Compact foundations

Sep 28, 2007 at 9:29 p.m. ET

The Makeup Diva is taking your questions! Check out her summary of favorite compact foundations, and then feel free to submit a question of your own!

The question

I love idea of compact foundation -- it seems so easy and portable. What are some brands you recommend? -- Ana

The Makeup Diva responds
Whether you have dry, oily, or somewhere in between skin, there is a compact foundation out there for you. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

Vincent Longo Water Canvas. Have you ever bought an expensive cosmetic product on a whim, just to see what it was like? After reading several mentions of Water Canvas cream-to-powder foundation in a few women's magazine, I just couldn't resist trying it. I picked up shade #2 (very similar to Prescriptives Warm Cream) for a whopping $60 ($45 for the foundation, $15 for the compact), which you almost have to spend, because the foundation will actually evaporate without the special airtight compact.

Unlike most cream-to-powder foundations, Water Canvas is 85% water, making it very lightweight on the skin. I can't believe I spent as much as I did for it, but I really do like it! Even on my normal-to-dry skin, as long as I moisturize well, it looks smooth and natural. Longo tries to sell you a foundation primer gel to go under the foundation for an extra $45, but you really don't need it. If you have been searching unsuccessfully for a lightweight, "no makeup" foundation, Water Canvas just might be the answer (if you can afford the splurge).

MAC Studio Full Coverage Cream. This is not the Studio Fix powder foundation I have mentioned in the past, but a full coverage cream makeup that MAC designed for film and TV use. At first I was afraid the finish would be thick and unnatural, but it's actually very easy to use, easy to control the coverage, and looks like your own skin, not makeup. This product is NOT oil-free (has jojoba oil), but I had no acne problems whatsoever, and was really pleased with the texture on my normal-to-dry skin.

This is also the first makeup I've tried that looks better when applied with your fingers than with a sponge. Just a small dab on the areas you want to cover blends easily and has excellent coverage. If you use it under your eyes for dark circles, just be sure to add a light dusting of loose powder so the makeup doesn't crease. (In case you are wondering, I wear NC15 in the new color scheme.) As an added "bonus", it also has SPF 15 sun protection from titanium dioxide (2%) and octyl methoxycinnamate (5%).

Shiseido Liquid Compact. Liquid Compact is a medium coverage cream makeup with SPF 15 sun protection that feels like a liquid but sets to a natural, demi-matte finish. Much like the Longo Water Canvas, Liquid Compact has a high water content and needs to be housed in its special airtight compact. Liquid Compact works great for any skin type (even drier skins that can't normally wear compact makeup), and it comes in all the regular Shiseido foundation shades. While it has a bit more coverage than the Longo product, the look and feel is still very natural, like you aren't wearing any foundation. For its light feel, natural look, portability, great sun protection, and fairly reasonable price, I readily give Shiseido Liquid Compact Makeup my highest recommendation.

Urban Decay Surreal Skin If powder foundation is your passion, this is the best one I've found in a long time! Why? Surreal Skin feels really light and natural, and it truly works for all skin types. I also absolutely LOVE the compact; slim silver plastic with a mirror in the lid and a clear plastic hinged cover over the powder, so you can store your sponge in the compact without it stewing in the makeup. Clever! The sponge is also a perky purple rather than boring old beige. As for the makeup itself, I wear it regularly and never tired of it. No matter what my skin looks like in the morning, it always seems a little brighter and fresher after using Surreal Skin.

The powder doesn't clump if you layer it on, it doesn't dry out the skin or call attention to any already dry areas, and the finish is never pastey or powdery. Surreal Skin comes in six neutral colors: Apparition, Vision, Hallucination, Mirage, Dream and Fantasy (I personally wear Apparition).

Thanks for reading!

For more great makeup and cosmetic reviews and information, also visit Heather Kleinman's Cosmetic Connection.

Yours in beauty,
Miss Diva