As I’ve said in multiple other reviews, I’m constantly searching for the perfect foundation. It’s a big part of my makeup routine; my complexion is pretty dull, my skin is on the oilier side, and I personally like a fuller coverage, so getting something that ticks all the boxes but doesn’t drain my bank account is essential. I’ve tried several different brands, from Estée Lauder Double Wear (too cakey and greasy) to Bourjois Paris Healthy Mix (smells too much like apricot yoghurt), but I’ve never gone below a budget of around £10. It’s like a pair of jeans or your winter coat: you’re doubtlessly gonna wear it lots, so it only makes sense to spend more money for better quality.
That’s why I was hesitant to buy MUA’s Skin Define Matte Perfect foundation. I love MUA and I love that they make budget-friendly products that pull it out the bag, but mostly I’ll only tend to get their highlighters and lipsticks — “accessory”-like makeup items. Foundation is a bigger deal and the £4 pricetag made me nervous (the old adage of you get what you pay for comes to mind), but I put it to the test anyway.
First things first: the packaging. It’s super lightweight and plasticky-feeling, i.e. cheaply made, but I do like how it’s designed. It’s a pump dispenser, but has a push-up action from the bottom of the bottle, so as little product gets wasted as possible. It also reminds of me Healthy Mix, funnily enough, in terms of design and colour scheme.
It’s 100% my type on paper (did I really just say that?). It’s enhanced with Vitamins E and A and jojoba for “the perfect flawless matte complexion”, and boasts “shine control that lasts all day”. Just the ticket for my oily patches, but nourishing for the skin too. It’s not vegan but it is cruelty-free, which meets my stipulations.
My first impression of the formula was that it’s quite a bit thicker than other foundations I’ve tried. When it’s pumped out, it keeps its rippled shape from the dispenser for a moment, and has a very opaque colour. I was worried it would be cakey and uneven like Double Wear, but its viscosity actually works in its favour. One pump is enough for the whole face, and surprisingly it blends out really smoothly with not too much effort from my stipple brush.
Ignore the poor colour match, I’ve got tan on!
On the face, it does feel quite heavy, but no heavier than layering up a buildable foundation. It does not, however, look particularly cakey; it’s not necessarily an everyday-looking foundation, but I haven’t glanced at myself in the mirror and thought, “Wow, you’ve got a lot of makeup on!”
My main issue personally is that I bought slightly the wrong shade: Natural Ivory. I could probably do with going a shade paler (even though the above swatches don’t indicate that!), but trying to go any paler would be a problem as Natural Ivory is only the second palest shade, so the range isn’t exactly diverse. This is easily fixed by MUA, though, and I will say that it doesn’t appear to oxidise very much at all, which is super unusual with the other foundations I’ve tried!
Regarding its staying power, I am truly very impressed. I have lots of trouble with my base makeup going patchy throughout the day, even with a primer, so I wasn’t expecting much, but I was blown away by how well this foundation held up. I wear it quite often to work, where it’s kinda sweaty and I’m in/out of a hot kitchen very frequently throughout my eight hour shift, and it’s still looking acceptable by the time I get home.
Before work vs after work (colour difference is due to different lighting)
So, in answer to the title question: can a £4 foundation really be any good? Well… yes! I’m extremely impressed with this, and will 99% repurchase once I run out. Really my only qualm is the lack of shade diversity, so once MUA get that sorted, it’ll be a 10/10 for the formula!