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Rant & Rave: Full Coverage Foundation

Tell us what you love and hate about...

Full Coverage Foundation

It’s something I struggle to use, I think.  I tend to over-apply, because I’m so used to more medium coverage/buildable coverage formulas! I love when they have a lighter-weight feel and don’t appear caked on, because sometimes you NEED that coverage level.

— Christine


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Kat Avatar

I have very pale, very dry, very sensitive skin so I flush and get very red a lot, so I really need medium to full coverage if I’m going to be wearing makeup. I used to over-apply, but I figured out how to apply it in very thin layers so it doesn’t cake up. Also if it’s matte finish, I often mix in one or two drops of facial oil. I feel like I still get the same coverage, but it doesn’t cake up or dry me out. I think full coverage has it’s benefits, but if you don’t have a lot of discoloration like I do, maybe it’s not for everyone. And you need to figure out how best to use it with your skin type.

Katherine T. Avatar

I was never into full coverage foundation (heavy, mask-like, drying, seeps into fine lines, cakey) until I tried the Marc Jacobs re(Marc)able Full Coverage Foundation Concentrate, but this one is lightweight and if applied lightly ( 1 dot for entire face), doesn’t look cakey or mask-like. My skin is in decent shape, so most of the time, I sheer it down to medium-full coverage, but some days, I need full coverage. It’s also important to find the right color match, but the shade range is big, 24 shades. My complaint is that the packaging is faulty, the applicator gets really messy and leaves a ring of foundation around the outside of the bottle, so not good for travel. But I just put into small sample container for travel.

Spring Avatar

I’ve really wanted to try this foundation, but I wasn’t sure how it would go on dry combo skin. Sometimes I want a full coverage look and all of the full coverage foundations I have tried are just way too much on my skin, so I need to sheer them out to medium coverage.

Katherine T. Avatar

It’s a pricey one, so if you want to try, see if you can get a sample first, to see if it works for your skin type. There’s a big shade range, but it can be really tricky to find a shade match, as the shades run very light, and it swatches much darker on your hand, but lightens up after a few minutes on the face.

Ale Avatar

try the clarins one. evelasting or smth of such sorts. full coverage but not cakey. i have combo oily skin and have to use a richer moisturiser under this cause it is really good with oil control

Elizabeth Avatar

(stolen from Into The Gloss)

The paradox of heavy coverage:
If you wear matte heavy-coverage foundation in your everyday life, you’ll look like Tom Hanks in Polar Express. If you wear matte heavy-coverage on camera, you’ll look really nice. (See: the Kardashian women.)

Momo Avatar

Full coverage foundation (FCF): a must-have in my foundation collection. I have oily, acne-prone skin and for many years, I had struggled with acne scarring and hyperpigmentation. Full coverage foundation became my saving grace. While FCF is amazing for achieving a flawless coverage look, it can easily produce the dreaded “cake face” when applied improperly; especially if the formula is matte. It’s a real struggle whenever I need to create a full coverage face, but also maintain a lightweight, skin-like appearance. It’s all about going slowly and applying one thin layer at a time. It’s a tedious task, but I love the results. I’ll never give up my FCF.

Tam Avatar

As someone who used to suffer from acne and hyperpigmentation, full-coverage foundation is a self-esteem/confidence booster. However, with using a full-coverage foundation, it can sometimes look heavy. People may say, “Oh, your makeup is nice” when the goal is for the foundation to be undetectable. It defeats the purpose when the point of wearing full-coverage foundation at all is to disguise flaws to achieve the look of perfect skin. Using it can be a challenge like walking on a tightrope.

Nancy T Avatar

I wear a pretty full coverage foundation during the cooler months (Oct.-early May) because my facial skin is a mess! Seriously though. Mild melasma in spots, some rosacea and red spots, some mild lupus scales, and also, due to my overuse of vit. C serums, my face is lighter than my arms, chest and lower half of my neck. Therefore, I really do require my camo level foundation! So far, I am liking my bottle of MAC Pro Longwear. But I do wish that I had known about the Studio Sculpt formula! Ah, next time…

Charlene Avatar

Nancy T:
I have the same problem as well. Lupus scales and my face is lighter than the rest of my body. I try to match my foundation to my neck. Do you have any tips that you can share? What type of lupus do you have? Mine is systemic lupus.

