Foxalicious Fundamentals: Foundation 101

By Voxy  

Ah, foundation. Agony, ecstasy, blessing, curse, best of times, worst of times, FTW, FAIL.

(FTW is “for the win,” for those of you who aren’t up on your Lolcats terminology.)

I think that for some women, “foundation” is what they think of when they think of makeup. “I don’t wear makeup” often means “I don’t wear foundation.” And a lot of women who “don’t wear makeup” are resistant to foundations because they perceive that it will be fake-looking, or heavy, or chalky, or oily, or drying, or the wrong shade, or will wear off, melt off, slide off, or rub off, or, conversely, that they will have to scrub it off, peel it off, or chip it off with a hammer and chisel.

Guess what? All of those things could happen! But they won’t, since you’re going to do a lot of trying before buying and familiarizing yourself with different brands, formulations, and tools.

Do I really need to wear a foundation?

Almost everyone benefits from some sort of allover product to even out facial skin tone. It can be as sheer as a tinted moisturizer or powder (which will also be part of this series), or as full-coverage as a stick foundation or cream. Even within one kind of formulation, there will be a variety of degrees of coverage and moisturization: although in general creams are thicker than liquids, in practice you may well find some creams that blend out very sheerly on the face and some liquids that grab the skin and hang on for dear life. This is why testing is required!

Many foundations today also come with SPF ingredients, some with SPF ratings as high as 50. While a standalone sunscreen is always a good idea, a little bit of extra protection in a foundation can’t hurt (unless, of course, you’re allergic or sensitive to some of the sunscreen ingredients).

I just don’t want to feel like I’m putting on my mother’s makeup!

Foundations have come a long, long way since your mother wore them. Most of them are now so finely formulated that you can’t feel them on your face, so you won’t have the feeling you’re wearing a mask or that your skin is getting stretched or dried. (If you do, you have the wrong foundation.) The best cover up minor imperfections (redness, minor acne scars, unevenness of tone) while also giving you a slightly dewy, glowing, satiny canvas on which to apply other products. The very very matte look is out, so if you are dry-skinned, stay away from the mattifying foundations. Oily-skinned folks can find foundations that absorb oil without turning your face into a clay mask, and all skin types can find products to give them a “MSBB” (My Skin But Better) natural radiance.

Foundations scare me. When you put on foundation, you cross the line between looking “natural” and looking “made-up.”

Not necessarily. And you don’t have to use foundation on your whole face. If you have redness on your nose and cheeks, but the rest of your skin is glowy and fabulous all by itself, then just apply it where you need it and blend it out.

Isn’t it goopy and a pain to apply? Don’t you have to be “good at makeup” to do it right? What if I do it wrong?

It’s not really about technique per se, although of course there are helpful tips and tricks. You have to figure out what tools you need for the foundation you have, and learn how to use them, that’s all. Powder foundations will obviously require a brush of some sort. Liquid foundations can be applied with your fingers (goopiest method), with a sponge (less goopy, but the sponge eats a lot of the foundation), or with a brush (least goopy, but often requires you to go over it afterwards with fingers or sponge and blend out the edges). Same for creams. Stick foundations are usually applied directly to the face and then blended out with a brush or sponge, but those are also usually for more oily skin types, which take better to that kind of application method than dry skins do.

I’ll talk about specific tools when I get to particular types of foundations.

I don’t want to be one of those people with a visible makeup line at her neck.

OK, so don’t be. Ensuring that this doesn’t happen has two parts: 1. (most important) Make sure you have the right color foundation! and 2.) always blend over the jawline and into the neck to be sure you don’t have a line. See? Easy peasy.

Is it going to cost me an arm and a leg?

Foundations come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and costs. There are a few good drugstore foundations. There are many good mid-range foundations. There are also many high-end foundations, some of which are great and some of which are not worth the car payment it takes to buy them.

Over the next several weeks I’m going to be reviewing several different foundations for you. I’ve already done the L’Oreal Bare Naturale powder mineral foundation, but I have some liquids, creams, and tinted moisturizers to review. My dry skin has not done well with stick foundations in the past, so I don’t own any, but if any of you Vixens have experience with stick foundations you’d like to share, I’m all ears.

So, stay tuned! Further fundamental foundation foxaliciousness to come!

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  1. avatar Inthelab
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink | Reply

    I should have written added: I like to apply powder foundation with a dry sponge as foundation or with a soft brush as finishing powder. Some can be used wet/dry but I haven’t tried any that way.


  2. avatar Inthelab
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink | Reply

    I must be an “anything but liquid” kind of gal.
    I love Shiseido stick foundation because it matches me so well. That’s a moist stick foundation with SPF (forgot how high the SPF is). I know you don’t love Shiseido but if you ever need to try a moist stick foundation, I can recommend that one.
    I also like powder foundations (Stila or Laura Mercier) for when I feel lazy, applied over moisturizing sunblock.
    And compact foundations are another option I like (I waffle between compact and stick). Shiseido or Neutrogena are the brands I like.


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted February 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I haven’t tried the Shiseido, so it may well be more moisturizing than other stick foundations I am familiar with. (And it’s not so much that I dislike the line; more that I think they have a marketing problem that makes them less attractive to the young, terminally hip, Urban Decay crowd that spends a ton of money on makeup and skincare. Their niche is different, which is why I think it will be interesting to see what happens with them and Bare Escentuals.)


  3. avatar elsie
    Posted February 21, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m glad you’re doing foundations. I fought with them for years, invariably getting something that turned out to be orange. When you recommended the mineral foundations on the forum, that turned the corner for me in terms of getting something that looked natural instead of Tammy Fay. I’m really liking the Smart Shade at this point as well.


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted February 22, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Some mineral formulas oxidize on the skin, which is what makes it orange. Unfortunately this seems to be an individual problem — i.e., the same foundation doesn’t cause problems for everyone, and someone who goes orange with one foundation doesn’t with another.


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