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Dublin: 22 °C Friday 7 August, 2020

Skin Deep: Save a fortune with these excellent budget foundations

Save yourselves, and save your money.


Welcome to Skin Deep with Louise McSharry, my opportunity to put years of obsessing over beauty products and techniques to good use. I won’t tell you something is good if it’s not. I won’t recommend products I haven’t actually tried. As the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge said, I only speak the truth.

Once upon a time, I would have said that foundation was the one piece of makeup you needed to spend money on. Your skin is your canvas, after all, and therefore deserves the best. These days, however, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get the best. High street brands (I hate the term high street, but you know what I mean, the ones you can buy in Boots and the like rather than massive shops like Arnotts or Debenhams) have come a long way when it comes to quality, and there are now lots of great foundation options which don’t break the bank. In fact, I was flat out trying them out for this column, and no longer have a favourite foundation. But enough about me, on to the #product!


First, let’s talk about The Ordinary Serum Foundation. The world of makeup has been in a frenzy over this product since it launched at the end of April. It’s understandable, given the brand’s reputation for producing excellent skincare product at very affordable price points.  So, does it justify its pre-launch waiting list of 25,000 people? In some ways, yes, in others, no.

First, there is no arguing with this product’s colour range, which is unfortunately a place most budget foundations fall down. In Ireland, even if a brand produces a reasonably wide range of colours, only a narrow selection makes it to shop shelves. I’m not sure who to blame for this, but the sector needs to step up and cop on. Ireland is a nation of many colours now, and our makeup should reflect it. But back to The Ordinary…

There are 21 colour options, and the brand have made it easy to figure out which one is for you by dividing them into easy to understand categories and swatching each one on three different skin tones.

I have always balked at ordering foundation online previously due to a lack of confidence when it came to choosing a colour, but my selection was bang on. The price point is also a solid bonus. I couldn’t get the product on The Ordinary’s own website, where it is almost constantly sold out, but I did manage to get some via Victoria Health, where I paid in sterling. With postage it came to £7.74 which is around €8.80. The product itself is good. It’s lightweight, and reminds me more of a BB Cream or tinted moisturiser than a proper foundation. It builds well, however, so you can achieve a solid and long-lasting level of coverage with an ‘actual human skin’ type of finish. It’s good, but it wasn’t the wonder product I was expecting after all the hype, and I think you can get better.


Step forward, Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum foundation. At €16.29, it’s twice the price of The Ordinary’s offering, but nowhere near the price of high-end fancy-counter snooty-staff stuff. Its light, gel formula blends well and gives lovely sheer coverage which looks like your skin but better. It lasts well, and is perfect for normal or dry skin. Plus, it’s apparently got loads of mad stuff in it like goji berries and pomegranates. I’m not really sure why you’d want goji berries and pomegranates in your foundation (something to do with vitamins, maybe?) but who am I to turn my nose up at exotic fruit?

Unfortunately, L.O.V. Cosmetics (Lloyds, McCauleys, Aidan Dunne, CH Tralee, Cara, Health Express and Shaw’s Department Stores) can’t offer you exotic fruit, but they can offer you some great beauty products, nonetheless. This brand launched in Ireland last October and I’ve had the chance to sample a good few bits, none of which have disappointed. For this column, I trialled The Undressed 12H Moisturizing Foundation (€11.99), which I will definitely be using in the future. It’s a medium coverage foundation which is very comfortable to wear and gives a glowy finish. It’s perfect for normal, combination or dry skin but if you’re oily, it’s probably not for you.


Having said that, Catrice All Matte Plus Shine Control is perfect for oily skin. It’s a high coverage, oil-free foundation which wears well and will only set you back €6.99. Where would you be going, like? Perhaps over to the Rimmel stand, where they have a couple of solid options for value-craving foundation fans. I had to try their Match Perfection foundation which friends of mine have been raving about for yonks. Many claim it’s a great dupe for Nars Sheer Glow, although I found it to be a little bit heavier than that. It certainly feels on par with high end foundations, offers great coverage and lasts.

My personal preference when it comes to Rimmel Foundation and the one I’m wearing in the featured image for this column, is Wake Me Up (11.49). Wake Me Up claims to contain Anti-Fatigue properties and does contain Vitamin C which is anti-aging. This gal is a little more sheer than Match Perfection and gives a glowy finish, but builds well and lasts too. I’ve been wearing YSL Touche Éclat (€42) for years, and Wake Me Up is just as good, in my opinion. Cut to me weeping uncontrollably as I think about all the burritos and margaritas I could have bought with all the cash I’ve wasted.

Please, save yourselves, and save your money. High street (I just can’t quit that term) foundation has never been better.

New Product


Clarins is just one of those brands that you trust when it comes to skincare, so there was great excitement when they announced this week that they are introducing three new masks to their range. SOS Hydra is a ‘refreshing hydration mask’, SOS Pure is a ‘rebalancing clay mask’, and SOS Comfort is a ‘nourishing balm mask’ (what is it about the word ‘balm’ which makes me want to buy literally anything it’s on?). They’ll set you back €38 and will be available at the end of July.

Psst. We’re giving an Essence Gloss Station to one avid Skin Deep reader. Get over to our Instagram to find out more.

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