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The Biggest Everyday Guide to Foundation for Beginner

The Biggest Everyday Guide to Foundation for Beginner

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Foundation is the starting point of the makeup process; it is the base of our makeup. If we compare the makeup with painting a picture, we can safely say that foundation is the product, which makes the background ready and highlight the rest of the products we use. In this sense, the selection of a good foundation is a key factor in the final makeup result.

The main function of the foundation is to hide imperfections and unify face skin tone. Another important function of the foundation is to highlight the best characteristics of the skin. It is important that the foundation fulfil these two functions leaving a natural effect on the face.


Picture by Pixabay

Type of ingredients in Foundations

Each foundation contains different ingredients depending on the effect, colour, finish and other factors, but the type of ingredients they have are common for all foundations. The basic components of all the foundations have are:

  • Pigments. They are the most important component of foundations as they are responsible for the colour. The concentration of pigments can vary from 5 to 30%. Foundation normally contains white pigment, titanium dioxide (CI77891), mixed with other pigments such as iron oxides red, yellow and black in different amounts to give different tones to the foundation. Foundations can contain other types of pigments to produce the desired effect.


  • Auxiliary Ingredients.  These type of ingredients help to control different properties of the foundation as the coverage. For example, some nylon or silica particles help to produce the so-called soft-focus effect, the talc powder helps with the adherence of the foundation.

  • Lipophilic Ingredients.  These lipophilic ingredients make it possible to swipe the foundation on your skin, they give the foundation the creamy texture. They can be vegetable or mineral oils as sesame, jojoba or sunflower oil or silicone derivatives as dimethicone or cyclohexa-siloxane. The latest improve how foundation fixes on your skin.

  • Emulsifying Ingredients. They are responsible for the texture the foundation presents. Most common emulsifying agents are xanthan gum, BHT, phenoxyethanol or chlorphenesin among others.

  • Functional Ingredients. They are a complement to the main foundation ingredients. A wide range of ingredients with different properties are in this group as a humectant (glycerine, propyleneglycol), vitamins tocopheryl acetate, ascorbic acid), anti=aging ingredients (hyaluronic acid) or sunscreen (avobenzone).

Picture by Cottonbro

Classification of Foundations

We can classify the foundations following different criteria. They are not exclusive, which means that each foundation belongs to one category of each classification criteria. Main criteria used to classify foundations are depending on the finish, coverage and texture.


Depending on the Finish

  •  Matte. They give a shine-free aspect to your skin. They used to be very heavy but nowadays you can find lighter formulations. They are normally long-lasting and create a flawless appearance. They are ideal to mattify oily skin whereas give a dry aspect to dry ones.


  • Demi-Matte. They are some point in between matte and dewy finishes, but they are closer to matte than to dewy foundations. They are long-lasting foundations but give a glow finish to your skin. They don’t give the flawless effect the matte foundations produce.

  • Natural. They are also called “second skin” effect foundations. As per the name, they leave a skin effect on the face. They are not too heavy, they are breathable and give good coverage. That makes them ideal to use as an everyday foundation.


  • Satin. As the demi-matte, they are in between matte and dewy but closer to the dewy side. Satin foundations give good luminosity to the skin.

  • Dewy. They are really lightweight, hydrating and glowy. Your skin looks like wet with them, really glowy and shiny. They are ideal for dry skin though the coverage is not very high. You can mattify the areas you want using setting powder.

Picture by Valeriia Miller


 Depending on the Coverage.

  • Light. Gives a natural finish and they are ideal for acne-prone skin. They don’t hide imperfections but unify the tone and smooth the skin. They are ideal for everyday use.


  • Medium. They are the most common type and give medium coverage. The coverage can be increased or decreased with the application of multiple layers of foundation.


  • High or Full. These type of foundations cover most imperfections like blemishes and hyperpigmentation areas. When using a full coverage foundation, it is very important to choose the right shade.


Depending on texture

  •  Liquid. They are very popular as they are easy to use. Most of the brands have a liquid foundation as part of their makeup offer. They are available in all coverage and finishes options

Dewy Liquid Foundation is ideal for dry skin. These formulas help to keep skin hydrated for a long period. Dry skin needs a hydrating, non-drying foundation to look glowy. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that if you have dry skin you can’t use matte foundation, you can use them but you will need to hydrate your skin with a moisturiser or hydrating primer.

Matte Liquid Foundations are just the opposite. They are ideal for combination or oily skins, which are normally acne-prone and show imperfections. Matte liquid foundations have higher coverage than the dewy ones, which will improve the texture of this type of skin.


  • Cream. They are not very popular, but they are ideal for combination, dry and mature skin. They are normally medium to high coverage and make skin look uniform and smooth. They hide most of the skin imperfections. Normally they have hydrating properties.
  • Stick. Not all brands have this type of foundation. You can apply them directly to the skin and blend with a sponge or brush. They present high coverage, which means that they hide well hyperpigmentation. They are a good option if you want to eliminate shine from your skin. These type of foundation blends on the skin as a liquid foundation while having the mattifying effect of powder ones.


An advantage of stick foundations is that you can use them as a foundation as well as concealer and contouring. One shade lower than the foundation shade can act as concealer whereas a darker shade is a good option to use as contouring, drawing the typical “3 shape” on your face.


  •  Powder. Their main use is to settle other foundation types though you can use them on their own. They have a mattifying effect and present low coverage. They are good to re-apply makeup during the day and to keep the makeup longer. There are two varieties: pressed and loose powder with a matte or demi-matte finish.


