How to Choose the Right Foundation Formula for Your Complexion

October 15, 2021
Tembe Denton-Hurst
By: Tembe Denton-Hurst | by L'Oréal
Having a Bad Makeup Day? Your Foundation Ingredients Might be to Blame

We mostly choose our foundations and primers based on recommendations from our friends and fave influencers, rarely thinking about what’s actually in it. But it may be worth seeing what ingredients are in your foundation because it might not work for your skin’s specific needs. 

For example, liquid foundations are typically either silicone-, water- or oil-based and to determine the best one for you, your skin type, skincare regimen and other makeup products all come into play. Follow along below to learn how to ensure your foundation doesn’t pill and your makeup looks flawless every time.

Silicone-Based Foundations

Silicone-Based Foundations

If your foundation is silicone-based, it will (usually) contain ingredients ending in -cone -siloxane as the second or third ingredient. The first ingredient will most likely be water, but that doesn’t mean the foundation is water-based. Two examples of silicone-based foundations are the cult fave Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte & Poreless Foundation and the Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation. These foundations are great for mattifying and controlling shine — it’s like having a primer built into your foundation.
giorgio armani luminous silk, maybelline matte and poreless fit me foundation

Oil-Based Foundations

In the case of oil-based foundations, oil will be listed as the second or third ingredient. These are great for dry skin types. We recommend the Urban Decay Hydromaniac Tinted Glow Hydrator for a light, natural and extremely hydrating finish.
foundation ingredients

Water-Based Foundations

Water-based foundations contain neither oil, nor silicone at the top of their ingredient lists. Some water-based foundations may have silicones in them, but the quantity is so small that it isn’t worth mentioning. If you’re prone to breakouts, a water-based foundation will be the most gentle on your skin. This is also a great option for dry skin because these formulas tend to be nourishing and packed with skin-loving ingredients to help maintain a moisturized look. Our favorite water-based foundation formula is the NYX Professional Makeup Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Full Coverage Foundation.
nyx cant stop wont stop foundation

Pairing Primer With Foundation

When picking a primer, you should pair similar ingredients together, otherwise, you could experience separation, flaking or pilling after applying your foundation. Silicone-based primers create a barrier between your skin and the foundation and when they come into contact with a water-based or oil-based foundation, the result can be separation on your skin. A great way to test this is to place a small amount of primer on your hand and layer your foundation on top. If it turns powdery or starts to separate, you know your products don’t play well together. This method isn’t always foolproof though, so test it out and see how it wears throughout the day.

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