Ever stand in a cosmetic store and look at all the foundation options available and wonder which one is right for your skin type? Or maybe you pick one because you like the brand but it’s not really working out for you. Knowing what type of foundation is best for your skin type will help create a flawless look.
First let’s start with the basics.
What is foundation? Foundation is a skin colored cosmetic applied to the face to create an even, uniform color to the complexion, to cover flaws, and, sometimes, to change the natural skin-tone.
Coverage refers to the opacity of the makeup.
- Full Coverage: Very opaque, and used to cover birthmarks, vitiligo, hyperpigmentation and scars. It is sometimes referred to as “corrective” or “camouflage” make-up. In general it contains up to 35% pigment, though professional brands, designed for use on stage, can contain up to 50% pigment.
- Medium Coverage: This coverage can, when set with a tinted (instead of translucent) powder, cover freckles, discolorations, blotchiness, and red marks left by pimples. It contains 18–23% pigment.
- Light Coverage: Can cover unevenness and slight blotchiness, but is not opaque enough to cover freckles. It contains 13–18% pigment.
- Sheer Coverage: The most transparent and contains the least amount of pigment. It will not hide discolorations on the skin; however, it can minimise the contrast between the discoloration and the rest of the skin tone. It contains 8–13% of the finished formula.
There are a huge variety of makeup foundations available in various tints, shades, coverage and compositions. All makeup foundations lie within 3 main categories: Liquid foundation, Cream foundation and powder foundation. The other varieties are just variants of these 3 basic types.
Liquid foundations are lightweight and the easiest to apply on the face. They blend well while capturing moisture within the skin.
Skin types most suited: Liquid foundations suit almost all skin types.
For dry and wrinkled skin: Women with very dry or wrinkled skin should go for an oil based liquid foundation. Oil based liquid foundations are thick and greasy and therefore, blends perfectly and smoothly with such skin type leaving the skin moist and supple.
For oily skin: Women with an oily skin should avoid the oil based ones; they should rather pick up water based liquid foundation or an oil-free liquid foundation. Water based foundations contain silicon oil that not only allows an easy and perfect application but also adds shine to the face.
For normal / combination skin: Women with a normal skin should go for a water based liquid foundation. These offer lighter coverage than the oil based ones and blend perfectly with the skin making it even and smooth.
Cream foundations contain oil and are thick and creamy. These are available in stick, compact as well as in tube forms. Due to its thick texture, cream foundations offer heavier coverage and more moisture to the skin than any other foundation. The thick texture allows a better coverage to some common skin flaws such as blemishes and scars and leaves the skin smooth with a glossy touch. These can also be used as concealers as well. The compact form of this foundation is recommended by skin specialists for acne and rosacea.
Skin type most suited: Cream foundations are suitable for women with normal and dry skin. However, women with an oily skin should stay away from this foundation.
For extra dry skin: Cream foundations are the best suited for women with extra dry skin. The thick and creamy foundation with moisturizing properties, offer maximum coverage to the skin and leaves it hydrated. It also adds a shine to the face that stays for long.
Cake or stick foundations are available in solid forms. These tend to dry quickly and provide a matt finish to the face. Cake or stick foundations can be used as a substitute of concealers as they effectively masks the skin flaws and blemishes. These are more suitable for photo shoots, stage and drama as they are quite heavy for daily usage.
Skin type most suited: Women with dry and normal skin should stay away from these foundations as it may leave your skin appear dry and blotchy.
For oily skin: Cake or stick foundations work best on an oily skin as they dry up soon making the skin appear uniform.
Loose Powder Foundation
These can be used to fix the foundation and makeup in place by adding a finishing touch to it. They are very easy to use. One needs to dip the applicator brush in the powder, tap and gently buff on the face for a uniform coverage.
Skin type most suited: They are good for women with oily skin.
Pressed Powder Foundation
These are available in a number of shades and can be used as foundation touch ups. These are available in compact forms and applied by a dry or a damp sponge.
Skin type most suited: It suits women with normal, oily and dry skin types. However, it is best suited for those with an oily skin.
Waterproof foundations are the most preferred makeup foundations to be used in very hot, rainy and humid seasons. In hot and humid weather, one tends to sweat more which causes other foundations to come off easily and quickly. Similarly rainy season is not safe to wear any other foundation. The rain water can easily whip away the makeup. Waterproof makeup foundations come for a rescue. These are water-resistant, available in liquid and cream forms, easy to apply and leave your skin fresh.
Skin type most suited: It can be used by all skin types. Women with oily skin should look for oil free liquid ones whereas; those with a dry skin should go for a cream one.
Mineral foundations are made of finely ground minerals from the earth. These are natural products and safe for all skin types.These are available as loose powders which can be used both ways wet or dry. One needs to dip applicator brush into the powder, dab it and apply it evenly throughout the face for a neat, uniform and flawless look.
Skin type most suited: The medicinal properties of mineral foundation make it a perfect choice for those with a sensitive skin.
When makeup tends to fade applied for long hours, spray foundations come to the rescue. Once sprayed over the face, it refreshes the makeup. Available in a number of shades, these are easy to apply
Skin type most suited: Spray foundations are most suitable for sensitive skin.
