Face makeup… what coverage and formula is right for me?

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For women who enjoy wearing foundational makeup, coverage is a very personal choice. The aesthetics of for flawless coverage, versus an evened-out natural skin tone, vary from person to person.

You are beautiful as you are right now, at this moment! Don’t cover up and hide! You should know you are more than your body, more than your face! However, if you enjoy the artistry of makeup application and love a fresh “canvas” but aren’t sure what product would be best for your skin, this article is for you! 

There are so many products available on the market for different gradients of coverage and different benefits by skin type. How do you know what to buy? 

Natural coverage:

Having a good skin day? Opting for a no-makeup but polished look? These products will be your best bet! They offer skincare benefits with a hint of coverage! 

These can be used alone OR as a primer under traditional foundation for better coverage and finish than either product used alone! 

Tinted Moisturizer:

Great for dry skin! The moisturizer combo can brighten the face with the cleanest natural finish. The coverage is more natural looks than even the sheerest liquid foundations can provide. However, if you have oily or acne-prone skin, you may want to opt for a CC cream with lower emollient content. 

BB cream:

BB creams are often referred to as “beauty balm” or “blemish balm” creams. As an Asian import, they are known as a staple for a minimalist beauty routine – minimal coverage with added skincare benefits! The list of benefits varies by brand but can include SPF, serum additives for moisture, brightening, or anti-aging/anti-oxidants.  They’re lighter than foundation but heavier than tinted moisturizers. The sheer coverage is best for concealing minor blemishes not covered by tinted moisturizer. The light finish also makes it ideal for the “no makeup” finish.

BB cream is a hydrating makeup so it is ideal for dry skin. It may be too rich for oily or acne-prone skin. 

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CC cream:

CC cream is a cousin to BB cream – it is meant to be a light whipped coverage meant to address skin and pigmentation issues. The cc cream generally stands for “color correcting” and the products are marketed for redness, dullness, dark undereye circles, uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation (like brown spots), and acne scarring. The coverage is better than a BB cream but is still light and more natural. 

The finish is more matte so it’s best for oily and acne-prone skin.

Fuller Foundation Coverage:

Tinted moisturizers, BB, and CC creams are often referred to in the beauty industry as shampoo/conditioner – “all in one” products. Although great for a minimalist routine, they can miss the mark in perfect color matching, ideal coverage, and finish. BB/CC creams and tinted moisturizers usually come in only a few shades, while foundations can come in dozens, ensuring a more exact skin match. 

Liquid Foundations:

This is the classic base makeup that has been known and loved for decades! Liquid foundations come in the largest range of shades and finishes to best customize a personalized look! The finishes (natural, matte, and dewy), can vary and coverage range from sheer medium – meaning they’ll cover redness or spots but still let your skin shine through – to full coverage. In general, if your foundation comes with a pump or an eyedropper, use one pump or drop for sheer coverage and two for medium. Liquid foundations layer beautifully for a full coverage look. 

If you have dry skin, combine with a moisturizing primer or look for formulations with a hydration/dewy finish. 

If you have oily skin, combine with a Mattifying primer or setting powder and look for formulations with a matte finish. 

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Stick foundations:

Stick foundations are cream foundations that are great for applying for medium coverage quickly. The solid texture of stick foundations also makes them great for touch-ups on the go – or highlight/contouring with precision. Cream foundations in stick and compact form are especially great for women with darker skin tones who wear a brighter shade in the center of the face and a deeper shade toward the hairline. Stick can range from medium to full coverage depending on the application. For medium coverage, swipe a kabuki brush across the stick itself, then buff the makeup on where needed. For fuller coverage or precise contouring, press and drag the product directly onto your face, then blend it in with broad strokes of a foundation brush, or by tapping it in with a wet sponge for a fresher finish. Beware of heat as they tend to melt! 

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, stick and cream foundations are often too heavy and emollient-rich – opting for a liquid or powder foundation would be a better bet! 

