Putting newly released foundations to the test

I often get compliments on how great my skin is. Little do the complimenters know that it’s actually all smoke and mirrors—I’ve suffered from mild-to-moderate breakouts for years, and have the acne scarring to prove it. My secret? A neverending quest for the perfect combination of primer, foundation, spot concealer and powder. So when Too Faced and Fenty Beauty both released new soft matte foundations that promised great coverage with “photo-ready” finishes, I dashed to the nearest Sephora to pick up some samples.

Just a few days later, an Ulta delivery I’d forgotten about (thanks, online-shopping-while-drinking-wine) arrived with a bottle of the Catrice HD foundation released earlier this year. I realized that the Catrice product could be a reasonable dupe for either of the Too Faced or Fenty products, based on claims (high-coverage, natural matte finish) alone.

Now, my foundation woes are many. I have fair skin, but a very warm undertone, so finding a shade that matches both is always a struggle. I also have a bad habit of rubbing my face when I’m stressed—which is often—and to make things more complicated, my sensitive skin reacts to a lot of products. The struggle is real. In fact, about the only things I have going for me is that I don’t have insane texture and my skin doesn’t tend to get too oily throughout the day.

Obviously, everyone’s skin is different, and (with Fenty especially, I hear) reactions and results may vary. But if you have skin problems similar to mine—or just love foundation as much as I do—read on to see what I thought of each, and scroll through the slideshow above to see swatch comparisons and other photos. 

Each foundation was tested with the Milani Prime Shield mattifying/pore-minimizing primer, Ben Nye Neutral Setting Powder and Milani Make It Last setting spray. Also, always have a problem with foundation going patchy on my nose, so I always use NYX Eye Shadow Base there. All foundations were applied with a Morphe F80 flat kabuki brush.

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and no judgement if you are), you’ve heard all about Rihanna’s new line of makeup. With a focus on pretty packaging and a shade for every person, there’s no wonder why the makeup world is geeking out about Fenty Beauty. Shade 140 was great for me, but be warned: The stuff oxidizes. It seems to be intentional—everyone from the Sephora associate who shade-matched me to the website itself warns that you need to buy light, as the shades “need a moment to dry down to their truest color,” according to the online description.

I’ll admit I was nervous to try this foundation after hearing some of my favorite beauty influencers complain about it breaking down on them, but I suffered no such fate. It wore well and I probably could have even gotten away without setting with powder if I wanted to go with cream blush and highlight for the day.

The foundation is designed to be photographable and flash-proof, and it definitely lived up to the claim. I was wearing it when we shot my editor’s letter photo for the next issue of the magazine (coming soon!), and frankly I was shook by how fantastic and smooth my skin looked.

The downside? For a foundation that promises to be buildable to full-coverage and long-wearing, I thought it was lacking in both. Two layers, plus spot-concealing with additional foundation, were barely enough to cover the worst of a current breakout. As far as wear time goes, I typically get ready between 7 and 8 a.m., and by 4 p.m., I noticed my acne scars starting to peek through. This might have been because the foundation isn’t transfer-proof (nor does it claim to be), but it’s hard to tell. The website promises that this product is sweat- and humidity-proof, but I unfortunately didn’t have a chance to test those claims.


$34 for 1.08 ounces ($31.50 per ounce), available at Sephora and fentybeauty.com Frosted glass container with a pump and a cap 40 shades, all undertones Natural matte finish Medium to high coverage Decent wear-time Not transfer-resistant No scent Cruelty-free

Too Faced Peach Perfect Comfort Matte Foundation

Too Faced launched the Peach Perfect line as a Sephora exclusive, so you can only find it via those two retailers. I thought the shade range left a bit to be desired; the brand’s Born This Way line has 24 shades, but several of those were added after BTW saw success, so there’s always hope for more options down the road. I was able to get a pretty good match with Porcelain, though I’d love to see an Ivory (my BTW shade) in the future. I included swatch comparisons of this foundation with BTW Porcelain and Ivory in the slideshow above.

My biggest complaint? The scent. It’s nothing like Sweet Peach collection scent, which is very love-it-or-hate-it; I think it’s a more natural peach scent, with some vanilla mixed in. It’s not terrible; just not my cup of tea.

In nearly every other regard, this foundation is probably my new favorite. It’s buildable to nearly full coverage and has a natural matte finish that’s so lightweight, I forgot I was wearing makeup. When they say it’s transfer-resistant, they mean it—I didn’t even have issues wearing my motorcycle helmet, which usually wipes foundation off quite a lot.


$36 for 1.6 ounces ($22.50 per ounce), available at Sephora and toofaced.com Squeezy tube dispenser with a pump 12 shades, mostly with neutral or pink undertones Natural matte finish Medium to high coverage Long-wearing Transfer-resistant Sweet, peachy/vanilla scent Cruelty-free

Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation

Overall, I think there’s a lot to love about this foundation … and a lot that could be improved upon. Because it’s a drugstore brand, I had low expectations. I definitely didn’t believe the full-coverage claim; how many drugstore-priced foundations do you know that achieve full coverage? Boy, was I wrong. This stuff goes on as medium-high to high coverage, and gets to full with a second layer. Sadly, it doesn’t live up to its 24-hour-wear claim; I found it started wearing off pretty severely after about seven or eight hours.

My biggest problem with this foundation, however, is its shade range. It comes in just four shades, all a pale beige with various undertones. Light Beige worked beautifully for me (it goes on a bit gray but oxidizes to a natural color), but anyone with darker skin or even a mild tan won’t have luck here.

If you have paler skin (or you’re willing to shell out for Catrice’s Prime & Fine Make Up Transformer Drops to make the shade work) and you’re on a budget, this is a decent alternative to the above foundations. But for me? I’d rather pay $20 for an ounce of nearly-perfect foundation than $11 for an ounce of just-OK foundation. Ultimately, I think I may end up mixing this with the Too Faced (which I purchased almost immediately after wearing the sample two days in a row) to achieve a perfect blend of features.


$10.99 for 1.01 ounces ($10.88 per ounce), available at ulta.com (online only) and catrice.com Frosted glass bottle with a dropper 4 shades, all undertones Natural matte finish High to full coverage Decent wear-time Not transfer-resistant Baby powder scent Cruelty-free