The course of true foundation love never did run smooth. There are too many independent variables, too wide a variety of problems, too much potential for disaster. And it’s not like dodgy eyeshadow or mascara, which you can generally MacGyver into some semblance of a “look” – bad base looks like bad base. It can throw everything off in a deeply unfair and annoying way.
While I am firmly of the belief that if you’re going to spend a lot of money on just one makeuppy thing, it should be foundation, I am also firmly of the belief that it is more important to pay rent and buy food than blow your proverbial load at Selfridges. It’s a boring reality of life. Sometimes, due to a “cash-flow situation,” there is no money to splurge. And in times like these, there are a handful of cheap ‘n’ cheerful foundations that will more than suffice. Until next payday, at least.
1) The Ones With Ultimate Coverage ‘n’ Lasting Power
First, for full coverage babes, I highly recommend the Seventeen Stay Time Foundation. It’s reminiscent of the Estee Lauder Double Wear, but with better packaging and costing about a fiver. The consistency is thick and slightly sticky, but emollient, so when you apply with fingers it sorts of melts into the face, leaving a surprisingly natural, satin-like finish. It can also double up as a concealer – a tiny bit applied in a pinpointed method will give the delusion of makeup free, perfect skin.
Oh, and best believe it lasts. In fact, it’s kind of a pain to remove, which is a good indicator of it not sliding off on a sweaty bus ride or towards the end of a big night when everything else is heading south. The only thing that’s a massive pain and very stupid is that is basically only comes in shades for white people. The Milani Conceal + Perfect is similar and more inclusive in shade range, although is a bit more difficult to track down. If you’re so inclined as to sleep with makeup on (and sometimes we are all sinners), both of these are perfect for waking up next to a stranger. Hot tip!
2) The Trusty All-Rounders
Two other trusty pals of mine are the L’Oreal Infallible Foundation and the L’Oreal Infallible Matte. Both are medium coverage, and, as the name suggests, reliably long-lasting. The regular Infallible is pretty glowy, cleverly faking the eight hours of sleep and eight glasses of water no one has ever successful managed (true fact), while the Matte is, you guessed it, more matte – although not dry or caking looking at all. I favour application with a damp spongey thing to get things even, dewy and properly blended in. These are for days when your skin isn’t totally haggard, but does need a bit of love, and again will look reliably passable even the morning after.
3) Your Nan’s Fave
An old faithful, reliably sitting out on the shelves of Boots since bygone times, is the Max Factor Face Finity 3-in-1. The “3” it claims to be is primer, foundation and concealer, which pretty much sums up its full-coverage ‘n’ lasting-prowess claims. It’s nowhere near as high coverage as the Seventeen, but does effectively even out redness, lumps, discoloration and all of those other deeply un-fab things. I can find it to look a little dry, so would recommend adding a drop of either oil or liquid highlighter to achieve cherubic baby face. ALSO: if you happen to be in the US, this goes by the name of Covergirl Outlast and is much cheaper and in much better shades. I don’t know why, I’m just the messenger. It’s also weirdly waterproof, which is ideal for girls who dribble, spill or snog a lot.
4) The Sneaky One
My final cheap face option is actually not what one would usually consider cheap, until you look at the price per ml calculation. Maths! I’m talking about the MAC Face and Body, a cult classic and with good reason. It gives sheer to buildable, super healthy, dewy coverage which is both waterproof and completely undetectable on the skin. It’s basically the best of a full coverage foundation without the commitment to a totally covered base. It won’t cover full adult acne, but will even out redness and brighten things up. And if you buy the 120ml, which is the size of four standard bottles of foundation, it costs just under £30. Still an investment, for sure, but one that will keep you in foundation for the best part of a year. You’re basically a foundation stockbroker at this point.
Of course, there are foundations I love so expensive that the thought of them smashing or spilling basically induces palpitations. But it’s important to remember, in times of need, that there are also diamonds in the rough. Delightful, gooey, skin-coloured diamonds.