Foundation is, and always has been, my bugbear. It's the one part of my routine that I can never really settle on. If the shade is good, then the wear is terrible; if the wear is great, it oxidizes, or breaks down, or just looks shiny as a new penny by the end of the day. I've tried all kinds methods to keep my foundation set and, while I finally settled on a good method in the last 6 months, I got it into my head that it was time to find... the Perfect Foundation.
A few weeks ago, I was watching ThaTaylaa's video on her experience with the Ulta Foundation Quiz and it struck me that I should do that too. And then, as I was preparing to get all the foundations it recommend, I realized that Sephora has a foundation quiz as well. Ulta and Sephora have some crossover, in terms of the foundations that they carry, but they also have some exclusives; an example is that Ulta doesn't carry the Peach Perfect foundation from TooFaced, but it does exclusively have Tarte's FaceShape foundation and the Shape Tape concealer.
I decided to buy what I could, get some samples, and test 3 foundations from each quiz to find the ultimate winner.
How I Took the Quizzes
- I said I wanted medium coverage.
- I said I wanted a satin or natural finish.
- I said I wanted long wearing.
Sephora did ask an extra few questions about preference (with sunscreen or without, liquid or cream, etc), but those don't have much influence on the end results. I got roughly 10-15 foundation suggestions from each website; Ulta's included some drugstore brands, which was nice.
Which Foundations I Picked
Due to money constraints (and honestly, time), I decided to pick 3 foundations from each store to try.
From Ulta, I chose:
- Maybelline Dewy & Smooth Fit Me in Shade 110 Porcelain
- NARS Radiant Longwear in Oslo
- TooFaced Born This Way foundation in Swan
From Sephora, I chose:
- Tarte Rainforst of the Sea in Fair Neutral
- Marc Jacobs Shameless Youthful Look in Y110
- TooFaced Peach Perfect in Snow
Methodology for Testing
I tested approximately 1 foundation a day for 2 weeks, trying to wear each foundation twice with different application methods. I kept note of the time I applied it, what I applied it with, how it wore, and any issues I had with application and wear. I kept notes on my computer with specific dates and times. I tried to be as fair as possible with each foundation, in terms of the amount I applied, how I applied it, and how long I wore it.
I ended up only buying one foundation: the Maybelline Dewy & Smooth. I got samples from Sephora of all the others, which they weren't super happy about, but they did it. (Thanks, Sephora!)
The Swatches & Color Match
As you can see from swatches above, as much as I tried to get all of the foundations in a shade closest to my natural skin tone, they vary greatly. I'm a fair neutral shade, and true neutral foundations can be difficult to find. Initially, I was sure that the Marc Jacobs foundation would be the best match for me--and while I'll save my conclusion of best color match, it actually turned out to not be. It's funny how different foundations can look blended in versus just swatched!
The way I determined my color for most of these was by using Sephora's Color IQ feature; I'm a 2Y01 in their color matching, so I picked the appropriate shades based on that.
I thought for a long time how to best go through this and I finally settled on sharing a brief review of each foundation, as well as information for how I wore it. Then, I'll share my picks for a few distinctions (least favorite, most favorite, best wearing, best color match, etc.) Ok, let's jump in!
- Maybelline Dewy & Smooth Fit Me in shade 110 Porcelain: I wore this 2 days in a row. The first time, I wore it with setting powder underneath and Maybelline Fit Me Loose Powder on top; the second time, I wore setting powder both underneath and on top (It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores loose powder both times). Both times, I felt like it looks really good going on, but it has relatively low coverage. The first time I wore it, it started breaking down and feeling tacky within 2 hours, and looked quite cake-y within three hours. in general I found that this didn't wear very well and it oxidized about 1/2 a shade each time I wore it. There is also a smell to this foundation; not as bad as the Wet'n'Wild Photofocus Foundation, but pretty chemical.
- NARS radiant Longwear in Oslo: I wore this two days in a row, both times with It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores loose powder underneath and on top. It went on really beautifully and seemed like a very good color match. In terms of how it looked immediately after applying, it was one of my favorites. However, by noon it had settled into my pores really badly and looked very cake-y on my chin and forehead. It had also broken down and rubbed off my nose and upper lip, emphasized the texture on my cheeks, and generally look awful within a few hours.
- TooFaced Born This Way in Swan: Initially, I thought this would be one of the worst color matches; however, it ended up looking beautiful on my skin and didn't oxidize at all throughout the day. I applied it with my usual method of setting powder under and over it. It wore really well. I did notice a little bit of breakdown around my nose, and I got quite oily on my chin and forehead, but not as bad as the previous two foundations. I was really impressed with this foundation.
- Tarte Rainforst of the Sea in Fair Neutral: First things first, this was too dark the moment I put it on. With lots of blending it looked fine, but I could definitely see the line to where I blended it. I went on beautifully, however, and looked great throughout the day. I wore my setting powder both under the foundation and over the top, as usual. Some breakdown on my chin and some settling into the pores on my forehead, but not as bad as I expected considering how dewy this foundation is. It did feel quite oily and tacky; I used blotting papers throughout the day and that did control the oily look quite well.
- Marc Jacobs Shameless Youthful Look in Y110: I thought this shade would be really close to my natural skin tone but going on, it was quite yellow, even in my admittedly bad bathroom light. I felt like it really enhanced and emphasized my texture. The coverage is quite low. I wore it with my usual setting powder under and over. It settled very oddly on my forehead almost immediately and it had a powdery look to it, almost as if it was just sitting on top of my skin. Throughout the day it got very cake-y, settled into all my pores and lines, emphasized my texture, and almost completely disappeared from my chin. It transferred almost everywhere and I had to wash it off my 3pm. I also felt like it made me breakout really bad.
- TooFaced Peach Perfect in Snow: This is the foundation I was most excited for! As usual, I wore it with setting powder under and over. It smells very sweet, like artificial peaches, but I didn't find it overwhelming. I'm not sure the color is the best match for me, but it did look great on my skin. The moment I applied it, it seemed to dry down to an extreme matte, which was really interesting. After about 5 hours, it wore really well, particularly on my cheeks and forehead; it did settle into my pores somewhat on my nose, and did breakdown slightly on my upper lip. I actually wore this through a nap both days and it looked great even after I'd slept in it!
Here are a few distinctions:
- Best Color Match: TooFaced Born This Way in Swan
- Best Performance: TooFaced Peach Perfect. If you are very oily and need a matte, long wearing foundation, honestly this is the best I've ever worn.
- Least Favorite: Surprisingly, probably Marc Jacobs. Being a luxury brand, I was sure MJ would perform amazingly--but I was very disappointed by this foundation.
- Foundation I Would Purchase: I will probably purchase either of the TooFaced foundations in the next 3-4 months. Both wore extremely well and, in terms of price, gave the biggest bang for their buck.
Which Quiz Got It Right?
My two favorite foundations came from either quiz--so it's hard to narrow down which one really "got it". Each quiz, of the three foundations I picked from each one, gave me two foundations that worked well enough that I would consider purchasing. I do think that Ulta's quiz is better as it gave me some of the same recommendations as the Sephora quiz, but also provided some drugstore brands. If you're shopping on a budget, that's definitely a bonus.
Have you tried either of these foundation quizzes? What did you think? What do you look for when it comes to foundation?