Over the last weekend, I spent some time organising my vanity when I realized just how much makeup I own. And if I’m really honest, I own a lot of it, so the simple task took a long time. But it got me thinking about how I built up my makeup collection over the years, trying new stuff and cherishing each item. What I suddenly remembered was that in my early years of learning and experimentation, what I was most clueless about was prepping my skin. Applying liner, lipstick and blusher were easier skills to hone, but skin correcting bases always made me nervous.
“What foundation should I buy?” “Do I really need a primer?” “What does it really do?” Such questions plagued my mind often. In a few years of regular makeup usage though, I mastered the art of skin prepping too. I tried out all kinds of foundations and primers to understand what works best for me. But I know that many a times, women, especially makeup novices, tend to struggle with this. So, I decided to write a long, comprehensive post on the various types of foundations and primers available out there and what they do. Read on and find out!
(A peek into my makeup stash)
Foundation is a makeup product for the skin which is supposed to even out skin tone and provide light to heavy coverage for skin flaws (like blemishes, spots, etc). Since everyone has a different complexion in terms of gradient, texture and clarity, you need to be very careful in choosing a foundation that complements your skin. Using one that doesn’t exactly complement your skin tone and type can completely ruin your entire look, no matter how well you have done up your eyes or lips, etc.
So, you should know which kind of foundation is good for you in terms of its base, form and sun protection factor (SFP). In terms of ingredient base, you have water-based, oil-based and silicone-based products to choose from. You can go in for liquid formulations or powder foundations in terms of form. And of course, there are both SPF-containing and non-SPF varieties too. Here is a brief introduction to what all this categorization means.
But Before you read all that do remember to:
- User Primer for a good foundation coverage
- Try to use silicone based foudation with silicone based primer and water based foundation with water based primer.
- But sometimes when the foundation is not too heavy you can get away with using a silicone based primer with a water based foundation but the key thing to remember is to test this before hand
- You can get medium to light coverage from a heavy foundation by mixing primer in the foundation
As the cosmetics industry grows and expands, newer formulations are being introduced in the market. However, before you can even attempt to understand those hybrid varieties, you need to get your basics right. Primarily, there are three ingredient bases – oil, water and silicone – that are used in foundations. Here’s some insight into what they’ll do for you:
The most primitive form of skin-coverage cosmetics, oil-based foundations have been around for a long time. Though they have lost much of their popularity to water-based products, professional makeup artists still rely on these a lot. Such foundations are prepared by adding pigments to an oil or emollient based formulation and naturally, these products then have a thicker consistency and dense, heavy feel. High quality oil-based foundations are largely so waterproof and do not cake though cheaper variants may not be so kind to your skin.
In terms of application, oil-based foundations are tricky due to their dense viscosity. Use even a small amount and it feels heavy on the skin. If you try to use a wet sponge or diluted product, chances of streaking are high. Having said that, oil-based foundations have their own pros. One is that they offer the most opaque coverage to flaws, hydrate very dry skin and also hide wrinkles effectively. Keep in mind though that oil-based formulations may change colour if worn for very long due to oxidising of ingredients; this can give your face a darker, orange-ish hue.
The core ingredient in water-based foundations is water and not oil or emollient though either of the latter may still be an active ingredient in the product. The combination of water and oil as base gives such products are moderately thin in consistency and a less heavy feel on the skin. Some variants are water-based and oil-free too, and you may go in for these if you have extremely oily skin. Most women go in for simple water-based foundations though, for they suit the widest spectrum of normal to dry and even combination skin.
Given the relatively thin consistency of such products, water-based foundations blend beautifully and typically provide medium coverage, giving your face a natural look. You may use a moisturizer alongside depending upon how dry your skin is though for most women will do well with just the foundation. Good water-based foundations stay on for many hours without smudging, fading or streaking. These are the best option for novice makeup-users for there isn’t much to worry about really. The only thing is, oily skin appears shiny with usage of water-based products, unless you dab them with loose powder.
