There was a time when make-up launches were exciting, mostly because they were seasonal and few and far between. Now something new emerges practically every week. In the past three months in the foundation category alone, there have been offerings from Pat McGrath, Fenty Beauty, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Charlotte Tilbury, Milk Makeup, Dose of Colors, Benefit, Urban Decay, Beauty Bakerie, Sephora Collection, Smashbox and Guerlain.
The upside is that all skin types, tones and coverage needs are catered for, but does this plethora of products bring anything revolutionary to the market? I'm not so sure. Take Pat McGrath's Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Foundation. I am a big fan of the make-up artist's line, and love her luxurious lipsticks and eyeshadows, but her base provides minimal coverage, can be built up to medium coverage at best and costs a cool $68 (Dh249) for a mere 35-millilitre bottle. You could probably achieve the same effect by diluting a thicker foundation with moisturiser or facial oil, or simply opting for a BB or CC cream.
I tested the Anastasia Beverly Hills Luminous Foundation (Dh210), Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation (Dh160) and Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Hydrating Longwear (Dh175). Inclusivity is a buzzword in beauty right now, so expect plenty of new shades.
Of the three, the Anastasia Beverly Hills was my least favourite. The water-resistant foundation comes in 50 shades and promises to be long-wearing, while providing a natural and radiant finish. Unfortunately, it turned oily quickly and settled into my fine lines, not quite offering a natural finish. Setting it with my regular Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder didn't help, and I had to blot it more than once to not look like a shiny disco ball.
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation is the latest player in the game, and the 44-shade range is impressive.
I like that the brand offers cool, warm and neutral variants of many shades, so it's easier to pick the right undertone. For example, I have a wheatish complexion, but my undertone is slightly cool rather than warm. It's also great that there is no need to layer a pore-filling primer underneath and that it does give an airbrushed, flawless finish. While this product typically offers medium coverage, it layers easily. Finished with the Airbrush Flawless Finish powder, it gave a smooth and natural but not excessively matte finish. The one issue I had was that it didn't feel like the foundation had completely set on my skin – it transferred even if I touched my face gently. Setting it with a stronger fixing spray should solve the problem.
The Fenty Beauty formula was my favourite. It, too, promises a dewy finish and is easier to work with than the brand's previous offering, which many complained was too dry. It did not budge once set with powder, and remained non-oily all day. It is probably the lightest full-coverage foundation in my kit thus far, and photographs beautifully to boot.
If you still have trouble finding the best match for your skin and specifications, head to Harvey Nichols in Mall of the Emirates, where Lancome can customise your foundation. The service starts with basic questions pertaining to skin type and the coverage you want, before a handheld device with a macro lens camera picks up the exact colour of your skin. A machine dispenses pigments into a bottle and the shade is adjusted manually.