Foundations for summer: our beauty experts road-test new products, affordable and high-end
Finding a foundation that can withstand Asia’s sticky summer can be a tough ask. The Post’s experts have put the latest products on the market to the test, from cushions to liquids
A change in season calls for a new foundation, but finding one for Hong Kong’s summer can be hard. When buying a foundation, you’ll also find that product prices can vary wildly. We compare high-end options with more wallet-friendly ones to find out if the extra cost is worth your money.
What I look for in a foundation is light but long-lasting coverage, a natural finish and convenient application. I don’t always apply it over my whole face, but rather over the T-zone to cover blemishes and the visible pores. This is why I pick cushions, which are easy to use on the go for touch-ups and while you are travelling.
Laneige Layering Cover Cushion
The Korean brand Laneige was one of the very first beauty companies to launch cushions. There have three generations of cushions, but this year they’ve released the new Layering Cover Cushion (HK$255/14g+2.5g).
Its sleek rose-gold case is a step up from the previous white compacts. In addition to your regular foundation, the two-in-one cushion has a concealing base on one side, which is more powdery with a strong coverage.
Its performance, though, is disappointing. The formula is adapted for Koreans, who generally prefer a bright, dewy look. The foundation contains lychee skin extracts, which is supposed to make the formula more hydrating. But I find its finish slightly too wet and it requires a generous amount of powder to make it not so sticky.
There are only four shades to choose from and all tend to leave an unnatural white cast on your face. While the concealing base is supposed to absorb excess sebum, an additional oil product is needed to keep the T-zone from turning greasy.
La Mer Luminous Lifting Cushion Foundation
The luxury brand La Mer is the latest brand to jump on the cushion bandwagon, releasing the Luminous Lifting Cushion Foundation ($950/12g) this spring. Admittedly, its staggering price tag exceeds most people’s budget for foundation, but setting aside its cost, it is an amazing product that lives up to expectations and wins compared to the low-end option.
With twelve shades in total, it is suitable for a more diverse range of skin tones (though the darkest is only warm honey, so it is still not as inclusive as it should be). One thin layer already does the job for me, and it sits comfortably on my skin. I set it with the Powder (HK$750/8g) and it can last for the whole day without any need for touch-ups.
The cushion is thoroughly soaked with the formula, so the round puff applicator picks up a generous amount of product – often too much, actually – even with a gentle touch. But if you need to build its coverage, especially over specific areas, instead of using the cushion, use a brush.
For someone with combination dehydrated skin, finding the perfect foundation is as difficult as squeezing on the MTR during peak hour. While my T-zone is oilier than fried noodles, patches on my cheeks are sometimes dry enough to peel.
So while one foundation might look great on my forehead, it’ll separate and get patchy within hours in random areas on my cheeks. This is why I have two backups of my favourite foundation by Clinique, which I rotate with Fenty and Make Up For Ever, depending on the occasion. And I have a go-to combo I know works great on my skin, and stays looking flawless even for something as demanding as 14 hours of bridesmaid duty.
Max Factor Healthy Skin Harmony Foundation
I typically don’t shop for foundations at the drugstore, only because it’s often impossible to find a match for my medium tanned skin tone. The Max Factor Healthy Skin Harmony Foundation ($158/30ml) just misses the mark. Even using the darkest of the shades available in Hong Kong – Sand – it’s still a touch too light for me, and the undertones don’t quite complement mine. I can make it work with blush, highlights and contouring, but I’d rather just have something that matches.
I am, however, pleasantly surprised by the formula of this foundation. It’s very watery, so fairly light in coverage, but can be built up to medium coverage.While it does nothing to keep my oiliness in check, very few products do, and to its credit, this lightweight Max Factor foundation didn’t lose its coverage even after blotting off the excess oil in the afternoon.
If you have relatively clear and manageable skin, you’ll love this for your daily foundation. For me, I think I’ll go back to my Clinique.
Nars Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation
The last time I used a Nars foundation, it was Sheer Glow, which was very patchy on me; however, the glowing online reviews of the Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation ($470/30ml) made me quite excited to give this a try.
In the end, I have a love-hate relationship with this product. It blends like a dream, and the coverage is so high I barely need to use concealer. One layer covers everything from sleep deprivation to PMS-related blemishes.
But it still gets dry and patchy somewhere around the six-hour mark; it also only worked best on my skin with Nars’ own primer. During those six hours, though, it’s smooth, flawless, and while it doesn’t look like you’re wearing nothing at all, it doesn’t look fake thanks to its velvety finish.
For a night out on the town or for an event where I need to look photo-ready for just a few hours, this will definitely be my pick. While it won’t be my default daily foundation, those with oily skin will love this product. It holds up very well on my T-zone, and until it gets patchy on drier spots, it just looks beautifully radiant.