Friday, August 5, 2016

REVIEW: Makeup Forever Water Blend Foundation

For years, one question has divided families, prompted wars, and destroyed relationships throughout the beauty community: "Who makes a better version of Face and Body foundation, Makeup Forever or MAC?" And for a long time, I have considered MAC Face and Body foundation a superior option. It's not that the MUFE option was bad, it just didn't work for me because of the super pink fair shades and the awful stench.

Then Makeup Forever announced that they were discontinuing their Face and Body foundation and replacing it with Water Blend. Towers fell, the widowed wept, it was a travesty!

I joke, I kid. Some long-time fans were nervous, but from what I've seen, most are satisfied with the updated shade range and formula. Since it looked like I'd finally have a shade match (Y215 Yellow Alabaster) and the perfume had purportedly been removed, I was on board the moment Sephora stocked up and positive reviews rolled in.

Natural light on top, flash on the bottom. From left: Makeup Forever Water Blend in Y215 Yellow Alabaster, NARS Sheer Glow in Siberia, MAC Full Coverage in NW10.

Makeup Forever Water Blend foundation comes in a glass bottle with an easy-to-control pump and 1.69oz of product for $43. While that's more foundation than the standard 1oz, I will note that I have to use more than one pump to do my entire face and the very top of my neck. It has an incredibly thin, lightweight texture, and it actually feels cooling on the face--not surprising, given it's supposedly 80% water.

Unfortunately, Water Blend still has added fragrance. It's not the same sickening floral smell they used before, but it's still pretty gross and unnecessary; the smell reminds me of that cucumber melon perfume every girl wore when I was in high school. I don't notice the smell when I'm wearing the foundation, but it's gag-inducing when I apply it, and I'm a little miffed that they felt the need to keep added fragrance in the formula.

Y215 is the palest yellow shade currently in the range, comparable to around NC10 on a MAC scale. This makes it darker than my neck and lighter than my face, so it's about where I like foundations to be. I will add that I'm disappointed by the deeper end of the shade range. It appears that there's only one very deep shade for ebony skintones (R540 Dark Brown), and the next darkest shades (R520 Cinnamon and Y505 Cognac) look much lighter. I'm basing this on reviews I've seen from deeper-skinned bloggers and swatches, though, so please let me know if I'm off-base. It's a better range than many other high end foundations have, at least.

My skin has been at its clearest for the past week or so, which can make judging coverage a little tough. Fortunately (?), a stressful morning on the day I did most of the photographing helped form a bright red patch of hives on my forehead. Hurrah!

In the above before and after photographs, I used 2 pumps of foundation and buffed them in to my skin using a Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. As you can see, the result is a more even skin tone with a healthy, natural look to it...but very little coverage. If anything is going to disappoint fans of the old Face and Body formula, it's the much lighter coverage Water Blend provides. You can, however, build it up to a decent medium coverage with 2-3 layers of product.

Buffing the foundation in with a brush was fairly easy because of the fluid texture. I did not experience major issues with streaking or patchiness. Despite being marketed as a "dewy" foundation that hydrates the skin, I found that this settled a bit in to my fine lines and looked a tad sandy on the driest parts of my face (my chin and jawline) up close. Yet it didn't really emphasize the dryness, nor did it cling as badly to my very dry, dehydrated skin as most foundations do. I think the above macro shot demonstrates this well.

According to my mother, the foundation looked "a little dry" on this day and it "didn't cover much." She did add that it wasn't bad, just not as moist and glowy as I normally like it to be. She wasn't fibbing: I usually drench my face with moisturizing spray throughout the day, but because I was trying to photograph the wear on this product, I resisted.

Speaking of photographing, I find that this foundation is very camera-friendly. My skin looks naturally healthy in both HD photos and cellphone selfies.

From left to right: 15 minutes after application, 3 hours after application, 6 hours after application.

Without my usual nose powder and face mist, Water Blend still had pretty decent wear. Again, it was a hair dry on the worst parts of my face, but it did not make me look or feel dryer. My nose got very oily throughout the day, so I blotted right before the 6 hour photo with blotting paper. Truly oily-skinned people should probably take a pass on this one.

The way Water Blend feels on the skin is what impressed me the most. It is completely weightless and I can't even tell I'm wearing it. I did not have problems with the foundation and transferring, and it didn't make my skin react poorly (no breakouts, hives, or itching). 

The header image shows how Water Blend looks when I treat it as part of my regular routine: I used powder on my nose and sprayed copious amounts of Cinema Secrets Moisture Spray all over my face. This helped with the wear and finish. Also, I applied a pump and a half of product with my fingers instead of using a brush. Applying with fingers allowed me to use less product and seems to have prevented the settling in fine lines.

I'm disappointed that Makeup Forever decided to keep the added fragrance in their formula, and that there seem to be major gaps in the darker end of the shade range. I also think promising a "fresh, dewy glow" was a bad idea, since it doesn't contain enough emollients for a truly dewy finish on dry skin like mine. That said, it has a comfortable feel, a fair number of shades thus far with room for improvement, and great performance in front of a camera. With a few minor tweaks, this could easily be a five star foundation.

RATING: 4 out of 5
Water Blend is available at


  1. I was hoping you'd review it. I wonder if it was looking a little dry is due to the lack of silicones. I'm pretty sure there are no silicones in this one. I'm kind of surprised it was better applied with fingers but I like that! I'm kind of cross between the lightest red shade and the lightest yellow shade in the new HD formula. I'll have to swatch these and see if that is still the case. I'm very excited for this one. I like a sheer to medium coverage that's buildable. I have more texture issues than you do I think so we'll see how this works out with a sample.

    1. I actually find that while silicone gives foundations more slip, it often makes products look a bit dryer on me, especially if there aren't any other emollients in the formula.

      I do think this leans way more toward the light coverage end than the medium, so if you're in to a true medium, this might not be enough for you, or it might seem like too much work.

    2. I just wanted to report back that I finally tried it. I went with Y215 because I felt it would neutralize my skin tone better. Sephora only had R250 out for the red shades which seemed a little too pink/dark. I am highly surprised by the coverage on me. At first it looked like nothing as I was applying but as it started to "set up" I could see the coverage. It didn't cling to any dry areas and didn't seem to pool in my pores either. I'm on hour three of the wear time and it's looking great. I lightly set my T-zone with Hourglass Ethereal Light. I didn't use any primer or concealer and the coverage is sheer. Using the yellow shade instead of red cancelled out almost all my redness so the sheer look isn't bad. I used Tatcha's mist before applying so I think that may be making it look extra dewy but as someone with dry skin, nothing ever seems to look dewy on me. That combo of products looks quite glowy without looking like makeup, so I'm pretty pleased. Also, Bite Squid Ink is the most awesome blue lippie I've ever tried so if you were thinking about it, give it a try!

    3. I'm so glad it worked for you! It's a really nice product.