A beauty blog for the makeup lover and savvy consumer

Makeup Problems Solved: Foundations and Primers

Makeup can be intimidating, overwhelming and just plain confusing sometimes. Thus, I’ve created a new series solving the most common makeup problems. I’ve done a lot research so with any luck, it will help some people out. This week: foundations and primers.


How do I find the right foundation shade for me?

A lot of affordable brands have a poor shade range in their foundations (I’m looking at you Catrice, with your woeful 4 shades). There’s hope, though.


  • Know your undertone – are you cool, neutral or warm? You can find information to help you with this here and here. This can really make all the difference when selecting the right shade. For example, I’m fair but warm-toned, so foundations with a pinkish hue wash me out.


  • Don’t test foundation out on the inside of your wrist – apply some along your jaw bone to see if it not only matches your face, but also to determine if there’s a contrast between your face and neck. If you wouldn’t be too self-conscious doing so, it’s a good idea to take a selfie to further examine how the foundation looks, preferably outside in natural light. If the rest of your body is darker than your face and you want to match them, you might try testing foundation on your collarbone/chest instead.


  • Use online resources – If you already have a foundation that matches you quite well, you can use this resource to find other foundations that will likely match you, making your search a little less daunting. If you have no idea where to start, this may be very useful for you.


  • Ask for samples – if you’re going for higher end makeup, don’t be afraid to take home a sample before committing to purchasing a foundation. Try it at home yourself and see if you like it enough to buy.





How do I know if a primer and foundation will go together?

As a general rule of thumb, water-based primers should be used with water-based foundations, and silicone-based primers with silicone-based foundations. A water-based foundation on top of a silicone-based primer will likely cause the foundation to separate. Water and silicone tend not to be friends.


So how do you know which is which?


Look at the ingredients list. Water is a major ingredient in most makeup products, so just because it’s listed doesn’t necessarily mean the product is water-based. Instead, look for terms that imply silicone is a component: words ending in -cone, -methicone, or -siloxane indicated that the product is silicone-based. In the absence of these terms, the product is likely water-based. However, ingredients are listed in descending order of concentration, so if you see dimethicone listed as almost last (inferring it’s present at a very low strength), you can still assume it’s a water-based product.


You can see dimethicone listed as one of the first ingredients, indicating this primer is silicone-based.

Whether you go for a silicone or water-based primer depends on your skin’s needs:

  • Water-based: Great for providing hydration, making it ideal for dryer skin types. Many also have the added benefit of illumination. Water-based primers sink into the skin providing an ideal base for water-based foundations.


  • Silicone-based: Great for if you want your pores filled in. Keep in mind to tap the primer onto problem areas, you should be able to see a visible difference before applying your foundation. Silicone-based primers sit on top of the skin as opposed to being absorbed by it. You can tell a primer is silicone by touching it as they have a distinctive texture (or as above, reading the ingredients). These tend not to be suitable for people with very sensitive skin, or for skin prone to acne, as they can aggravate it further and cause breakouts.


You should never apply too much primer, you’ll know you have if your skin seems too slippy for foundation. Also consider if you need it where you’re applying it; you might have pores on your cheeks you’d like filled in, but do you need that sort of primer on your forehead? Likewise if you are using a very hydrating primer on your dry cheeks, you might not need it on your nose. Not everyone has to have a full face of primer before foundation, and you might find what works best for you is a pore-filling primer on your nose and a hydrating one on your cheeks. It’s up to you.


You can find a list of water and silicone-based primers and foundations here and here .



Both foundation and primer here are water-based, and will make a good match when used together.



Why does my foundation always look patchy?

  • This might be down to an ineffective primer-foundation combination as already discussed.


  • Another reason for this might be that your skin is dehydrated. You don’t need to have visibly dry skin for it to be lacking in hydration; oily skin types can be dehydrated, also. One trick that’s become popular is double moisturising (I may have used the word “trick” a bit too strongly there). Apply your moisturiser as usual in the evening and, once it’s completely dried down, add another layer, focusing on the areas of the face that become most patchy with foundation on. Gently pat the moisturiser into the skin rather than rubbing it in.


  • If you do have dry skin and find the patchiness leads to flakiness, it might be down to your application technique. If you use a foundation brush, don’t apply the product in circular motions, gently bring the foundation downwards when applying it. If using a sponge, use a lighter hand on areas that tend to become flakey.


  • Are you using powder to set your face? You might not need it in certain areas, which may lead to patchiness. If you definitely do need it, be sure to apply setting spray liberally after application to take away any powdery effect that may be contributing to patchiness.


  • Are you exfoliating regularly? There may be a build up of dead skin cells on your face that can be removed through gentle exfoliation.


  • Try using eyeshadow primer on the areas in question, a lot of people swear by this.



Beauty Bay

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