Nancy T Avatar

The only tip I can offer is a pretty common one: a beauty blender type sponge that I use dampened. Also, that I add some Strobe Cream to the Pro Longwear to take away any flat or unnatural appearance.
My Lupus is SLE. Thankfully on the mild end of the spectrum. So far, just my skin, joints and anti-cardio lipid syndrome. With one episode of Lupus induced endocarditis. Like many others who have autoimmune diseases, I have a cluster, with the Crohn’s being the most difficult to deal with.

Lulle Avatar

Good timing for this question! I’m looking for a full coverage foundation right now because I have bad breakouts and scars to hide. I’ve never used full coverage before, and all the ones I tried had one thing in common: they really emphasized skin texture. I eventually bought Smashbox Studio Skin, but it still gets into my pores and requires a lot of buffing and blending, and I feel like it looks a bit dry. I’m actually on the fence about returning it. Before that I tried Marc Jacobs Remarcable and Clinique Beyond Perfecting, and both were worse in terms of showing pores and dry areas.
So if anyone can suggest a full coverage foundation that looks smooth, I’d be really thankful!

Jenn Avatar

Have you tried using a full coverage concealer instead? I used to have horrible acne, and I found the better solution was to use a light to medium foundation, and then covered my acne/acne scarring with Laura Mercie Secret Camoflouge. It took longer than just throwing on full coverage foundation, but it was my best solution for covering problem areas while still looking like I have great skin.

Lulle Avatar

I just ordered the Cover Fx concealer for blemishes (the one with salicylic acid) so I should be able to hide the breakouts with that, but I also have some redness on my cheeks that’s hard to neutralize completely with a light to medium foundation. I’d love to find a full coverage one to do everything with one product!

Ava Avatar

I LOVE the regular Double Wear. It is not crazy full coverage, I do two light layers and it covers all my redness (pale skin) and it is not super matte, I feel it has quite a natural finish for it’s coverage. I also use it as concealer and build it up on spots. Also the lasting power is amazing. If you have really dry skin, I think it could emphasise dry patches, but my skin is getting drier with every year and other foundations have started looking scaly, but Double Wear doesn’t. It doesn’t emphasise my pores.

Lulle Avatar

Thanks for the tip! It’s been around for ages but apparently it’s still one of the best high coverage foundations. I haven’t tried it yet, mostly because I hate to get color-matched at department stores (they always try to sell me something too light), but I think I should test it next. My skin isn’t dry, which is why suddenly getting apparent scaly patches with some foundations is really annoying.

Susan Dowman Nevling Avatar

Try a pore covering primer first. I like Dr Brandt’s pore reducing primer and Benefit Porefessional. My visible pores are on my nose and chin so I normally add a bit extra there the swirl it in with my fingers to make certain.the pores are filled. Both products have a straight color but it disappears with application and makes it easier to see what your doing. It requires very little product.

Ale Avatar

clarins everlasting (not a full matte but close) – totally underrated!
i really like dior sculpt serum foundation (pricey but omg holy satin finish that lasts on my oily combo skin) – medium – full buildable
sisley phyto teint expert

sorry i only know high end

Charlene Avatar

Deborah: I used to use Mac’s full coverage foundation. I switched to Mac’s studio scuplt. Can I ask you what application technique you’re using?

WARPAINTandUnicorns Avatar

I’m an all or nothing girl due to my red reactive skin as well. Some brands are just heavy and don’t play well with dry skin. For me it’s really all about the primer though, and they make a huge difference in how they can apply and wear.

Still my favorite is the Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation. a mix of mineral and liquid foundation…. yasss. I also love Illamasqua Skin base as well.

Also because they are full coverage, I rarely bust out a concealer and find that I only need a colour corrector and the foundation just evens out everything.

Rachel R. Avatar

I’ve heard good things about the Tarte Full Coverage Foundation, but the lightest shades are still too much too dark for me. I hope they expand the range.

