9 Bases and a Clay Mask
Updated: Feb 18
By Laura Bissessar
Welcome to my first blog post! This is the story about how a free coupon code from #Sephora got me to face my fears, start a blog, and punish my face - all for the pursuit of sharing my knowledge with the world.
Let's jump right in! You can get to know me later. But fair warning - you're about to know my face VERY well.
One day, as I was filling up my Sephora shopping cart, I noticed that they were giving away a sample bag of foundations with purchase. As a kind of lazy makeup artist, this excited me. I thought I would get the bag-o-samples and try them all over the course of a few weeks.
Well, I did get them. And they sat on my table for a month. Mocking my laziness.
But I showed them! Because one day, I decided to try ALL 9 bases in one very long sitting.
Bruh, that was a bad decision. However, I came away with a wealth of info about these foundations, with each one giving me very different results.
I tested the samples in random order, which is documented below.
And I DO NOT recommend trying this at home. Like I did. But I'm the pro here, so go with it...
Welcome to My Face
Here's the beginning of many photos of my face. This one is scary bare, no retouching, and taken with an IPhone. But it's important for reference - I have pretty good skin with some fairly minor textural and pigmentation stuff, and I'm in my 30s. As you will see, I'm only making up half of my face...
you know, for more reference.
In No Particular Order
In this tiny packet, there was barely enough product to try. But you don't go from being an afternoon infomercial product to a household brand without some serious repeat sales and positive word of mouth. I've heard lots of great things about Bare Minerals around the water cooler, which is why I say it's still worth a try if you can get your hands on a larger sample at the store. Otherwise, this sample is not worth the coupon code.
I'm used to samples not coming in my particular shade of yellow-tan. In my experience as a makeup artist, there really are a handful of shades that seem to run out much quicker than the others - and they aren't the ones that I would use for myself. I try not to take it personally.
That being said - this foundation sample surprised me. I don't know why I had lesser expectations for the Sephora brand, but why would one of the biggest names in beauty retail put their name on an inferior product? For that, I humble myself. This foundation felt wonderful during application. Cooling and hydrating, it has high spread-ability and coverage. Did I test it for 10 hours? Of course not!
Actually, I forgot to take a photo before I took it off... rookie mistake, amiright?
But something tells me that with a light dusting of setting powder, this foundation will not fail you. This sample is enough to get 2-3 uses from, so if you can get your shade, get it!
Full disclosure, I rushed out to try this foundation - something I never do. But when my fellow Caribbean Queen Rih Rih comes out with her own line, well, I was first in line. Which is why it pains me to confess my disappointment with their darker tones. The foundation itself is quite nice - it meets my standards for a $35-ish base and the primer (included with sample) provides the desired supple adherence you'd want from a primer.
My ambivalence stems from the first time I tried this product - I was actually helping my 100% West Indian cousin look for a skin tone match, and then again for myself when using this sampler. I had to use some artful mixing with 3 of the 4 shades, and it left me (and previously, my cousin)... the dreaded "A" word - ASHY. Ugh, it was painful even typing that word.
We gave up on finding my cousin a shade from Fenty, and maybe I myself haven't tried enough shades, but Fenty Beauty's complexion-inclusive line has seemed to leave out our extremely yellow based makeup wearers. And I can't stand in perfect "magic hour" light all the time.
NARS. Please. What is with this sample pack? Despite your wide range of 33 excellent shades, you decided to share what I can only perceive to be the lighter medium range with your 8-dose sample-pack? I'm going to assume you have different sample pack shades, because you're better than that...
...AND YOU ARE! I used the darkest shade (Medium 5), which I'm sure will match when my tan goes away, and applying this stuff feels like I'm dreamily rubbing my face onto one of Tom Haveford's throw blankies. Using only remnants from the peel away lid, I smoothed on this moisturizer-like base on the entire half of my face. It feels soothing after putting on and removing several makeups. And despite being too light, did not leave me ashy and emotionally scarred.
