What’s in my Kit? Part 1 – Foundation

What’s the best foundation for my skin? How do you get that great glow?  What’s your favourite red lipstick? Name one palette you can’t live without?

As a working hair and makeup artist doing commercial lifestyle and bridal work for 17 years, I’ve heard all these questions (and more!). I’m asked for product recommendations from my clients and other artists alike.  Over the years, I’ve discovered many products and tried so many different things.  Some things are absolute staples in my kit.  I have products that I’ve been using since the beginning, and others that come and go.  My answer is always that this is what works for me, in my area of the industry. What works for me may not be right for everyone else and there are certainly some products that other artists rave about that I don’t care for.

So this is the first in a series of blog posts, where you’ll learn about some of the key products that work really well for me, what I use them for, and why I love them.  Now, all these products that I recommend have been bought with my money, there are no paid promotions in this post. I don’t get sent loads of PR (unfortunately – haha), and although I wish I could road-test every new product on the market, that just isn’t possible.



It’s all about the BASE

I truly believe that foundation is the one product that is most important for a great makeup.  Obviously, you want to have a great base for all the rest of your products.  Once you have your skincare sorted, choosing the right foundation for the clients skin, AND the requirements of the job is vital.  I carry several formulations in my kit, and each is used for different purposes and different clients.


Cream Foundations:

Cinema Secrets Ultimate Foundation

When I started my business in Far North Queensland, I tried so many different foundations to find which one worked best in the humid, tropical climate.  I would have never expected a cream foundation to be the one that worked best, but after many recommendations I gave Cinema Secrets Ultimate Foundation a try and was hooked.  This is an old-school, no fuss foundation that has been used in the film industry (hence the name) for decades.

A silicone/wax base ensures this foundation is long lasting, and what I really love about it is that it is totally customisable.  Apply as sheer or full coverage as you like.  It’s also a multi-purpose product: foundation, concealer, highlight and contour all in one.  Available in either single pots or the super convenient 5 well palettes, the colour choice suits all skin tones.  I have the 300 and 500 series palettes in my kit and those cover 99% of the clients who sit in my chair.

I use this foundation primarily for commercial work where I need to be quick with my applications.  Its really simple to custom blend the perfect shade for each person using the palettes.  I also love it for male grooming, where the talent may just need spot cover – to neutralise some redness or under eye circles.

Clients report that they love the feel of this foundation on their skin, it doesn’t feel really heavy.  This is due to the high pigment concentration.  I love how quick it is to apply, and the finish is just beautiful.

I also have a carry an RCMA palette and a palette for VERY fair skintone from Graftobian.  I find that in terms of texture, Cinema Secrets sits between these two, I find RCMA a little dry and Graftobian a little too creamy for my preference, and Cinema Secrets is just right.  Don’t get me wrong, those other two are awesome products, and I use them when I need those shades.  But Cinema Secrets is definitely my preferred cream foundation.


Liquid Foundation:

Elementwo Canvas Blend

I started airbrushing in 2009, and for a while it was pretty much all I did.  It was super trendy for brides for a number of years, so I invested in the tools, products and training to be able to deliver what clients were requesting.  I initially started with two formulations, Temptu SB (Silicone Base) and OCC Cosmetics (Water Base).  Over time I found I preferred working with Silicone based foundations, and my clients preferred the finish and longevity of silicone base over water base, as water base can tend to look quite matte – which is great for TV – the TV station I work at uses a water based airbrush foundation.

About 5 years ago, for various reasons, I made the switch to Elementwo Canvas Blend and have never looked back.  This is a BEAUTIFUL foundation, which, in my opinion, is even more beautiful when applied traditionally (ie. Hand applied with a brush, not airbrushed!)  The colours are more true to life, and it can be worn sheer (by young models with perfect skin!!) or layered, for those of us humans who need more coverage.

I use this foundation on pretty much everyone who requires a sheer to medium coverage, it’s beautiful on mature skins too. One of the things I love about this foundation is that you can buy “kits” of 5 colours in small bottles. These are ideal for a pro kit, then you can simply buy the larger bottles and refill as necessary.


