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Combination skin can make it tricky to pin down the ideal foundation. You want something hydrating enough to put paid to any dry, flaky patches, but not so rich that it will exacerbate the oily, acne prone areas. After a lengthy search, I can assure you such a thing is possible.
In the past twenty years I have tried, at a conservative estimate, 200 foundations, including (without naming and shaming) most of the high-end, expensive brands on the market. Of those, three (yes, 3) have actually impressed. They are not cheap, alas, but they are all very impressive.
The first, iT cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Illumination (£32.50, Cult Beauty, available in 12, racially inclusive shades), is not even technically a foundation, but the sort of entirely magical elixir that, when smeared haphazardly on the skin, immediately makes you look perkier, your skin more evenly toned, and helps the light find your face in the most flattering way. It is also - huzzah - SPF50. It’s fool proof.
The second, By Terry Light-Expert Click Brush (£48, Space NK, available in 17, racially inclusive shades), I discovered in the course of a lengthy ‘appearance existential crisis.’ You may relate (or not, if you’re lucky) - those periods when you look at your face and go, “ah, ok. This is my lot, I guess.”
Pottering around SpaceNK one afternoon, an extremely charismatic sales assistant helped me match my skin tone to the By Terry range, introduced me to the Light-Expert wand, and it was such a rush. With a click of the brush applicator, a creamy textured foundation was easily swished around my face, and suddenly I was bumped out of my self-pitying malaise.
Suddenly, I had the kind of complexion usually reserved for people who consume far less red wine and chocolate than I do, and live off kale and water. I still love it. Densely textured but not cakey, it’s a great full-face coverage.
The third took me utterly by surprise. Sent a tester of Kevyn Aucoin The Etherealist Skin Illuminating Foundation (£46,LookFantastic, available in 16, racially inclusive shades), I was immediately intrigued (buzz was good) but not giddy in my hopes. After all, hype surrounds most major foundations.
But, Lordy, it’s proven a delight. I keep it by the side of my laptop and each morning, post breakfast, I use my fingertips to dab across my face ahead of facing my day’s work. What I’ve found has been so reassuring. Without much by way of expert application, my skin tone is immediately brighter. The grey patches under my eyes are put paid to.
During my first morning zoom meeting, I often find myself catching sight of myself in the top left hand corner of the screen and am pleased to notice the light bouncing off my freshly accented cheekbones; and the bright red spot on my lower chin from a worried pimple has been muted to nothing. It feels light and hydrating on the skin - not at all like a face full of make-up.
Best of all, when I transfer gaze from screen to mirror, the Etherealist is equally as convincing. It’s not thick, but it does offer great coverage from skin imperfections and blemishes, while still leaving skin luminous.
It is - not to mince words - an absolute joy, the kind of foundation that has made me, as a long-term dilettante, finally an adamant convert to one true foundation. Heartily recommended.
iT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF 50+
Great for evening out skin tone in an instant, without requiring any expert application. Also provides SPF50 coverage. All you need to wear to look perky throughout Summer.
Ideal for combination skin - it will help moisturise any rough patches, and cover up blemishes.
Light-Expert Click Brush by By Terry
The in-built clicking brush means you can apply this with ease. A full coverage, but not at all heavy. Great for capturing the light and helping skin look healthy.
Kevyn Aucoin The Etherealist Skin Illuminating Foundation
An all-time great foundation. Whisper light, it melts into skin beautifully. Offers terrific hydration, feels soft on the skin, and covers spots with aplomb. Can’t fault it.