Base Makeup Basics Part 4 : Types of Foundation | How to choose the right foundation for your skin type


Hey everyone!

After a small break from this series, I’m back with the most important part of base makeup ~ Foundation!

Many of us spend a lot of time, money and effort in looking for the perfect foundation, those who are lucky find their match after a few trials but some of us never find the perfect shade/tone/coverage/finish. Let me tell you a little secret. Its not always the product itself that determines the final outcome but the application techniques as well! I hope Part 4 and Part 5 of this series will help you find the right foundation for yourself and also give you a few pointers on how to apply it well for the best results!


Base Makeup Basics Part 4 : Types of Foundation | How to choose the right foundation for your skin type

Base Makeup Basics Part 4 : Types of Foundation | How to choose the right foundation for your skin type




Lets start with the different types of foundation –

Foundations can be categorized based on 3 things : texturecoverage and finish.

Based on coverage , there are 3 types of foundations :

  • Sheer  coverage : These give light coverage that is just sufficient to even out skin tone but may not hide pigmentation, acne, dark spots etc. It is suitable for those with spotless skin or for daily wear when you want a natural coverage. A great alternative to Sheer foundation is Tinted Moisturizer which basically does the same job.
  • Medium coverage  : As the name suggests, a medium coverage foundation will cover most of the pigmentation and spots but may be not the heavy pigmentation. Medium coverage foundations can give very flawless, natural results when combined with the right finish and are most versatile.
  • Full coverage : Full coverage foundations are for those with heavy pigmentation, marks or spots and are meant for special occasions like functions, events or parties. I find them a little heavy for day-wear or regular use but they are really good if you are to be photographed and pictures tend to exaggerate imperfections.


Based on Texture, the categorization is similar to concealers with a few additions :

  • Liquid : These are very versatile and and can be super moisturizing or oil-free/matte finish and sheer to full coverage depending on the formula. They can be applied either with fingers or with makeup tools like a foundation brush or a makeup sponge. They can also be sheered out by mixing with moisturizer to give a sheer tinted moisturizer-like effect.
  • Cream : Cream foundations are a little thicker in texture than liquid foundation and mostly give medium to full coverage.  These can also be applied with either fingers or makeup tools.
  • Stick : These are super easy to apply and great for travel purposes. One just needs to swipe the stick across the and blend with fingers – easy and quick application! These can be sheer, medium to full coverage depending on the formula.
  • Cake Powder/Compact : These are powder foundations that come in a pan form and are best suited for oily skin as the powder mattifies and controls oil. Wet and dry compacts also fall in this category which can be used with a wet applicator for heavier coverage and dry as compact setting powder.
  • MousseMousse foundations have a light, whipped creamy formula that is very easy to apply and blend. These generally come in a jar/pot form and are best applied with fingers.
  • Loose powder : Loose powder foundations like mineral based powders are best for oily skin as they mattify and control shine for a long time. The coverage can vary from sheer to medium depending on the formula. If applied too much, they can give a cakey, powdery finish to the skin so its best to use these with a light hand.


Based on Finish :

  • Matte : Best suited for oily skinned women, matte finish foundations give a shine-free finish. All powder/mineral loose powder foundations fall in this category. Some examples of matte finish foundation are MAC Studio Fix Fluid, Clinique Anti Blemish-Solutions liquid makeup, Revlon Colorstay, Avon mousse foundation.
  • Dewy : Best suited for normal-to-dry skin types, dewy finish foundation leave behind a sheen that gives the look of healthy, moisturized skin. They are more moisturizing than matte foundation in general and hence not suited for oily skin. Some examples include Mac Mineralize Satin Finish, Mac Studio Sculpt, The Body Shop extra virgin Minerals and Lancome Teint Miracle.
  • Demi-matte : It is the most natural finish of all, not entirely matte but not really dewy either. This works for a variety of skin types. Some really good demi-matte finish foundations are MAC Matchmaster, L’Oreal Paris Infallible, Inglot YSM Cream foundation, Bourjois healthy mix, Loreal Matte Morphose.


