All About That Base: The Ultimate Foundation Guide

beauty, makeup, foundation

At times, the search for the perfect foundation can feel like trying to find cell signal at a music festival — it’s not gonna happen. But, there is a foolproof way to figure out which base is best for you: bring it back to basics. Below, we break down each type of foundation, highlight which skin types it works for and the level of coverage it provides, plus some of our favorite tips on how to apply and create your best beauty look yet. Is the search finally over? There’s only one way to find out…

liquid foundation

Lightweight and extremely easy to apply, liquid foundations are the most popular choice due to their versatility. Since liquid is buildable, you can create a light to full coverage look by using more or less product, just let each layer dry before reapplying. Water-based formulas, like Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup, are best for women with oily skin, while those with dry or wrinkled skin should choose oil-based formulas that leave skin feeling soft and supple. Apply liquid using a dense, flattop brush, first by dabbing on product and then blending completely.

cream foundation

The major benefits of using cream foundation are more coverage and longer wear. Perfect for covering up blemishes, scars or skin flaws, cream leaves skin feeling smooth with either a matte or dewy finish. Because it’s the most moisturizing type of foundation, creams work best for those with dry skin and should be avoided if you have an oilier complexion. But oil-free, mattifying formulas, such as tarte Amazonian clay full coverage foundation, can provide coverage and moisture without the shine. A makeup sponge or beautyblender works great for applying cream foundation evenly over your face and neck.

powder foundation

Known for being the most lightweight, powder foundations are available in pressed or loose form. With little to no moisture, powders are ideal for reducing the shine of oily skin. Mineral powders like bareMinerals Original Foundation include only a few, mostly natural, ingredients, which is great news for women with sensitive or breakout-prone skin. Swirl a large, soft brush in powder, tap off excess product and brush across face or apply wet for fuller coverage.

stick foundation

Makeup takes its most travel-friendly form in stick foundation. Providing the heaviest coverage of the bunch, sticks can also work as a concealer on problem areas like under eyes or on blemishes. Many makeup artists and savvy beauty lovers also use products like Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick in darker shades to create a contour look. Because stick foundations are solid and quick drying, they work best for normal to oily skin types. Simply apply the stick directly on your face and blend using your fingers of a thick, flat brush.


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  1. I honestly loved my experience at Impulse in Macy’s dadeland never have I met a young lady so passionate and experienced. The one thing I enjoyed with my time with Brenda was how she took her time to give us a mini class of all the products I was purchasing . She wasn’t just a teller she love what she does to cute to be honest ,She’s very sweet and funny honestly one of kind. I will visit her again . Love her mini class want more . Lol she deserve the credit .

    1. We’re thrilled our team at our Dadeland location was able to elevate your shopping experience, Elizabeth. Thanks for sharing! – Nora at Macy’s

  2. Had a consultation with Sherry today at the Jackson, TN store. It was fun and informative! I feel that I can look my best now! Thank you, Sherry

    1. We’re so happy to hear about your consultation with Sherry — thank you for sharing this with us, Beverly! – Nora at Macy’s

  3. something for everyone. I’ve been using powders and liquids but not together. There are more choices here for me to try.

  4. I have used Estee Lauder’s Resilence Lift Extreme Foundation in a compact in Shade Linen for many years. I have just been informed that Estee Lauder has discontinued the line. What substitute do you suggest and why did they discontinue the product.

    1. Hi, Alyss — you can use our online Foundation Finder to find an ideal match for you, as well as find the nearest location for a one-on-one consultation with an Estée Lauder specialist, at this link: Hope that helps! – Nora at Macy’s

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