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Solid cream foundations:

Like stick foundations, solid cream compacts are a great choice for fuller coverage and easy use on the go. The firm texture of a cream compact foundation is similar to a concealer, but it’s often softer and creamier than a stick foundation. Cream foundations are easy to layer but also easy to over-apply. Start with a sheer finish and then begin to build it up where you need more coverage. The application is more time-consuming but excellent for drier skin and lasting coverage throughout the day. The ease of a compact allows for quick touch-ups on the go. Beware of heat as they tend to melt! 

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, stick and cream foundations are often too heavy and emollient-rich – opting for a liquid or powder foundation would be a better bet! 

Loose powder foundation:

A loose powder foundation is best for oily skin! The majority of loose powder foundations are mineral-based and won’t add any moisture to your skin. However, not all powder formulas are matte and many contain mica for a more luminous finish. Loose powder builds up really well and is great if you’re looking for light to medium coverage. Loose powder is excellent over BB cream or a tinted Moisturizer for more full coverage. However, make sure that any products you use on TOP of powder foundation are also powder-based, as it’s harder to blend creams and concealers on top of powder.

Pressed powder foundation:

Pressed powder is excellent if you want full coverage and a shine-free finish as well as ease of application on the go. Pressed powder foundation is easy to use, and the finishes are usually matte. Pressed powder foundation can also be used over a liquid foundation If you’re trying to hide discoloration such as redness, sun damage, rosacea, vitiligo, or blemishes. For medium-full coverage, apply with a dry sponge or kabuki brush, or use a fluffy brush if you’re looking for something sheer.

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Airbrush a foundation:

Airbrush foundations are a doll for medium to full coverage that DOES NOT MOVE! If you have an important event with no melting of coverage – this is the foundation for you. Airbrush makeup uses an air compressor that puts pressurized air through a gun to finely apply misted spray makeup over your face. There are no brushes or sponges, so you are almost guaranteed an even finish. However, there is a learning curve in self-application. To apply, close your eyes, press back on the trigger, and apply in a circular motion all over your face. It takes patience and practice to know how much to apply. It is easy to overdo – so start with a thin veil and repeat as needed.

This coverage can be drying to the skin, so opt for a moisturizing primer prior to application. 

Spray foundation:

Spray foundation is a great user-friendly option if you want the look of airbrush makeup without the learning curve or hassle. The spray foundation canisters spray a fine, lightweight mist of makeup.  A little goes a long way! For the most precise application, spraying the makeup onto a Kabuki brush then buffing it into your skin gives you more control of the coverage and application. This spray foundation technique also works for tattoo coverage and/or body makeup if you swap out the Kabuki brush for a big fluffy body brush.

This coverage can be drying to the skin, so opt for a moisturizing primer prior to application. 

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Consider trying something new! Play! Enjoy! And explore with the curiosity and playfulness of your youth! Life is too short to take any of it seriously! 

Practice self-care this week! You are worth it! 

Photo by Kate Hliznitsova on Unsplash

Marilyn Harder

Marilyn Harder is an ambassador of all things self love and self care. She holds both a Master’s Degree in Business (MBA) and a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from UC Davis and well over 60 certifications in the movement and wellness industry. She has an advanced knowledge of kinesthetic movement that she acquired in her work with dysfunctional movement patterns in a 55 and older retirement community. She works primarily as a Pilates Master Trainer and has taken over 150 people through the 500 hour comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training program. Concurrently, she works as Bowenwork practitioner and a Restorative Wellness Practitioner both as additional modalities to troubleshoot healing and optimal wellness. She utilizes her education in all realms (psychology, movement, naturopathic health and nutrition) in her approach to beauty. What we put on and in our bodies matters but not nearly as much as HOW and WHY we do so. Marilyn approaches health and beauty through a triad -movement, nutrition and self care. Out of self care, self love is born. And out of self love authentic purpose, passion, and works are done. She believes that all pursuit of happiness and purpose begins by anchoring yourself spiritually and loving yourself through the eyes of God.