Ace of Base - An Asian Girl's Guide to Foundation

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Finding ‘The One’ is not easy and while there’s definitely more choice now than ever, many women are still settling for what they think suits when it’s actually not quite the perfect match. We’re talking foundations of course. The holy grail of the cosmetic world and the make-up item most women are prepared to splash out on once they’ve found their match. The reasons are simple; finding the perfect base is like finding a friend for life. It will camouflage those late nights out and cover up the annoying breakout you should have had when you were still watching Grange Hill back in the 80s and not now in your adult years watching GoggleBox. Blemishes, pigmentation, scars; the lot disappears when you’ve found ‘The One’ and once you’ve achieved the perfect canvas, the rest of your make-up just goes on a dream. So whether you’re a habitual ‘eye-flick and mascara’ girl like me or a ‘colour-popping pout’ creature, your overall look is so much better when your base is bang on. Working in the industry for nearly 14 years, I’ve tried countless foundations which is a good thing. Todays make-up counters are crammed with foundations all boasting magical technologies, colour match qualities, anti-ageing awesomeness and scientific breakthroughs so hi-tech, we’re spoilt for choice. And choice certainly wasn’t something I could boast about when I was a teenager experimenting with make-up for the first time (as you do) in the school toilets with your mates. As if secondary school wasn’t hard enough without having the extra woe of trying to suss out what shade foundation to wear.

YSL FoundationWhile most of my fair skinned friends would literally slap on something from Rimmel - which back then was still quite chalky and nothing like today's silky smooth formulations - it was what 14 year old girls had to make do with back then when we weren’t pretending to be Martika or Paula Abdul. However, my Mauritian and Filipino mix meant all high street brands fell catastrophically at first base. I remember always having to pick the ‘Dark’ shade, which was basically a really dark pink in most cases. There was no fun for me testing out shades on the back of my hand in Superdrug, so I’d just settle for ‘Dark’ and would blend it into nothing, using the teeniest amount knowing it wasn’t the right shade but at the same time still wanting to take part in the girlie rite of passage that is ‘tarting yourself up in the loo at break time’.

The biggest irony was I didn’t actually need to wear foundation. I was lucky to have skipped the acne phase - aside from the odd breakout around my hairline caused mainly by blasting my home-perm with a probably toxic, super hold hairspray - and so the cycle began of desperately covering up blemishes, only to make them look even worse. So while the mistakes of my youth can be put down to a lack of choice, you’d think things had changed, but still there’s a common misconception and understanding about WoC that ‘One Size Fits All’.

Getting my byline picture taken has thrown up some real beauties. Once I actually looked like a melting Easter egg. The assumption is made that because you have Asian skin you have dark skin and therefore require the darkest shade. Similarly in department stores, I’ve experienced a beauty consultant confidently go straight for the darkest colour, work backwards, until embarrassingly, they realise there isn’t actually a shade that suits. So most of my twenties was spent blending together at least four or five shades, an expensive exercise, but a necessity, if I wanted to create the perfect match.

Kiko FoundationBut why couldn’t my shade come out of just one bottle? It wasn’t just costly, it took longer and was a nightmare to apply on the commute into work. Then came a foundation breakthrough. Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation meant I could finally begin to whittle down my make-up bag and was getting close to a One Bottle Wonder. Depending on the seasons - how tanned I was in the summer or slightly more sallow in the winter - I would simply add a darker or lighter tint, thus creating the perfect match. Blending in a bit of Kiko Sunproof BB Cream adds more warmth and a lighter coverage during the summer, whilst during the months where I wish I could hibernate, Dr Murad Skin Perfecting Primer knocks the shade down to exactly where I want it to be, plus it gives a longer lasting effect too – perfect for the Christmas party season.

I then discovered a base specifically targeted to my skin type, EX1 'Invisiwear' Liquid Foundation was a huge revelation especially as it performed just as well as the luxury ranges, but had a much more affordable price tag. It’s founder Farah Naz looked into the biophysical characteristics of this skin type which can be more oily – hence the oil free formulation - and due to increased levels of melanin it is also much more susceptible to post inflammatory hyperpigmentation following acne or injury to skin tissue. The research, in my opinion, is why it delivers such great results. Then came YSL Le Teint Touch Eclat Foundation, available in 22 shades, I’d finally found my One Bottle Wonder. I’d never had so many people compliment me on my skin when I wore it for the first time. It’s a clever baby; not only does it colour match, it leaves skin luminous, healthy looking with an incredible, unbeatable glow.

It’s definitely the base to beat.