The best foundations, as chosen by Sali
Here is the second part of my series for Harvey Nichols, who’ve asked me to judge the very best in foundations sold in-store and on their website. After weeks of sampling the best bases for all skintypes and ages, this is the second shortlisted foundation in my final selection of five favourites. Each Monday for the next four weeks, I’ll post another of my shortlist, with the winner announced next month. Here is my latest pick.
Not since the launch of Charlotte Tilbury in 2013 have I been so excited about a new colour brand. Surratt is the brainchild of Troy Surratt, first assistant and protegé of my hero, the late and legendary Kevyn Aucoin. Surratt, now a big-name MUA in his own right, certainly had some very big boots to fill, but with his small but perfectly formed range of luxury makeup, he should, once and for all, have assured his own place in beauty history.
I’ll admit that despite having felt excited about the launch Surratt’s first foundation, Surreal Skin, and already having loved many of his its stablemates (do check out his contour and highlighting powders – I can’t live without them), I was initially disappointed to hear this was to come in click-pen packaging. Historically, I’ve avoided these, preferring instead to use my favourite brushes and sponges. Many click-pens are difficult to keep clean, the hairs can splay, the product can run out quickly and be too limited in shade range. But in the case of Surreal Skin, my reticence was short lived. I love this endlessly convenient foundation, outside and in.
Surreal Skin is not a case of style over substance. The foundation within is light-to-medium coverage with extremely fine (that is, not glittery) illuminating particles that help mimic the effect of flattering, soft focus light onto the skin, without flashing back in photographs. It’s very lovely on all skintypes but the heavily blemished or extremely dry, and sets to a glowy, but not at all oily-looking finish and lasts well without any caking or patchiness. This means that if you wish to forgo powder, or just apply powder in judicious areas rather than all over (in order to give creme-blushed cheeks that innocent, dewy look), Surreal Skin Foundation should still remain at its post. There are 15 carefully-considered shades here, with various undertones, none of them chalky. I wear 4, a yellow-toned light (but not palest) sand.
One can use Surreal Skin with a sponge or favourite brush instead, of course – just click onto the side of your hand and apply as you would any another base. But trust me when I say the integrated brush is extremely easy to keep clean and a joy to use. I wash it as I would my regular brushes, wipe off any excess water with a clean, dry flannel, then rest it flat on top to dry fully. The foundation inside neither leaks nor becomes diluted in the process, and the dense, top quality brush stays bushy, soft and consistent, spreading the liquid evenly and buffing it imperceptibly into the skin without the dreaded brush marks and trails – the unwelcome hallmarks of many a rival click-brush applicator.
Altogether, the perfectly conceived, slimline and lightweight all-in-one packaging and gorgeous foundation makes this my base of choice for smart-casual makeups, evening touchups and travelling – I certainly never catch a morning train without it in my handbag. For its innovation, sheer quality and soft, smooth finish, it easily makes my top five.
Next Monday: My third shortlisted foundation. Do check out the results in other categories via the social channels of my fellow judges, including dear friend of SHB, makeup artist Mary Greenwell. Just search for the #HNHolyGrail hashtag on Twitter or Instagram for more posts.
Click here for more info on the Harvey Nichols Holy Grail Beauty Edit.
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