How to choose the right foundation type for your skin


You need to consider the following factors while choosing a foundation for yourself :

  1. Skin type : Dry, Normal, Combination or Oily. Dry skinned women should opt for foundation with rich, creamy, moisturizing formula with dewy finish that does not cling to dry areas or enhance flaky bits. Its best to stick to liquid/cream formula and avoid matte finish/powder foundation. Combination skin types should go for oil-free, lighter formulas and avoid very heavily moisturizing foundations as well, make sure to moisturize the dry areas before applying foundation. Oily skinned women should opt for oil-free, non-comodogenic formulations. Powder foundations are a good option for those with very oily skin.
  2. Coverage required : Do you have heavy pigmentation/dark spots that need to be covered up? Do you need a foundation for special occasions like a wedding or a function? If yes, then you need a full coverage foundation. If you need foundation for everyday wear or you have fairly spotless skin with minor pigmentation, a medium coverage foundation would work well for you. If you are new to makeup and really conscious about putting on makeup or have really good skin, a sheer foundation is what’s best for you. Sometimes, foundations have a flexible formula that applies medium coverage but can be built up by applying more product – these serve the dual purpose of being everyday foundations and special occasion foundations as well.
  3. Sun Exposure : Do you need foundation for day time? Are you exposed to the sun for more than just a few minutes everyday? If yes, then go for foundations with SPF for some extra protection. Do you only wear for evening parties/functions? If yes, you can pick a foundation without SPF, it will show up better in pics without the white case that SPF products tend to give.

I have not included Finish as a deciding factor because I think the texture and coverage of the foundation is more important and the finish can be altered by adding powder on top to mattify or add some highlighter to fake dewiness as long as the formula is suited well to one’s skin type. For eg. if you are oily skinned but want a natural, dewy finish foundation ~ don’t go for a more moisturizing formula just for its finish. Opt for a demi-matte/matte finish and add some powder highlighter on the high points to get a soft glow to the face.


[note color=”#FFE4C4″]I hope you found this post useful! I have listed a few products in this post and a more detailed list will follow in the next post ~ Part 5 which will contain How to choose the right foundation shade | Foundations available in Indian Market | How to apply Foundation (Tools and Techniques). If you have any queries, drop your comments below! [/note]

Also read :


Disclaimer : This post is accurate to the best of my knowledge. All information presented here has been written by me and not picked up from the web (Except for the image). Kindly do not copy or reproduce the information given in this post.



  1. July 6, 2012 / 4:25 pm

    very informative post Ankita! thanks for sharing!!

    • Corallista
      July 8, 2012 / 1:04 pm

      You’re welcome Ritu!

  2. Shivangi
    July 6, 2012 / 4:50 pm

    The article is so helpful Ankita! cant wait for the application techinique!

    • Corallista
      July 8, 2012 / 1:17 pm

      Coming soon Shivangi 🙂

  3. July 6, 2012 / 5:59 pm

    I was waiting for this post! thanks cant wait for part 5 and 6!

    • Corallista
      July 8, 2012 / 1:17 pm

      🙂 🙂

  4. July 6, 2012 / 6:51 pm

    Hi Ankita….
    Very useful articles especially the one about concealers.

    • Corallista
      July 8, 2012 / 1:17 pm

      Thanks Ray 🙂

  5. July 6, 2012 / 8:26 pm

    Thanks for the review..Can you suggest a good reasonably priced foundation brush?

    • Corallista
      July 8, 2012 / 1:19 pm

      Colorbar Rs 600 and Inglot Rs 1150. I am currently using Inglot one.

  6. July 6, 2012 / 9:27 pm

    Very informative to beginners!.. one stop place to look for all tips and tricks needed 🙂

    • Corallista
      July 8, 2012 / 1:19 pm

      Thanks Devi 🙂

  7. Simi Dasgupta
    July 7, 2012 / 11:12 am

    This is such a nicely done post..would e helpful for every1.Ankita ..i wud like 2 ask u a quest..what foundation wud u suggest for an oily skinned person wanting medium coverage ??

