When it comes to foundations, we don’t really ask for much.We just want a formula that’s lightweight but longwearing, buildable but breathable, doesn’t cake, crease or clog pores, and keeps complexions looking even, luminous (or matte) and fresh-feeling all day long. Extra points if it’s infused with skin-loving ingredients that care and protect our complexions against Asia’s particularly harsh environmental and urban aggressors. Simple, right?
But here’s the thing—not everyone has a good skin foundation of their own to begin with, what with dry, oily, sensitive and acne-prone skin types presenting a myriad of challenges when finding the perfect match. Then comes the part about living in the tropics, with high temperatures and balmy humidity on a mission to melt make-up off our faces.
So considering all the factors involved, finding the right fit is no easy feat—it takes a ton or trial and error to finally find the one that has all the bases (you want) covered. Here are some tried and tested favourites, according to what matches best with your skin type, tone and complexion goals.
1 / 5
Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Cushion Compact Foundation
Matches with those who love buildable coverage with an all-day fresh feeling
Housed in this sleek compact is a cushion foundation that stands out for its ActiveForce technology, which synchronises and self-refreshes to your skin’s activity (like motion, sweat or oil production) all day long. It maintains its radiant medium finish and fresh feeling with the help of 4-Fold technology that helps defend against air pollution and humidity, antioxidant-rich wild thyme extract, light-reflecting pearl powder, moisturising Super Bio-hyaluronic acid and Smart Correcting Powder that enhances skin texture and tone while controlling shine. Available in eight shades, this weightless, breathable formula starts off light and dewy but builds into a luminous matte medium-coverage foundation with a few extra pats—just remember to start from the centre of the face and gently pat outwards.
Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Cushion Compact Foundation, $75 (case and refill); available at Sephora
2 / 5
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation Hydration and Longwear
Matches with those who want a sheer, satiny, second-skin finish
You can barely feel this on your skin, but you’ll definitely see it—in the most natural, lit-from-within, post-vacation kind of way. On the outside, this fresh, airy fluid glides on like silk, evening out complexions, blurring pores and imperfections, and filling fine lines with an elegant blend of cleverly dosed pigments and powders that form an imperceptible, luminous satin finish. Beneath the surface, it refreshes skin with hydrating plant-based glycerin, as well as kalanchoe extract, an active ingredient derived from a Madagascar plant known for its climatic adaptation capabilities to help create a barrier against pollution and protect skin. Meant to accentuate all skin tones for perennial good skin days, this intuitive, light as air formula comes in 35 shades and three undertones for a cool, warm or rosy touch.
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation Hydration and Longwear, $88; available at Chanel
3 / 5
It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream
Matches with those who need full coverage and mineral sun protection
It may be called a complexion correcting cream, but this cult favourite is so much more than that—it’s a plastic surgeon-developed, seven-in-one, skin-boosting foundation formula. It works as a primer and brightening colour corrector to even out skin tone and blur away imperfections, but can build into a medium-to-full coverage foundation with SPF50+ UVA/UVB broad spectrum physical sunscreen. A little of this highly pigmented, lightweight formula goes a long way, and it also does the job of moisturising skin while fortifying it with ingredients you find in your go-to skincare products: Think moisturising glycerin, niacinamide, vitamin C, peptides and hydrolysed collagen, as well as snail secretion filtrate, which is the second-most prominent ingredient after water.
It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream, $75; available at Sephora
4 / 5
NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation
Matches with those desire a matte, full coverage finish that’s oh-so-comfortable
“A matte finish should enhance but never mask your skin” says founder and creative director of Nars, Francois Nars. And this foundation does exactly that, and then some. Think comfortable 16-hour wear, with full and matte but natural-looking coverage in 25 shades, which is shine- and transfer-resistant so it’ll hold in place even when worn under your mask. Its enhanced formula also boasts true colour oxidation-resistance and an exclusive anti-oxidation complex to control excess sebum production, prevent any shade shifting, and protect skin from pollution and blue light damage throughout the day.
NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation , $62; available at Sephora from 1 October
5 / 5
Armani Beauty’s Designer Essence-in-Balm Mesh Cushion Foundation
Matches with those who seek breezy application and radiant, skin-shielding coverage
Just like its name suggests, this high-tech cushion foundation fuses skin-caring benefits (think hydrating hyaluronic acid and glycerin) with weightless, buttery coverage in a series of light to medium shades. Its balm, which is activated by gently rubbing the mesh, delivers customisable coverage depending on your application gesture of choice—tapping, pressing, swiping—as well as UVA and UVB SPF50/PA+++ protection, and sets into a fresh, radiant and silky smooth finish. And if you’re wondering why it’s housed in a gleaming cobalt case, it reflects the formula’s electric blue pigments and pearls that contribute to the all-day-long glow.
Armani Beauty Designer Essence-in-Balm Mesh Cushion, $120; available at Tangs