Come April, it's hard to resist the spring-cleaning feeling, and the desire to do a job on your appearance is usually more tempting than clearing out the hot press. No matter how well you look after your complexion through the winter, there's a certain dullness that's hard to shake off with skincare alone. And that's why we never tire of trying out new foundations. No matter how hard we fall for one, we always believe there's another, new one that will lend us the complexion we deserve, rather than the one we have.
The new choices of foundation this season seem to insist you decide between matt or sheeny, with nothing in between, and age will play a part in which side you come down on. If you don't want your lines in the limelight, skip the matt, but if you shine like a chip pan by 11am, then matt is your man. And this season's matts are very good, properly flat and not too drying, while the sheeny foundations aren't so wet that they'll slide off your face.
These are the five we believe will put your best face forward, whichever finish you favour.
Revlon PhotoReady Compact Makeup SPF20, €19, available nationwide
Available since earlier this year, this is a real wonder in terms of compact foundation -- it's suitable as part of your morning, last-the-day routine as well as for handbag touch-ups. The innovation is a 'liquifying screen' through which you dab at the solid foundation with the provided sponge, thus transforming it into a very spreadable texture. The finish, then, is powdery, perfecting and long-lasting. "A lovely, light, matt foundation. It applies surprisingly easily for a compact and the colour stays true, which is not often the case with compacts," said one panellist.
Best Fresh Face
Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua SPF15, €38, Chanel counters nationwide
Oil-free and much like a tinted moisturiser to apply, but with rather more coverage, this was a rival to the Revlon in feeling utterly different to any of the other foundations we tried. Shake it up well to disperse the watery elements through the product, and you get a foundation that is wonderfully light-diffusing and light-feeling. "I'm always on the hunt for the 'my skin but better' thing they all go on about," one panellist said. "And this may just become my must-have."
Best Lighten Up
Clarins Skin Illusion SPF10, €34, Clarins counters nationwide
Oil-free but not at all matt, this has a surprisingly wet feel as you apply it, but it doesn't stay that way. The pink algae and powdered opal give the skin moisture and gleam, without an overly moist feeling. This is Clarins' second outstanding foundation in two years, and there are lots of shade options. "A great glow, this goes on very easily and lasts as well as any of the long-lasting foundations, which generally tend to be drying," said a panellist.
Best Flawless Finish
No7 Beautifully Matte Foundation SPF15, €18.95, available nationwide
If it's properly matt you're after then look no further than this, a light-but-powdery, full-coverage foundation to suit even the shiniest of skins. And the name has it, as the finish is flat as a pancake but pretty rather than dull. "This pumps out as a thick cream. You work fast to spread it before it sets, but the finish is not at all thick-looking, and it doesn't go cakey or create the impression of lines," a panellist said.
Best Bring Anywhere
L'Oreal Infallible Brush, €21.99, available nationwide
If you like the idea of those foundations with an in-built brush but you can't rise to their price tags, this is well worth considering. It's a "fine matte", not too flat, with a nice hint of transparency and, while you might not need the 24-hour coverage advertised, it does last and last. "I love the brush idea and this comes in at a good price, for a good product with the knacky bonus," said a panellist. "A great one for the handbag."