Foundation Basics

Women often tell me that they are afraid of wearing foundation. And no wonder! We've all seen   women either wearing caked-on foundation, or having faces that don’t match the rest of their bodies. Or maybe you've had a bad experience with an artist who has put too much foundation on you and left your skin feeling like a mask. That happened to me a few weeks ago when I was looking to try a new foundation. Has this ever been your experience?

Foundation is actually one of my favorite items of makeup. I’ve struggled with acne most of my teenage and adult life. There were times that my skin was so red and broken out that I was embarrassed to leave the house.  My skin looks so much better now, but it’s still not perfect. So, foundation is my best friend. It evens out my skin, making it look fresh and pretty. And having beautiful looking skin makes me feel so confident!

Wearing foundation does not need to be stressful. Knowing what type of foundation will work best for your skin and your personal style, and wearing the right color, will help take the stress/fear out of wearing it. And, knowing how to apply it makes it even easier.

In today's post, I'm going to share with you the different types of foundations and what skin type they're for. And I'm going to share with you how to choose the right type of foundation for you. 

There are many different types and textures of foundation. I will talk about 4 of them and tell you why they may, or may not, be right for you.

Tinted Moisturizer/BB Cream/CC Cream:
These are all essentially the same thing: foundation with skincare in them. They typically have a sheerer, more natural look to them. Many leave the skin looking dewy, although some can have more of a matte finish. They often are limited in the color selection offered, so it may be hard to find your exact skin tone. They are great for normal to dry skin. If they say they have a matte texture, then they will be a good choice for oily skin.

Liquid Foundations:
Liquid foundations can range from sheer to medium to full coverage. This type of foundation is one of the most popular ways to wear foundation. Liquid foundations can have a dewy, semi-matte, or really matte finish to them. They are great for all skin types, depending on the type of finish they have.

Cream Foundations:
Cream foundations are usually medium to full coverage, but can sometimes be diluted with moisturizer to look more see-through. Typically, they have a dewy finish to them. Cream foundations are great for dry and mature skin.

Powder Foundation:
Powder foundations are usually medium to full coverage. Mineral powders would fall into this category, although not all powder foundations are mineral based; they have a matte finish to them.

I get asked this question all the time by my clients. There are so many choices out there, and it can be really hard to pick the right type foundation in the right shade for your skin tone and skin type. Making this choice really depends on your skin type, and the kind of coverage you are looking for.

To choose the right type of foundation, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your skin dry, normal, combination (dry in some places, oily through the t-zone or center of your face), or oily? If you’re not sure, then read my descriptions below to find your skin type

Dry Skin: Your skin often feels tight, pulled taut, and/or rough to the touch. It may look dull or flaky.
If you’re dry, you will want a hydrating tinted moisturizer, liquid or cream foundation.

Normal Skin: Your skin is perfectly balanced. It’s hydrated and not oily.

Combination Skin: Your skin may be dry in the cheek area, and oily or shiny through the t-zone or center of your face.

If you have normal or combination skin, you could choose any type of foundation.

Oily Skin: Your skin may be shiny from excess oil production in the t-zone or all over. You often find your skin gets shiny only a few hours after washing it in the morning.

If you’re oily, you probably want a more matte liquid foundation or powder. But be wary of mineral powder foundations for oily skin, they can make you look shinier than you are.

  • How much coverage do you want from your foundation?
  • Do you want it to be natural and see-through? If so, you probably want a tinted moisturizer or a more sheer liquid foundation.
  • Do you want it to cover up some spots or uneven skin tone, but still be able to see your skin through it? You probably want a liquid or powder foundation.
  • Do you have a lot of unevenness or blemishes on your skin that you want to completely cover up? You might want a full coverage liquid, cream or powder foundation.

It’s my personal opinion that you don’t want to completely cover the look of your skin with foundation, but rather even it out and cover blemishes or pigmentation only. I like to be able to see the skin through the foundation. But if you feel your skin has a lot to camouflage, then it may make you feel more confident to aim for a heavier coverage with your foundation.

  • What type of finish do you want?

If you are looking for a glowing, dewy finish, you’ll probably want to go with a tinted moisturizer, hydrating liquid or cream foundation. Look for the terms “radiant, illuminating, hydrating, luminous, and dewy” in the title or description of the foundation.

If you are looking for something that’s not super dewy, but not too matte, look for a liquid or cream foundation that’s semi-matte.

If you want more of a flat, non-shiny finish, look for a liquid or powder foundation that is matte.

The type of finish for your foundation is really your preference. Trends come and go, and you can decide to follow them, or stick with the look that works for you. I personally love having dewy looking skin, and think it looks more youthful. But you might like the look of having really matte skin - and that’s perfectly fine.

Once you’ve decided on the type of foundation you want to wear, you can look for the right color. To choose the right color of foundation for you, shop for your foundation during the day, and have access to natural daylight. You can ask one of the sales people or artists to assist you. Choose an artist who’s wearing makeup that looks attractive to you, rather than the first one who offers to assist you.

Make sure that you look at the whole picture of yourself rather than just your face. You want all the skin on your body that is showing to be one even color, meaning your face should be the same color as your neck, and the same color as your chest. I usually prefer to buy my foundation at Sephora or Nordstrom because of their excellent return policies, in case I find that the color doesn't work out when I get home.

I hope these tips are helpful for guiding you in finding the perfect foundation. You want people to notice your beautiful skin when they look at you, not your foundation!

Are you afraid of wearing foundation? What are your foundation challenges? Share them with me in the comments below! And stay tuned for my next post, I'm going to share with you my best tips for applying your foundation flawlessly!

Do you know a woman who needs help finding a foundation that's right for her? Then please forward this post to her. I love helping women embrace and express their beauty through makeup to feel like their most beautiful selves.