x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

The beauty spy: the perfect foundation

You won't see her, but she's there, in the salons, spas and shops, and she's happy to share her secrets on the perfect foundation.

You won't see her, but she's there, in the salons, spas and shops, and she's happy to share her secrets on the perfect foundation. I have been privy to exactly what a good foundation can do. On a photo shoot with Sarah Jessica Parker, make-up artist Laura Mercier made her skin come alive by the application of just a few complexion-enhancing products. In fact, SJP looked so good, she landed a major campaign shortly afterwards. And even though we might not have any mega-bucks advertising deal lined up, we can still aim for cover girl-worthy skin.

What you need to remember is foundation is like a skincare product, so choose for your type. Those with oily or combination skin types should use oil-free, water-based formulas. Since most also contain talc, they regulate excess oil production, keeping skin looking matte for longer. Chanel's Teint Pur Mat and Clinique's Stay True Make-up Oil-Free came out tops in a survey conducted by my greasy-faced guinea pigs. Apply after using an oil-free moisturiser, and for extra shine protection, a mattifying primer such as Make Up For Ever All Mat. Another trick to combat oily skin is to apply a light dusting of powder before foundation. I know it sounds odd, but I promise pores will appear smaller and skin will look flawless. Try DuWop's Primerstone SPF 15.

If your skin is on the dry side, a tinted moisturiser is ideal. Stila's version is good because it offers more coverage than most. The really dehydrated should try Bobbi Brown's Extra Balm Tint; it feels as if you're wearing a skincare product. Going back to the Mercier phenomenon, her application technique is to blend, blend and blend. She applies liquid foundations with a make-up sponge and uses a circular motion for a sheer finish. She also gets precise when it comes to blemishes. She recommended that I use a brush to apply concealer and then pat it into the skin. To this day, people think I have a pretty flawless complexion. Pah! Little do they know. To counteract dark undereye circles, go for a light-reflecting product with a creamy consistency, such as Mercier's Secret Concealer. If circles are a blue-tone, opt for a yellowy-based shade. However, if you have brown bags then you need a peachy hue, and select one or two shades lighter than your actual skin tone.

The revolutionary skin-perfecters on the market are mineral powders. These offer good coverage, won't aggravate sensitive types or enrage blemishes, yet feel entirely natural to wear. Most include a semi-decent SPF and hold up against humidity. Try those by Bare Escentuals at Sephora. Blot any excess moisturiser before starting, and invest in the correct brush - one that's short and stubby, such as the Lancôme Kabuki Brush, and work the powder into skin with small, circular motions.Tips from the top

Five great uses for Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream: Up your shine factor. Use as a highlighter on eyes, cheeks, shoulders. Use it on your legs. Ideal after shaving or waxing; leaves legs super-smooth and silky soft. Open up your eyes. For perfectly shaped arches, smooth over brows to keep them in place. Keep it on hand. Soften rough, dry cuticles by massaging it into nails. For added effectiveness, wear cotton gloves for 20 minutes. Treat feet. For rough heels and soles, apply to your feet, wrap with cling film and then warmed towels and leave for 20 minutes.