Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Foundation 101!

I've received a handful of foundation questions from several people- so lets get them all cleared up in one shot!  There are four things about foundation that you need to understand and figure out in order to know what will be right for you; they're the coverage, texture, finish, and color.  Each of these things have nothing to do with one another and you can decide what you want in each category and then find the foundation that lines up with your criteria.  The options are practically endless.  Lets break them all down...


This is how much of your skin you see through your foundation.  The typical stops are sheer, medium, and full coverage.  Like Pantyhose!  You have pantyhose that range from sheer - opaque, and everything in between.  They all cover your legs, but some you can still see your leg skin through them and others you can't at all. 

Sheer Coverage- This is your "sheer pantyhose" type of foundation.  It typically has enough coverage to even out any mild redness in your skin but your natural skin will be showing through.  It has a harder time covering areas of severe redness (example- areas of skin with rosacea or acne spots).  It will very slightly blur over any freckles on your skin (if you have any)- but they will still be pretty prominent.  

*Side Note*  I love freckles!  I even pretend like I have some occasionally, and I use a brow pencil to falsify a few ;) Don't cover them- God made you with freckles and he made you beautiful!

Full Coverage- This is your "opaque tights/pantyhose" type of foundation!  This one will usually cover just about anything.  You won't be seeing much (if any) of your natural skin through it.  This will (the majority of the time) completely get rid of the appearance of any redness, dark spots, freckles, or any other discoloration situations you may be dealing with.

Medium Coverage- This one is more coverage than Sheer and less coverage than Full! Haha!  Groundbreaking explanation; I know...  

Here's the thing- Most gals want the look of perfect, flawless skin, but they want to look like they naturally have it...  Which is not impossible!  Woo-hoo!  

First way to get there is to actually improve your skin!  Invest in some great skincare that works for you and drink lots of water.  That way your makeup won't have to be working as hard to get the look you are wanting.  

Most gals also think that achieving perfect looking skin means having to use a full coverage foundation.  Flawless looking skin = completely, totally cover everything!  Not true!  You can probably get away with using a sheer or medium coverage all over and then just going back into your skin with concealer on the areas you need a little coverage boost.  Just because one area of your skin is red-er than the rest of your face doesn't mean the rest of your face needs to be treated the same as that area!  That's how you can easily cross the highway from perfected looking skin to caked-face yucky-ness (I have an 8 month old- so yes, I say yucky)!  In fact, I almost never pick up a full coverage foundation to do any look.  It's not necessary, and when we're done my clients look totally flawless without feeling like they have on a heavy face.


This is the consistency of the foundation.  There are liquids, creams, mousses, and powders.  This is purely a feeling and application preference, because the texture of the foundation has little to nothing to do with the way the foundation will look, and some formulas are simply more convenient to apply than others.  The foundation's finish may be affected slightly (you'll read about that in just a second) with certain formulas but that isn't always the case.  

I've noticed a few generally consistent "texture preferences" through experience over the years...

Darker/deeper skin tones for some reason look AAAAMAZING (smooth, creamy, and buttery) with cream foundations, I'm not exactly sure why.  But they really do.   

Liquids and powders are the most common and easily accessible textures of foundation.  I love a liquid formula, but if I'm in a mega hurry I'll grab a powder formula- just because it applies quicker.  They have totally different finishes though (I cover that in the next section).  

Gals with dry skin tend to like mousse-y textured foundation because it tends to have a bit more hydration added into the formula. 

Keep in mind- the tools you use to apply the different textures of foundation with will affect the foundation's coverage.  For example- using a flat synthetic brush with a liquid formula will apply the most coverage that foundation is capable of, while applying it with a buffing brush will thin out the appearance slightly because it'll spread it out a little more.


This refers to the way they foundation dries down (or doesn't) and the look that the foundation gives your skin.  There are dewy, matte, and demi-matte (also called a natural finish or natural-matte) finishes.

Dewy finish foundations have a really well moisturized and a typically natural look to them.  This happens to be my favorite type of foundation for myself for everyday wear.  It leaves a sheen to your skin.  It doesn't look greasy like oil on your skin, it just has a very healthy glow to it.  As if you went to the gym and had the most beautiful and perfect looking sweat!  Like this

Matte finish foundations have NO sheen.  And as a result to the lack of sheen, this finish tends to look the most "made-up," and looks very velvety (in a good way).  People that have oily skin typically prefer a matte finished foundation because it is pretty common for them to have a few oil controlling ingredients in them to keep the shine levels down.  It looks like this on the skin

Demi-Matte finishes are mostly matte but they have the SLIGHTEST bit of a very soft dewy finish that shows up in all the right places.  For anyone that wants a matte finish foundation but doesn't want to look too heavy with it- this is the perfect finish.  This is my favorite finish to use on clients as well as on myself for special occasions because it looks the most like naturally perfect skin and it photographs like a dream!  See for yourself

Powder foundations will all fall into a matte or demi-matte category of finish.  Liquids, creams, and mousses, because of their wetter consistency, can be offered in all of the different finishes.


Your foundation should always match your skin!  It's not uncommon and is recommended to have multiple shades of foundations.  At least two.  You want to match your skin mid-winter, when you're your palest, and mid-summer, whenever you're your darkest.  If you don't want to purchase any more foundation shades as you tan and as you fade you can mix these two colors accordingly to get your in between shades just right.  If you are unable to purchase two shades of foundation, need something to hold you over until you have a tan to rematch, or like to pretend you have a tan- use some bronzer in the meantime to boost the color and work it all out.

BTW if you like to fake having a tan- don't you dare just grab the shade of foundation that you WISH you were!  UNLESS YOU ARE PRETENDING TO BE AN OOMPA LOOPA- STOP DOING THAT!  Nobody else thinks it looks cute, TRUST ME!

I mean, seriously!?

You want to match your foundation from your cheekbone to your jaw line!  No place else!  It is meant for your face and just in case you were unaware- the back of your hand or inside of your wrist is NOT your face- don't match it there- it makes no sense- stop doing that too!

Don't judge a foundation by it's bottle!  Go somewhere that you can try it on or some place that has a sampling program.  You won't really know if it's the perfect shade of foundation for you until you actually have it on!  When you do get it on- take a step outside in natural sunlight to be sure of the shade.  Sunlight is the brightest lighting and is generally pretty unforgiving- so if it's not the right shade- it'll show.  And just so you know- sitting in your car checking out your foundation doesn't count as looking at it outside in sunlight.  The mirror in your car is actually one of the worst places to check your foundation shade.
I hope this answered all of your foundation questions, but if I missed anything or you need me to clarify something further please comment whatever it is below, or send me an email using the "Contact Me" form on the right side of the blog!  Enjoy!



  1. Thank you thank you for this post!! I've obviously always admired how amazing your foundation looks! These explanations help me to make decision when you're not around...everyone wishes they had a Michelle they could carry in their pocket lol