Opaque Foundations: Is this makeup trend on it's way out?

Lisa Bova

Makeup trends are a constant and critical element in the beauty industry. An integral part of being a good makeup artist is being up on trends, since they are regularly requested by clients. I absorbed many trends over my years as a makeup artist and witnessed matte formulas morph into high shines and shimmers that looked like dripping honey on lids and lips. Smokey eyes, which once ruled supreme, gave way to a simple flicked liner. I could write an entire post on eyebrow trends alone. So. Many. Eyebrow. Trends. Foundation trends are always evolving as well, and if you are anything like me, you are eternally searching for "the one".

Doing makeup for mostly print and media I have experimented with every type of foundation possible: airbrush makeup (hard pass), high def cream foundations (my favorite), cream to powder formulas and gel hybrids. Foundation has to be quite opaque when being considered for professional photography and stage makeup to avoid any light that gives an unwanted sheen to the skin. I always had to remind brides that wedding day makeup requires much more matte pigment saturation and definition than everyday makeup in order to avoid wash out from bright lights. The finished photos of the day, I assured them, would look gorgeous despite them thinking I was applying "too much" at the time.

Similarly, actors on a stage have to emote a character from very far distances so heavy contours and pigmented powders are used to translate this emotion to the back rows of the auditorium. If you see the actors up close backstage however, they look cray, as careful blending isn't exactly a priority in this environment.

Today we live in a selfie-obsessed world where the next Instagram capture is just around the corner, and the heavy foundations of stage and print are seemingly now flooding the market as everyday wear. Raise your hand if you've ever used your concealer as a foundation thinking "this will cover everything and make my skin look flawless!" The industry caught on and the recent foundation trend seems to be that of absolute opacity, almost mimicking the texture of a traditional cream concealer formula. These super thick emollient based foundations go one step beyond full coverage, creating a plastic, mask-like finish to the skin, or what I call "doll" skin. While that might sound like just the thing you've been searching for, as an esthetician I find several drawbacks to these formulas when it comes to skin health.

If you ever tried that concealer as foundation experiment you probably loved how it looked.......for the first 20 minutes. After that you might have noticed that your skin looked a bit greasy and possibly even breaking down (separating) in areas, giving a patchy appearance. The reason concealer is to be only applied to localized problem areas, discoloration, under eye area ect, is because it's high emolliency causes it to break down pretty quickly when mixed with your own natural facial oils. High emollient opaque foundations, much like professional formulas, require constant setting with powder and blotters to prevent the shine, but many don't know this and are very disappointed with the results.

For those on the oily/acne prone spectrum you can only imagine the distaste of such a heavy finish. Breakouts in all skin types can occur more frequently with these foundations as pores can become clogged due to the myriad of silicones and the layering of powder products that are typically associated with use. Couple this with the fact that studies show we are not washing our faces long enough, well enough or at all to effectively remove makeup before bed. An incomplete cleansing of such a full face of makeup night after night will lead to bumpy uneven skin with compacted follicles resulting in increased blackheads and possibly even pustules.

The real travesty of this trend is that while opaque foundations successfully cover imperfections, they literally erase any shred of our natural radiance, obliterating the light within the skin. We spend small fortunes in skincare trying to recapture the natural luminosity of youthful skin, only to stifle it completely. Obvious, almost comical, streaks of synthetic light (highlighters, strobing) have become sorry replacements of the gorgeous dewy flush hiding just underneath the foundation. To see young people, especially, suppress their healthy glow from the world for the sake of a makeup trend seems like a sin. We all want to put our best face forward and many of us love experimenting with different foundations. Like the stage performers mentioned earlier, although opaque foundations may look great in pics, in real life that plastic doll finish can be a bit off putting. I'm ready for this trend to pass on and hopefully be replaced by foundations that celebrate our skin as it is.

See, I will always believe that skin is the real standout out of any face at any age, not makeup. I can't help it, the esthetician in me gets giddy over a gorgeous face with minimal makeup and a fierce confidence. Maybe it's because I've analyzed so many faces, studied the skin and listened to it. The skin tells stories and secrets as if having a personality all of it's own. To see your skin is to see you, as skin health is an exposed honesty. With all of today's modern skincare products, treatments and online information from derms and skincare pros, we can all have beautiful skin. We can all achieve a lit-from-within luminosity to be flaunted and exposed, accentuated with makeup not concealed by it. As a betting woman, I'd lay down ten to one that we're on the cusp of minimal makeup's inevitable return. I'll always put my money on the showcasing of vibrant healthy skin because sooner or later our yearning for natural beauty always comes back around.

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