  • Mousse. They are not very popular but they have a lovely finish. They look very natural andfeel light weighted on the skin. Most of them have mediumcoverage and they are very easy to apply. They feel nice on the skin. They are indicated for all skin type, including sensitive skin.

  • Cushion.  They are the most recent in appear on the market, actually, I still didn’t have the opportunity to try them. they are easy to apply and the main advantage is the compact format, which is very useful to carry in the handbag for re-application during the day. They are also ideal for travelling.  All skin type can make use of their advantages. 


Picture by Lisy

How to choose the right shade

 It is important to choose the right foundation for your skin. You should pay special attention to the shade you use as well as to the type, finish and coverage. The choice will depend on your skin type, what you like but also it is important to think about when and where you are going to use it, as it is not the same to use for the job or for a night party.

How to test the foundation

You should choose a shade identical to your skin tone. Some people choose a shade darker than the skin to give a tanned aspect but it is not the role of the foundation to give a tanned aspect; the bronzer is there to do that. The function of the foundation unifies the skin and hide imperfections while looking natural as your real skin.


 Few tips for when you test the foundation are:

  • Test on your neck or cheek skin, as the hands’ skin, is normally darker.

  • Leave for some time on your skin, as some foundations get a bit darker with time. That is called “Oxidation of the Foundation”.


  • Look at the shade under natural light, colours can look different under artificial light.


Because of the strange situation, we are going through, nowadays most of the shops don’t have tester available and it is complicated to choose the shade while looking at the pack. It is not easy to buy blindly, but there is a resource that can help you to choose the right shade for different brands. I am using it and getting the right shade every time I use it.

Picture by Ellen Gil

The resource is “Findation”. The way it works is very easy. You need to introduce a minimum of two shades of foundations or concealer that you know they match your skin. That means a couple of foundations you used in the past as the database includes discontinued foundations. From that input, you will get which shade you should buy for different brands. There are hundreds of foundations in the database, high end as well as low cost. You can’t save the search but you can send to your mail and have access from there every time you need. Obviously, as more known shades you introduce, the more accurate result you will get.

Using this application, I bought Wet n Wilf PhotoFocus, Collection Long Lasting and Rimmel Lasting Finish 25H Foundations from L’Oreal True Match, Revolution Fast Base Stick and Yves Rocher Zero Defaut 10H Foundations I’ve used in the past.

May not be ideal, but it is better than nothing is.

Which is your undertone?

The undertone is very important when choosing a foundation shade. The undertone is the tone that underlies the colour of our skin. We can’t modify it. There are three main undertones: warm (yellowish), neutral and cold (pinkish). To know your undertone you should look at the veins colour in your wrist. If they are greenish, you have a warm undertone whereas if they are blueish your undertone is cold. If your veins are in between green and blue, you have a neutral undertone.

Some makeup brands show the undertone in the shade code, adding a letter to the shade number: a C for cool, N for neutral and W for warm.

Think in the finish and texture

In general, if you have oily or combination skin, a matte foundation will be ideal whereas dry skins should avoid them. Dry skin should go for a dewy foundation, which gives some hydration to the skin.

The neutral finish is the safest if you are in doubt, as it will go with all skin type. If you have oily skin, maybe you want to use setting powder after applying the foundation.

Liquid foundation is the most popular as all skin type can use them. Oily skins should go more specifically for powder foundations and if you have dry skin your best option will be stick foundations.

What about coverage

The coverage will depend mostly on what you like or dislike but also in the imperfections you need to hide. Skin with no imperfection can use a light coverage foundation and if you have lots of imperfection, you may use a full coverage to hide them.

 It is also important the time and occasion, you are going to use the foundation. It is not the same the foundation you wear in the morning to go to the office than the foundation you choose for an event happening in the night.

Always the same foundation

An extra tip is that your skin tone and type is not always the same. In summer, the skin tends to be more in the oily side and can be darker if you are exposed to the sun. From autumn skin becomes drier and can be bit fair as in winter we are not normally exposed to sun radiation. It is a good idea to have some foundations for summer and another for wintertime.


Picture by Pegah

How to apply foundation

There are different ways of applying the foundation, none of them right or wrong. The way you apply it will depend on what you like, the foundation you are using and the desired finish.

It is very important to clean and hydrate your skin before applying the foundation. An exfoliated skin will improve how the foundation sits and looks.

The skin should be also hydrated before application of foundation. You can apply a moisturiser or you can apply a primer underneath the foundation. Primer not only hydrates your skin, but it also modifies how foundation sits, looks and lasts on your skin.

There are different tools to apply foundation:

  • Brush. It is the option if you want maximum coverage of the foundation. Foundation Brushes are short, compact hair, as the buffing brushes. They are flat with a circular shape, though new foundation brushes have a triangular shape, very good to apply the product in the complicate areas as close to the nose or under the eyes.

  • Sponge. It is a good option for a dewy finish but keep in mind that sponge will absorb more product than the brush. You may waste some product when using the sponge. The material used to make most of the sponges is foam and normally they required to use the sponge wet for better performance. I saw recently a new sponge type, which has a side made on foam and other side made on silicone.

  • Fingers. Obviously, you can apply foundation with your fingers. Fingers blend foundation really well with the skin and give a natural finish. It is the cheapest option and they are always available. I have been using my fingers a long time, when I started using makeup, more than 20 years ago, it was normal to apply foundation with the fingers.

Whichever the tool you use, apply foundation from the centre to the outside part of the face and, something very important, don’t forget to apply it on your ears and neck or you will look as wearing a mask.


Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

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