Back to base: the best foundations for older skin

— by Alyson Walsh

Tanya, Mrs Robinson

Model: Tanya Drouginska. Photo: Mrs Robinson Management

Are bare foundations enough for older skin? – asks beauty journalist Vicci Bentley. Skin now has to look ‘polished’, ‘buffed’, ‘sparkling’ – undressed to reveal your inner glow. That’s if you have one, of course. For most of us with a few decades under our belt, skin and radiance rarely exist in the same sentence, unless that vitality comes courtesy of a tube. Most new foundations are designed to be ‘weightless’, while light diffusing pigments have the radiance bit covered.

Great news for foundation phobes, who hate a heavy look and feel. But here’s the rub. However pleasantly gauzy the finish, these flimsy tints can’t hide splodges, dark circles, tired furrows – all the real skin stuff we’d rather didn’t show through. In my book, the secret of truly polished skin is a damned good concealer. So I’ve been experimenting.


Chanel Vitalumiere Powder Foundation and brush

I’ll say this upfront – I loathe fluid foundations. In my mid-sixties, I still have a centre panel that glows, but not in a good way and no matter how matte a base promises to be on the box, my face still looks sweaty and by the end of the day, deltas have pooled in my wrinkles. Powder bases are my thing, and for some time now I’ve buffed on Chanel’s excellent Vitalumière Loose Powder Foundation, £55 with its handy kabuki brush. It’s easy to build and surprisingly covering – a touch of mica gives that all-important subtle, ‘second skin’ glow that never looks heavy, yet stays the course. I’ve also found that touching extra on with a sponge-tip hides broken veins, spots and dark circles. Can you rival that?

Chanel healthy glow

Chanel Healthy Glow

This year, Chanel launched Healthy Glow Foundation, £36 into its equally fab Les Beiges range (the Healthy Glow Sheer Powder in No.10, £39 brightens subtly and beautifully). It’s light-textured, settles to matte and has a fresh but chic outdoorsy look that evens your skin-tone without hiding it. At the press launch, I was encouraged to apply it with Chanel’s 2-in-1 Foundation and Powder Brush, £38, whose firm, blunt bristles look as if they’ve been cut off half way down. Total revelation! Makes fluids a cinch to control and gives a smoother finish than fingers ever could.

Chanel 2-in-1 brush_XLARGE

Chanel buff brush

Something else I never thought I’d like but secretly wanted to (it’s so clever!) is Clinique’s Chubby In the Nude Foundation Stick, £23. Massaged on with Clinique’s new Buff Brush, £23, this twist-up stick foundation is silky, not greasy, easy to build and doubles as a pretty decent concealer.

Clinique Chubby in the Nude Foundation Stick 2

Clinique Chubby

Which brings me to the hardcore stuff. I still love Estée Lauder’s Double Wear Stay In Place Concealer, £22 because It does what it says on the tube. But recently I’ve been seriously impressed by a couple of HD-grade cover-ups. Former US TV news anchor Jamie Kern Lima’s collaboration with plastic surgeons gives us IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Waterproof Anti-Aging Concealer, £26 (QVC) which comes with its own Heavenly Luxe Dual Airbrush Concealer Brush. Despite the waffly names, it’s deadly serious on flushes and even age spots. (The similarly wordy Bye Bye Pores Poreless Finish Airbrush Powder with Heavenly Luxe Airbrush Powder Brush, £29 makes short work of shine, too).


Meanwhile, Make Up Forever Ultra HD Concealer, £20 blurs shadows and wrinkles beautifully. Glowing testimonials from me, then….


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Are bare foundations enough for older skin? – asks beauty journalist Vicci Bentley.