Of all of the makeup categories, foundation is the one that’s arguably had the biggest glow-up in recent years. Its most notable upgrade has been the long-overdue expansion in shade ranges offered by (most) brands, which has been referred to as the Fenty Effect, following the popularity of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty debut in 2017. The line launched with an impressive 40 shades of foundation with a range of undertones, catering to a wide and diverse audience. Of course, some brands, like M.A.C and Cover FX, had long offered impressive shade ranges but, as we now know, Fenty Beauty signalled a widespread movement that woke up other brands to the necessity of providing consumers with diverse, inclusive shade options.
But it’s not just foundation shades that have expanded. Different textures and finishes are more accessible to consumers than ever before. Whether you’re shopping for a full-coverage matte foundation or a dewy, sheer pick that just gives you a hint of coverage, if you prefer liquid formulas, powders or on-the-go sticks, it’s never been easier to find your perfect match.
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And yet, even with all of the advances the category has made, some decades-old foundation myths still persist, including questions like whether it’s bad for your skin. So we tapped two makeup artists to dispel some rumours and set the record straight on what foundation can and cannot do.
True or false: Foundation doesn’t let your skin “breathe” and causes breakouts
Mostly false. “Your skin ‘breathes’ or gets its oxygen through the blood that nourishes your skin,” explains e.l.f. Cosmetics makeup artist, Anna Bynam. “Putting foundation on does not block oxygen from flowing to your skin, but oil, dirt and debris that has built up on the skin during the day, along with makeup, can get trapped in the pores if not washed off thoroughly, and this can cause breakouts.” Bottom line: As long as you’re properly washing off your makeup at the end of the day, you’re good to go!
True or false: Foundation and concealer should be the exact same shade
“That’s a tricky question,” says celebrity makeup artist Hung Vanngo, who works with A-listers like Selena Gomez and Jennifer Lopez. “When using concealer to cover up a pimple, use the same shade as your foundation. But when using concealer under the eyes or on the bridge of the nose, use a lighter shade.” So it really depends on what you’re going for—if it’s brightening you’re after, opt for a shade that’s a touch lighter than your foundation, but if covering blemishes is your goal, choosing a shade that’s identical to your foundation is your best bet for seamless camouflaging.
True or false: Foundation should only be applied with a blending sponge
False. While blending sponges are wildly popular (and, yes, great for blending), they’re certainly not the only option. “You can use a sponge, your fingers or a brush,” says Vanngo. “It really depends on the look and how much coverage you want.” Vanngo’s rule of thumb is to opt for blending sponges when you want a full coverage finish, a brush for a medium finish and your fingers for a sheer finish. “It’s really about personal preference, though,” says Vanngo. “When used wet, a blending sponge can help minimize the amount of foundation used, since it won’t soak up a lot of product and can help you get a full coverage finish without worrying about streaks from a brush,” suggests Bynam.
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True or false: Foundation is too drying to be used around the eye area
False. “If your skin is prepped and primed properly, your foundation should not be too drying around the eyes, even if it is a matte finish,” says Bynam. If your foundation is leaving your skin dry and dull anywhere, even though you’ve primed and prepped (read: thoroughly moisturized and applied a coat of face primer, if that’s your thing) then it’s time for a new foundation.
“When I do a red carpet look for a celebrity, [I make sure I] have time to exfoliate, do a face mask, an eye mask, do everything for the skin so it’s fully prepped, really cared for and really hydrated before I start,” says Vanngo.
True or false: The more full coverage your foundation is, the better your skin will look
False. “It’s all in the blending,” says Vanngo. “You can use as much or as little foundation [as you want] but if you don’t blend well, it won’t look good.”
“Full coverage foundation, if not applied properly, can in fact make your skin look worse,” says Bynam. “The key to great-looking skin is an even complexion with a natural, healthy glow.” One of our all-time favourite tips for making foundation look amazing, no matter how sheer or full coverage it may be, is adding a few drops of liquid highlighter or illuminating moisturizer, for a guaranteed glowy finish.
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Shop some of our favourite ways to make your foundation look flawless below.
Quo Beauty Stick It To Me Foundation, $18, shoppersdrugmart.ca
This versatile foundation stick, which is part of Quo Beauty’s recent revamp, is formulated with 30% pure pigments and hydrating ingredients to provide coverage and comfort.
Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation, $38, sephora.ca
Available in 48 shades as part of the first Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez launch, this foundation is made up of pure pigments that are formulated in a serum-like base, making it easy to blend and customize to create your ideal finish.
e.l.f Cosmetics Hydrating Under-Eye Primer, $4, walmart.ca
Infused with vitamins C and E, green tea and aloe, this nourishing under-eye primer is a cult fave for a reason. Its silky texture allows your concealer and foundation to glide on top ever-so-smoothly.
Antonym Cosmetics Organic Baked Foundation, $55, shopkalosophie.com
If baked foundations are your jam, you’ll love this pick by Antonym Cosmetics, which is perfect for achieving sheer to medium coverage. It also takes the work out of setting your makeup, since the creme-to-powder texture settles beautifully onto skin and gives you long-lasting coverage. The best part? It’s housed in sustainable packaging.
Live Tinted Hueglow, $46, livetinted.com
Available in bronze or rose-gold, this serum-highlighter-moisturizer combo beautifully blends into any foundation, leaving skin looking radiant. Use it with or without foundation for an instant glow.
Catrice HD Liquid Foundation, $14, shoppersdrugmart.ca
This full-coverage, matte foundation is perfect for creating a flawless finish. Thanks to its genius dropper applicator, you can customize how much coverage you want and build it up as you see fit.
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