    • Corallista
      July 8, 2012 / 1:20 pm

      Try Revlon Colorstay, haven’t tried it myself but heard its good for oily skin! For a more reasonable option, you can try Lotus Herbals Matte glow foundation.

  8. Revathy
    July 7, 2012 / 6:57 pm

    waiting for the next post in this series..

    it would be gr8 if u can list some best foundations for skin type-coverage duo… so that people can pick & choose for their next purchase.. 🙂

    • Corallista
      July 8, 2012 / 1:22 pm

      Will try to include that in my next post Revathy 🙂

  9. July 8, 2012 / 1:01 am

    loved d way u categorized 🙂
    awesome post

    • Corallista
      July 8, 2012 / 1:22 pm

      Thanks! 🙂

  10. July 9, 2012 / 11:34 pm

    Very informative post dear!!! Luvd every teenie meenie bit of it!!

  11. October 3, 2012 / 2:28 pm

    Nice Information. From this blog I can say that sheer foundation is better for me. But there is still little doubt. I have mixed skin type normal plus oily. My T- Zone is oily. For this type of skin which foundation will suits.

  12. neha
    November 22, 2012 / 4:07 pm

    Elishacoy BB cream is best foundation? otherwise plz suggest me any another foundation for best glow,i have combination skin.

    • Corallista
      November 22, 2012 / 10:48 pm

      Hey Neha, I’ve not heard of the BB cream you’re talking about. For combination skin, MAC Matchmaster or Bourjois Healthy Mix would be great, both give a nice natural glow to the skin without looking heavy or cakey.

  13. snea
    May 19, 2013 / 11:43 am

    lovely and informative..very well put! 🙂

  14. Joo
    July 30, 2014 / 11:56 am

    Very puzzled abt foundations.. I found mousse more easy to apply…

  15. Rasna
    August 3, 2014 / 7:38 pm

    hey i am very much confused…….would u please suggest me a foundation for my wedding…
    i have oily skin and also have some acne marks on my face.
    my complexion is the same as yours.

    • August 7, 2014 / 8:11 pm

      Hi, I'd recommend the Clinique Anti blemish solutions foundation for you.

  16. Joo
    September 10, 2014 / 11:35 am

    personally I like medium coverage, mousse or liquid foundation that gives dewy finish

  17. Maithili
    November 9, 2014 / 12:47 pm

    Thnku so much dearie…these are really very helpful.. 😊

  18. Maithili
    November 9, 2014 / 12:49 pm

    One query…

    how do u match foundation & concealers while buying ??
    as in do u check on wrist etc???
    hav heard it frm a friend Ws really nt sure about it

    • November 27, 2014 / 1:47 pm

      Match each with your face. Foundation and concealer neednt be the same shade. Match concealer with under eye and foundation with cheek and jawline.

      • Maithili
        November 27, 2014 / 3:41 pm

        Thanku 🙂

  19. Sakshi
    May 7, 2017 / 3:44 pm

    Hi Ankita! Really informative post. I am using MAC matchmaster in 2.0 since 2 years. But it seems it is not working well for me anymore( may be it has oxidized) I am thinking to switch over. I have normal to dry skin.And i just need foundation for party makeup. Price is no issue. My makeup artist friend suggested me lakme mousse. Please suggest what should i go for. Should i invest in MAC Again or go for any other foundation
    Also tell which one is your all time favourite.

    • Corallista
      May 8, 2017 / 12:19 pm

      Hi Sakshi, some of my favorites are Estee Lauder Double Wear and currently – the Shiseido Synchro Skin foundation. You should definitely try out Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown and Shiseido if you’re looking for a new foundation.

      • Sakshi
        September 6, 2017 / 7:22 pm

        Thankyou so much. I will try the 3 of them before investing in one. You are really amazing at your work, keep going. 👍🏻

  20. assambharati
    August 22, 2017 / 2:34 pm

    Can you please suggest or categorize Foundations based on the way they feel on the skin rather than how they look on the skin ?

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