Fed up with trowelling on layers of Insta-friendly base, our beauty editor tried some lighter, brighter options. Now she’s a convert
Once I tried to give up coffee. It was traumatic. Within 24 hours I had a thumping headache, and before I could sip another grim green tea, I was at Pret A Manger begging the barista for an extra-hot double-shot skinny flat white (a ridiculous order, I know).
I’ve had much more success quitting foundation. But why on earth would I do such a thing? After all, isn’t it the key to a flawless complexion? Yes, it is. But I’m talking about the caky, full-coverage matt stuff: the heavy-duty, selfie-friendly face paint I’ve been piling on to hide my tired eyes and sallow skin.
I realised recently that I’ve been drowning my face in far more slap than ever before. If I had a pesky small blemish on my chin, I’d whack on another layer of foundation all over, instead of treating that specific area. Dark under-eye circles? Same thing. I partly blame Instagram, a place where more is more and real skin never looks as good as a one-dimensional porcelain complexion (see Kim Kardashian for details). The problem is what happens when broad daylight comes into the equation. It’s all very well looking great in front of a lens, with a couple of filters and an app or two at your disposal (go on, admit it), but the results don’t translate into real life. In fact, too much foundation can have the opposite effect. It sits in wrinkles, dries up in patches like paint, flakes around the edges, appears more fake than flawless and, most important, can make you look 10 years older. I have your attention now, don’t I?
With all this in mind, I decided to wean myself off full-coverage foundation. When I say wean, I mean go cold turkey: I woke up one morning and replaced the custard-like bases with light tinted moisturisers, gels and creams. First up, Guerlain Météorites Baby Glow foundation. The name says it all. Applying a couple of pumps to the skin gives a subtle, luminous veil,
and the anti-fatigue effect left my skin looking energetic and alive. So much so, it makes me wonder why I’ve been relying on highlighter, blusher and bronzer to achieve a faux glow, when this can deliver a more flattering real radiance. Another goody is BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream. If you have dry skin or are full of flu, this has impressive hydrating power, replenishing thirsty skin and perking up a lacklustre surface.
A couple of days in and I’m not missing foundation at all. I’m having a ball getting acquainted with my natural flush, instead of passé, pearlescent fake blusher. Plus, the cluster of freckles on my top right cheek are thoroughly enjoying their first appearance in a while.
There are a few other complexion enhancers worth knowing about, such as Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream for combination to oily skin. I got the most compliments with this one. If you haven’t tried a BB cream, you must: they’re tinted moisturisers with added benefits. Garnier’s does a sterling job at smoothing out uneven skin tones and hydrating at the same time. Next, the pros swear by Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF20 for a healthy second-skin sheen. It’s the heaviest of the light lot, so is a good one if you’re nervous about the big reveal.
And finally, my favourite new make-up bag must-have: a gold star to Autograph Illuminating Touch Tinted Moisturiser SPF15, which also happens to be the cheapest. It’s like magic. Marks & Sparks, what’s the secret? I’m talking a long-lasting, lit-from-within, Gisele-esque complexion. It melted into my skin instantly, stayed put all day and made me look sun-kissed and golden. Bravo, Autograph.
By now, you should be sold. But before you add these gems to your basket, there’s a couple of things to know before you check out. For starters, you may need a creamy concealer. After applying a tinted moisturiser, I gently dab and buff a tiny amount of Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Flawless Wear Concealer (£22.50) where needed — over redness, dark circles and blemishes. Go for a liquid formula, as the stick forms tend to look chalky.
Next, brows. Now that your skin is a little less “done”, groomed, defined arches will do wonders. If filling them in is too fiddly, then at least use a brow gel to brush the hairs upwards. You’ll be surprised how it will open up your whole face.
One last thing: don’t throw away the hard stuff just yet. I still use it at night, as you can get away with a bit more coverage after dark, although now I mix light and heavy together. My weaning experiment has turned into a long-term love affair. I look better and fresher, and feel more confident. Who would have thought it? Your turn now. The light stuff
1 Best for a subtle pick-me-up Guerlain Météorites Baby Glow foundation, £36.50 2 Best for coverage without cake Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF20, £34 3 Best all-rounder Autograph Illuminating Touch Tinted Moisturiser SPF15, £9.50 4 Best for oily skin Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream for combination to oily skin, £10 5 Best for dry skin BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream, £27