When you shop for foundations and concealers, don’t just compare the prices. Also write down how many ounces they give you and figure out the cost per ounce to accurately compare prices. If you don’t do this, the prices can be deceiving. For example, Stila sells a foundation for $40 a tube, but it contains 1.4 oz. Most foundation bottles hold around 1oz., and some .5oz. The Stila foundation works out to $28.57 per ounce. Zhen makes a stick foundation that is $18 for .5oz. That’s $36 an ounce. Zhen’s other foundations at $15.50 and $22.50 per ounce are a better deal. I was thinking of trying L’Oreal’s cream to powder foundation for the summertime. It looked like a decent price until I noticed the net weight. It is $7 for .17 oz. That’s $41 per ounce for a drugstore product! I also suspect that I would use up a cream to powder faster than a liquid foundation. If you can, try to consider how quickly you will go through a particular formula. Beware though, salespeople will always tell you that their product lasts longer than others. My guess is that you would go through a stick foundation quicker than a liquid. You will also go through a liquid foundation faster if you apply it with a sponge rather than your fingers, because a sponge soaks up some of the foundation.
Selecting Foundation. If you don’t buy a foundation you can test first, than you must be willing to exchange it, and exchange it, and exchange it again at the drugstore until you find a color that is an exact match to your face. Sometimes we are in-between the available shades and need to do our own custom color mixing. When shopping for foundation at the drugstore without testers, keep in mind that the color will appear darker in the bottle than how it will go on your skin. The Makeup Diva suggests that you bring along a favorite foundation from home to compare the colors.When testing foundation, put a swipe on your face near the jawline and don’t blend it in. Let it dry, because the color will darken. Look for a color that matches your skin exactly and “disappears” into your skin. If your face and neck are two different colors, you may have to find a compromise. For example, my neck is lighter than my face. All my dark freckles make my face look darker. If I match the color at my jawline to my neck, the color looks too pale on my face. I have to go a touch darker. If you have ruddy areas on your face, make sure you match the color to your jawline. You want your foundation to cover any redness, not match it.
With your final selections, always check the color in daylight. When you decide you have found your match, always wear it over your whole face for a least a few hours to make sure the color and formula are right for you before you buy it or decide to keep it. Some foundations (especially oil-based) can change color after being on your face for a while. Make sure you do this if you have oily skin. Sometimes despite our best efforts, we can still end up with a product that turns out to be the wrong color or formula. These tips will help you learn to custom mix and adjust your own foundation colors and formulas.
Technical tips for adjusting foundation colors and formulas. Anytime you alter a foundation, either mix it in small amounts in a separate container, or mix just enough in the palm of your hand for a single use. This keeps the make-up more sanitary (if you add water you could be introducing bacteria) and if you don’t like how it came out or your skin tone or the weather changes, you haven’t mixed the whole bottle. You can mix larger amounts if you are only combining foundations and not adding any oil or water to them. A container, jar or bottle with a tight lid you can re-seal works well. It is also helpful to pick something with a wide opening for easy mixing and cleaning. I bought a very cheap cream-type foundation in a wide mouthed jar at Pick N’ Save and washed out the foundation and I use the jar for my mixtures. Of course, you can always use any empty foundation bottle you have and wash it out.
Adjusting foundation color. I am always in-between two shades, so I buy the two foundations and mix the colors together. This is great for when the season’s change. I can adjust the foundation to be lighter or darker to match my skin as it tans or fades. If your shade is too dark (or suddenly becomes too dark as your summer tan fades), but the next lightest color does not have the right “cast” to it (or you can’t test it), just buy the lightest Ivory (try to avoid any with a pink or peach cast) or the next-to-the-lightest color, and mix some of your foundation with just a little bit of the light foundation at a time to get the right lightness. If you wish to keep the formula exactly the same, I advise mixing within the same brand and formula. You can mix together different brands, but at least stick to the same type of formula (oil-free, water-based, oil-based) unless you are specifically trying to alter the foundation formula. Or you may get some unexpected & unpleasant results. Mixing different brands even with the same type of formula will usually thin or thicken or alter the formula slightly in some way. It can work quite well and be very cost-effective especially to adjust an expensive foundation with a really inexpensive one. If you only need to lighten or darken the color slightly, you only need to add a little bit and it won’t affect the formula much. Trial sizes can be very convenient for this purpose.
You are not limited to mixing just liquid foundations. You can do this with stick or compact foundations as well. Use a toothpick, Popsicle stick or cosmetic spatula to take a small piece of each and mix enough on your hand for a single use. It will take a little practice to learn the right proportions to use of each color, but you will get the hang of it and will be able to do it quickly soon. If you are having trouble getting a shade just right, remember that sheer liquid formulas are much more forgiving when it comes to the color. The more coverage, the more perfect of a color match it must be. You can take a medium coverage foundation and apply it with either a dry sponge for sheer coverage, or damp sponge for the sheerest coverage possible.
