Life, Love, Lipstick’s Guide to Foundations

Foundations have come a long way since the dreaded orange pansticks of yore, and the sheer range of foundations available nowadays boggles the mind. Between skincare claims and beautifying promises, choosing the perfect product can be an absolute minefield, so I’ve compiled this handy guide to help you choose the right kind for you, depending on your skin type.

Many foundations nowadays come with a built-in SPF, which is great for our skin, but can cause “flashback” or a ghostly white face if you are being flash photographed. This applies to SPFs of 10 and up, so do bear in mind that if you are going to be wearing your foundation at a wedding or any other flash-heavy event.


Oily-skinned ladies should look out for anything with a longwear claim (15, 18 or 24 hours). If you have oily skin it’s important not to add any more oil to it, so look out for a formula that is oil-free. Products that promise to mattify and control oil are also perfect for your skin, so seek out products that promise an anti-shine or matte finish. Foundations which contain silicone will help to fill in pores and allow your base to glide on more easily, giving a more perfected look. In addition, the silicone will act as a barrier to stop any more oil from coming through the skin and ruining your base.

Some good picks for oily skin are:

Estée Lauder Double Wear

 Estée Lauder Double Wear 

This foundation gives a matte finish, and is VERY long-wearing. We use it in studio on our brides, and flew through bottles of it when we made up a lot of debs girls recently. It is definitely full coverage, so I like to apply it using a duo-fibre or stippling brush to avoid it looking too caked-on. It can feel a little heavy on the skin, and tends to accentuate any dryness, so I would only use it if your skin is oily – my own skin is more combination and I feel that it accentuates any fine lines on my face. That said, if you like full coverage, have oily skin, blemishes, high colouring or any imperfections, Double Wear covers like a dream, so much so that you can often skip concealer afterwards.

This foundation costs €36.50, and is available at Debenhams or chemists nationwide.

Estée Lauder Double Wear Light

Estée Lauder Double Wear Light

Estée Lauder Double Wear Light offers the same mattifying and oil-controlling properties of the original EL Double Wear, but it is lighter in coverage and not as drying. This is a good pick for anyone with combination skin, or someone who has oily skin but doesn’t like the “feel” of foundation on their face. It gives a more natural, semi-matte finish but is still long-wearing so it’s great for all-day wear. This is my go-to foundation for nights out, for a long day at work, or when I want a really perfected base.

Again, this foundation costs €36.50, and is available at Debenhams or chemists nationwide.

Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H

Lancome Teint Idole 24H

Another great pick for oily skins, this foundation gives medium coverage but it can be built up to full coverage if you prefer a heavier finish. It provides long-lasting wear and leaves the skin looking incredibly perfected. Again, we love this on our brides and despite the SPF of 15, it photographs beautifully. This is a personal favourite of mine.

This foundation costs €36, and is available at Debenhams or chemists nationwide.

Revlon Colourstay for Combination/Oily Skin

Revlon Colorstay

A good budget (ish) pick is Revlon’s Color Stay. It comes in a good range of shades so any Casper Cailíns out there should be able to find one to suit. Again, it is medium coverage, but buildable, and has an SPF of 6 so flashback shouldn’t be an issue. The finish is semi-matte, it has a longwear claim of 16 hours, and it promises to control oil absorption and shine.

This is available in Boots or local chemists nationwide, and is priced at €19.


Dry or mature skin should look out for a foundation that promises to hydrate or moisturise skin. Products that promise to luminise skin, or provide a dewy or glowy finish are perfect for dry skin. In addition, anything that mentions hyraluronic acid, serums or squalene will help to boost your skin’s hydration levels throughout the day, and are especially suitable for mature skin. Full coverage should be avoided as it can accentuate any dry patches and look cakey.

Here are some offerings for those of you with dry or mature skin:

Bobbi Brown Luminous Moisturizing Foundation:

Bobbi Brown Luminous Moisturizing Foundation

I absolutely LOVE this foundation for dry-skinned or mature clients. It is lovely and soothing on the skin, it sinks in beautifully and gives a gorgeous dewy finish. It keeps the skin hydrated as well as naturally firming it. It gives medium to full coverage, and softens fine lines without looking cakey. That said, Bobbi Brown’s liquid foundations smell very strongly of lavender, so if your skin is sensitive you may want to give it a miss. In addition, it does not contain an SPF, so although it is perfect for flash photography you may wish to apply a separate SPF underneath if you are going to be out in the sun.

This costs €39.50 at Brown Thomas or House of Fraser.

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua

Chanel Aqualumiere

This is a light to medium coverage foundation with quite a watery consistency. It consists of a water and silicone formula, so the bottle needs to be shaken up before use to evenly mix the constituents. It comes in a squeezy plastic bottle which is not terribly glamourous, but it makes it easy to dispense the right amount (though as I said it is quite watery, so go easy when pouring some out). It contains hyraluronic acid to intensively moisturise throughout the day, so it should suit dry skin down to the ground.

This costs €38, and is available from Brown Thomas or House of Fraser.

Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation

Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation

A good budget choice for dry-skinned gals is Rimmel’s Wake Me Up Foundation. It promises to disguise the look of pores, fine lines, and wrinkles, as well as delivering a natural-looking finish for up to 10 hours. It doesn’t settle into fine lines or accentuate dry/dehydrated patches of skin, making it a dream come true for those with dry or mature skin. It offers medium coverage, with a dewy finish. The shades do tend to run a little dark/yellow, but if blended well you should be fine.

This is priced at €10.95, and is available from Boots and most chemists.


You lucky, normal-skinned feckers can wear pretty much anything. As a rule, most foundations work on all skin types, bar very dry and very oily. Because normal skin falls in between these two categories, you have a great choice of foundations available. My top picks for normal skin include:

Bobbi Brown Foundation Sticks

BB Foundation Stick

Forget the horror of the Pan Stick Days of Yore – this offering from cosmetic doyenne Bobbi Brown could not be further from those wands of orange, cement-like doom. It can be used as an all-over base, or just as a concealer where you need it. The texture is dreamy: light, but not greasy. I swatch some of the product on the back of my hand, allow it to warm slightly and then use a “paintbrush” style foundation brush to apply. It gives medium coverage but is completely buildable. It comes in a great range of shades, and I love this on skins that run from slightly dry to slightly combination.

Available from Brown Thomas and House of Fraser, €38 approx.

MAC Face and Body

MAC Face and Body

I couldn’t do a “Foundation Best of” without including this little gem. I have yet to meet a makeup artist who doesn’t have this in their kit. It is fabulous on – again – slightly dry to slightly combination skin. However, you do need to have very good skin to wear this as it is quite sheer. The foundation is quite liquid so be careful when pouring it out. You can apply it with a foundation brush for a light wash of coverage, or work it between your fingers before applying to give a slightly heavier coverage. When worked and warmed, the formula becomes thicker and can be applied with the fingers to give more coverage, but still only up to medium. If you are either into or in need of full coverage look away now, but if you have normal skin and like the “no makeup” makeup look, this is for you.

Available from MAC at Brown Thomas in 120ml (€36) or 50ml (€31) sizes.

Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation


My budget pick for normal skin is Bourjois’ Healthy Mix foundation. It smells deliciously fruity and promises medium coverage, with a dewy finish. Oilier girls will need to set this with powder and may need to top up during the day, but it wears very nicely and doesn’t go patchy like some radiance foundations do. It blends beautifully and gives a “my skin but better” glow to the skin. Highly recommended!

Available from Boots and chemists nationwide, priced at €15

Do you have a favourite foundation? Let me know in the comments!

Niamh x




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