*Pro Tip – I really love mixing Mac Strobe Cream into this foundation for a beautiful dewy look, like this one:



Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet

I have always loved having a high-end foundation in my kit, for those VIP clients (and mothers-of-the-bride I want to impress!) and for a long time its been Chanel.  Seriously though, they change their formulations like the weather! Most recently they changed the Perfection Lumiere to Perfection Lumiere Velvet – and I think this is a great improvement, not the least in the packaging.  Gone is the big glass bottle with a pump, which has been replaced by a much smaller plastic bottle with a mixing bead inside.  Yay for not having product wastage, and heavy glass bottles in my kit!!  OK, I know we should be reducing single use plastics, but these new bottles are recyclable and I figure I do enough in other areas of my life to make up for this!

PLV is demi-matte, with medium coverage.  I love it for beauty work, and I adore the flawless finish it gives.  It can also be layered for more coverage.  I find this foundation works best on younger skins.


Laura Mercier Flawless Lumiere Radiance-Perfecting Foundation

For a while now I’ve been searching for a Holy Grail foundation for mature skins.  I loved the Chanel Lift Lumiere, but that was discontinued.  I trialled several before settling on this foundation from Laura Mercier.  As a hydrating  foundation, which includes Vitamin C, Flawless Lumiere is beautiful on a mature skin that requires a bit more coverage, and on a younger person with dry skin, where a more matte foundation could tend to look flaky.


With both the Chanel and LM foundations having a huge range of colours, and me having limited space in my kit, I choose to buy a couple of colours ranging from lightest to darkest, yellow and pink undertone, and then I custom blend for each client.  Learning to custom blend is a really valuable skill, when you know your product, you should be able to look at someone and determine what you are going to need to mix.


Powder Foundation

Mac Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation.

When is a foundation not a foundation?  When it’s a powder!  Actually, this product is both, and is listed on the Mac website under both Foundation and Powder.  I love this product for adding a bit more coverage when I get that (for me) rare client who wants a really full coverage, and it’s awesome for male grooming.  I do quite a bit of corporate work, and often men will be a bit anxious about having their “makeup done” until I re-assure them it’s “just a bit of powder so you don’t look shiny on camera”.  The beauty of this “powder” is that there is enough coverage if the guys require it.


So there you have it!  My 5 favourite foundations.  I’m always up for trying something new… what’s your favourite foundation, and why?  Come over to my Facebook page and join the conversation!



12 thoughts on “What’s in my Kit? Part 1 – Foundation”

  1. Oh Sue – I am also a makeup artist and educator and swear by Cinema Secrets foundation & colour correction and canvas blend. I teach with both! How lovely you agree! Hedy xx


      1. I teach at EarthSentials Beauty & Spa Training Academy, Brisbane Northside – beauty, makeup and diploma of screen & media. I just love it.


      2. Wow! I have never heard of that academy. I’d love to come in and have a chat with your students, if you welcome guest speakers. Drop me an email !!


  2. Thanks Sue, what a great read. I’ve struggled finding the “perfect “ foundations and spent a fortune only to be let down by its performance or suitability to different skins. I realise it’s probably more to do with my application & prep to suit it. I also love element two, I only have the canvas blend. I’ve not yet used it by hand (apart from around eyes or concealing prior to airbrushing. I’m actually going to try it with a model tomorrow, I’ve played around a little with it, mixing with Kryolan Shimmering Event foundation, so looking forward to trying it on her for some creative make up fun.


  3. Brilliant blog Sue…agree re Chanel PVL for the MOB’s. Love the idea of this blog series, will be following closely, I’m feeling stuck in a product/brand rut and always buy what I know, because I wasted a lot of money in the early years buying products, not liking them or getting it wrong and never using them. I use airbrush a lot, I use airbase but find its very matt, and some clients want dewy, do you mix Strobe and Elementwo together and use in a gun? xx


    1. Hi Katy, when I mix the Strobe and E2 its just a hand-application. I think it would be too thick to go through the gun. You could try applying the strobe and then airbrush over it. I love E2 for brides, it gives such a beautiful finish, most of them don’t want to look super matte!


  4. Hey Sue, have you tried the Australis fresh and flawless powder as a dupe for mac studio fix? They get compared all the time and I would love to know your thoughts, as you can get the australis powder for like $7 on sale 🙂


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