The foundation is the first step in applying make-up, as it creates a uniform base onto which you’ll apply blush, eye shadow, etc., etc. If you think of your face as a painting, the foundation is the canvas. There. That’s all you need to know about foundations. Have a good day!
Are you still here?
Good, because if that were the entire post, I would have to turn in my blogger badge and retire to my first profession: eating through tears.
But enough about me. Let’s lay down the foundation of the foundation. I’m so clever.
The first commercial foundation was Mr. Max Factor’s “Pan-Cake Series”, which debuted in 1937, in the film, Vogues of 1938. It proved popular on the set, but it was much too dark to use outside the powerful arc lights of the studio. The make-up was developed by Max’s son, Frank, for use with the newly developed Technicolor film. In the same year, the make-up debuted in film, Frank pushed for a commercial release to the public with a slightly-altered formula that would allow woman to wear it any time of day or night. To date, the Pan-Cake series is the fastest and largest single-selling item.
Facial foundation is meant to add a bit of color and to blend uneven complexion in women. Women of lighter skin tones can choose from foundations formulated in about 8 shades, while women of color (dark or black skin) need 12 or more shades. There is so much more variety in darker skin that more shades are needed to account for all possible skin tones.
But skin tone and color do not always correlate, which makes choosing a color such a tricky endeavor. Many women are the under the misconception that the color of the foundation should match your face. It’s only common sense, right? Well, yeah that would seem like the obvious answer, but in fact, the best foundation is the one that blends in most with your neck. This is because you want a foundation that will leave no seams or lines of demarcation. How awkward would it be if you were out with your girlfriends and your face and neck were two different shades? No, no, ladies. Make sure your jaw line blends in smoothly with the skin below it.
Tip: Commercial cosmetic products are NOT standardized, so three companies could have the same color, but have different names. For example, Mark Kay’s “Beige 0.5”, Estee Lauder’s “Pure Beige” and Rashell’s “Early Tan” appear to be exactly the same.
So what goes into a foundation? What’s in the basic formula? Well, unlike Coca-Cola, cosmetic companies have been more or less upfront and transparent about how they make their products. According to renowned cosmetic consultant and chemist, Nick Morante, all foundations are just a combination of moisturizers, colorants, and fillers.
But every foundation needs its own base and there are four basic flavors, according to Medscape.com: oil, water, oil-free, and water-free. Oil-based foundations are nothing more than an oil with pigment added to it. These types of foundations are used for those with dry skin. The oil used is usually mineral oil or lanolin alcohol and the pigment color is suspended in the viscous liquid, like fruit in Jell-O. Whatever water is used in the formula evaporates, leaving the skin feeling moisturized.
For those with dry skin, you’ll benefit from oil foundations using avocado oil, sesame oil, jojoba oil and/or glycerides. You should read the list of ingredients first before buying.
Water-based foundations are used with all skin types. These products have a tiny amount of oil, used to properly emulsify the pigment. What does emulsion mean? Basically, the pigment is suspended in the concoction. With water-based products, the main ingredient is soap and the application time is small because the color is properly spread out. There is no color drift is what I’m trying to say.
Oil-free foundations stay away from any oils derived from animal, vegetable, or mineral. There are fatty substitutes utilized instead and leave the skin feeling dry, which is great for people with normally oily skin, like me. Look for silicones in the ingredients, such as dimethicone or cyclomethicone. Silicones are noncomedogenic (they don’t clog pores), nonacnegenic (they don’t promote acne or pimple growth), and hypoallergenic (they cause fewer allergic reactions).
Water-free foundations are waterproof versions and are usually creamier in texture. There’s a bit of lanolin in there, some vegetable and mineral oil, and some esters, which are just organic compounds used to link all these ingredients. Water-free foundations allow chemists to throw in a high concentration of pigment, which is why most opaque foundations are water-free based.
Mineral powders are an excellent choice for those of us with oily skin. Oily skin tends to give our faces an embarrassing shine throughout the day. I have had friends and family touch my face, then wipe their fingers off while I wasn’t looking (but secretly noticed anyway). Mineral powders leave the skin looking with a healthy glow and shine, but without the ickyness of oils. And these types of powders don’t cake up, so touch-ups are really easy. But with any powder, be careful not to overdo it with the powder. The stuff tends to get into wrinkles and make them stand out that much more.
Since mineral powders have short lives (they tend to get brushed away with relative ease), try using moisturizers beforehand, as the cream will allow the powder to stick on a little better. The Mineral Foundation from Mary Kay is, in my opinion, one of the best foundations I’ve ever tried.
Cream foundations are heavier so the right skin type is a plus, but creams are great for those with dry, flaky skin. Cream foundations are like liquid in that they seem to melt right into your skin. And you can use a sponge for a more controlled approach to your makeup. Use creams as concealors or as a moisturizer, since many of these foundation types feature hydrating elements, such as Bobbi Brown’s Long-Wear Even Finish SPF 15.
Liquid foundations are the go-to for all skin types. They’re adaptable and compliment all skin types. Frankly, there are so many products out there, it will be quite the challenge to find just one that you like. The finishes include light to full, dewy or matte. But the current trend says that women are going for the more dewy, more natural look. Remember that full coverage is best if you have imperfections or inconsistent skin tone. If you have oily skin, top this foundation type with a translucent powder, to minimize shine. Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk is one of the most impressive items I’ve seen in quite a awhile.
For more information on foundations or general skin care care tips, visit Paula Begoun’s great resource site.