Cream-to-Powder / Liquid-to-Powder Foundation
These are available in compact forms resembling to powder. It is simple to use. These are applied on the face as liquid / cream and dry quickly leaving a powder finish. It dries fast and provides a smooth and flawless coverage to the face.
Skin type most suited: Cream- to – powder foundations are most suitable for women with a combination / normal skin.
A tinted moisturizer is a combination of moisturizer and foundation. Basically It is not a foundation. Tinted moisturizer helps to even out the skin, make it smooth, adds a tinch of color without giving the feel of an applied foundation.
Skin type most suited: Tinted moisturizers are best suited for those with a dry skin.
Mousse / Whipped Foundation
This type of foundation is a liquid / cream foundation and applied in thin layers all over the skin. It is available in can and as sprays as well.
Skin type most suited: Mousse / whipped foundation suits all skin types but is best for a dry or an ageing skin.
The above will give you enough information on what type of foundation to buy based on your skin type. Now if you really want to get into the nitty gritty about make-up formulation keep reading.
Oil and Emollient-based
This is the oldest type of make-up. An oil (usually mineral oil) or emollient (such as petrolatum, beeswax, or lanolin) is used as the main ingredient, with pigment added to it. The texture and application is extremely thick and dense, most closely resembling modern lip balms or lipsticks. The extremely emollient nature stays moist and will not cake, is moderately waterproof, and provides the most opaque coverage; but it can smudge, fade, and change colour (darkening or oxidising) during wear.
This creamy liquid provided medium coverage with a far more natural feel and appearance than oil, powder or emollient bases. Over time different variations were developed:
This type of make-up has a rich, creamy texture that can be sheer to full coverage with a moist, satiny finish. It usually comes in a jar or tube, and is much more comfortable and realistic looking on the skin than the oil or emollient-based predecessors. Examples: Elizabeth Arden Hydro-Light, Guerlain Issima. By Jove Cosmetics, TRU2U Foundation.
Water-based Oil Free
This type eliminates oil altogether, but substitutes an emollient ester or fatty alcohol in the base, and adds a mattifying agent — usually clay — to dry to a flat, non-reflective (“matte”) finish. Oil-free liquids are quite thick and heavy, and the earliest versions took time to pour out of the bottle. They provide solid medium coverage but dry quickly, and can thus set before blended is complete. The result is streaking, which is then difficult to smooth out without starting over from scratch. The usual recommendation is to divide the face into quarter sections, and to apply and blend the makeup over one section (rather than the entire face) at a time. Blending over moisturised skin with a wet sponge can also help compensate for the lack of slip. However, they will last a long time and resist smudging, even on very oily skin. Examples: Clinique Stay-True Oil-Free.
Water-based Transfer Resistant
This type follows the same formulation as oil-free, but uses a film former or polymer instead of (or in addition to) the clay to achieve a matte finish that resists being rubbed off. Transfer-resistant (sometimes called transfer-proof) makeup will last on very oily skin, skin that perspires heavily, or in humid climates longer than any other type of foundation, though it is even more difficult to apply than oil-free makeup. The thick texture dries almost instantly, and requires a fair amount of experimentation to master.
This type began with Max Factors’ Pan Cake, using powder — usually talc — as the main ingredient. Pigment is added, along emollients, skin adhesion agents and binding agents to the formula before it is pressed into pans. The difference between this type of foundation and pressed powder is that this provides more coverage (due to more pigment), and contains more skin adhesion agents (to help it stick to the skin – because pressed powder is lighter weight, it requires less). Some formulas — such as Pan Cake — also contain wax, and can only be applied with a wet sponge; others, such as M.A.C. StudioFix contain no emollient, and can only be used dry; the last group, such as Lançome Dual Finish, contain a smaller amount of oil and can be used either way. This provide a “finished” look and can blend from sheer to nearly full coverage, but can look too floury and dry, especially around the eyes, or on drier/mature skin. They can also flake and trickle down as they are applied and blended.
This type of make-up uses a silicone — or a blend of water and silicone — as the main ingredient. The most typical silicones used are dimethicone, polysiloxane and volatile silicones such as cyclomethicone and phenyl trimethicone. The silicone provides lubrication and viscosity (what some artists refer to as “slip”) at a level equal to, or often, even better than oil allowing a product to apply and blend over the skin smoothly and evenly. Silicones have a lighter weight and are thus more comfortable on the skin, as well as resisting filling in lines or large pores on the face. Conventional silicones stay supple and smooth, even in dry climates, whereas volatile silicones last long enough to blend over the face, then evaporate (like alcohol), leaving little to no feel behind. Silicone-based makeups are less likely to oxidise or change colour during wear. One of the biggest challenges facing silicone bases is the tendency for the product to break and/or ball up on the skin, something unique to silicones and out of control of the user.
This type uses a blend of water and denatured alcohol as the base, with pigment added to it. Developed by Erno Laszlo for problematic skin, it eliminated emollient and binding agent that could clog pores, and needs to be shaken before use. Alcohol-based foundations have the most lightweight, “nothing on my face” feel, and nearly impossible to clog pores, but provide only the sheerest coverage and can be tricky to apply and blend. They work better with cotton balls or pads, instead of latex or sea sponges. Examples: Erno Laszlo Normalizer Shake-It, Clinique Pore Minimizer.