Foundation 101: A Quick Overview & Recommendations

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 9.13.49 AMI get a lot of questions about the different types of foundations out there, so I put together a basic list to get you started. Keep in mind- everyone has a different skin type, so it is important to know what will work best with your skin before buying. These are just recommendations. I am also going to give you a cheat sheet for what I call “Counter/Aisle Products”…meaning- foundations you buy at a makeup counter/store or products you can buy in a drugstore aisle of Target/CVS. Let’s get started.

Where to Shop:

Depending on the type of makeup you get, if can be a bit of an investment. Sephora will accept returns on products gently used (i.e. foundation color is incorrect). Nordstrom hopes to build trust & loyalty by not having a return policy and focusing on customer satisfaction. When testing new products or if you are on a budget, I recommend shopping at CVS, which offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of their beauty purchases. What’s not to love about that?

Caution- check policies before you assume it is always this way across the board, for instance, MAC has a limit on the amount of time you have to make a return/get a refund. OK, let’s get started!

Foundation Primer:

Fine lines? Wrinkles? Large Pores? This is a necessary step for filling in those imperfections and/or making your foundation application seamless. It will also help your foundation go the distance all day.

Counter Pick: Laura Mercier Foundation Primer or Smashbox Photo Finish Pore Minimizing Foundation Primer
Aisle Pick: L’Oreal Paris Magic Perfection Base Face Primer

Liquid Foundation (Sometimes know as cream):

Liquid foundation is what it says- a foundation that comes in “liquid form.” With varying types of buildable coverage (meaning- how much you put on) they come in a number of different varieties to suit your needs- SPF, waterproof, 12-24 hour, oil-free and organic are just a few individualized options you have to chose from.

Counter Pick: NARS Sheer Matte Foundation
Aisle Pick: L’Oreal True Match Super-Blendable Makeup

Oil-Based Foundation: 

I tend to recommend this for ladies that aim to minimize pores, fine lines and/or wrinkles as it is an excellent choice as the makeup of this foundation adds moisture to your skin and doesn’t settle into these lines. Generous shaking of your foundation is necessary before application as the oil separates in the bottle.

Counter Pick: Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup Revolutionary Complexion Corrector
Aisle Pick: Rare to find these… try this instead: CoverGirl + Olay Tone Rehab 2-In-1 Foundation/Base

Foundation 101Powder Foundation:

This all in one combo is a favorite amongst my mom and on-the-go friends. Be sure you have a discussion or know about your skin type before you buy- works best for ladies with oily skin. Also, make sure your skin is well moisturized before application.

Counter Pick: MAKE UP FOR EVER Pro Finish Multi-Use Powder Foundation
Aisle Pick: CoverGirl Ready, Set, Gorgeous Fresh Complexion Powder Foundation

Waterproof Foundation:

OK, duh. It’s waterproof. Need we say more? There are very few options I like at drugstores though. Just be careful as they can clog pores, which can wreak havoc on skin- especially in the warmer months/climates.

Counter Pick: CLINIQUE Superbalanced Makeup
Aisle Pick: Maybelline New York Super Stay 24HR Makeup

Airbrush/Spray Foundation:

Newer on the scene for many commercial shoppers, when applied correctly, this foundation provides a near perfect finish. It is typically great for all skin types, especially ones that are prone to breakouts due to contamination or oil transfer from hands or makeup brushes. You control the buildup- but practice is needed. A lot of practice.

Counter Pick: Dior Diorskin Airflash Spray Foundation
Aisle Pick: Luminess Air Matte Airbrush Foundation

Tinted Moisturizer:

If you have fairly even skin tone and you are into light coverage, tinted moisturizer is a great option for you. A very sheer cover packed with moisture is what you get from these products. Great option for light coverage at the gym, on vacation or warm summer months.

Counter Pick: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 (This is also100 point perk at Sephora a lot…look for it- try it out!)
Aisle Pick: Aveeno® Active Naturals Positively Radiant Tinted Moisturizer

Sheer Foundation:

Like to look like you are wearing nothing at all? This is for you. Sheer foundation is exactly what it sounds like. This is a great option for those who aren’t into heavier coverage.

Counter Pick: NARS Sheer Glow Foundation
Aisle Pick: NEUTROGENA® Healthy Skin® Glow Sheers Broad Spectrum SPF 30

“Oil-free” Foundation:

Oil-free of “matte” foundation was specifically created for women who have oil issues with their skin. If you have oily skin, look for “Matte” or “Semi-Matte” finish foundations.

Counter Pick: MAC Studio Fix Fluid
Aisle Pick Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Makeup

Mousse or Whipped Foundation:

Ah, marketing… Mousse/Whipped foundations are liquid makeup with air “whipped” in. The benefit is that the foundation is very light and glides on smoothly, and usually gives a great matte finish and is pretty decent for all skin types.

Counter Pick: Marc Jacobs Beauty Marvelous Mousse Transformative Oil–Free Foundation
Aisle Pick: Rimmel Stay Matte Mouse Foundation

Stick Foundations:

As a busy mom, this is a must-have in my arsenal. Stick foundations tend to be heavier on the coverage (but you can bring it down by also adding some moisturizer to your face prior to application). While I don’t recommend them for all over face coverage (as you can look very “cake-faced”) they cover up dark circles (hello!!), as well as imperfections like acne scars, dark/sun spots, etc.

Counter Pick: Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick
Aisle Pick: Maybelline New York Fit Me Shine Free Foundation

Mineral Foundation:

Cult favorite, bareMinerals mineral foundation is the one you are probably most familiar with. If you are looking for an organic/natural option for your foundation, this is your pick. Mineral foundations are made with limited ingredients and often come with large fluffy brushes to help you “buff” the product into your skin after using a primer. However, the bareMinerals foundation listed below is best applied with this brush.

Counter Pick: bareMinerals bareSkin® Pure Brightening Serum Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 20
Aisle Pick: L’Oreal Bare Naturale Mineral Foundation

Again- you must know your skin type before buying. These are just some recommendations to point you in the right direction. If you have combination skin or super dry/oily skin, you may need to do a bit of testing first. Questions? Contact us and we can set you up with a personalized consultation.

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