Silicone-Based Foundations use silicones or a combination of silicone and water as the main ingredient. The silicones assure a smooth texture and great viscosity, which typically gives an even finish. Generally available in creamy or liquid-y form, silicone-based foundations are popular with makeup artists who can use them effectively to hide flaws like large pores, dark pigmentation and so on. These are best suited for those with normal to dry skin, since silicone is a sealant and does not allow moisture to escape. Naturally, these aren’t the best option for oily-skinned beauties.
During application, silicone-based foundations blend extremely well and give you a flawless finish in terms of hiding skin flaws and uneven texture. The downside however is that if worn for very long, silicone-based foundations tend to settle into fine lines of the face, giving it a wrinkly finish. Also, it may settle into large skin pores and lead to acne breakouts on acne-prone skin. For those who do not have much experience with makeup, silicone-based foundations may be somewhat tricky. However, you can give them a shot if you want medium to heavy coverage and do not expect to be wearing them for too long.
Foundations are widely available in two popular forms – as a liquid/cream or powder. Some people prefer to go in for the familiar liquid-y goodness while others like the impactful powder. Personal preferences aside, it is not their characteristics in isolation that determine which is better. Instead, it depends on the nature of your skin and the purpose of application that’ll determine what the better option is for you. Here is all you need to know about liquid and powder foundations.
Most people are more comfortable using liquid foundations because they are more familiar and comforting. We have all used them or seen them being used at some point in time or the other. They are easier to blend into all nooks and crannies of your face as compared to powder foundations. They have more hydrating power and you may not need to use a moisturizer with liquid foundation. High end products won’t settle into fine lines, wrinkles and pores even, and you can choose the kind of coverage and finish you desire (light, medium or heavy coverage, matte, dewy or regular finish).
The only drawbacks of using liquid foundations are that you have to find one that is an exact match for your complexion. Also, you need to master the application technique so you do not end up with streaky makeup. With less advanced formulations, the chances of fading, smudging or discolouration exist are also a concern. All in all though, less experienced makeup users can trust liquid foundation to be the better bet since it is more forgiving than powder foundations; the scope of faux pas is less and that’s all a newbie can hope for.
Foundation in powder form is a relatively new formulation. While pressed powder has been used as a finisher to lock in foundation for a long time, it is only in the past two decades that powder foundation has been used for full coverage as a makeup base. The biggest advantages of powder foundation are its mattifying effect and staying power. You can whip this product out on hot days so this oil-soaking formula keeps your makeup intact. And that’s not all, powder foundation generally does not seep into your skin pores, thus reducing the chance of acne breakouts on acne-prone skin.
There are certain things to be worried about though. The first is that no matter how good you are at applying makeup, the finish with powder is almost always cakey. The more coverage you desire, the more unnaturally made up you’re going to look. Also, with many hours of staying power comes the negative effect of powder settling into fine lines, wrinkles and dry patches, thus making them more prominent as the day progresses. To avoid the cakiness, you can mineral powdered foundations for they tend to give a better finish. In conclusion, we may say that this kind of product is much more suitable for people with oily, acne prone skin, when applied for shorter periods of time.
Sun Protection Factor
In this day and age, almost no one can be ignorant of the evils of sun damage vis-a-vis one’s skin. In fact, more and more beauty products – from creams and lotions to wet wipes even – come with Sun Protection Factor or SPF. Some foundations have this too, while some do not. So what should you do? Are foundations with SPF a better option? Or could you do without them? Let me help you out here.
Foundations With SPF
Most reputed brands are now producing foundations that offer SPF. You should go in for products that promise at least SPF 15. When the SPF is this low, make sure you wear a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 underneath as well. Also, watch out for the label of “Broad Spectrum” on foundations. Products with SPF as well as broad spectrum protection will protect you against both UVB and UVA rays.
