Liquid Foundation 101

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I was inspired yesterday, when a friend came to me in a base crisis. “I need something for my skin,” she sputtered, “but I don’t know what.” So I decided a post dedicated to choosing the right foundation was long due. Choosing the right foundation can be extremely difficult and therefore super stressful, but having a proper base can make a huge difference to the face. But first, we must consider the various steps and elements one needs to complete!

First up, coverage. Most women think of foundation as thick gunk that makes your face look cakey and fake. However, when properly applied, foundation can instead look extremely natural! Liquid foundations come in one of four varieties: tinted moisturizer, sheer, medium, and full coverage. As you can guess, the most low-key is a tinted moisturizer. While they can act as substitutes for regular moisturizer, they won’t cover up blemishes or major discolorations. Because of this, I only recommend this for girls who have fabulous skin, or for those lazy days when you just don’t give a toot. Laura Mercier makes a great one, as does Origins (Vitazing) which is a bit cheaper. My personal preference for foundation coverage is the sheer category. I like a little bit of coverage since I don’t have perfectly even skin, and definitely have some red patches, but I don’t need complete coverage since I have pretty clear skin. Therefore, sheer-to-medium coverage foundations are perfect: they let my skin peek through and evens out my skintone wonderfully. A lot, but not all sheer foundations are water based, such as my beloved Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua. Full coverage foundations, however, cover completely everything, hence the “full” aspect. These sort of foundations can seem cakey and makeup-y if one doesn’t apply them correctly – it’s all about the blending! If you have a lot of blemishes or are self-conscious about your skin these foundations are the way to go. Laura Merciere also makes a great full coverage foundation, as does Illamasqua. And of course, medium coverage foundations provide coverage between sheer and full. One of my favorites sheer-to-medium foundations is Neutrogena Healthy Glow, which is a cheap dupe for Nars Sheer Glow and can be found at any local drugstore. Makeup Forever HD Foundation is another cult-favorite that is not only available in a wide range of shades but is also medium coverage.

Remember, foundation isn’t meant to cover absolutely everything. If you have a couple spots or dark under eye circles, don’t pile on the foundation on these areas – that’s what concealer is for!

Shade is something else that needs to be considered for all you foundation-shoppers. Women’s skintones fall into the pink, yellow or neutral categories so make sure you find a shade that has the same undertones as your own skin! I’m personally a yellow-toned girl, being Asian and all, and very yellow at that. Even neutral undertoned foundations look too pinky on me so I have to pick shades very carefully.

Finish also needs to be considered. Matte? Dewy? Velvety? Matte finishes are best for girls with oily skin since over day their natural oils will create the shine a dewy finish foundation would create. On the other hand, girls with dry skin often love dewy finishes the best, like myself. They leave the skin looking fresh with a bit of a healthy shine that can be toned down with powder if necessary. It also happens to be all the rage right now if any of you followed New York Fashion Week makeup styles. Velvety finishes lie between matte and dewy, not too matte but not overly glowing. These tend to work well for formal occasions or for photography as they can catch the light without causing you to look greasy.

One last factor to consider is wear time. Most foundations last between 6 and 8 hours long with minor touchups before they completely wear off, however long-wear foundations do exist that can last for up to 24 hours (although I would not recommend wearing makeup for that long!). Lancome Teint Idole 24 Hour Long Lasting Foundation seems to be the original in this product, but more recently Bobbi Brown, Revlon and Maybelline have come out with their own versions. I did try the Revlon Colorstay 24 Hour Foundation, and why I can’t say I wore it longer than about 16 hours, it looked just as great when I took it off as when I put it on in the morning.

I know that shopping for foundation can be a stressful and can require a lot of research, but it’s not as hard as it looks. It always helps to ask the women at the counters to be matched for color and to give extra info about the products!

Happy foundation shopping!!



  1. Hi…enjoyed your review on foundation OB. I have used many…right now I use Lancôme renergie lift makeup. Perfect for over 50yr skin. I too change it up (often) in every area of make up! you are Fabulous ….auntie j

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