I love the Tarte Foundcealer in Light that came in a QVC set a while back. I’ve been wearing it the last two days to cover a a bright red acne attack, and I didn’t need any additional color correcting or cocealer. I wish they’d make it permanent.

Leah Avatar

I also have, and like, that Foundcealer! What’s the deal with Tarte making foundations just for QVC? I bought their Rainforest foundation off of QVC as well but haven’t tried it yet. I was waiting to see reviews but apparently I’m the only person to have purchased it, or something 🙂

Rachel R. Avatar

I don’t have the Rainforest foundation, nor have I see any reviews for it. Reviewers mostly seemed to love the Founcealer. I thought maybe the QVC sets were testing grounds for new formulas, but it seems they’ll show up in a set and we never see them again. The only thing I’m not crazy about with the Founcealer is the dropper-style bottle, but it’s not horrible either.

Mariella Avatar

I don’t know if I actually have any full coverage foundations. I do have long wearing ones like MAC ProLongwear and Clarins Everlasting but I’m not sure if they’re what’s considered ‘full coverage” or not. But the downside with any foundation with more than a bit of coverage is that they can look artificial and heavy adn that’s not the look I’m after. I think heavier coverage foundations and foundations in general have really improved over the years. It’s amazing to me the coverage I can get with Shiseido Sheer and Perfect or Sephora’s Teint Infusion Ethereal Natural, both of which have an almost water consistency and yet they really do cover and make skin look perfect.

Genevieve Avatar

I really need a medium to full coverage foundation – but they are often too heavy for me. Having very fair, sensitive, a bit red skin I have got to be careful about what I use. Matte foundations are hopeless on me. I like the Rimmel Match Perfection in light porcelain, but it doesn’t always last the day. Recently I tried the Bobbi Brown long wear foundation – which is great. BUT it contains lavender oil, which is a known skin irritant. Boo!

Erin Avatar

I rarely use them because it makes the color mismatch much more apparent! Being as pale as I am it’s hard. I do love a flawless base though.Now, that being said, the new MJ foundation is nice, covers EVERYTHING, but I think it breaks me out 🙁 MJ also requires a lot of work in contouring and highlighting department because it does cover so much you look like a mannequin of yourself.

Anne Avatar

I barely ever reach for my full coverage foundations as I prefer more light to medium coverage. I have the NARS All Day Weightless and the L’Oreal Pro-Matte (though that one was mostly for testing purposes) if I need it, and the NARS one is quite light on the skin, though you still feel it on you. Full coverage foundations are great for specific events, but otherwise tend to seem like overkill. Basically, great for the few times you need them, but not a daily item.

Mimielle Avatar

I love it as my goal for my own full face of makeup is almost never a “natural look”. KVD Lock It and KA SSE are my favorites. If I do a 5 minute face, a tiny dab of the SSE can be used as concealer, then the rest sheered out with moisturizer or more recently a liquid highlighter and buffed in for light, illuminated coverage. Do a lip and an eye flick, a coat of mascara on curled lashes and out the door.
SSE is magic stuff.

Claire L Avatar

I don’t use full coverage foundations very often because they’re hard to wear without making me look older (not good at 38!). I like that they cover my spots where with sheerer foundations I have to use a lot of concealer! I don’t like the mask-like, caked on look a heavy foundation gives me, especially as I am quite fair skinned it makes it obvious. I’m thinking of investing in the Face set of Wayne Goss brushes to see if it makes a difference to application. I already got the Eye set and I love it lol.

Kayle Avatar

I don’t have very bad all-over redness problems so I’ve never really liked full-coverage foundation. I haven’t figured out how to make it look not cakey and I still haven’t been able to find one that’s a perfect match for my skin so it looks really, really bad. I do like using it instead of concealer sometimes for spot coverage of particularly fussy acne, but never all over my face

Cat Avatar

I think I’ve only tried one full-coverage foundation. I only remember one and that was about ten years ago. It looked flawless for about thirty minutes… then started to settle into every fine line on my face. Before that, I never even noticed the fine lines! If there is a full-coverage foundation that doesn’t do that, I’d be up for trying one again… though I really don’t need one at this time as I can build up coverage where I need it and also incorporate concealer. I’ve always been curious about Dermablend and I’d love to get my hands on a sample.

badgerpawsmcgee Avatar

RANT: Color match must be spot-on or it looks obvious. I don’t go outside much as I work a cubicle job, so I really do have to mix colors to match my neck and chest.

