It’s fun to pick up an affordable lipstick, and drugstore mascaras are often indistinguishable from their designer counterparts, but you can’t have perfect makeup without a truly high-quality foundation. The formulas cover a larger area than eyeliner or nail polish, so if they’re subpar, their flaws can be glaring. That said, for years, even the most prestigious foundations came in around the $80 mark. So what is behind this new crop of super-luxe foundations that are pushing (and breaking) the $200 ceiling?
According to Vancouver-based makeup artist Nadia Albano, ingredients are what differentiate ultra high-end foundations from the rest. “Most offer state-of-the-art technology to improve the look and feel of skin, including anti-aging ingredients that prevent or reduce wrinkles, dullness, and fatigue,” she explains. “They can also boost hydration and make skin more supple.” In other words, these foundations improve skin, so in the long run, you need less makeup.
Albano reckons it doesn’t matter how pricey your foundation is if you don’t take good care of your skin or apply the product properly. “An expensive foundation can still expose imperfect texture so you do need to cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize,” she says. For application, she likes Beauty Blenders (soft, tear-shaped makeup sponges). “Wet it first to prevent foundation from being absorbed,” she says. “Apply product by stippling or ‘bouncing’ it onto skin for a flawless finish.”
Five luxe foundations to try:
Clé de Peau Beauté Radiant Cream Foundation, $155, at Holt Renfrew
This rich, full-coverage foundation from the luxe Japanese brand has silk, pearl, and hyaluronic acid to moisturize, an oil component to add luminosity, and antioxidants. It’s also “smart”, responding to oil production throughout the day by releasing powder or oil so you stay radiant, not greasy or dry. Broad spectrum SPF24 completes the picture. In 12 shades.
Giorgio Armani Crema Nuda, $150, at Hudson’s Bay
This offers super-natural coverage, akin to a tinted moisturizer or BB cream, and like all its posh friends, has impressive skin-care properties: radiance-boosting ingredients plus hyaluronic acid for deep hydration. There are just six shades, but perfect colour matching is less important for tinted moisturizers than for full-coverage foundations, so that’s not a deal-breaker.
La Mer The Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation, $140, at Nordstrom
Prestige brand La Mer launched its first colour cosmetics last fall with just three products: a concealer, a loose powder, and this foundation. What’s the big deal? It offers medium, but natural coverage and contains the brand’s healing Miracle Broth, plus antioxidants, hydrating ingredients, and SPF20. It also promises to last and stay colour true, all day, and it comes in an impressive 18 shades.
La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Concealer Foundation, $285, at Nordstrom
This is a two-for-one product: a foundation in the bottle, a concealer in the lid. Both contain Swiss beauty brand La Prairie’s caviar extract for firming, soothing, and antioxidant protection. The blendable foundation feels light and gives a dewy finish, while the concealer completely erases dark circles. It comes with a spatula for the foundation and a brush for the concealer. In 12 shades.
Sisleÿa Le Teint Anti-Aging Foundation, $220, at Holt Renfrew
Light in texture, this is designed to give you a healthy, almost rosy glow. Skin-care ingredients are borrowed from Sisley’s L’Integral Anti-Age line and include actives meant to boost cellular energy and tone skin, plus wrinkle-fighting peptides and antioxidants. In eight shades.
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