Whilst I occasionally dabble with a drugstore foundation, for the past three or four years I’ve generally been more of a high end girl when it comes to the stuff I slap on my face. MAC, Dior, Armani and Estée Lauder have all held a spot on my foundations of choice list. So could I really end up liking a foundation that is priced at £3.79?? Essence Stay All Day 16Hr Long Lasting FoundationI picked up Essence’s Stay All Day 16hr Long Lasting Make-Up in shade 15 a couple of months ago from Beauty Crowd (who had a 50% off offer on at the time meaning I actually spent a whopping £1.90 on this foundation), along with a few other bits and bobs to try out some bargain beauty options.

Then it sat in the delivery packaging for ages whilst I happily went about still using my fail-safe foundation options instead. Two weeks ago, whilst rummaging in a drawer, I discovered this lurking in the back and decided to give it a go thinking that, if nothing else, I’d at least get a blog post out of it.

I’ve been testing it out on and off since then and the result… I actually really, REALLY like it. It’s got good coverage, medium but buildable to high coverage if required, and it’s promise to last for 16 hours don’t seem unrealistic. If I use a primer and setting powder then this still looks the same at the end of the day as it did at the beginning. Yesterday, I didn’t wear primer and by the time I got home, after about twelve hours out and about without any powder touch ups, there was a hint of shine coming through on my cheeks. That’s a great wear time for a foundation. Regardless of it’s price point.

In terms of ease of blending it doesn’t match up to some of the more expensive options I favour but it’s not hard work to use. Once applied and blended though this looks really natural on me. The overall texture of the foundation on the skin is lovely and it does blend well. Yes, it requires a tiny bit more effort to ensure it’s buffed into the skin so it looks seamless but it has a really decent amount of coverage and I find that a lot of higher coverage foundations need a bit more time and attention when applying – MAC’s Pro Longwear (which I love) is a prime example of this for me.

For a foundation that gives good coverage and certainly looks thick when you initially dispense a pump, it’s lightweight on the skin one applied and buffed in – it’s not one of those that you feel hyper aware of once it’s on. I really don’t have any complaints about it – if I was being hyper picky I’d say it does oxidise a bit on my skin, although not excessively (I don’t end up looking orange or anything like that!), and the shade range is pretty poor with only four options..

Given the price, the quality really is excellent. I’ve bought plenty of £7-12 drugstore foundations over the years that don’t come close to this. The packaging is basic, plastic but it feels sturdy, and the pump dispenser is a bonus.

Is this the best foundation I’ve ever tried in my life? No. But I think it’s wholly unrealistic to expect a foundation that costs less than a fiver to exactly match up to one that is priced at five times that. However, having said that, I’ve used plenty of high end foundations that don’t perform as well as this. Will I keep using it? Yes, and I’ll probably repurchase to keep one in my stash – possibly in a lighter shade to counteract the oxidising effect. It really is a great foundation that looks lovely on.

If you’re on a budget (or even not) I’d definitely suggest giving it a try. At less than £4 you don’t really have much to lose and hopefully you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Essence Stay All Day 16Hr Long Lasting Foundation, £3.79, available here.

Have you tried any bargain beauty products recently that have wowed you?


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