RAVE: if I’m wearing foundation, I shouldn’t have to wear concealer. Simple as that. Every time I’ve tried to use medium or sheer foundation, then spot-conceal, it cakes– especially when setting it with powder, no matter how I blend it out or what “Holy Grail” technique/product I use.

So instead, I simply don’t conceal and make my whole face Full Coverage. simple.

I dedicated myself to finding a full coverage foundation that looks natural in the harsh office lighting, and I get compliments on my skin all the time now.

Susan Dowman Nevling Avatar

I have mild rosacea and many noticeable “spider” veins at times. I’ve had them zapped by a plastic surgeon but they seem to have partially returned. I like fuller coverage on my red faced days but apply with a damp beautiblender to avoid too much product.
Despite this, I am often able to use a BB, CC or lighter foundation most of the time.

Hannah Avatar

I like using a heavy full coverage foundation when I’m doing fantasy makeup and setting it with a matte “translucent” powder with a white cast for the perfect witchy mask. I have one from wet and wild that can cover freckles. It looks weird after a few hours in natural light but great when i take photos.
I would never use any fcf for every day though, because i love my freckles! I usually use a medium coverage foundation and apply extra layers to my cheeks and nose.

Wednesday Avatar

Definitely a love/hate thing.

I tend to gravitate more towords light to medium coverage myself, but I do have some heavier cover foundations in my arsenal or those that can be successfully layered to achieve that effect. Picks include GA Lasting Silk, TF Born this Way, KGD Aqua. I absolutely never wear a full face of full cover makeup. If I want the cover, I will do it in strategic spot application.

Love that they completely cover any redness issues on nose/chin/cheeks.
Love that your skin can look absolutely amazingly flawless and beautiful, particularly in night or professional lighting
Love their lasting power
Hate the extra products required to build up face structure since full coverage really flattens my features out.
Hate how they look super fake in natural light even if you know what you are doing with application.
Hate how colour match needs to be that much more spot on and I find few that please me in this regard.

This is my own little pet peeve and it’s not a judgement, just how my eyes pick up details. The thing I hate most is that awful bobble head effect when someone is wearing full cover makeup. I see it all the time and it makes me that much more anal and reluctant to participate. Television: where the lighting is supposed to be ‘ideal’. Well, it is and it isn’t. CNN correspondents.. ugh… sometimes.. Even when the makeup is carried down the neck and into decolletage, it’s just totally creepy, and makes peeps look like AI versions of themselves..okay. Shudder.

Lisa Avatar

I just plain don’t like it. I prefer to be able to see some of my own skin’s coloring otherwise it tends to look cakey on me. If I can see the foundation on me, then I don’t like how I look. I don’t think I own any full coverage foundations because of this.

Lacey Avatar

I really need full coverage because my acne turns into dark brown spots that are difficult to cover with medium coverage foundation–even with concealer. The hard part is finding that perfect match (not too light, not too orange), that won’t slide off or oxidize with oily skin, that won’t break me out, and that doesn’t settle into fine lines or emphasize surface dryness. Is that too much to ask? 😉 Finding that holy grail foundation may take me a lifetime!

Ale Avatar

to quote Goss:” a full coverage foundation can become a sheer one with your favorite mosturiser or a bit of oil” i even sometimes add a liquid luminiser to make it satin without affecting the wear time
having tricky skin that acts up when it’s most inconvenient i allways have a full coverage foundation in my rotation, plus i used to have acne untill my mid 20’s so i still have some brown spots

so i guess i only have one rant…shade can be tricky to find

Ale Avatar

forgot to add that don’t u just hate it when u can’t find a concealer that matches your foundation? full coverage….problem solved, no need for concealer, just add more on problem areas, the rest of the face can do with one light layer

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