What’s your process for testing a new foundation or concealer?

I like to test a foundation over a couple of weeks as I often find that a formula applies beautifully one day and looks less flattering on another day, so it’s good to see it on different days (at random) to see how consistent application is. I also like to try it without different products on top, like blush or highlighter, and with different tools to see what gets the best application and result.

— Christine
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10 Comments

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My first go at testing a foundation is always on bare skin, no primer. If I am unsatisfied with the results, I change up the variables to see what works best as far as application: moisturizer, primer, sponge versus brush, whether I like the results better mixed with another foundation, etc. I have very specific tastes and at this stage can pretty much eliminate all foundations that are not a liquid/cream, have a matte finish, have full coverage or very light coverage. I like a medium buildable coverage liquid foundation with satin to dewy finish. I’ve switched back from predominantly brush application to spot application with fingers, then sponge, then spritz and sponge again. I find sponge just looks more natural and I can spot apply coverage only where I need it. I’m a mixologist and really do not have any one foundation which I wear alone. My preferred blends tend to involve a longwear foundation mixed with a dewy foundation for the perfect balance between the two. I also prefer the look of custom blended foundation shades. I’ve got tricky skin. I have purchased foundations where I have tried them once and sent them back because either the shade is way off description (i.e. neutral foundations which are actually yellow) or they just look so bad I have no hope for its redemption. Hello Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless.. watched so many youtube vids to narrow down my choices from all the new foundations this year (I chose the Fenty hydrating and CT, passed on PMG, ABH, and a whole slew of others) and this foundation was awful on me. Should have gone with the ABH. Fenty pro filter hydrating is happily now part of my arsenal.

It takes at least 5 or 6 wearings in order for me to get a feel for how it works with my combination, oil slick t-zone, eczema plagued sensitive skin. During those wears, I’m specifically checking to see if it is giving me “pore freckles” and deep line settling, orangey oxidation, worn off areas, inflammation of small areas of eczema, and whether it turns cakey as the day goes on. If it doesn’t do any of the above, it wins!

It’s a very complex process, since foundations and concealers can perform amazing or poor depending on multiple aspects.

If I can, I start the testing purchase in store, swatching the foundation on my hand. I try to look at the consistency and texture; I don’t like very liquid formulas (but not very thick either). I try to see how it applies and if the formula has `grip` (I don’t like slippery formulas, and for concealer I prefer more grip). I also try to leave the foundation as much as I can on my hand, in order to see if it oxidizes (everything oxidizes on me, I just want to see how bad).
I know people say test on neck/chin, not on hand. But I have used enough foundations/concealers that at this point I know how the shade needs to look on my hand in order to match my face.

Once I get the foundation and/or concealer, I test in in multiple days and situations. There were many times I hated a product, just to change the eye cream or primer and find it’s my favorite.
So I test 2-3 days with no primer, than with primer. I try it 2-3 times with my fingers, a sponge, a brush, just to see how it applies better. If it seems that the formula doesn’t sit well on my skin, I try for a day or two not to use my morning skincare, to see if an eye cream or serum affects the performance or application. I also try the foundation / concealer at night (although rarely I go out in the evenings), to see if the SPF I use affects it.
Sometimes it takes me almost a month to nail down the application of a foundation and concealer; and in the latest years I discovered that one can make almost everything work.

At this point I know I prefer a matte / satin foundation, with medium-full coverage (that can be easily sheered out as a tinted moisturizer), preferably a thicker liquid. For concealers, I like formulas with a grip, full coverage, but that can be used as a foundation when traveling (to minimize the products I carry).

Forgot to mention that I also try different ways of applying powder, because it might impact the lasting time or how cakey it looks. Some foundations work well with a dust of powder with a fluffy brush (and applying more makes it very cakey), some concealers need to be set by pressing the powder with a puff/sponge.

I think I test foundation pretty similar to others. I prefer a glowy, near full coverage and correct shade and tone. Once I have determined those things then I test with my most used primers, sunscreen and powders. I don’t particularly care about the application technique as I am comfortable with either hands, brush or sponge but if one technique doesn’t work then I will try another. I usually know pretty quickly though whether I am liking a foundation. The sad thing is that with hundreds and hundreds of foundations out there, it is hard to find even one or two that work well !!
I wish brands would stop trying to get a foundation to last 24 hours and focus on just getting enough shades with multiple undertones and lasts a good 10-12 hours with different finishes. I know it is a lot !!

I’m also baffled sometimes how hard is to find the perfect shade match with so many foundations out-there. 😀
I mean, there are foundations with a range of 30-40+ shades in which none matches exactly (I’m in between two shades, and I’m not the one to buy multiple bottles to mix). It’s my `fault` in the end, since I like more full coverage foundations (lighter coverage foundations are more forgivable). I feel like some brand do only foundations colors in a lab setting, not testing the undertones on real people with various complexions.

Eh, I just slap it on my face and then forget about it until I remember to look in a mirror several hours later.

I do tend to try out new options on the weekend, especially if I’m not going anywhere long term so it doesn’t matter so much if they oxidise or go patchy or whatever, but I’m actually trying out the Kevyn Aucoin foundation balm and the Revolution Pro Ultimate concealer today – I received them yesterday so I chucked them on for work and we’ll see how we go.
And my absolute HG I only found through free samples included in my Mecca order, the Hourglass Vanish Seamless liquid foundation. I normally just bin them or give them away but for whatever reason I tried that one (even though I think Hourglass is overrated and overpriced) and I have to admit, I fell in love with it. $96 a bottle though, ouch!

Unless I have seen a positive review of a foundation from someone skin similar to mine, I don’t bother to try it. The reviewer usually recommends an application method so I start with that. I always wear primer so I test with a primer. Sometimes one application is enough to reject a foundation. Anything that gives me polka dot pores or which looks dry and tight on my skin is an automatic no. Otherwise, I try to test for a week, which gives me time to try it with different blush formulas and also to see how it looks on a range of “skin days” (good skin days, blotchy skin days, etc.).

Where possible, I like to get a sample of the preferred foundation, as I now know my shade and undertone. Using it for a week, as you have suggested Christine, does really show how the foundation will look on you by the end of the day.
My preferences are for porcelain foundation with pink undertones. It must offer medium coverage, be liquid and have a matte to semi matte finish. I just apply it with my finger tips.

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