Walk into any Sephora outlet and you will find a massive buffet of foundations. Scan physical and online stores – there are at least 40 brands offering multiple shades – between 20 to 40 shades per brand. A rough calculation equates to a staggering 550 shades offered.
It is safe to say that it is a very saturated market, one that tries its best to satisfy every skin type. Yet, for all the different properties that brands inject into the foundation, there is never a formula that meets every consumer's beauty preference, skin type, and needs.
From left, the Becca Ultimate Complexion Creme boasts 20 shades, the NYX Professional Makeup Total Control Drop Foundation boasts eight shades, and the Sephora Collection 10HR Wear Perfection Foundation has 16 shades.
There is a multitude of complaints about the foundations. "Some people find this too thick, too dewy, or too dry. Or, that foundation doesn't have sunscreen, this foundation doesn't have enough shades. Or, this foundation is too sheer," celebrity makeup artist Hung Vanngo explains. Other salient issues include the coverage – a question of the pigments within the foundation, the sheen that the foundation offers, the SPF properties involved, and most recently, the spectrum of skin colours offered within a range.
From his observation, the perpetuity of foundation problems is found in one cause – the formulation. "People always come up with new foundations. But there are only just a few formulations really. They tweak them a little differently."
Yet, for the man who travels around the globe to paint on the faces of celebrities, models and personalities, he has devised his own way to get around this foundation conundrum. "I'm a makeup artist. Basically, you give me any type of foundation, I can work with it. As a makeup artist, you learn to mix and match everything to create something new, some much so it's not foundation anymore. But I'm thinking, is everyone else able to do that?
"A lot of people can't even draw a lipstick. How can they mix their own foundations? I'm speaking on behalf of my friends, my sister, my relatives. If you're a beauty editor, you can do that. But for the masses, they tend not to." To Vanngo, a good and successful foundation should be versatile and above all, easy to use. "That's why you need a simple product with everything in it."
It was by no coincidence that Vanngo teamed up with Marc Jacobs Beauty to sample an ambitious foundation that fits all, the Shameless foundation. For one, it offers a natural look – medium coverage with a semi-matte finish. It addresses skincare needs – hydrating and it boasts micro-encapsulated SPF 25 sunscreen. It reduces the steps involved – self-setting (no more powders).
"I started using them since last July, on clients. For photoshoots, I do a little less. Red carpets, you have to do a little more," Vanngo explains. If he is going for a natural look, Vanngo simply dabs the foundation on as usual. For heavier looks, he layers the foundation to build coverage – a very controlled move that he seems to adore.
It was difficult to imagine using SPF ladened foundation for the red carpets and photoshoots considering its tendency to give chalky appearances that can result in white flashbacks in photographs. But Vanngo immediately explains the micro-encapsulation method employed in this Shameless foundation coats the molecules that reflect UV rays so that it no longer appears chalky, something that "is the first for any foundation."
Another breakthrough was the self-setting formula. "It means you don't have to powder. It stays." Vanngo laments at how consumers are so used to brushing powder over their faces to 'set' the liquid foundation. The powder, in turn, coerces the skin to produce more oil. A self-setting liquid foundation eliminates this step and problem.
"It's semi-matte," he explains that this will solve the perennial problem of foundations being too matte or too shiny. The Shameless sits in the middle ground. The range is surprisingly comprehensive – the 29 shades are categorised into red and yellow skin tones to address the common undertones. It is, indeed, an immensely versatile foundation for all.
Marc Jacobs Beauty
Celebrity makeup artist and Global Artistry Ambassador of Marc Jacobs Beauty, Hung Vanngo teamed up with Marc Jacobs Beauty to develop the Shameless foundation.
Ultimately, the startling number of complex foundations is confusing consumers. It is the responsibility of a beauty brand to create the simplest, foolproof product for the consumer. "The goal for every brand is to create the best product, with the best texture, but easiest for people to use. It's not just the steps that are less complicated. It has to be easier for people to use the product. The foundation is really the core of a brand."
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