Let’s talk compact powder foundations…

January 13, 2014

As I was spring cleaning my stash over the holidays, I realized how many “new” compact powder foundations I’ve acquired over the past year, and never got around to reviewing.  And I would have buried the notion, as I figured who the heck wants to read reviews on products that are not the very latest right?  But as it turned out, I had a few dear and close makeup addicts (you know who you are!) request for a particular review recently… and I figured, it was all or nothing.  So, here is a special, super long-winded post, for you out there who are curious about some not-so-recent-but-still-great compact powder foundations!

Before we begin, let me state upfront that I have certain quirks when it comes to my base makeup.  I have oily combination skin, and have extremely long days (12 hours and more) so I need my makeup to last and be shine resistant.  At the same time, I have sensitive skin that is still prone to dryness on the cheeks, so I can’t take too thick, especially since my maturing skin is starting to develop lines under the eyes and the nasal labial area and I hate caking up.  So, most of the time I wear liquid foundations with loose / pressed powder on top.  But sometimes I like having an additional layer of compact powder foundation (instead of loose / pressed powder) for more coverage.  Other days, when my skin feels a tad oilier or when I don’t feel like piling on too much liquid foundation, I apply compact powder foundation with a heavier hand over BB/CC/tinted sunscreen/moisturizer (i.e. more powder, less liquid for greater oil control but similar coverage).  But I almost never, not in the past decade, wear compact powder foundations on its own as I find that too drying and prone to caking.  For the same reason, I always apply compact powder foundations with a brush, and only dab on (never sweep) with a sponge for touch-ups when my retractable brush is not with me.  Whilst I like to reach for powders for additional coverage and mattifying effect, I still like them a bit sheerer and allow my own skin shine through a bit, oxymoronic as it may sound.  And lastly, I never use my powder foundations wet… I just don’t see the point.

If you are still with me, I am now ready to delve into the compact powder foundations that are currently in my great rotation.

YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat 

YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat Compact Foundation

A year after YSL released its Le Teint Touche Eclat Illuminating Foundation (reviewed here), it followed up with a compact powder version exclusively for the Asian market.  The YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat Illuminating Compact Powder Foundation contains hydrophobic and lipophobic powders to neutralize shine and resist heat so makeup stays fresh and true finish.  Similar to its liquid counterpart, this compact powder version gives a sheer coverage, and is designed to be used either on its own, or layer on seamlessly with the rest of its family (read here).  It also contains the same light reflecting properties, to give an illuminated finish that lights up the contours of the face, which really does make a noticeable difference from older generation powder foundations that leave your face looking flat and lifeless!

YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat Compact Foundation

YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat Illuminating Compact Powder Foundation contains SPF35 / PA+++ protection; and has peony extracts to give some anti-oxident and brightening effects to the skin.  Both are nice to have, but I still wouldn’t skip a proper sunscreen and skincare.

This is an incredibly finely milled powder, and is the sheerest amongst all 4 currently in my stash.  It feels light as air to the touch, and disappears into the skin once applied.  On me, it lasts all day without oxidizing but some noticeable shine does creep up on my nose by mid-day.  It doesn’t get progressively worse, although I would dab on some additional powder after lunch.  It wears comfortably, and does not feel drying at all.

For my NC20, slightly cool-toned Asian (aka yellow) skin, I use the shade B20 which is perfect for me, and has a brightening effect once applied.  It is sold as a case & refill pan separately, SGD30 for the case and SGD65 for the refill.

Dolce & Gabbana Powder Foundation

Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Matte Powder Foundation

This is epitomy of my blogger-laggardness!  When Dolce & Gabbana first launched its makeup line in 2009, I thought that was something I gotta try!  But given how inaccessible it was (for the first couple of years it was exclusively sold at select Saks stores in the US only), it was nary a dream.  Until mass online consumerism brought D&G available at my fingertips, and then it came up with this – Dolce Gabbana Powder Foundation!

Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Matte Powder Foundation Shade 90

Totally unsexy name aside, how gorgeous is this compact???  This is by no means a new product, although it seems to go by a few different names.  I bought mine off of Saks.com where is is simply known as Dolce & Gabbana Powder Foundation.  On D&G’s own website however, this is billed as a “Perfect Matte Powder Foundation”, and is recommended for those with oily skin.  In comparison with YSL above, I find D&G to be longer-lasting with no shine at all throughout the day.

Even with its superior oil-control properties, I found D&G to be similarly finely-milled, and applied smoothly without caking or emphasizing pores.  It also wore comfortably on my skin throughout the day without feeling dry.  In terms of coverage, it falls somewhere in the light-medium range and is buildable, certainly more coverage than YSL.  It can also be applied wet for a silkier finish, but as I mentioned at the beginning, I’ve never tried this so I can’t comment.

I wear the shade 90 Soft, which may be just a tad warm for me but should work well for most NC25 Asian skin.  I suspect the shade 80 Creamy may be too light but it is impossible to tell.  When I purchased this, there weren’t any reliable swatches online, and Sephora has yet to come out with its ColorIQ matching app, so I called up Saks and had 1 of the SAs walk around the counters using an existing foundation shade I know to match.  It was a lot of work, so kudos to the super customer-friendliness of Saks SAs!!  Dolce & Gabbana Powder Foundation is available for sale at Sephora (US site) and Saks.com, and retails for approximately SGD80 for a very generous 15gm of product (before shipping).

