My Holy Grail Foundation

Holy Grail with Foundation

I found the Holy Grail! Of foundations, that is.

If you follow any beauty bloggers/vloggers for long, you’ll hear the term “Holy Grail Foundation”. By this, they mean the perfect foundation, the one that does everything they want (and nothing they don’t want). Foundations are tricky make-up products, finding the perfect one is about as easy as … finding the real Holy Grail*.

I found mine, though.

What I want in a foundation

First, it has to match my skin tone exactly. This isn’t easy, as your Hilda has pale skin with pink undertones (as many redheads do). I’m usually one shade darker than “ghost”, and some companies get the paleness right but the undertone wrong.

I also want a very light texture. If I can feel the makeup on my skin, it’s too heavy. It should dry down, too … if it feels sticky or tacky, forget it.

It needs to last through an entire work day.

It should look natural. If a non-expert can tell I’m wearing foundation — next!

I’m not as young as I used to be … some foundations make the almost invisible wrinkles I have visible. Any foundation that does that won’t go home with Hilda.

I don’t need much coverage, except where I do, so something I can build up is great. I only apply foundation where I need coverage, so it really needs to blend with my skin color.

Finally, it should have minimal or no fragrance (I tried one sample with such a strong fragrance I had to remove it within 5 minutes), come in a convenient container, be easy to apply, and cost almost nothing. I’m willing to be flexible on this last point.

My Search

Because I’m so concerned with color, I tried lots and lots of samples. I learned two critical facts:

  1. the lighting in most stores is terrible for color matching;
  2. the “trained” makeup sales people usually can’t do a good matching job. [And don’t get me started with computerized systems, please!]

What I ended up doing was going to mid to upper level department stores and asking for samples to take home to try … and if we couldn’t find one good match, could I try the two closest, please? In the good stores, they were usually very happy to give me one or two generous samples, that would last me a couple of weeks. [Remember, I apply foundation sparingly. If you do a full face, expect only a few day’s worth. Still enough to do a thorough test.]

I’d apply a bit of the sample at home to check the color, then wear it to work, checking in the restroom mirror a couple times during the day, then again when I got home. After a few days, I knew if I had a winner. It took me over a year of testing, but I finally found it … my Holy Grail foundation.

Everyone’s Holy Grail is different

Before I go on, I want to stress that since we all have different skin colors and needs, out Holy Grail foundations will be different. I want a fairly sheer pale shade that looks exactly like my skin, you may need something much darker and heavier coverage that won’t clog pores. What works for me may not work for you. Start with reviews like mine, then do your own testing.

My Grail: Sensual Skin Fluid Foundation by Kevyn Aucoin

(link is to my shade, #3, at They sell all the shades as separate products.)

KA Foundation

KA Foundation in shade 2, one lighter than I need.

One reason it took me so long to find this was that getting a sample was difficult. Few stores in my area sell Kevyn Aucoin makeup, I had to make a special trip to get it. The sales clerk helping me was wonderful, she gave me generous samples of two shades.

This is a very liquid foundation, and very pigmented. I can do my entire face with what clung to the sample jar’s cap after shaking. It blends out very well, and seamlessly blends into my bare skin. Yet it covers well, hiding the redness around my nose and most of my dark circles with one light coat. I don’t need concealer.

It dries very quickly and feels dry to the touch. It doesn’t rub off or smudge, and I still have coverage 10-12 hours later when I take it off. I don’t need setting powder.

If there’s any fragrance, it’s indetectable, it comes in a dropper container, smooths on with fingers (a sponge absorbs too much product, I prefer fingers).

The major drawback (has to be one, right?) — it’s expensive, listing for $65 a bottle. However:

  • I need so little, I expect the bottle will last me for well over a year;
  • I found it discounted, over Thanksgiving weekend at Amazon.

Update: 12 March 2018

The link above is probably a gray market product. It’s the one I used, and my foundation is fine … but I won’t be buying from them again. Here’s a link to the product at Barney’s New York, and I trust them 100%. (affiliate link)




* for those who are interested, the Holy Grail is the name given to the wine cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper. Since this meal was actually a Passover Seder, the cup was what modern Jews call a Kiddush cup. “The Holy Kiddush cup” just doesn’t sound as magnificent.


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