I'm saving this one for later.
A combination of needing to give my face a break and being least excited to try this brand led me to test Becca on my arm. Becca boasts full coverage and breathability, and I want to believe that. But despite having the same main ingredients as NARS, this foundation doesn't live up to my standards. I was put off by its lack of spreadability and the pigment loss in the process.
The base also felt dry going on...so unpleasant, even if you have oily skin. Maybe Becca should've provided a larger sample for better testing, but right now, this is going to the bottom of my list. Metaphorically.
That's a mouthful, so I'll keep this short. What can I say, I neither loved nor hated it. It was just okay. Pros - It looks pretty when it's on and blends easily. Cons? Its fluid consistency can run away from you and it's light on pigmentation (but that may be the whole point). It's a little pricey for a just okay product, so your decision will have to come down to your needs and your preference.
I needed the grip strength of 1000 Amazons to open these samples, but once I did, I was instantly reminded of what proper makeup consistency should be. Applying this was like smearing cool chocolate pudding over my face, which, unless you're a monster, you know this is a good thing. This base lived up to my high hopes. Easy application, seamless blending, natural coverage, and comfortable to wear. I had to mix the Buff and Pecan from the sample, and LM is limited to only 20 shades, but I'd be willing to mix in order to smear this dessert makeup on my face again.
Add this to your Top Faves.
Almost there, but my skin is ready for this to be OVER...
I'm usually put off by a lot of flashy wording when it comes to branding, so I've avoided trying Makeup Forever's foundation for a long time, despite the fact that I regularly use their primer in my pro kit. But this foundation delivers as promises!
Okay, so I know I'm totally grey in the photo, but the sample pack had nothing remotely close to my skin tone. It really does virtually disappear into the skin and feels totally weightless. I was able to stipple extra product over my dark spots and "erase" them. Call me foolish for not trying this brand sooner, because it's perfect for the mass population of timid makeup wearers who basically want to wear makeup, but also don't. I usually refer to them endearingly as pains in my arse, but now I don't have to.
This was an exciting, albeit overdue, encounter.
I'll never understand brands that tout "24 hour" wear. Friends - this is not a makeup tip, this is a life tip - there is no reason to keep your makeup on for 24 hours! I won't judge you for it, just...don't do it. I like this foundation very much. I have nothing negative to say about it, and other than its yummy light coconut scent, there's nothing that makes this foundation stand out amongst other similar top quality brands. But it's a solid choice, nonetheless, full of many positives. Just make sure to clean your face before you go to bed.
In Conclusion (you saw the Hypothesis, right?)
Despite my complaining, this was a fun experiment. I would give you a ranking if I thought it would be a fair assessment, but it wouldn't be. The thing is, everyone has different goals when it comes to choosing makeup. You have to choose what's right for you.
Before going out to test new foundations, ask yourself these questions -
How much coverage do I want?
How much time am I willing to spend applying foundation?
What kind of finish do I want - "no makeup", dewy, matte, or creamy(heavy)?
What is my budget?
Am I willing to buy multiple foundations to adjust for seasonal changes?
Answer these questions honestly, and you can ease much of the headache involved with choosing the right makeup. Good luck!
Okay, okay... my faves were Laura Mercier, NARS, and Marc Jacobs. In that order.
Why Did I Do This?
I love writing, and have always wanted to start a blog. But it seemed too scary and too big, and I kept worrying about being a redundant voice in the blog universe.
But my husband (and biggest/only fan) kept encouraging me, and once I found a solid, slightly ridiculous topic that I could write passionately about, my fears went away.
I truly hope you enjoyed reading this post. And I welcome feedback, especially from fellow bloggers. My future posts will range anywhere from makeup to carpentry and everything in between - travel, cooking, the ocean, how hot it is, all that stuff.
Peace and Love...
All photos and content are original by Laura Bissessar.
Please do not use without my written consent. Thank you!