FACE | My high-end foundation collection

high-end foundation review

Guess who has more foundations than can reasonably be used by one person? And this is only half of them—I’ll talk about the cheaper ones some other time. (I just added up how much it would cost to re-buy all of these and it’s over $650NZ which is sickening. Luckily I don’t want to replace all of them.)

I certainly don’t need all of these foundations, and I am consciously trying to get to the bottom of some of them, but they do give me the advantage of experience. I’ve tried a wide range of high-end foundation, I’ve figured out what works for different skin types, and I know what I like. I thought I’d share mini-reviews of each of them today.

Cover FX Custom Cover Drops in G3, $55AUD ($58NZDish)

I bought this at the peak of the hype (last year? The year before?) with the intention of balancing out foundations that were too pink for me (the G in G3 stands for golden). It’s basically pure pigment in a very messy dropper bottle—you can use them to change the undertone of a foundation, as well as to dial up coverage. G3 is a wee bit dark, however, so I’m limited in how I can use it—if I’m using it in any quantity I also have to bust out a white foundation mixer. It’s definitely A Lot, more than is reasonable for most people to bother with. Combine that with the fact the bottle is messy af and I don’t think I could recommend this product in good faith.

Guerlain Lingerie de Peau foundation in 02 Beige Clair, $99NZD

This is my current everyday foundation and considering how dang expensive it is, I was relieved as hell to discover that it’s great. Guerlain have recently relaunched this foundation in a different bottle and I believe an improved formula, but this is already fab on my oily skin so I’m hesitant to mess with it. (I have also learned my lesson about buying backups before I actually use up a product.) It’s full coverage without looking heavy on the skin at all. Bonus points: the bottle has a functional pump!

Shiseido Stick Foundation* in I20, $76NZD

I covered this in detail when I talked about stick foundations a couple of months ago. It’s a very stiff formula, so better suited for oilier skins than dry (although the Farmers website says it’s recommended for normal to dry skin, weirdly). I’m a big fan of the gunmetal packaging but honestly, the stiffness makes me pick the Hourglass foundation mentioned below over this one if I want to use this kind of formula.

Dior Airflash Spray Foundation in 200 Light Beige, $62USD ($86NZDish)

The price listed for this is the US price and the New Zealand conversion, rather than the New Zealand counter price—if I recall correctly, this is stupidly expensive on counters here. I actually scored this in a tester sale at Farmers (the store did them periodically for staff, selling testers that had been replaced on counter but still had product left, with proceeds going to charity). Because I don’t know how much was left when I got it, I’m constantly living in fear that this will run out on me.

It’s in an aerosol can, and while you can spray it directly on your face, it’s liable to get all over your hair and eyelashes, so it’s easier to spray onto your hand or sponge and work from there. This kind of renders the spray can bit redundant… but the product itself is delightful, so I can overlook that. It’s lightweight and very pigmented, giving good coverage very quickly.

YSL Fusion Ink foundation in B20, $100NZD

I have this in B20 Ivory, an allegedly neutral shade, but it pulls a little cool on me. It’s an alcohol-based foundation, so it’s very thin. The alcohol evaporates on application leaving a very matte finish. I like this a lot but because it’s so runny I often find myself accidentally flicking it all over my shirt. You also have to shake it aggressively before use. I’m a fan, but these aspects mean I don’t reach for this when I’m in a hurry.

High-end foundation swatches: Cover FX custom cover drops G3; Guerlain Lingerie de Peau beige clair; Shiseido stick foundation I20; Dior airflash 200; YSL Fusion Ink B20; Hourglass Vanish in Shell; NARS Sheer Glow Mont Blanc and Santa Fe; Laura Mercier Silk Creme in Beige Ivory; Clinique Beyond Perfecting in Buttermilk swatches.

Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick in Shell, $72NZD

Bought this recently, love it, don’t love how relatively little product you get. It’s very full coverage and VERY creamy, and comes in a zillion shades so you can guarantee you’ll find one that matches. I need to be less scared about it running out though, especially when I’m writing this post and realising how much dang foundation I have. I say more about this foundation in the stick foundation post, but if you can’t be bothered clicking through, just trust me that it’s great.

NARS Sheer Glow foundation in Mont Blanc and Santa Fe, $71NZD

The old faithful that I always come back to. I haven’t worn this in a while, to be honest, but I like knowing that I have it around. (That’s a fucking stupid thing to say.) Anyway, if anyone ever asks me for a high-end foundation recommendation and doesn’t have hectically dry skin, I suggest they give this a look. It’s great across a variety of skin types, it has a medium buildable coverage, and it lasts very well on the skin. The newer NARS foundations I’ve tried don’t have anything on this.

Laura Mercier Silk Creme foundation in Beige Ivory, $48USD ($67NZDish)

Thick and full coverage, you’ll see from the swatch that this is a much yellower foundation than the others I have in my collection. It suits me best in the summer, but because it’s got such a full and perfecting coverage, I often reach for this when putting together makeup looks for the blog. It oxidises a bit on me throughout the day, so I don’t usually wear this to work or whatever (although now I have a white foundation mixer I am trying to get more use out of it). This is the one I have a backup of, despite having had this tube for years now and not using it up. It’s in my Project Pan challenge!

Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer in Buttermilk, $64NZD

I’ve tried and tried to like this but I just don’t. We pushed it hard while I worked at Clinique but the colour selection was limited (I think they’ve expanded it now) and even the palest shade looked too dark on my skin. This is number four or something (I was matched by someone whose advice, I have since discovered, was dubious). It’s really pink but also oxidises orange and, despite being billed as a foundation and concealer, isn’t able to build to a full coverage at all. I hate it. Why do I still have it? Probably because I can’t give it away because I don’t want anyone thinking I hate them.

So. That’s a lot of foundations. If you held them ransom and only let me keep one, I’d probably pick NARS Sheer Glow, with Guerlain and Hourglass close second and third.

What’s your favourite high-end foundation? Have you tried any of these? Tell me what you think!

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  • Oh, gosh, You have the most incredible foundation collection!
    NARS Sheer Glow is my favorite x

    Coco | The Beauty Milk

  • I have YSL Touche Éclat foundation and I LOVE the formula but it’s a bit too warm for me. I wear it anyway though and hope people aren’t too critical. I also have MAC Studio Sculpt which I like a lot too. I tried Nars Sheer glow a while ago but I wanted more coverage. That aerosol can seems interesting but also messy.

    • You’d like Laura Mercier Silk Creme I reckon!

  • Lisa

    What an amazing collection! I am nearly out of my foundation so you have given me some great ideas. Thanks

    • Glad I could help! I’ll be writing about my cheaper foundations soon too – just in case you don’t want to blow your budget!