As you know, I have been on a quest for my holy grail foundation for several years now.

My holiday tan, such as it was, has faded from Nars Syracuse, which is now decidedly too dark and yellow-toned for me, yet Barcelona is still a tad too light and looks ashy. So imagine my delight when I read about Illamasqua’s Skin Base Foundation and Skin Base Mixers. There are four of these: White, Amber, Chestnut and a Terracotta (plus the constantly out-of-stock Au gold,) and adding just a tiny amount of these to a foundation will alter its tone.

For example, I added the a drop of white to the Nars summer foundations to tone down the yellow and lighten them; I’m currently adding the Amber version in assiduous drops to the Nars Barcelona. Of course, as the mixing of drops is unscientifically inconsistent, you always end up with a slightly different colour, but I’m not entirely sure that it makes too much of a difference. Maybe I’m wrong but my lighting’s been good. I don’t know.

I was pleased with the Skin Base mixers, and this made me intrigued about the Skin Base foundation. It’s difficult to match your actual colour with an internet swatch, particularly when your colouring is a complex as mine, so off I trotted to the Illamasqua shop in London.

Someone’s described it as a sort of upmarket tattoo parlour and that is the vibe. Illamasqua proud themselves on being funky and punky and I did feel like a bit of a fish out of water. The Make Up Artist with a ring at the end of his nose, just like the piggywig in the song, treated me reverentially. Perhaps for him it was just like making up your grandmother. However, he decided that I was shade 11.5. This is my base shade that can be adjusted with the appropriate mixer as my skin tone changes throughout the year.

What do I think of the Skin Base? I do like it and with primer it does last a long time. I must admit I haven’t tried Illamasqua’s much-vaunted Hydra Veil Primer yet as I’m finishing my Nars one first. It does go on very well with a beauty blender or domed brush but I did find, several hours after application, that the foundation was gathering conspicuously around the drier bits of my face. Perhaps I should investigate cream foundation instead? Skin Base is not quite matt but there’s no glow to it at all. Coverage is buildable but more towards full coverage than sheer. The squeezy plastic bottle with tiny nozzle means that the foundation is kept protected from bacteria but I can imagine that the bottle is not easy to use if you have arthritic hands.

The difference just one drop of skin base mixer makes to a darker foundation

The Nars Contour Blush (Shade Talia) was a new departure for me. I’d always put on blush as traditionally taught, either on my cheekbones or, more recently on the apples of my cheeks. I find it bewildering looking at blushes on makeup counters: there’s always too much choice and it’s difficult to know which exact and subtly-differentiated shade will suit me. Which is how I invariably end up with several blushers. I kid myself that they are to tone with different colours of clothing or lipsticks but really it’s because I am clueless.

I remember buying a hugely expensive blush from Hourglass last year, and because of the red tone, looking like a clown. Literally. I generally stick to Nars and their saucy sexy shades. I currently have Orgasm, Super Orgasm, Deep Throat, Frenzy, Outlaw and Gina.

But my trip to Illamasqua opened up a whole new world of contouring for me. I love this palette and reach for it every day. The darker shade defines the hollows of my cheeks and the lighter shade goes up near the eye and temple to highlight that. Highlighters are usually shimmery but these Nars ones are matt, and give an effect that, though subtle, is definitely there. When I’ve done this contouring, I just add a dusting of one of my rude blushes to my cheek bones. The effect in subtle, natural and very slimming for my big round face.

I’ve been looking at concealers again too. While my Nars Creamy Concealer has served me well, we are none of us getting any younger, and sleepless nights and stress this year have taken their toll. My eyebags aren’t as bad as they were but it is remarkable how much difference it makes using a good concealer under the eyes. I am finding that I need a little more help than my Nars can offer.

The result for us ladies of a certain age, can resemble the Siamese-cat-dragged-through-a-hedge-backwards look of someone who has had their eyebags surgically removed but some might feel, given the alternative, that this is an acceptable option without forking out for surgery.

Now I’ve used cream concealers in the past and never been greatly impressed but I spotted a technique on a YouTube channel whereby one draws a large inverted equilateral triangle in concealer under each eye, with the horizontal under the eye and the apex  downwards underneath to a point on the cheek. Alternatively one draws a right-angled triangle, with one side going down the side of the nose. In either case this makes the concealer far easier to blend in with foundation.

I have used Bobbi Brown’s Creamy Concealer Kit, which contains a helping of pressed yellow powder. This lasts fairly well but does have a tendency to become cakey as the day progresses. I’d quite like to explore different powder options, though. I know that Bobbi says we all have a yellow undertone but I don’t think I’m as yellow as she makes out.

An alternative would be the Illamasqua concealer. Now, I think I was given far too pale a shade but it actually blends rather well with my foundation using a brush. A Beautyblender is another great way of applying the Illamasqua concealer, which has a drier texture than the Bobbi Brown product. On balance the Illamasqua lasts longer, I think, but both will need attention during the day if you’re not to gasp with horror when you catch sight of yourself in a mirror. Perhaps I’m being a bit picky here.

I am sorry for the lack of captions on the gallery, which seems to be a recurring problem with this theme. One photo shows the htree concealers I have mentioned; the other is an assortment of make-up brushes from Nars, Beautyblender, Cailyn (no longer available but fab for foundation) and Illamasqua.

I am sorry for the lack of captions on the gallery, which seems to be a recurring problem with this theme. One photo shows the three concealers I have mentioned; the other is an assortment of make-up brushes from Nars, Beautyblender, Cailyn (no longer available but fab for foundation) and Illamasqua.