Our skin is thankful, as foundation makeup has evolved over many years. This post discusses its history, what it is today, the 5 main types of foundation, and their benefits to our makeup routines. Also included are best and recommended foundation makeup products by category.
For continued foundation information and a post on how to mix foundations to customize your look, click here for The Easy Art of Mixing Foundations.
WHAT IS FOUNDATION MAKEUP
Foundation has always been a given for me: a makeup staple much like flour is to bread. Some of my earliest memories hearken back to seeing my mother with none other than her Pond’s cold cream and some kind of (heavy) foundation. I observed that foundation made her skin look more even-toned and brighter. Foundation was a good thing.
But as the years passed and I grew into my mother’s age, advances in makeup, advances in skincare, and then an overlap between the two mediums happened. The world was no longer simple; choices became many, and makeup goals expanded to include a more natural skin-first aesthetic. Foundation makeup reached a kind of bra-burning existential crisis.
So what is foundation makeup now? Do we still want or need to wear it?
With many options that did not exist even a couple of decades ago, I will unpack those choices in this post along with specific product recommendations. Some may be just too good to ignore. You can decide for yourself.
History of Foundation Makeup
The roots of foundation makeup can be traced further back than what most of us would expect. For instance, whitening the skin by completely covering it in lead powder began with the ancient Egyptians and then continued up until the 17th century.
Fast forward to modern makeup, foundation’s real beginnings were in the theatre with “greasepaint” to hide the seam between a wig and forehead. Max Factor saw a business opportunity and in 1914, developed a commercial cream greasepaint for the motion picture industry. The market expanded, much to Max Factor’s surprise, to fill a more widespread request from people like you and me.
5 Types of Foundation Makeup Today
There we have it; foundation makeup has historically been a “cover-up” job to hide as much “real” skin as possible. While many of us may still view foundation with that lens today, that perspective misses a more current story that includes skin benefits and enhancements.
From my vantage point, there are 5 general foundation categories. Here is an overview:
#1 Medium to Full Coverage Foundation
If you are looking to cover age spots, discoloration, and anything else, reach for a traditional foundation that is either medium or full coverage (which refers to how much natural skin shows through) and is “buildable” (read: once the liquid is dry on the skin, more can be added to cover up even more). It comes in a variety of types: stick, liquid, cream, powder etc.
Note that the fuller the coverage, typically the thicker and heavier the foundation, and the more likely it is to cake and fall into wrinkles. This is something that was not such a consideration when we were younger, but it is now.
The test of a great “traditional” foundation, particularly when over 50, is whether it can be more full coverage and not cake on the skin. For this reason, I recommend a liquid foundation.
Best Medium to Full Coverage Foundations
Here are a couple of foundations that not only have lasted the test of time but also pass the “cake” test.
Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup
This product was first introduced in 1997 and its formulation has remained very much the same since then. (Estee Lauder knows when they have a winner) They currently have 55 shades in cool, warm, and neutral tones. It is a mainstay in my makeup arsenal for the times when I want that kind of coverage. The consistency allows it to go on smoothly. This is good for dry or oily skin.
It has none of the fanfare/publicity as other more expensive brand name products, however, it passes the Holy Grail test as discussed in this post. A mid-priced and indisputable keeper.
Click above to buy from Ulta–$48.00
Kevin Aucoin The Etherialist Skin Illuminating Foundation
This is another mid to full-coverage option. Like its name, it does seem to provide a glow to the skin without it looking like a glittery disco ball. The consistency is a bit thicker but if necessary, it can be mixed effectively with a little moisturizer before applying. Good for all types of skin. This is a higher priced foundation at $58.00
Click above to buy from Nordstrom
L’Oreal Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation
Long considered the medium to full coverage low-cost drugstore alternative to Estee Lauder’s Double Wear. The price is right at about $12.99. It has a satin finish with buildable coverage. This can be a bit drying on the skin by the end of the day.
Click above to buy from Target
#2 Concealer Instead of Foundation
Concealer instead of foundation is a great alternative to cover just specific areas of your skin without the heavier coverage of traditional foundation (with the chance of falling into wrinkles). This is especially great if your skin is in good condition with only a few areas to conceal. It provides a healthier “skin first” look.
Best Concealers to Use as Foundation
Here are a couple of great concealer options that do the job well and will result in a natural dewy satin finish. They all can be used as traditional concealers as well.
Glossier Stretch Concealer
Glossier has a truly incredible concealer that blends so well that it seems to disappear into the skin. It provides buildable coverage. At $18, it’s a must-try on its own or even under or over a traditional foundation. It’s a Holy Grail for me.
Click above to buy from Glossier
YSL Touche Eclat All-Over Brightening Concealer Pen
This is a luxury brand classic concealer and brightener in one. At $38, it is pricey, but it’s 100% dewy full coverage is unsurpassed.