Foundations that do not promise sun protection should be reserved exclusively for nightwear. If worn in the morning, they will leave your skin vulnerable to sun damage which can have dire consequences including skin cancer. If by chance, you have no other option but to use a non-SPF foundation in daytime, make sure you apply a strong sunscreen underneath. Non-SPF foundations are less expensive, yes, but not worth meddling with your skin’s health.
A lot of ladies are hesitant to invest in primers. The reasons are numerous, ranging from lack of awareness about exactly what they do to being unsure whether they are actually worth the investment. To dispel all doubts; primers are a kind of makeup base that is the first product to go on, even before your foundation. The purpose is to ensure that all subsequent products adhere to the skin better and last longer, throughout the day. The chief advantage of using a primer is that product usage in terms of foundation, eyeshadow, etc reduces. With the thinnest layer, effect is visible. In the long run, investing in a primer will thus lead to savings with lesser product usage!
There are several varieties of primers available today, distinguishable based on the finish the promise and their base ingredient. In so far as the finish goes, you can choose a mattifying, moisturising or glow primer. Other than that, you have water-based and silicon-based products to choose from. Now, one has to be careful in choosing their primer for its quality and finish will determine how the rest of your makeup comes on. Read on to find out more!
What do you want the final effect of using makeup to be? Do you want to reduce the oily, shiny look your face acquires after several hours of makeup? Does your skin crave hydration instead? Do you want a dewy or radiant finish? The final outcome will depend upon your choice of product. Choose intelligently and you can rest assured that your makeup will look infinitely better!
These primers are basically meant to give your face a matte look that does not look greasy or shiny. People with oily skin will benefit highly from usage since mattifying primers soak up excess oil and even with layering of products, do not allow for excess sebum production. Those with normal to dry skin will find these primers to be dissatisfactory in terms of hydration and feel their skin is dry and stretched with usage.
Primers that promise hydration are best suited for those with normal to dry skin. They infuse the skin with enough moisture to allow for seamless blending of makeup. They provide a smooth, supple canvas for you to layer products on, without the appearance of dry patches and visible streaking in a few hours. These primers can be used in place of moisturizers that dry-skinned beauties use underneath their foundation. These are not the best option for those having oily or combination skin.
Glow primers are largely so suitable for all skin types. They give the face a well-hydrated glowy finish which brings out the pigments in your foundation, eyeshadow and blusher even. For someone who has no skin woes such as too much sebum production or very dry skin, glow primers are the best option. They do have a moderate hydrating effect too, so people with combination skin should also use them only when applying makeup for a short duration.
The core ingredient that goes into the making of a primer determines the manner in which your skin will respond to it and how makeup layered on it will look. There are many varieties available in the market today, though most are either water-based or silicone based. You should choose your primer based on your skin type as well as the effect you are hoping to achieve.
Primers that use water as the first ingredient have a light, smooth finish and leave the skin feeling mildly hydrated. They are best for those who have combination to oily skin; such primers facilitate layering without the risk of your face becoming shiny and blotched over time. Foundations react well with water-based primers and adhere longer on the skin ensuring you are worry-free for many hours since you slather on makeup. If you have dry or normal skin, go in for a foundation that offers a dewy finish to ensure your skin doesn’t look dry and lacklustre.
Silicone-Based Primers have a denser consistency and are best suited for those who want to hide flaws such as lines, wrinkles and pores. Silicones act a sealant and fill in the irregularities in texture on your face. Keep in mind though, that these are heavier on the skin and may not be suitable for those with oily skin. High quality silicone primers do not clog pores but it would be better if you reserved such products for times when the makeup is going to come off soon. Those with dry skin should pick these over water-based primers for better hydration.
Ah, now that was one long post. I tried to cover as much ground as I could with respect to foundation and primers. If you have any doubts or questions, feel free to ask!
Exactly the questions I have. Even at 39, foundation still scares me and usually do without it. I have bookmarked the post for the exhaustive information you have enlisted. Thanks.
Thanks Neetu for the kind comments!