Foundation Week, Day 2: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Today, the second installment in Molly Young’s foundation-exploration series. In case you missed it (or for a quick refresher), check out yesterday's post, 'Your Epidermis is Showing,” in which our intrepid reporter asks what foundation’s all about, anyway, who’s wearing it, and how to avoid looking like Tom Hanks in The Polar Express .

Now, the results of my foundation survey and trials:


The incentives were not lining up for Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Foundation. First, I had to ask a PR rep whether the stuff was for tattoos or for my face, because the name is confusing. (Answer: face, but Kat puts it on her tattoos sometimes.) Second, the packaging. Oy! It’s a phallic cylinder decked in black roses and faux-silver, like some kind of classy sex toy that Vince Neil would buy for a girlfriend. But don't be fooled—the formula is demure and odorless. It killed my red splotches and stayed put all day. This one fits into the “polished/well-groomed” category of foundations, not the “sheer/effortless” category—in other words, it’s on the heavy side—so bear that in mind. And for god’s sake , hide the bottle.


Dior's Diorskin Forever serves full foundation duties with SPF 25 protection. I prefer to keep sunscreen and foundation separate, but next time I’m packing for a work trip and need to consolidate, this will go in the bag. (A commenter on yesterday's post asked—very astutely— about the order in which to apply products. This is a good question. I go from transparent to opaque: moisturizer, then sunscreen, then foundation.)


Diorskin Airflash is an airbrush-style foundation that projectiles at your face by way of an aerosol pump, eliminating the need for sponges, brushes, and grimy fingertips. (More on this below.)


Most foundations sit on top of the skin a minute or two before soaking in. This is at the root of my theory about why so many women are averse to foundation. It looks weird at first—you have to give it a minute! If you do not want to give it a minute, however, Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation solves your problem. It takes beautifully to skin; your face will drink it up. This one is superior in many other ways, too: plentiful coverage with a dewy finish and very little scent. Plus, it comes in a little red tube, like oil paint. Fun.


CoverGirl & Olay 2-in-1 Tone Rehab smells lightly of flowers and sunscreen. It's what you imagined beautiful adult women smelled like when you were seven years old. The “2-in-1' in the name refers to a mixture of foundation and “serum,” which is lovely because everyone loves serum.


Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra smells like a baby’s head.


Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation and Nars Sheer Glow Foundation have no smell whatsoever.


Nars' color names are abstract to a degree that is clearly insane but admirably creative. My favorites are “Punjab' and “Syracuse,”


Sorry, but Givenchy Photo'Perfexion made my face look upholstered. For the same price ($48), you could buy two-years-worth of Kiehl’s Lip Balm or 1.7 bottles of Campari, or a week’s worth of breakfasts at Balthazar, tip included, any of which would be a better deal.


No foundation rundown would be complete without a look at this fascinating technology. Let’s discuss.

Airbrush-style foundations, like Diorskin Airflash , run counter to human instinct in several ways. One, we’re not programmed to fire propulsive agents at our faces. Two, we’re also not programmed to coat ourselves in “extremely flammable” (their words!) solutions. If you dislike these ideas, avoid airbrush-style foundations. If not, please join me and Joe Biden for a merry frolic through the clouds of spot-concealing mists!

Diorskin Airflash is marketed as a simpler version of the air-jet wands that give news anchors and politicians that poreless, HD look. It costs $62 and shoots liquidly from an aerosol can, like hairspray. It’s also recommended for legs, though I’m not prepared to accept that we live in a world where leg foundation is a thing. The Dior website explains that it’s “as easy as 1-2-3!”, which is important because I can’t count past three.

Anyhow, I was very excited about this can of foundation.

As per the instructions, I shook well and swept the foundation across my face in a continuous Z-shaped motion, then opened my eyes. Result: radiant even-tonedness. I gave another quick sweep across the cheeks to eliminate ruddiness—and that was it. The mist felt like nothing. My skin resembled a peach. The whole process took ten seconds, which knocked two minutes off my usual foundation-applying time. With the spare minute, I googled “ Kristen McMenamy hair.” Mmm, good.

I’m surprised by how much I like this stuff. In an industry (beauty) where perfect results tend to be time-consuming, Airflash is both flawless and instant, like a magic trick. Naturally, there are downsides: it only comes in seven shades, so it will not work for more than a medium-sized slice of the demographic pie. Also, $62. Oof.

Three questions to consider:

Does it finish dewy?

No. It goes on dewy but finishes matte.

Can I take it on a plane?

Yes. I called the TSA.

Will it turn my eyelashes pale?

Yes. It will turn your eyelashes into a snowy fringe. Apply mascara post-spraying, unless you want to look like an ethereal Slavic child.


I said: magic.

Molly Young

_Check back tomorrow for the dramatic conclusion of Foundation Week: Skyping Your Way to the Perfect Shade. If you're looking for more Molly, read her Top Shelf and follow her on Twitter @magicmolly.