I have combination skin as many people do, and I develop oily patches on the T-zone as the day progresses. My cheeks tend to be drier but they get oily on bad days too. I never really had problems with my skin except for slight hormonal breakouts. Foundation tends to stay on pretty okay (or maybe it didn’t..back then, I probably was not vain enough to notice) but unfortunately, the state of my skin has gotten worse with the dry and cold weather here in London. Aging is becoming my #1 nemesis too and I have been looking out for skincare and makeup products that will help tackle the problems I face.
For perhaps a year now, I have been increasingly frustrated with the staying power of my makeup. I am reluctant to use foundations that are formulated for long-lasting wear; I believe that these products are too heavy and might cause breakouts that will make me cry a river. I have also always been a fan of Shiseido, which my mum swears by; I have been using its products for almost ten years now and I am at a loss to find that the foundation I use no longer stays on for as long as I want, owing to the oil patches on my skin.
The oil wells on my skin cause my foundation to slough off like water on an unevenly waxed surface and the bits of foundation left collects in miniscule and annoyingly visible clusters. My skin starts to look like estuaries by mid-day. If I attempt to blot the oil off, the foundation comes off, leaving me with red, dry and flaky patches. If I try to touch up my makeup, the flaky patches show. In short, it is seriously annoying.
I got so frustrated one day that I dragged the husband to the beauty hall in Selfridges & Co with me on a hunt for something, anything at all to rectify the problem. Before I go into my little beauty expedition, there is something you have to know about me. I am a highly unadventurous person and the only products I use from brands other than Shiseido are usually eye shadows from cheaper pharmacy-stocked brands. My mum has incredible skin for her age and she taught me to believe that if something has to sit directly on your skin for a long time, such as foundation, it has to be from a respectable company and preferably Japanese because these brands would understand Asian skin. Her mantra sat with me for years and I refused to use anything other than Shiseido because I never had product-related breakouts with them. The day I walked into Selfridges was the day I decided to venture out of my comfort zone.
The first counter I saw as I walked into Selfridges was Laura Mercier. I have read some reviews and since I still stand by using respectable brands for skincare and makeup, I decided check out its range of foundations that may be suitable for my skin. The sales lady recommended a liquid foundation (to be reviewed another time) and foundation primer. I have heard of primers before and tried makeup bases from Shiseido, which worked well to even out skin tones but not to give makeup staying power; because of my unsuccessful trials with makeup bases, I was slightly skeptical at this sales push. Desperation, however, drove me to spending 27 pounds on a tube of the primer and let’s just say that desperation made a good call on this occasion.
I have been using the primer for months now and I am happy to say that I am now able to use my Shiseido foundation again without said problems . My makeup has more staying power; it lasts through the day at work with very minimal blotting. The oil patches do not peek through as much as before and the colour of my foundation stays true to when it is first applied in the morning.
Here’s how I use the primer. After the usual steps of cleansing, toning and moisturising, I let the moisturiser ‘dry out’ ever so slightly for a minute or so (depending on the humidity of your location) and then massage the primer all over my face. I let the primer sink in just a teeny bit before applying foundation. The primer is a lightweight gel that goes on easily, the only drawback is its funny smell, but man, does it offer a smooth base for makeup to glide on. Most importantly it does what it promises to do and makes my foundation stay on for at least eight hours compared to a shortlived two hours before.
It is not perfect, yes, I still have to blot very very gently once a day (compared to several times a day) and oiliness still develops, albeit in significantly lesser amounts, but I think that is a skin-deep problem that I have to correct with oil-control products and possibly changing my diet. After all, you cannot keep painting over cracks in the wall without getting to the root of the problem. The Laura Mercier foundation primer is as good as a miracle it gets for me and it may just work for you too.