundations that were too light. How often did I actually do that? Less than a handful of times! I’m absolutely getting rid of it, though it’s such a shame that I didn’t use it enough. It was part of my 2000 point redemption order via Ulta, and I heard doing exchanges on items purchased with points is a hassle, so I didn’t try to get a different shade. It was supposed to match me based on my Sephora Color IQ, but I only have a 50% success rate with Sephora’s recommendations. Based on my limited experience with this, I can say that I like how full or near to full coverage it was. However, it didn’t impress me enough to repurchase when I had MUFE and Nars foundations in my possession.
Kosas Tinted Face Oil in Tone 7.5 – I mentioned in the Uoma Beauty section that the Say What foundation felt as though it had some oils in it. This foundation is actually oil based and feels very similar to that one. The finish is nice and because it gives light coverage, the imperfect shade match is more forgiving. I believe Tone 8 is my actual shade. I’ve enjoyed this sample so much that I’ve been tempted to purchase the full size ever since. However, I’ve held back because I prefer the Uoma formula a little more. Considering the similar price points and how they look on my skin, I would rather get a buildable foundation that I can have at full pigmentation or sheer out, as opposed to one that only provides low coverage.
Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation in Macao – Considering my skin type, I’m so surprised how much I love this foundation! I like how smooth this looks on my skin and the consistency is watery (but not as thin as Kosas or Uoma), yet it provides full coverage. It appears lighter and more neutral than the Macao version in Sheer Glow, but I still like how it looks on my skin (and especially in photos). It also sets without needing powder. It isn’t completely transfer-proof but if I press a napkin to my skin, it is minimal. It settles into my deeper smile line, so this may not be a great foundation for someone with mature skin. I still like it though and it is so smooth everywhere else. This foundation is the reason I have no plans to repurchase Sheer Glow. If I buy another one, it will likely be this. I’m still going back and forth on it.
Pat Mcgrath Sublime Perfection Foundation – I only had this foundation in the form of a sample card, so I can only say from my single sample use that it looks pretty on the skin and is on the light to medium side. I think I would like this foundation, but not for full retail price. Even 30% off would be too steep for me, so I don’t think I’ll ever be adding this one to my collection.
Fenty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation in 420 – I still don’t know my correct Fenty shade. I’m supposed to be 420 based on the color IQ, but 420 pulls a little darker and noticeably orange on me. When the foundation initially launched, I went to Sephora to get samples of 390, 410, and 420. I could not tell a difference between 410 and 420. 390 looked like a better shade, even though it looked a little on the pink side to me (despite the description). I didn’t investigate further because I did not like how this foundation looked on my skin. It looked very drying and showed texture and lines I didn’t know I had. When the hydrating version launched, I went to my local JCP-Sephora and tried those same three shades again. In the hydrating formula, 390 was lighter than the matte version, but once again, I couldn’t tell a difference between 410 and 420. I didn’t investigate further this time because I still didn’t like how the foundation sat on my skin. Despite being a “hydrating” formula, it was still too drying on me and looked like it was just sitting on my skin. Now that there’s a powder version, I am tempted by it. However, my local Sephora isn’t getting them and I will not blindly buy a powder foundation when they are notoriously tricky to shade match as they often don’t match the color in the pan. I have a hard enough time purchasing the right shade of liquid online, let alone a pressed powder foundation. Plus, I imagine it would be even more drying on my face, so I will skip it. Fenty Foundations just aren’t suitable for me.
Make Up For Ever Matte Velvet Skin in Y505 – This shade looked even lighter and more neutral in the swatch than the Nars Soft Matte foundation. However, when it has time to sink into the skin, it becomes a little warmer and matches my skin tone very well. It’s a bit on the thicker side in terms of consistency, so it doesn’t blend as easily or smoothly across my face, and powder products don’t blend as easily on top of the foundation, but once it’s blended it looks great. The coverage provided is medium-buildable to full. I prefer the Nars Soft Matte a little more than this one. I will give it credit for not settling as deeply into my smile lines. That factor is what keeps me waffling a bit about how I feel, but the blending issue is why I will ultimately not purchase a full-size of this product.
YSL All Hours Foundation in Warm Mocha and Warm Hazelnut – YSL has an option on their website to try 2 deluxe sample sizes of their foundation for $10. One was too light and one was a touch too dark. There are no shades between BD70 and BD75, so I never bought the full size and didn’t want to mix. I can’t find a date for when I purchased these, but I’m certain they are too old. I remember that when I initially tried them (mixing the two shades to get a wearable color), I liked the formula. However, it’s not worth $54 and I wasn’t even excited enough to continue using the samples.
Now we’ve reached the section that are purely foundation sample card swatches. The only points I can make about these is that the Too Faced Dew You Fresh Glow Foundation has fragrance in it. None of those ABH foundations match me, and I was surprised by how dark the Estee Lauder 6W1 Sandalwood shade looked on my arm. A few years ago I used to wear that shade in the Double Wear formula.
REVISED FOUNDATION COLLECTION
This is what I’m left with at the beginning of 2021! I don’t have swatches of the MAC foundation stick because I don’t want to open it yet. I bought it to test as an eye primer because the ingredients are so similar to the Makeup by Mario Eye Prep and Set in Deep (and I’m darker than NC45 right now).
If I remove the three shades that need to be tossed at some point this year due to age, and the products I’m still holding onto as shade references as well as foundations used for other purposes, I would only be left with the Uoma Beauty Foundation, Beautyblender foundations, my Nars Sample, and MUFE sample! I can’t remember the last time I’ve had such few foundations at my disposal, but it’s a bit exciting to me! I only want to keep products that work for me and a reduced collection will allow me the satisfaction of finally being able to use up more products!
My goal is to end 2021 with no more than five full-size foundations in my possession (multiple shades of the same foundation formula just counts as one). We’ll see how well I stick to that!
Thank you for reading!