Tried and tested: Foundations, shadow & liner duos and liquid lipsticks

Rachel Marie Walsh delves into the shadowy world of eye-liners and smudge pots, tests the foundations of the best makeup on the market, and finds out which liquid lipsticks should get your kiss of approval.

Hyaluronic Acid Foundations

Too Faced Born This Way Absolute Perfection Foundation, €35, 4 Stars

The beauty world is so frequently a-buzz with talk of miracle ingredients that we’ve all got a little innovation fatigue but there are sound reasons Hyaluronic Acid should sustain your interest. 

It is skin’s chief glycosaminoglycan (youthful ‘bounce’- supporting substance) and adding it to your daily regime boosts moisture levels, soothes and helps protect against environmental assault. 

While it is unrealistic to suggest our natural stores of the substance can be replenished by applying it topically, cosmetic equivalents are intensely hydrating and benefit even the most breakout-prone skin types. 

This is moisturising without being overly emollient, so perfect for dry-combination types. The shade range is extensive and free from weird undertones. 

The formula provide full coverage with very little product. The name ‘Born This Way,’ is misleading, as the high-definition texture and luminous finish makes it hard to wear without looking made up.

Clinique Superbalanced Silk Foundation SPF15, €32, 5 Stars

Acne-prone skin enjoys the moisture-protecting benefits of Hyaluronic Acid as much as any other skin type and the ingredient will not leave skin greasy or encourage further spots. 

It is worth noting that while several powder foundations now contain HA, their drier texture is a poor vehicle for this and other pricey skincare ingredients, not least because they lack the penetration enhancers present in liquid formulas. 

Oily and combination types after a hyaluronic boost will, therefore, love this Clinique makeup. It is lightweight, long-wearing and feels very comfortable. Coverage is semi-sheer and the finish is a natural radiant-matte. 

The ‘superbalanced’ should only convince the mildly oily, as shine-control ingredients are in moderate supply. Hyaluronic acid is prevalent enough to be useful to skin.

Note that you would really have to apply lots of this foundation to take full advantage of the SPF15 so it is best to later it over other broad-spectrum sun protection.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation, €40, 4 Stars

Charlotte Tilbury has beautiful porcelain skin and the first thing I noticed about this makeup is how natural and flattering are its lightest shades. 

Free from pink or sallow undertones, they give fair skin a brightening lift while encouraging the compliment “your skin looks great!” over “your makeup is gorgeous.” 

This formula has a demi-matte finish that can look patchy in very dry areas. Despite the brand’s promise that it “suits all skin types,” I really think women prone to dehydration feel better in Tilbury’s Light Wonder Youth-Boosting Foundation, €42. 

That said, this is a great choice for normal-to-oily and sensitive types. Flawless coverage can be achieved with very little product and the formula’s skincare credentials include Vitamins C and E, as well as Hyaluronic Acid.


Kevyn Aucoin The Etherealist Skin Illuminating Foundation, €52.80 at 5 Stars

Kevin Aucoin’s latest foundation is a big splurge but also a true serum foundation with a cocktail of antioxidants chasing its shot of skin-perfecting colour. Decent concentrations of Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E and jojoba oil leave your face feeling soft long after cleansing. 

The formula best suits normal-to-dry and sensitive skin. Again, the shade options for fair skin are excellent, though the medium-coverage texture makes it less likely to resemble naked skin than Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic or Aucoin’s silky original ‘The Sensual Skin’ Fluid Foundation, €59.70. I really like the radiant, non-glittery finish and how smoothly it blends. 

A relatively small amount evens the complexion beautifully and if you allow it to dry before patting a little extra under the eyes there is no need for additional concealer. Only a version with added sun protection could top this formula for me.

Shadow and Liner Duos

BEST BUY Stila Smudge Pot Gel Shadow and Liner, €14.80

Stila’s Smudge Pots are little gems. The refreshing gel-cream sets to a comfortable matte finish. As a liner, it leaves enough time before setting to play around with but is budge-proof when dry. 

The colour range is mainly classic but ‘Kitten,’ a shade that matches Stila’s best-selling champagne highlighter of the same name, is a very pretty addition.

Dior Diorshow Colour and Contour Duo, €34, 4 Stars

This pen is half cream-shadow, half precision-liner and almost all-round wonderful. The shadow is silky smooth and comfortable. It does not crease or cake with wear and the colours, despite looking fashionably bold in stick-form, go on sheer and subtle until you choose to build them up. 

The liner is also very tenacious. My only issue was the added shimmer which, despite being very flattering, is nearly impossible to remove. I could see particles on my eyes and cheeks even after using a long-wear makeup cleanser.

Rimmel Magnif’Eyes Double-Ended Shadow and Liner, €8.95

This bargain pen serves best as long-wearing liner, as I did not find the cream shadow very easy to blend and it is prone to creasing. The liner tip traces a neat medium line. The waterproof formula comes in neutral, blue and smoky pairs.

Tom Ford Cream and Powder Eye Duo in Paradiso (Limited Edition), €52

This duo is my favourite part of Tom Ford’s new ‘Soleil Blanc’ summer collection. The gold shadow makes a gorgeous satin liner for the eyes’ inner corners and neither shade creases when washed over lids. 

The powder does not shed shimmer and the rose-gold effect of the pair is especially flattering to blue eyes. The price is pretty ridiculous for just two shades but Ford fans won’t be disappointed.

Metallic Liquid Lipstick

Lancôme Le Métallique Lip Lacquer (Limited Edition), €26, 5 Stars

Jewel-like lip liquids are the beauty accessory of the season, with swatches making a glittery Warhol homage of many an Instagram. This trend is as fake-looking as lipstick gets but that doesn’t mean contenders for your hard-earned cash should be less than fabulous. 

Skin conditioning is the biggest issue I have with this product type, as several brands seem to have skimped on emollients while creating filmy, long-wearing formulas. Lancôme’s blend is one of the best, enriched with splashes of grapeseed oil and Vitamin E. 

The colours are spectacular and, with the freaky exception of ‘Orange Ore’ relatively wearable. I especially like ‘Mirrored Nude,’ very Love Don’t Cost A Thing-era J-Lo.

Smashbox Be Legendary Liquid Metal, €31, 4 Stars

Smashbox’s selection of shades for this new lippy is also fabulous, I really like the pink-gold of ‘Petal Metal.’ The colour is rich and consistent with a super-pearlescent appearance. 

The formula is a bit too heavily perfumed for my liking. The scent is not unpleasant but the addition of perfume to an already long-wearing mix is dehydrating and sensitising for skin.

Beauty Bakerie Metallic Lip Whip, €18.90 at 

Beyoncé is reportedly a fan of this formula, I imagine because it wouldn’t budge if she somehow smacked herself in the teeth with her microphone. 

It is super-duper long-wearing and, despite the presence of plenty of Vitamin E, a bit drying for my taste. The 22-shade colour range (and particularly peach-foil ‘Louvre Palace’ is fabulous.


NYX Cosmic Metals Lip Cream, €10.50

There really is no pleasing me because this lipstick is very conditioning but while wearing it I am constantly conscious of how much it may be smearing. 

That said, the slim doe’s foot applicator make it a cinch to apply neatly and it is the perfect price for a seasonal trend. I’m not so fond of the 12-colour range, though ‘Fuchsia Fusion’ is a pretty standard disco-pink.


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