Click above to buy from Sephora
Other buying options include Macy’s
RMS UnCoverup Concealer
RMS is a natural beauty brand started by a makeup artist with the initials RMS. They have some incredible products and this concealer rivals Glossier although with a price tag of $38 that is double. Buildable natural coverage is the name of the game here. Her shades match skin well.
Click above to buy from Sephora-$38
Other buying options include RMS Beauty
Foundation with Skincare Benefits
“Hybrid” Foundations (hybrid between makeup and skincare) are foundation’s relatively new cousins and evolutionary products. They arguably represent some of the greatest advances for foundation makeup with more coverage choices and makeup outcomes than back in our mothers’ day. For the most part, these products don’t just cover up, they also enhance and protect skin in a variety of ways.
Welcome CC Cream, BB Cream, Tinted Moisturizer, and Tinted Skin Serums!
#3 CC Cream Foundation
CC Cream stands for Color Correcting Cream and came to market in the early part of the 2000s. A kind of hybrid makeup and skincare product, there is typically sunscreen along with skincare actives to help nourish the skin. The primary goal is to calm redness and even out any kind of skin blotchiness. Most of these creams are similar to medium to full coverage foundations but better for the skin.
Best CC Cream Foundation Products
Two great but different CC Creams are:
IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream
Full coverage, hydrating, natural finish, with an SPF 50. This truly is an unpretentious over 50 Holy Grail product that can eliminate a traditional foundation while making your skin look more poreless. Contains Hyaluronic Acid, peptides, and collagen along with snail mucin which is thought to hydrate the skin, improve hyperpigmentation and also keep some types of rosacea at bay.
Click above to buy from Ulta – $44.00
Other buying options include Sephora
Dr. Jart Tiger Grass Color Correcting (CC) Cream
Great CC Cream with more light to medium coverage and great actives. This is such a unique product that I devoted nearly a whole post to it! Read my in-depth post on this skin enhancing cream and its many uses here.
Click above to buy from Sephora – $52.00
#4 BB Cream Tinted Moisturizer
BB Cream stands for Blemish Balm and was first introduced in Germany in the 1950s by a dermatologist who created it for post-care skin peels and facials. BB Creams are lighter than CC Creams, and I include tinted moisturizers in this category. They contain SPF and anti-aging ingredients. They are minimal makeup seekers all-in-one nirvana.
To note, it is not as critical in this category to perfectly match skin shade because of the thinner consistency (in general) with lighter coverage. They end up blending in with the skin more seamlessly than the other foundation categories.
Best BB Cream Tinted Moisturizer Products
Here are a few good ones:
Dr. Jart Premium BB Cream
With Niacinamide as an active ingredient, the texture is unparalleled, is very moisturizing, and provides a glow to the skin. It also contains a healthy 45 SPF. The one downside is the lack of shade offerings. There are only a few.
Click above to buy from Sephora – $44.00
Lancome Skin Feels Good Hydrating Skin Tint
Hydrating with Hyalauronic Acid, I find that this glides on the skin with no creasing or caking. It is almost like it has a primer built into it. Radiant finish and non-drying. It’s been a long time favorite of mine.
Click above to buy from Sephora – $37.00
L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation
More like a BB Cream and a legitimate drugstore alternative. Contains SPF 50, and Vitamin B3 and provides a radiant finish. Broad shade selection. $16.99
Click above to buy from Ulta – $13.59
Other buying options include Walmart
#5 Tinted Serum Foundation
Tinted Serum is a newcomer to the Hybrid or Skincare as Foundation group. It has become my personal “go-to” for a foundation alternative because it provides a bit more coverage than a BB cream and as my skin has become drier, it provides more hydration.
As the name suggests, it is a serum consistency (very liquid) and some products even include a dropper for the serum. Here are a couple to try and both have great coverage with incredible hydration and glow.
Best Tinted Serum Foundation Products
Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint
Ilia is a “clean” brand (no synthetics or chemicals), is relatively new on the makeup scene and has many great products. This serum foundation offers medium coverage with incredible hydration, glow and real sunscreen (SPF 45). The skin feels better with it on and is a personal “go-to” for daily wear.
Click above to buy from Sephora – $48.00
Other buying options include Ilia Beauty
No 7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum Foundation
Here is a solid lower priced drugstore option for Ilia.
Click above to buy from Target – $15.99
This post was about the 5 different types of foundation that we have at our fingertips today. Thankfully, we have come a long way from our mother’s makeup.
To get an idea of the look and coverage, here are unedited photos of me with 3 different types of foundation.
Thank you for reading!
For more foundation information, check out The Easy Art of Mixing Foundations here on The Beauty Maestra.
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