Q & A: What’s the best kind of foundation?

I was planning to do Q & A posts more often, but, you know, life happens.

This is another question I’ve been asked pretty frequently and like most simple questions about makeup, it’s not actually simple. Short question, long answer.

There are some factors we all need to consider when we’re talking about the “best” type of foundation. Things like age, skin type, personal preference, season, how long it needs to wear… I mean, this isn’t an easy thing.

Age: I think that, regardless of age, we all know that our skin changes over time. It gets thinner, drier, and loses elasticity. We develop lines and wrinkles, and even someone as oily as I am will likely need to switch to more hydrating products. People with mature skin can sometimes run into problems with full coverage, long wearing foundations and even powder products. These tend to emphasize skin texture because the product settles into lines and pores, and they’re generally more drying than lighter coverage products.

Suggestions: If you’re concerned about your makeup looking too heavy or want additional hydration, go for something like a BB/CC cream or tinted moisturizer, like the Garnier SkinActive BB Cream. They provide light, natural looking coverage and they won’t suck all the moisture from your face. If you’re not a fan of liquid products, try a cushion compact, or mineral powder. Sure, cushion compacts are still liquid, but they’re a little easier to work with and definitely easier to travel with. Mineral powder foundations are generally very finely milled so they don’t look heavy while still giving some coverage. If you feel like you need more coverage in certain areas, spot conceal for the win.

Skin type: This kind of goes along with age, but it’s something to keep in mind any time you’re choosing a foundation. As I’ve mentioned, I’m an oily skinned lady. At the end of the day I’m basically a greaseball, and controlling oil is a never-ending battle. Because of my skin type, I know that there are some types of base products that I can’t use, like anything with the word “radiance” in the name. Something like the Neutrogena Healthy Skin foundation isn’t something I can wear all the time because it’s too moisturizing and slides around my face. Even in the dead of winter it breaks down in my t-zone and looks like garbage after only a few hours. Conversely, someone with drier or more mature skin might love it and hate the long-wearing mattifying foundations I live for.

Suggestions: Always keep your skin type in the back of your mind when you’re choosing a foundation. If your skin is dry, anything that claims to be mattifying or control oil is going to make your skin look and likely feel even drier. This includes full coverage and long wearing products and most powder foundations. If you’re oily like me, powder/mineral foundations might be great, and anything that mattifies is going to be your best friend.

Season: This also goes along with skin type, since your skin changes a bit from season to season. In case no one has ever said this to you before – you need to switch up your skincare and some of your makeup from season to season. I live in the Great White North, so our winters are harsh and cold and terrible. Everything gets so dry, and I go from an oily mess to normal to combination skin. It opens up my options for makeup, but it also means that I can’t just own one foundation and call it a day.

Suggestions: If you’re a normal or dry skin person, the foundation you wear in July won’t look as good come Christmas. Invest in a serum foundation or a facial oil you can mix in with your makeup. If you’re oily, leave the heavy mattifying makeup in your drawer until spring and try something like Revlon ColorStay or Maybelline Matte + Poreless. If you get a little greasy they’ll stick around, but your face won’t look like a mask of cakey grossness.

Personal preference: In my mind, this is actually the most important factor. How do you want your skin to look? Are you dead set against blotting or touch-ups? Do you touch your face a lot over the course of the day? Do you want your makeup to last through a particularly grueling workout? How much do you want to spend on a foundation? These are all important questions. While I don’t recommend wearing a full face of makeup to the gym (who even does that?), these are questions only you can answer. I know that I like my pores to look smaller, my skin to look matte, and my makeup to last even through sweat/touching my face/hugging people. I’m also cheap, and I want it to look almost as good when I take it off as it did when I put it on.

Suggestions: If you’re like me and love matte, long wearing foundation, check out the Rimmel Lasting Finish foundation (the one with the red cap). In the U.S. it doesn’t have a pump (lame) and there are rumors that it’s being phased out (super lame), but it’s one of the best foundations I’ve used. It’s my “I’m going to be super sweaty today but still want to look cute” foundation. The L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte foundation is another one that I really like. The shade ranges for both of these are crap, but I make it work. There’s also a Pro-Glow version of this L’Oreal foundation that I’ve heard is good for normal to dry skin, but I haven’t tried it. I know it would go badly.

So my friends, go forth into the world with the knowledge you’ve gleaned and find your own “best” foundation. As always, if you have any recommendations for my super greasy and acne prone skin, leave them in the comments!

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