I've been pondering the meaning of foundation — and why women seem to loathe it — since one of my favorite beauty writers, Jean Godfrey-June, wrote about Laura Mercier's famous Tinted Moisturizer in Lucky magazine many years ago. Godfrey-June wrote that when waxing poetic about the product, she had received the comment that tinted moisturizer was really just foundation with a fancier name. "Sure," she replied (and I paraphrase). "And would you still wear that super-slimming underwear if it was called a girdle?"
Godfrey-June had two points: Both that foundation is a sucky name for a product that's meant to make a woman feel beautiful, and that women are easily swayed by clever shifts in marketing. This has been proven, in my mind, by the recent advent of BB/CC/etc. creams. Almost every woman that I talk to about beauty — and believe me, I talk about beauty a lot — claims that she "never" wears foundation, but in the same breath, she will excitedly ask which brand of BB cream I think is the best (for the record, I'm obsessed with Too Faced's version).
Here's the thing: I love foundation (for the record, Clarins Skin Illusion, all the way). The formulas that we used as kids to spackle our faces before our dance recitals have majorly grown up — it's not hard to find a foundation that has light coverage, blends easily, and leaves the perfect finish. But, hey, I'm obviously not against BB cream, or even good old tinted moisturizer. The reality is, every woman needs to find the product and coverage that's right for them — and if this is a product category that seems to stump you, I'd encourage you to try out a few different cover-ups before declaring yourself a "foundation" or "non-foundation" girl.
Because — supposed skin-care benefits notwithstanding — the difference between a medium-coverage foundation or BB cream is really in the eye of the beholder. If you don't like to use a lot of products, or like your makeup to have SPF in it, then a BB is the way to go, but if those things aren't high on your priority list, then a foundation with your desired coverage level should do the job just fine. My advice: don't be swayed by old-school prejudices or new-age marketing ploys. Get yourself some samples and try, try, try some more, until you find your perfect match — you'll know it when you find the one.