You can also use powder to adjust foundation colors. If your foundation is too light, you can add a little powdered bronzer, brown blush, or brown eyeshadow to darken it. Avoid using anything frosted. This can be a little tricky to get the color just right, so you will probably want to mix up a small batch in a separate bottle. You need to add very little powder. Of course, you can always just mix your foundation with a darker one. The powder method is just cheaper. You can also add baby powder to lighten a foundation. But be forewarned that depending on how much you add, the baby powder may make the formula drier and thicken it a little. You can also use a different color powder over your foundation to correct the color. For a foundation that is too light, use a darker powder. You can add a little bit of bronzer, brown blush or brown eyeshadow (matte) to some of your regular face powder. If your foundation is too dark, you can use a lighter powder or try just straight baby powder. For a foundation that is too pink, you can try a yellow-based powder over it and vice-versa. I once mixed some matte yellow powder eyeshadow into my loose face powder. The color came out great, but it made the powder too thick and heavy textured. If you try something like this, do not use anything frosted, use very little eyeshadow (I used way too much), and only mix up a tiny amount at first to experiment with.
Foundation that is the correct depth for your skin, but is too pink, peach or orange can be very difficult and sometimes impossible to fix. In these instances it is usually best to just bring it back to the store if you can, and try selecting from a different brand. If you are having too much trouble finding shades with enough yellow in them for your skin and you wish to give up and spend the money at a department store, see Yellow-Based Foundations and Concealers For Olive and Asian Skin Tones.
Adjusting foundation formulas. Why would anyone need to adjust a foundation formula? Usually weather changes or bought the wrong kind. Adding oil to oil-free. My mother bought the wrong shade of her foundation and lost the receipt. The color was fine for me so I got it. The oil-free formula worked well until the weather turned cold. Then it was just far too drying and uncomfortable for my dry skin. I tried using a heavy moisturizer underneath and patting moisturizer lightly on top of the foundation. Not enough. So I tried mixing 1-3 drops of baby oil (mineral oil which is very commonly used in cosmetics) in my palm with a quarter size dollop of foundation before applying it to my face. Problem solved. The foundation was then comfortable and usable. What is nice about this method is that when the weather gets hot again you can just leave out the oil and you don’t have to own two different foundation formulas. I know it sounds time consuming and tedious to do this every morning but it isn’t. You quickly get the hang of how much of each to use and foundation with oil in it is much quicker and easier to apply than oil-free. If you try this, I suggest you first add the baby oil to your palm before the foundation in case you add too much oil. I also recommend that you always mix it in the palm of your hand and don’t try to mix it in a separate bottle nor add oil to your foundation bottle. It would be too difficult to mix the oil in evenly, as you know water and oil don’t like to mix. You have to really work it and mix it well with your finger in your palm. “Lite” baby oil works best. Be forewarned that adding oil to a foundation may darken the color a touch. If your skin is not as dry as mine or the foundation formula is only a little drying, you can try mixing a little bit of moisturizer with it instead of baby oil.
For a water-based foundation that is too oily, try mixing with some baby powder or loose face powder. You can also try mixing it with a little bit of water if you don’t think it will make the formula too thin. Powders will tend to thicken the formula just a bit. Baby powder may lighten the color a little. Loose face powder if it is an appropriate shade for your face and foundation, should not affect the color. For a thick oil-based foundation that is too oily for your skin, try mixing it with a little water in your palm. If that isn’t enough you may want to also add some baby powder or face powder. Kevyn Aucoin suggests adding a few drops of astringent to a foundation that is too oily.
I haven’t yet tried mixing together different types of foundation formulas such as an oil-based with an oil-free, but this could work to make a foundation less oily, more oily, and more like a water-based formula. It can also make the formula thicker or thinner.
To thicken your foundation add loose powder.
To thin your foundation mix it in your palm with a few drops of water before you apply.
To get lighter coverage from your foundation mix it with some moisturzer in your hand before you apply.
Tempted to try the new “luminous” (frosted) foundations? Try mixing a little light frosted eyeshadow with your foundation in your palm before you apply it. You can also mix in any light colored frosted face powder, highlighting powder, or the light frosted blush that usually comes in blush duos. Depending on the color powder and how much you use, it can lighten the foundation.
If you run out of foundation: you can make a substitute of 2 parts face powder to 1 part plain, white, hand lotion. Mix only enough for a single use in the palm of your hand. It has a nice finish, but the oil in the lotion can darken the color, so you may need to add some baby powder to lighten it.
To get every last drop out of your foundation bottle. Turn the bottle upside down (prop it up if you have to) and just let it sit like that. Use what collects in the cap. If the bottle has not been sitting upside down, turn it upside down and run it under some warm water for a few minutes. Your liquid foundation will also last longer if you apply it with your fingers, rather than a sponge because a sponge will soak up some of it.