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  • Writer's picturekhalilah

9 Foundations and Setting Powders That I Keep In Rotation

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Skincare is paramount to looking smooth and radiant but a good foundation is the cherry on top for a flawless skin finish.

Growing up, makeup wasn’t really a thing in my family.  Maybe blush, lipstick or eyeliner but definitely not foundation.  And although my mom, aunts and cousins weren’t into wearing much makeup, they always looked nice.  My mom was more into fragrance and keeping her hair done and she would wear the occasional lipstick however she didn’t wear foundation.

I remember the first time I decided to go shopping for my first foundation.  I was in my early 20’s and decided that I wanted to look like my favorite celebrities Mary J Blige and Changing Faces. I spent hours flipping through the pages of Essence and Ebony to see what was popular and what I should try. On these pages is where I saw glamour and extravagance and I wanted a piece of the action.  I always wore lipstick but I knew there was more to this equation.

Then the time - and payday - had come and I made my way to one of the local malls. I remember going up to the Fashion Fair counter. The air smelled beautiful and fragrant.  The glass on the counters that held the keys to my dreams was shiny and streak free.  Then there was the sales lady.  Her cocoa brown skin was radiant and flawless, her hair was coiffed to perfection.  Her nails were immaculately polished and her clothes were impeccable.  Then she smiled and greeted me as I approached the counter.  Ooooohhhh I just knew I was going to be beautiful - like the lady who helped me.  Like the women in the marketing photos at the counter.  Like the women in Essence, Ebony and Jet magazine. The sales lady applied that foundation powder to my face and it was magical.  I was transformed.  My lipstick and brows looked better.  I looked polished and pulled together.

I wore the Fashion Fair foundation powder for a few months.  But then I wanted to explore more options.  My next stop was the Iman Cosmetics counter.  I was beyond excited when Iman launched her line and she didn’t disappoint. I’ve always admired Iman and her beauty and I was confident that her products were going to be amazing.   I don’t remember the sales lady being as friendly as the Fashion Fair sales lady but she was still helpful.  She helped me select a shade and she expertly applied the foundation powder to my face.  I just remember the silkiness of the foundation powder and that sleek brownish, tortoiseshell colored compact.  SOLD!

But then the moment came when I made my way to the MAC counter.  MAC was a moment. A movement. A mood. The culture. At least to me.  It seemed like anybody who was somebody wore MAC Studio Fix Foundation so that is what I was going to wear - without question.  NW45 was my shade and you couldn’t tell me anything. Oh what a time. I was loyal to MAC studio fix for years.

Fast forward  to today where I have tested, experimented with and have worn many brands of foundation - both liquid and powder.  I have seen many brands come and go and through the years I have seen formulations improve with skin friendly ingredients and wider shade/undertone ranges.  

Foundation is not a one size fits all.  I believe in finding the right formulation, finish and coverage that works for you - if you choose to wear foundation at all.  I also believe in having more than one foundation for different looks.

Below are my go to foundations - all of which I keep in rotation in my arsenal.

This particular foundation took me by surprise.  I didn’t think there was going to be a shade for me because the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Longwear Foundation was giving orange - like a pumpkin for Halloween.  Anyway I had been hearing a lot of good things about Beautiful Skin Foundation and I respect Charlotte (as if I know her) so I gave it a try.  Several tubes later I’m still wearing this foundation.  It’s a lightweight foundation with medium coverage that disappears into my skin. My skin looks hydrated, plump and radiant. Full transparency - I like to apply this with my hand.

This has become my go to pressed powder and the $20 price tag doesn’t hurt either.  It’s smooth, blends seamlessly and gives medium-full’ish coverage.  I like to press this on top of my liquid foundation and use to touch up during the day if needed.  I use the sponge applicator that comes with it for full coverage and I replace (the applicator) often.  If I need to touch up during the day, I sometimes use the Sephora Collection Mini Pro Foundation Brush 56.5.

This foundation reminds me of the Beautiful Skin Foundation but with a sheer medium finish (would that be schmedium? I digress). Anyways. I like to apply with my fingers and set with my pressed powder. This foundation blurs and smooths - like a filter over the skin and who doesn’t want that?  It keeps my skin hydrated and balanced with key ingredients cacao peptides and milk thistle. It claims to give the skin more clarity as well.  I enjoy this foundation so much that when I get to the bottom I will go in with a q-tip or some water to get Every. Last. Drop.  I don’t care if I have a new bottle on standby. 

I always tell people do not sleep on Clinique makeup.  Clinique isn’t as “flashy” as other brands but this foundation is one of the best foundations that I’ve ever used.  My shade is Sienna and it is a perfectly golden undertone on my complexion.   I can’t say that for too many foundations.  Now there are two formulas that I have enjoyed.  I started off with the Clinique Even Better Makeup SPF 15.  Based on their Even Better Dark Spot Serum, this foundation is supposed to even and correct the skin.  I honestly can’t say that it does or doesn’t because I rely heavily on my skincare to do the correcting.  But this formulation certainly didn’t hurt.  It has a natural finish and is hydrating.  It stays true to color and has a natural finish. This one is great for all skin types.  There is another formulation - Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation Broad Spectrum DPF 25. This formulation provides matte finish full coverage. Key ingredients include salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid and vitamin c. It is oil free so it is great for oily and combination skin.  I’m oily and don’t care for matte finishes but I like this one. It wasn’t a dry look or feel. 

I usually don’t get into foundation sticks but I like this one because it is smooth, creamy, blendable and has a natural finish.  I actually use this for shading and contouring in the shade Espresso.  I will either use fingers or a contour brush to blend.

Patrick Starrrr understood the assignment when they created their makeup line.  From the lip glosses, blush palettes, contour/bronzer palettes, and of course the infamous setting spray which is great for sealing off makeup, I have not been disappointed.  The setting powder is no different.  It blends easily, sets without looking cakey and isn’t drying.  The only thing I will say is that I’m not a fan of the packaging.  After you take the top off, there is a flip up lid that is a bit difficult to open.  It’s an extra step that I find cumbersome just to open so I can pour some powder in the screw off lid to use.  I understand that helps the powder to stay contained in the jar but still.

I actually like both equally.  They are both great for setting and baking.  I do like the shade range of the Huda Beauty so if I want to look brighter when baking I will use the huda in Kanaufa or Cinnamon Bun.

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