Foundation is exactly what its name suggests: the base upon which you’ll build your entire makeup look. 'Foundation' is an umbrella term for a wide variety of products that vary in texture, colour, and consistency.
To break it down simply, foundation is a cosmetic that's applied to the whole face (and sometimes the neck, décolletage, and body) to provide an even finish to the skin. Each product is different, and it’s important to understand those differences so you can find the best match for you.
Foundation Step 1: Choose Your Coverage
The first aspect of foundation is coverage, which refers to how much pigment is in the foundation. Highly pigmented formulas provide full coverage, whereas formulas with lower percentages of pigment fall somewhere in the sheer-to-medium coverage range.
Depending on the formula, light- or medium-coverage foundation can give a more natural finish to the skin, making this kind of makeup great for everyday wear as well as special occasions. With a lighter foundation, you can always build your coverage to suit you by applying more of the product until you’re satisfied.
If you're comfortable applying sheer-to-medium formulas, you might want to move on to a full-coverage foundation. Full coverage is a good choice for:
- More dramatic skin issues such as acne, hyperpigmentation, or scarring
- Photo shoots or any appearance where you might be formally photographed
- A dramatic beauty look
Full-coverage formulas can be trickier to apply because mistakes are more visible. However, the payoff is well worth the time spent perfecting your application skills if you have a lot you’d like to minimise.
Foundation Step 2: Choose Your Formula
Generally, stick, liquid, and cream formulas range from sheer to quite opaque. Powder foundations, on the other hand, very rarely provide full coverage and generally need to be reapplied throughout the day.
Foundation Step 3: Choose Your Finish
The last piece of the foundation puzzle is finish. Most foundations are described as matte, radiant, glowing, natural, and so on.
Foundations that bear words such as 'dewy', 'glowing,' and 'luminous' on the package contain light-reflecting pigments and shimmer to give the skin a radiant finish. These foundations are better for those who want to make dull skin look healthier and more youthful.
Foundations that are meant to give the skin a natural finish are often described as 'natural' or 'matte' (shine-free) and rarely contain mica or other reflective ingredients. Matte- or natural-finish foundations look more like real skin, which makes them ideal for oily or combo-oily complexions.
Once you’ve decided what sort of coverage, formula, and finish you’d like, you’re well on your way to picking out the perfect foundation for you. Check out the foundations on our site for some great options to suit your needs.