An easy guide to finding your perfect foundation formula: BB, liquid, stick, or powder?

There are so many different types of foundation out there, and it’s for good reason: we all have different skin types and desired outcomes, and in the case of foundations, one size doesn’t always fit all. To set you on a path to finding your perfect formula match (as for colour match, you can go here), we’re chatting through the five key types of foundation so you can identify which is best for you.

Tinted moisturiser: You want to show off your skin with a hint of tint and light coverage

The hero of no-makeup-makeup, tinted moisturiser is a no-fuss essential for a glowy, your-skin-but-better face that wakes up your complexion without covering it up. Whether it’s a lazy day, an on-the-go kind of day, or one of those days where you wake up and your skincare worked some serious magic overnight, you can glide on a tinted moisturiser and feel your glowy best.

For ultra-light coverage, opt for Mecca Cosmetica’s Weekend Skin Hydra Skin Tint. This one has a very loose, liquid formula that makes it easy to apply with your fingers. For the next step up in terms of coverage but still a natural look, reach for Laura Mercier’s cult-favourite oil-free Tinted Moisturizer.

Liquid foundation: You’re a traditionalist looking for even and all-over skin-like coverage

It’s likely the first form of foundation you tried, and with formulas so lightweight and seamless, we wouldn’t be surprised if it was still your everyday go-to. With a typically thin consistency for easy blending and meshing with the surface of the skin, a liquid foundation is a no-brainer if you have normal to dry skin, and love even, radiant coverage that lasts you through the day. They can be applied with your hands, a sponge, or a brush, and will work well with either cream or powder colours that follow.

If you like to keep it light and glowy, NARS Sheer Glow Foundation is a fool-proof MECCA favourite, or if you prefer fuller, more mattified coverage, Too Faced Born This Way Foundation is for you.

READ MORE: Foundation tips that will change how you do your makeup

Stick foundation: You want total control for buildable coverage that lasts all day and night

You like to lay it on thick for skin that’s so flawless it looks like you have a permanent Instagram filter on, and to that, we salute you. Suitable for most skin types, the key to creating the best possible base with a stick foundation is to start with super hydrated skin, providing the thick, creamy formula with grip and glide for easy, seamless blending and that enviable finish. Stick foundations really do go the distance, so if you’re looking for a reliable base that’ll go from a 6am wake up call to drinks after work (and probably to the afterparty), a stick is it.

If you’re new to sticks, the clean and vegan Westman Atelier’s Vital Skin Foundation Stick is ultra-buildable and will give you full control over your coverage while still looking radiant and skin-like. For a lighter touch, dot it on where you need coverage (rather than all over) and buff it in. To step it up with a full-coverage filter-like finish, go for Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick.

BB/CC cream: You’re looking for a multitasker with added skincare benefits

BB and CC creams offer the ease of a tinted moisturiser (perhaps with a little more coverage), with the added benefit of skincare ingredients. Great for most skin types, they’re the ideal foundation for the lazy and, to be honest, the smart. Originally developed in Germany in the 1950s—and then gaining popularity throughout Asia—BB stands for ‘blemish balm’, and CC for ‘colour correct’, as they work to soothe irritation and treat blemishes while camouflaging redness. It’s ingenious, and the ultimate foundation for sensitive problem skin.

The Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream is infused with pearl pigments and oil controllers, with hydrating squalane and sodium hyaluronate, and Juice Beauty’s Stem Cellular CC Cream is spiked with glow-inducing malic acid and soothing aloe vera.

READ MORE: It’s more than just a shade: mastertones and undertones in foundation explained

Powder foundation: You’re all about oil control and prefer a matte look over dewy

A powder foundation works like magic, with fine particles adhering to the top layer of the skin to provide colour, buildable coverage, oil control and a blurring effect. If you find yourself on the oilier side, or your skin is prone to breakouts, a powder will ensure less product penetration into the skin and keep you from shining throughout the day. Some even like to use it dusted atop a liquid foundation for added insurance in areas prone to oiliness. Easy to apply and touch up on the go, the right powder foundation can deliver on the matte finish of your dreams, without the cakey-ness of the early 2000s.

For a natural, lightweight coverage (made from only five ingredients!) and the O.G. of powder foundations, bareMinerals’ Original SPF 15 Foundation is the one. For higher coverage, try the multitasker with the most; Too Faced’s Born This Way Multi Use Powder.


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