Come January, there's a part of you that wants to forget the festive season, put the party make-up, the shimmer and shine behind you, and just play it plain for a while. Not quite barefaced, but simple and pared down; essentially nothing that requires elaborate touch-ups.
A good compact foundation is something every handbag should hold, as it will enable you to keep that pared-down make-up looking fresh all day, and should be a doddle to use.
We began testing compact foundations with an open mind with regard to finding one to replace our liquid favourites, but, ultimately, we all reached the same conclusion: compacts are great for maintenance, but not the main event.
Still, some are really very good, and not at all ashy on the skin or pore-clogging.
The ones that won out also came with good, usable sponges -- and a brush in one case -- and none felt like the poor relation to our 'real' make-up.
And a midday touch-up is good for the new-year soul, convincing us we haven't let ourselves go entirely, but merely reined ourselves in a bit.
Max Factor Miracle Touch Liquid Illusion Foundation, €18.46, available nationwide
This was the best of the non-powder formulas we tried, and also came out best overall. Composed of both solid and liquid ingredients, it's not too slippy on the sponge, but turns more liquid on the skin. It blends well and gives a finish that is closest to what you'd get from a bottle of base. "I liked the cool feeling of this semi-solid foundation," said one panellist, "It's an excellent texture, and the compartmentalised compact is very neat and clean."
Best Compact design
Chanel Vitalumiere Eclat Comfort Radiance Compact Makeup, €56, Chanel counters nationwide
A compact to pull out of your bag with pride, this is housed in a black velvet pouch that holds both the make-up and a fine blending brush. A super-fine pressed powder, which is applied with the enclosed sponge for medium coverage, or with the brush for a lighter look. And the lovely compact takes refills. "There's no ashiness, and this sits very lightly on the skin, even when you use the sponge," said a panellist. "The big mirror also sets it apart."
Bobbi Brown Illuminating Finish Powder SPF 12, €35, Brown Thomas; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
Bobbi Brown spent four years perfecting this new powder foundation, which is telling of how difficult they are to get right. Available in an impressive choice of 13 shades, it can be applied dry for a light finish, or wet for more coverage. "Wet or dry, this went on easily and lasted well," a panellist said. "It also has a nice glow to it, which I didn't expect from a powder foundation."
Lancome Teint Idole Ultra, €21.67, Lancome counters nationwide
Promising a matt finish that does not require touch-ups, this provided the best coverage without looking claggy or heavy. A powder version of the long-lasting Teint Idole, it's a great handbag essential for when you need a proper reapplication without any palaver. "The coverage you get from this is very impressive and very like the finish you get from a liquid," said one panellist. "Definitely on a par with other Lancome foundations I've tried."
La Roche Posay Toleriane Teint Mineral, €21.50, selected pharmacies nationwide
An entirely mineral make-up, this compact boasts an SPF25, while the others of our top-rated products are only in the teens in terms of sun protection, and it is specifically concerned with sensitive skins. Fragrance-free, with a matt finish, it's a good marriage of make-up and skincare. "This sat comfortably on the skin, with no powdery feeling, but with a nice finish all the same," said one panellist. "A lovely, light, clean product."
Pictured, bottom row, from left: Bobbi Brown Illuminating Finish Powder SPF 12; La Roche Posay Toleriane Teint Mineral; Lancome Teint Idole Ultra; Chanel Vitalumiere Eclat Comfort Radiance Compact Makeup. Centre top: Max Factor Miracle Touch Liquid Illusion Foundation
Sunday Indo Life Magazine