Face Off: The Search for a Great Foundation

As much as I love my NARS Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer, I find myself in need of more coverage and longevity to get me though long workdays. So I set out on a search to find a foundation with medium to full coverage with the following qualities:

Looks like skin

Melts into skin, rather than sitting on the surface

Lasts all day without breaking down.

If you missed my post on how to find a foundation match, read it here. I followed my own recommendations and made several trips to Sephora for samples (and one pharmacy trip), read tons of reviews, and experimented over several weeks. I’m providing a brief review of each formula below, but know that what works for me might not work for you. If you’re curious about a specific formula, feel free to reach out about your personal concerns.

Nars Sheer Glow: I really wanted to like this one due to my love affair of all things Nars. Alas, it was disappointing on several fronts. First, the coverage was very sheer unless I layered on with a foundation brush. This resulted in a visible, shiny makeup that got oily as the day wore on. Also, I never got a really good color match on this despite using Sephora’s Color IQ and sampling 3 shades. I might consider this for those with dry skin who desire light coverage.

Nars Sheer Matte: No. Hell no. This had conspicuous yellow tones with sheer coverage that sits on skin, creating a visible layer of makeup. Despite several attempts, it never looked like anything other than artificial.

Kat Von D Lock It Tattoo Foundation: This one was a bit of a surprise. Full coverage, solid 12-hour wear, and ease of application all made this foundation one to consider when full coverage is the main goal. It was a little more opaque than I need for every day and it settles into fine lines a bit, but was otherwise a solid contender.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Light: This foundation had some really strong points. It glides on smooth, dries into place, wears for hours, and offers medium to full coverage. Unfortunately, it has a really limited color range and I was unable to get a great match.


Lancôme Nude Miracle: Part of a new generation of foundations, this light-as-air formula glides on like liquid and dries down to a fine powder finish. At first I really struggled to get a smooth application until I used my fingers to smooth it over my skin. It has a true skin-like appearance and light coverage. The color match was spot on and it stayed true for several hours. Unfortunately, it had less coverage than I wanted and was prone to breakdown as the afternoon wore on.

L’Oreal True Match: The only drug store foundation I would recommend due to the extensive range of shades based on real, natural skin tones. Although I was in between two shades, both were reasonable choices and it was easy to get a match. Initial application was smooth and very easy to blend. It started as medium coverage, but after several hours started to fade and break down. I would still recommend this as an affordable option to those who desire light coverage, ease of wear, and who do not have very oily skin.

Urban Decay Naked Skin: Another next generation liquid foundation, this formula offered medium coverage and true-to-skin shades. I only tried it on in the store, but was dismayed to see that it clung to surface imperfections and dry patches. It would probably be better with moisturizer, but considering I have oily skin, it may make a bad situation worse. I wouldn’t completely rule this one out for combination skin and those who use a creamy moisturizer, it just wasn’t right for me.

Makeup Forever HD Foundation: I hesitate to review this one due to a near-cult following, but I just wasn’t overjoyed by it. One the positive side, it was a perfect match for my skin tone and offered medium to full coverage. It was easy to apply and lasted moderately well during the day. My issue was that it sat on the surface of my skin and highlighted texture imperfections. I was shocked that this foundation makes a point of looking great in HD photography considering the major flaw was that my skin looked worse when I got really close to it.

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H: We have a winner! This foundation glides on smooth, offers full coverage, lasts all day and still manages to look like real skin. I was really pleased with how well it held up to my oily skin without oxidizing or wearing away. It doesn’t settle into lines or cling to imperfections, but does manage to cover all but the most pigmented blemishes. This line offers colors based on undertone and value, making it easy to get a solid match. Looks like I’ve found “The One!”

The Winner! (and many, many samples)

As you can see, shopping for foundation can be a serious undertaking that requires a lot of trial and error. To me, it’s totally worth it to have foundation that matches your skin tone and wears nicely during the day. The time up front pays off next time your foundation runs dry- a new bottle is just a click away!

Happy shopping ladies!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. dolledupbyj says:

    Great and very thorough post! Did you actually purchase all of these or get samples? It is so hard to find a good product, and making mistakes at Sephora and other beauty retailers is expensive! I know they have a good return policy, but you’ve tried a lot here! I’m looking for a new foundation so any advice is great 🙂


    1. Aprylle Joy says:

      Thanks so much for reading and the kind words! These were all obtained via sample from the Sephora counter and Nars counter. I’m fortunate that my local Sephora gals are great and let me sample to my hearts delight until I found “the one!”


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