One of the most daunting makeup categories has to be foundation. No matter how many articles are written about finding just the right foundation, the questions and confusion never seem to stop. It doesn't help that there are so many different formulas and types to choose from. I have so many foundations in my kit, not because you can't mix and create new colors, but because women have all different skin types, and what works on one woman doesn't necessarily work on the next. Someone with oily skin wouldn't be served well by a luminizing foundation, and a woman with dry skin should clearly avoid any type of matte formula.
I'm going to break down a few formulations and let you know who they work best for, and hopefully this will help provide some insight into the crowded, confusing, often confounding world of foundation.
Take a deep breath..... and dive on in!
by Fiona Stiles
The most common and easy to use formula. It's easily blended, mixed, and manipulated to get the coverage you want. That said, it also comes in a plethora of options that can quickly become overwhelming at the counter.
Knowing the language helps. Does it say moisturizing or allude to being emollient in any way? Then it's not the best formula if you have oily skin or skin that's prone to breakouts. Oil-Control or long wearing formulas tend to be on the heavier side, and more matte, which can accentuate fine lines and wrinkles, so if you have dry, flaky skin, or are older, you'll want something a bit more on the dewy side.
Tinted moisturizer is great is you have generally excellent skin, with only a few areas of light discoloration or a few blemishes that need to be dealt with. The coverage is minimal but will even out a bit of redness here and there. Concealer is needed to fine tune coverage. Tinted moisturizer is light, easy to apply and often has SPF, which is an added bonus.
(Honestly, I have yet to find a tinted moisturizer that I love. It's an issue of color for me, and anything darker than light-medium seems to go a bit orange. But if someone's skin is good enough for a tinted moisturizer, I'd rather skip foundation all together and just correct what I need to with a touch of concealer.)
Hollywood is crazy for luminizing foundation and makeup artists are always singing the praises of Armani's "Luminous Silk Foundation." That's because the subtle illumination provided by that formula adds a glow to the skin that adds youth, vitality and makes stars look like they're literally glowing from within. These formulas are especially excellent on the red carpet, where the lighting is out of your hands and you want the actress to look subtly radiant, not greasy or shiny.
That said, Luminizing formulas don't work on everyone. If you have large pores or oily skin (and the two generally go hand in hand) this type of foundation can just exacerbate the issues, settling into the pores and making your t-zone visible from space. If you want that glow, you're best adding it afterward with a slightly luminous powder--that way you can control where the shine is. Your oils will mix in with your foundation and give you a lovely glow regardless. Your natural oil + lots of shimmer all over = greasy mess.
(Bonus of having oily skin: you have fewer wrinkles as you age)
Dewy formulations are exactly what they sound like: they leave a moist finish that leaves the skin looking fresh and, well, dewy. These are wonderful formulas for those with normal to dry skin because they are also moisturizing. (They tend to have a lot of oil in them--oil is usually the second or third ingredient--so if you have oily skin, this is not the foundation for you.) They don't tend to offer too much in the way of coverage, but they are great for adding a little believable color to your face. For example, if you are good and wear your sunscreen daily, as I truly hope you do, your face may be lighter than your body. This sheer formula lets you add warmth to your skin without looking heavy or makeup-y, so you can go a shade or two darker than your face and it won't look fake.
Stay tuned as Fiona Stiles deconstructs Full Coverage, Matte, and HD foundations in Part 2 of Fiona Stiles on Foundation.