Three, two, one, compact!

Last updated 12:11 10/05/2013

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Makeup & Skincare

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In days of old, no self-respecting woman left the house without a little makeup compact tucked into her handbag so she could check her makeup while on the move. 

Modern women are less likely to spend time peering into a little mirror while they powder their noses, but the compact has stayed the test of time - and with big brands introducing new, compact versions of their best-selling foundations, it looks like it's here to stay.

Here's how to combine Mad Men styling with modern technology and find the compact foundation that's best for you.


DO: Get advice from a beauty counter about which shade suits your skin. What looks the right colour in the compact may not work on your face.

DON'T: Use your fingers to apply the foundation - stick to the sponge or a foundation brush. If you're using a damp sponge, immerse the sponge in water and squeeze the excess moisture out of it rather than just wet the top.

DO: Be scrupulous about hygiene - wash your sponges and brushes at least once a week, or more often if you have skin problems.

DON'T: Forget that most compact foundations offer buildable coverage. Start off lightly, blending the product out from the middle of the face and down through the jawline. 

DO: Remember that taking care of your skin is important. Get your skincare right and you'll need less makeup.

DON'T: Apply concealer before compact foundation - using it afterwards will give a more natural finish.


1. Youngblood Mineral Radiance Crème Powder Foundation, RRP$125.50: This lovely two-in-one mineral foundation glides on like a liquid and sets to a luminous, slightly powdery finish. It gives sheer to medium coverage and is especially good for sensitive skin. Available in eight shades. See for stockists.

2. The Body Shop Extra Virgin Mineral Compact Foundation, RRP$50: Beauty bloggers love this medium to full coverage foundation, which is made from ultra-pure mineral pigments and Fair Trade Italian cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. It blends on like a cream and sets to a lightweight, matte finish. Contains SPF15. Available in eight shades.

3. Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish Sponge-On Cream Makeup, RRP$69: This is a new and improved version of a perennial favourite, now with skin-perfecting ingredients and other bits of cosmetic wizardry to minimise imperfections and ensure a luminous finish. Use a damp sponge for sheer, buildable coverage, or a dry sponge for full coverage. Best for normal to dry skin. Available in eight shades, including three new ones.

4. Clarins Everlasting Compact Foundation SPF15, RRP$78: This matte-finish foundation has incredible staying power - it claims to last for 15 hours and I'd say it goes pretty close - and offers good coverage without feeling heavy or cakey, thanks to a host of plant-based moisturising ingredients. The compact has a huge mirror, making it a great handbag asset. Available in six shades.

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5. Estee Lauder Invisible Powder Makeup, RRP$82: This super-silky powder foundation can be worn alone or on top of foundation (including layered over EL's Invisible Fluid Makeup). A clever double-sided sponge applicator allows you to customise coverage - use the flocked side for a sheer look or the sponge side for heavier coverage. Good for normal to combination skins. Available in 14 shades. On Estee Lauder counters from May 6. 

6. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Compact Foundation, RRP$80: If you're looking for 'no makeup' makeup, Bobbi Brown's newest offering will be your holy grail. The oil-free formula lasts 12 hours and gives a natural, satin finish so you look like a new and improved version of your normal self. Best for normal to combination skin. Available in 16 shades. On Bobbi Brown counters from May 12.

7. Moisture Mist Beauty Cake, RRP $35: It's been a best-seller for more than 30 years and Beauty Cake is still going strong. Beauty Cake's longwearing formulation is specially designed for New Zealand women and once this oil and water resistant foundation is on, it doesn't budge. You can vary the coverage you need - a very wet sponge provides light coverage, a slightly damp sponge results in heavier coverage. Suitable for all skin types, but ideal for normal to oily skin. Available in eight shades.

8. Napoleon Perdis Camera Finish Compact Foundation, RRP$76: Packed with age-defying ingredients, this lightweight powder promises to have you ready for that close-up, whatever the occasion. Use a sponge for heavier coverage, or whisk it on with a fluffy brush to set and mattify liquid makeup. Suitable for all skin types, especially normal/combination skin. Available in 10 shades, including three new ones. Exclusive to Farmers.

9. Shiseido Sun Protection Compact Foundation SPF30+, RRP$56: There's no excuse for leaving the house without sun protection, even in the winter. This popular compact offers a high SPF and the powder formulation gives a natural, matte, long-lasting finish. It's also oil and water-resistant - if you want to act like Katherine Jenkins at the London marathon and run in full makeup, this is the compact for you! Available in five shades.

10. YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat Illuminating Powder Foundation, RRP $119: Everything about this extension of Yves St Laurent's iconic Touche Éclat highlighter is luxurious. With fine yet effective application easy to achieve, Le Teint Touche Éclat Compact is appropriate for any skin type, but particularly good for oil-prone skins as the formulation soaks up excess sebum. Available in five shades. On YSL counters from June 20.

- Stuff


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