Foundation. In many ways it scares the living daylights out of me, because I’m so pale: I’m always wary of tell-tale tidemarks and looking orange. I don’t remember the first foundation I bought, but it was probably something by Rimmel or 17 and it definitely wasn’t the right shade for me. What I do remember, though, is that I moved gradually from concealer (Rimmel Clear Complexion – why was it ever discontinued?!) to foundation, partly inspired by school rules that stated make up wasn’t allowed. I relied on concealer to cover occasional spots – and therefore I wasn’t really wearing actual, proper, make-up – until I realised that the more concealer I applied, the more consistent and even my skin was (not that I suppose I really needed it at that age, but still).
Concealer, foundation or sometimes both, remain a staple part of my daily make-up routine and, in the many years since my youth, I’ve tried a lot. I’ve also thrown a lot away and wasted a lot of money, because as well as being pale, I also have erratically sensitive skin that often objects to (as yet undetermined) ingredients. On an average day, I’m often too lazy to properly reapply throughout the day, so what goes on at 8am is there until it’s not. Don’t worry though, I have an excellent cleansing regime (!) and never sleep in make-up (anymore), so at least I’ve learned that.
But let’s skip forward to this week, when I headed to Clinique to get my hands on their Almost Lipstick in Black Honey (a must-have shade of lipstick that will suit everyone, indiscriminately). I left with a free sample of their soon-to-be-released Beyond Perfecting foundation in exchange for my phone number so they could follow up to see how I got on with it. Free samples suit my pocket and my skin quite nicely, thanks very much, so I was more than happy to oblige.
After a quick colour-match I was given a pot of the palest option, 02 Alabaster and was curious (not eager – there’s always the possibility of reactions and spots, after all) to test it out because the main selling point of this foundation is that it works as both a concealer and foundation in one. If you purchase the full-size bottle, the applicator is shaped so that you can dab it onto spots and conceal them easily or use the smoother side for foundation application. I always use my fingers and didn’t get an applicator with the sample so I don’t know how accurate that is, but reports from other reviews have been good.
What else does it promise, then? Well, at the time I didn’t really ask – I just took the free stuff and left – but these are the official claims I’ve found online:
- Full coverage
- Lightweight feel
- Natural matte finish
- 12 hour wear
- Breathable formula
- Dual-sphere particles absorb oil and add hydration
- Unique applicator
It’s also available in 21 shades, which means there’s probably something close to most skin tones. However, don’t get your hopes up if you’re really pale: I’ve never been able to use a Clinique base before because they’ve always been the wrong shade, and sadly that’s still the case. I compared the colour to Maybelline’s Dream Satin Foundation in Light Porcelain (which I occasionally wear mixed with moisturiser) as well as Yves Saint Laurent’s Fusion Ink in BR20 (the correct shade for my face, but a formula that’s a bit too much for me everyday) so you can see the difference. I’m no professional or even frequent beauty-blogger, but I’ve seen these swatch things done before, so here you go.
Nevertheless, I have been wearing this foundation this week and really put it through its paces to see how it compares to the claims. I like a list, so here are my notes against the main claims:
- Full coverage? Yes, but it’s a buildable formula, so beware. I made the mistake of being overzealous at first and would definitely advise a less-is-more approach unless you’re trying to cover blemishes, which is also does quite nicely.
- Lightweight feel? Yes. The consistency is nice and feels like foundation rather than tinted moisturiser, but isn’t unpleasantly heavy on the skin and doesn’t dry to a crisp or feel like a mask.
- Natural matte finish? Is matte ever natural? But yes, I’d have to agree this does have a nice finish if you like a base that evens everything out and is more matte than dewy.
- 12 hour wear? I didn’t get my stopwatch out, but hell, this stuff sticks. Don’t shout at me, but I even wore this at the gym and it survived impressively.
- Breathable formula? Marketing speak that’s difficult to quantify, but what I do know is that this hasn’t reacted with my skin at all, no redness, no spots, nothing bad to report after a couple of days wear, so I’d have to agree (as far as I can).
- Dual-sphere particles that absorb oil and add hydration? I’m sorry, what? Well my skin was neither oilier nor drier as a result of wearing this, but neither was it less oil and more hydrated, so is that a yes or no? It’s a foundation; I’m not expecting miracles from it.
- Unique applicator? Well it is a fact that if you purchase the full size bottle of this, it will come with an applicator, so that’s hard to refute.
So would I buy this stuff for real? At £25 a bottle it’s not cheap, but Clinique isn’t a budget brand, so I wouldn’t expect it to be. If the colour suited me better I probably would invest in this, but as it isn’t perfect – and the difference between my face and neck is almost embarrassingly obvious – I’ll have to pass for now. However, I’d definitely suggest going along to your nearest Clinique counter to get your own free sample if this is something you’d consider buying. But be quick – it’s due to go on sale February 2015.
As promised, here’s a photo of the ingredients