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The Makeup Maniac: Foundation 101 with Gucci Westman

September 23rd 2014 / Anna Hunter


Photo by Oly Barnsley

A third of us wear it every day, but what’s the deal with foundation? I caught up with über-cool makeup artist Gucci Westman to compile the ultimate guide to base

With clients/friends such as Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz, the fashion world permanently at her fingertips and long-term alliances with the likes of Vogue, Gucci Westman is one of the foremost tastemakers in beauty. As Revlon Global Artistic Director she brings her expertise and flair down to our level - if Gucci’s come up with it, it’s guaranteed to be awesome.

On the morning I met Gucci she was still reeling from the effects of a slipped disc, but this did nothing to diminish her enthusiasm for beauty and all the exciting shifts within the industry. We were there to chat foundation (in particular Revlon's classic ColorStay- it’s really, truly brilliant, but more on that later), which is fast becoming one of the most exciting, innovative categories in makeup. It’s all change; the flat, waxy mask of old is no more and silky, futuristic formulations are filtering down to the aisles of Boots. There’s no doubt that great base can, however, be touch and go. 67% of women admit to being less than confident when it comes to foundation application, and with one fifth of UK women unhappy with their skin, aceing our base has never been more important. Save face with Gucci’s guide to flawless foundation.

Gucci on...

...the foundation revolution

“Foundation is such an exciting market. There’s so much happening and it’s becoming really advanced. The textures and technology are incredible! Women are much savvier too. It’s the most popular makeup category after mascara, so it’s about time that research and innovation took off! Women are demanding customised products, they want more options and they’re getting them. Whether you need light coverage, more radiance or targeted skincare treatment, there’s a lot of great products out there. Revlon especially is killing it!”

...her latest collaboration with Revlon


“The modern woman wants to know that her foundation will stay fresh all day long, quite rightly they don’t expect it to go flakey or cakey. Long wearing makeup has typically been a tricky formula to get right, but Revlon ColorStay Foundation, £12.49, is such a brilliant product. It gives great coverage without sacrificing on luminosity and is great at balancing out any uneven patches.”

...the merging of makeup and skincare

“Skincare is taking over! The blending of skincare and makeup is so clever. New foundations have fantastic skincare properties, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, you name it. We now expect our makeup to treat and hydrate, which is a huge step forward. On the other hand skincare is becoming more corrective; more like makeup. Good quality modern foundations cater to so many women without compromising on any front.”

...the tools of the trade

“I prefer using fingers to a sponge, but as brushes go Revlon’s is obviously brilliant! It’s short, easy to use and works well for contouring too." For truly contour hugging action try Estée Lauder’s Sculpting Foundation Brush, £37. Admittedly it looks a bit wacky, but it works foundation into the skin seamlessly and gets into nooks and crannies around the nose and mouth.


“Primers are fundamental when applying makeup. They make it last and fill out any lines or wrinkles. There are primers for every skin type, but I’m really excited about an anti-shine one by Revlon coming out next year. It comes in an elegant compact and is so easy to apply- I just dab it on the t-zone after applying makeup and it gets rid of shine without sitting on the skin. You can’t tell it’s there. I can’t wait for you guys to see it!”


Until then, Clinique Superprimers, £20 each, enhance and correct every skin type and tone out there.

...the perfect foundation application

“Mix your foundation with your moisturiser. Trust me. You’ll achieve a beautifully soft glow, it looks really modern. Doing this also transforms the texture of the products, making it super easy to blend and work with.”


I’ve been doing this with Revlon’s Oily/Combination ColorStay Makeup on Gucci’s advice, and am delighted by the results in the way that only a makeup maniac probably would be. The finish is especially immaculate if I blended with L’Oréal Paris Skin Perfection Perk-Up Cream, £7.99. It does what it says on the sleek pink tube. Just a word of warning; don’t get it in your eye. I did one morning and looked ever so slightly like I’d been punched. On skin, however, it’s the stuff of dreams and compensates if you haven’t managed to actually put in the dreamtime hours.

...dos and don’ts for oily/combination skin

“If you have this skin type and are prone to redness and/or blemishes, it’s definitely better not to cover your entire face in foundation. In fact, it’s rarely a good idea to do this, even if your skin is “normal”, as it looks flat and fake. Our skin has so many more colours in it, taking these colours down looks odd. Apply to specific areas and don’t go crazy with highlighters. A little highlighter dabbed in the tear ducts or across the top of the cheekbones can look really pretty, but any more is likely to be too much.”

...dos and don’ts for dry/older skins

“Dewiness and luminosity is key for this skin type. My mantra is to add more moisturiser! Keep base as light as possible, but you may well find that you need more coverage as you get older. My mum for example finds that foundation gives her a real lift now that she’s started to get age spots, it makes her look less tired, as does lipstick! Make sure that you pick products tailored to your particular concern or skin type. The Revlon foundation is great as there are two different formulations - one for normal/dry skin and one for oily/combination. If you do have dry skin, cream blushes can be a good option depending on the quality of your skin. If you’re using a powder blush to add colour, keep it sheer. Tread carefully with powder in general, as it can make the skin look crepey.”


“I don’t actually own a powder in my personal kit. It’s just not something that I use myself. I find that matte, anti-shine products eliminate the need for it; in real life powder can look too obvious. For my work it’s essential though - I couldn’t get through a shoot or a show without it. Maybe I’ll add it to my makeup bag one day, I never used to wear foundation and that’s changed!”


If you do love powder, tread lightly with Bourjois Java Rice Powder, £9.99. It may be vintage inspired, but it creates HD ready radiance while also blotting shine.


“I like to put this on before foundation, but do what works for you! The important thing is to only put it on where you really need it.”


For prescriptive, spot-on (sorry) application, Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage, £26.50, is a cult classic for good reason. It’s two toned and encourages you to blend, which can only be a good thing (if in doubt, blend). It also knocks back redness and doesn’t budge until you want it to. If shadows are your base bugbear, ye olde Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat, £25, works wonders under eyes.


“Use this before foundation. Dab it on with fingers or a sponge so that it really adheres to the skin. This way it will never look false or stripy.”


To achieve the coveted lit-from-within look Nars Illuminator in Copacabana, £22.50, is as grown up as shimmer gets.


“Women are beginning to realise that it’s doable. There’s so much information out there these days and women are now doing their makeup like a professional would. They know the power of blending! When I was younger I’d bronze myself to the extent where my neck was a completely different colour. We’ve come on a lot!”

...shopping for foundation

“Glass bottles are very helpful here as what you see is what you get. Testing goes without saying - trying it out on your inner wrist normally results in a good match. If nothing else, avoid foundations with pink undertones. No one needs a pink undertone and thankfully most cosmetics companies have removed them. If your foundation has pink in it, you can bet it won’t match your neck.”

“Buy at least two foundations - one for winter and one for summer. Get a true shade and then one that’s a tone darker. As seasons change mix them and then eventually you’ll only need to use one.”

Also, that old chestnut about natural light still applies...

“Walk into a room flooded with natural light... that’s the truth right there! So many women do their makeup in a windowless bathroom or buy it in a department store, and leave thinking they look amazing only to check it later on and realise that they’ve barely blended it in or have trowelled on far too much.”

Windows, skylights and the great outdoors are your friends. Just don’t forget the SPF, but that’s another column...

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