Jul 14, 2010



I will start by saying this - I am not expert when it comes to foundation so all I can do is pass on what I know and what I have learned.

Check out the Previous Posts: Tips for Beginners - SKIN TYPE
                                                   Tips for Beginners - SKIN CARE
What is Foundation?
In cosmetics, foundation is simply a skin-colored product that is applied to the face to even out complexion and cover imperfections.

How do you choose the right foundation?
There are a few basic things to consider when choosing your foundation and those are:
  1. Coverage
  2. Foundation Type
  3. Skin Type
  4. Foundation Finish
  5. Color and Undertone (to be discussed in a separate post)
One of the first things to consider when choosing foundation is the coverage you desire. This means how much of your skin you wish to cover and conceal. This will determine how opaque your foundation will need to be. Be sure not to confuse coverage with the thickness/heaviness of the foundation since coverage is determined by the pigmentation of the foundation. The coverage will be stated in the description of the foundation. The terms often used to describe coverage are outlined below:
  1. Sheer will give the least coverage because it is the least pigmented. It can be used to cover slight unevenness in the skin tone but will not cover imperfections an dark marks. Sheer foundation can always be used with spot concealing to cover more visible areas.
  2. Light is higher in pigmentation and will cover unevenness and also slight imperfections.
  3. Medium coverage is the most used and more widely available across makeup brands. It can cover freckles, discolorations, unevenness and even light scars.
  4. Full coverage is the most opaque with rich pigment. I covers hyperpigmentation, discoloration, freckles, scars, dark spots and marks. 

There are a few basic types of foundations - liquid, cream, powder and mineral. Foundations are also now being formulated by skin type and will usually indicate the intended skin type in the description. But here are some basic things to consider when choosing the type of foundation best suited for your skin type.
  1. Liquid Foundation is the most versatile and can be used by all skin types based on the formulation. Liquid foundation may be oil or emollient-based or water-based.
  2. Cream Foundation is a thicker consistency and can also be oil or emollient-based or water-based.
  3. Powder Foundation (or Pressed Powder) is a just what it sounds like and may be used wet or dry or wet/dry depending on the formula.
  4. Mineral foundation is the newest on the market and is usually in a loose powder form. All makeup is somewhat mineral based so I take this as a marketing ploy to appeal to our 'natural' side.

We have discussed skin type is a previous post. In addition to coverage needs your skin type will also need to be considered when choosing foundation.
  1. Normal Skin is the again the easiest to work with and so they can use almost any foundation on the market depending on specific needs.
  2. Dry Skin is best suited for liquid or cream foundations and oil-based formulae. Powder and mineral foundations can accentuate dry areas and patches.
  3. Oily Skin should seek out oil-free, mattifying liquid or cream foundations. Powder and mineral makeup is ideal for oily skin because they are dry and will not add a dewy finish to the skin.
  4. Combination Skin can use the foundations made for oily skin but can also get away with oil-based foundations if the skin is mostly dry.
  5. Sensitive Skin makes it difficult to find the perfect foundation. Ingredient lists are key for sensitive skin. Powders are most recommended based on the limited ingredients and preservatives that can be skin irritants. However, if you choose to use other types of foundation then seek out products with minimal ingredients since the less ingredients the less likely one will irritate your skin. It's best to figure out your specific skin irritants so that you can learn to avoid them. For sure that can be quite a chore but the more natural the ingredients the better. Preservatives, fragrances, alcohol, etc. can irritate sensitive. Get ready to do some homework since all sensitive is different and the irritants will vary.

But what about the finish of the foundation? Foundation Finish refers to how the skin looks after applying the foundation - the overall end result.
  1. Matte finishes produce a no-shine, almost dry result. Matte finishes ae best suited for Oily/Combination Skin but can also look great on Normal skin.
  2. A Dewy finish leaves skin looking moistened and healthy. Some foundations may use light reflecting particles to produce a 'glow' to the skin. This is best suited to counteract the effects of Dry Skin .
  3. Satin/Natural finish is the most 'natural' result and is a happy medium between mate and dewy. Skin will look fresh and healthy without the appearance of makeup. This is suitable for all skin types based on your preference.


  1. great post! very informative ;)


  2. Hmmm, didn't see anything there about sensitive skin luv...


  3. Thx Parisa and Jess!!!

    Oops! Thx olivia. I added the sensitive skin bit :)

  4. Great post, very informative

  5. I love this post, it's simple but informative.

  6. This is by far the best easy to follow and simple Foundation 101 post. Thanks for taking the time to break it down. I've been on the hunt to find the "perfect" foundation. After reading your article, I now know I want medium coverage with a matte finish for a day look and a satin finish for the evening look. Question: When combining foundation with powder what is that supposed to accomplish? The only aspect of that technique I understand is, it's supposed to set the foundation. But how are you supposed to pick a powder to accomplish the overall look?

  7. Thx Tysh!

    Thx Viva! That's what I was going for because I'm no expert :) LOL! Simple and to the point.

  8. Thx Teezy! I'm so glad you find this useful!

    Powder is usually used to 'set' your liquid or cream foundation by patting it on top.

    This is usually for oily or combo/oily skin since when you 'set' the foundation the powder soaks up the excess moisture or oil and makes it longer lasting. This is especially useful if you want a matte finish.

    For normal or dry skin this is not usually necessary since there are no excess oils to worry about. In fact for dry skin powder should be avoided.

    For a dewy or a satin finish powder should also be avoided since it will remove the 'glow' of the foundation.

    Good foundation should not 'need' to be 'set' anyway to last all day. I use a setting powder because I have oily skin and I love the matte look. HTH!

  9. Your explanation makes a lot of sense. Thank you!!!

  10. wow Tina, u certainly know alot 4 someone without formal training! Very well explained.

  11. Thanks alot for the post. I have an oily skin and now i have an oil free foundation but still after a couple of hours when im at my work it looks like im sweating.
    Ive just started with foundation so im still learning :) if im correct i red that you also have a oily skin. Could you tel me what i need to buy.

    Thank you!

    X namaisa


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