Burberry Sheer Compact Foundation

Burberry Sheer Foundation

I know Burberry lovers have dissed D&G’s somewhat-light-weight-hence-“cheap”-looking packaging, but personally, I feel Burberry’s compact feels more like a brick than compact.  It does feel like it is made of a better quality, but I still had problems with finger-prints galore, and carrying extra magnets in the purse is a recipe for disaster really.  Anyhoos, I am still a sucker for this….

Burberry Sheer Foundation No. 5 Trench

Oh yes, gimme more Burberry plaids please!!!  This Burberry Sheer Compact Foundation contains orange extracts to leave the skin fresh, smooth, and supple.  The formula is designed to provide a mattifying effect, with a sheer coverage.  This can also be used wet for greater coverage and a velvet finish.

This is indeed a finely-milled product, but at this point, that is almost a given.  Out of all those in my collection, I found this to be the most dense, and gives greatest coverage (but in the greater scheme of things, will probably rank in the light-medium buildable range).  However, I feel it is perhaps not as fine or maybe is too dense, as a result it tends to cling to every uneven bump and pore on my face, emphasizing my flaws instead of hiding them.  It also tends to kick up a bit, leaving a sort of powdery look on my face no matter how much I buff.

It does last all day, and looks quite matte, by which I mean very matte.  Perhaps not the best look for me.  When it comes to powder foundations, dewy is actually something I can live with!

I use shade 05 Trench myself.  This retails for SGD80 locally and contains 8gm of product, which is not the best value for money in my mind.

Guerlain Parure Gold Rejuvenating Gold Radiance Powder Foundation

Guerlain Parure Gold powder foundation

This was one of those Luxasia steals that I bought and chucked aside, only recently discovered when I was “harassed” into compiling this review.  The case is unusual, quite a work of art if you asked me, not in that post-modernism concrete block kinda way, nor is it in-your-face overly sensual curves & blingy gold… but it’s still sleek and well made, the way I like my cars.

Guerlain Parure Gold powder foundation

Where was I?  Oh yes, Guerlain Parure Gold Rejuvenating Gold Radiance Powder Foundation was created from Eclat d’Or pigments that light up and correct the complexion.  Its formula is designed for comfortable wear and to last all day.

There is a whole bunch of marketing speak which you can read up on Guerlain.com, but you just have to try it and experience for yourself the oh-my-gosh moment I had!  This is super fine, the finest of all the powders here, and insanely smooth.  Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between smooth and dense (as in the case of Burberry above), but this Guerlain Parure Gold feels almost creamy to the touch.  And it gives an even, luminous, sheer coverage without caking or emphasizing any bumpiness one bit.  (Ok, so I couldn’t resist overselling, just a tiny bit.)  It wears nicely all day without oxidizing or fading.  There was a little noticeable shine peeking through by the 6th hour, but it just results in a dewy look (as opposed to straight-out oily).  For anything past 8 hours, blotting would probably be required.

For myself, shade 01 Beige Pale is a perfect match.  Guerlain Parure Gold Rejuvenating Gold Radiance Powder Foundation retails at a not-so-wallet-friendly price of SGD114, but the refill is available at SGD80 for 9gm.

Concluding thoughts

For the longest time while I was planning this review in my head, it was a toss-up between YSL & D&G.  I liked the sheerness of YSL, making it perfect for setting my liquid foundation in lieu of pressed powder for oilier-skin days.  However, I feel D&G applies more evenly and is more mattifying.  And then I hit the jackpot with Guerlain Parure Gold, which in my opinion, blew everything out of the water at first swatch.  Burberry, as you can tell, is not a love for me.  I tried and tried, something just never seemed right, until I put my nose to a magnifying mirror and saw how it just emphasized every single bump on my face.  Who needs that right??

But as I discussed in my long preamble, these findings are unique to my skin type and personal preferences.  Given some of these are not easily accessible (regardless where in the world you lived), I guess the choices are not all that wide.  These are all top-notch, luxury compact powder foundations, so you can’t go too far wrong with any one of them.  If it helps at all, I leave you with a very faint swatch (because these are all finely-milled, fall on the sheerer side of coverage, and pretty good matches for my skin), but it should give you a sense for how fine all 4 of these powders are, and the coverage from the sheerest (on the right) to the “most” coverage (left).

Compact powder foundation comparison comparison swatches

One last note, for all these compact powder foundations, I like to apply them with my beloved Fu-pa 14 brush.  It is a dense little gem, made from the softest grey squirrel and some synthetic blend.  I swirl it over the pan gently and then buff into my skin.  The application is generally flawless at first sweep.  For touch ups, I either use my retractable Hakuhodo brush, or dab on using the sponge within the compact.  Depending on how you choose to apply these powders, I think you may arrive at different conclusions about their finishes and coverage.

xoxo