Foundation FAQ

How do I tell what my perfect color foundation is? 

Go to the makeup store with no foundation on and apply 3 different foundations to your jawline- see which one blends in the best.  If you go to a department store, ask for samples or have them match it to your skin. If you go to a drugstore and can’t test the color, just hold up the bottle to your skin. If needed, custom mix two different colors to get your perfect shade.

Here’s my video on how to custom mix your foundation.

How do I tell what my undertones are?

If you have blue veins and a pinkish tint to skin, you are most likely cool toned. If your veins are more green with a yellowish tint to the skin,  you are most likely warm toned.  Also, if you hold up a white piece of paper to you skin, your color will appear more golden (warm) or pink/tan (cool).  If you look like a mixture of both, you may be neutral.

What are some full proof ways to make my foundation last all day, and what if I do not want to use primers/powders to set it?

Best method is to use a primer – this stops oil from breaking through and taking off your foundation. If you do not want to use a primer, get a matte finish foundation like Revlon’s Colorstay or Makeup Forever’s Matte Velvet.

What are the best foundations for each skin type? 

  • Oily skin:  mineralized foundation because powder soaks up oil. I like the Bare Escentuals foundation, but be careful if you are allergic to bismuth.  Matte foundations are also good, but can be a bit heavy so you have to apply it lightly.
  • Combination skin:  I really like the Lancome Tient Idol for a satin finish as it’s not too dewy or too matte.
  • Dry skin:  You want somethings that adds more sheen, so that it doesn’t look so flat. My favorite is the Neutrogena Healthy Skin as it is dewy and adds a subtle glow.

What are the best foundations for mature and aging skin?

As we age, we tend to lose the luminosity to our skin- it gets drier and more flat looking.  To combat this, apply a dewy finish foundation like the Neutrogena Healthy Skin.  It isn’t too heavy so it will not sink into any fine lines. For special occasions you could use the Dior ‘Diorskin Airflash’ Foundation- this is a spray foundation that gives an airbrushed finish to the skin with minimal effort.  The only problem is it is pricey.  If you want very sheer coverage, you could also use a tinted moisturizer like the Laura Mercier one.

Here’s my article on 7 Ways to Look Younger Using Makeup.

What are the best foundations for photo-shoots?

Revlon Colorstay is my favorite as it is long lasting. Some of them have SPF in them (not sure if all of them do now) which can look ashy with the camera flash.  I haven’t had any problem with this foundation, but do a trial run before your big day.  If you are going to be under hot lights all day, I highly recommend using a setting powder like Palladio’s Rice Powder.  For satin finish, I really like the Lancome Teint Idole.

Here are my Top 10 Foundations.

What are the best foundations for warm/humid climates?

Mineral foundations work well for me as they tend to soak up oil.  If you want a sheer finish to the skin, use a tinted moisturizer instead.  If you need to keep your makeup lasting all day, use a finishing spray like Model in a Bottle.  Just don’t use this all the time as it can be very heavy on the skin (but it makes your makeup almost water proof once it sets!)

What are the best ways to apply foundation and what tools should I use?

The best way to apply foundation is with a slightly damp Beauty Blender sponge.  Here is my video on how to use it:  Beauty Blender Review

I also like using a foundation stippling brush as it gives an almost airbrushed finish- no streaking like you get sometime when you use your fingers or a flat brush.  Here’s my foundation routine:  How to Fake Flawless Skin

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CEO of Makeup Geek and Makeup Educator


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Thank u for this video..Revlon color stay has been working wonders for me. So I agree Revlon is a great product for the price….also I have been anxiously waiting for Ur stippling brush..was disapointed to read that I might have to wait until april..

I actually just started using Revlon ColorStay after seeing Marlena’s “How to fake Flawless skin (My NEW face routine),” and I’ve been using it with a stipling brush. HOLY COW!! It’s unbelievable!!

I love all the looks and videos you do. They’ve really helped me. But I thought I’d let you know that the Lancome foundation (pronounced taunt-e-doll ; ) ) has been discontinued. It has been replaced with a new 24 hour foundation geared more towards oily skin.

Thank you for this video Marlena, I live in a tropical country which is below sea level and therefore very humid.
I currently use the Revlon Colour Stay Foundation and the MUG Stippling Brush and it works pretty well. Can you tell me if the Beauty Blender would be better for applying a thin layer of foundation than the Stippling Brush please?

I can’t buy Revlon Color Stay in any store in my country.
Should I buy it online or would that be a bad idea?

Hi, Marlena has done reviews on them both and her opinion as well as the common consensus is that colorstay, due to a matte finish, is better for photography than photo ready, as funny as that sounds. Photo ready in complete retrospect is perfect for everyday wear because of it’s finish. i believe she’s said that color stay dries slower, and smells less…eye opening. Hope that helps :)

hi.that is very helpful vedio.thank you so much and keep it up with good works like skin is very dry i want to know what kind of concealer i should use,can u plz do this kind of tutorial about face musk or skin routine,plz???????
mny many thnks for all ur help.
May God always br ur side and help u and also give you all happiness and peace.

Revlon ColorStay for the win :) Hey any suggestions (or a link if you’ve already made suggestions lol) I am incredibly NON-photogenic. I normally, when preparing for photos, go heavy on the foundation, and make sure I contour. Is there something I should do as well or instead of this? It’s so frustrating when I come out of the bathroom and everyone tells me how fantastic I look, and I like the way I look in the mirror but in photos I look like a creature lol. Love you, thanks for everything :)

Me too! Know exactly what you mean about looking great everywhere except photo heh heh…

Best Foundations I have ever used:

Bare Escentuals Mineral – Love love LOVE but pricey :(
Revlon Colourstay
Now using the Loreal one – Infallible. Not quite the staying power of Revlon Colourstay but beautiful finish and colour

Forgot to say, Kryolan was the BEST I have ever used for photo’s but I dont know where to get it anymore, hairdresser stopped selling it.

This stuff is *amazing*! It will cover anything – think super product from the Gods.

I also found Bare Escentuals mineral powder foundation will cover almost anything too

I’d say check ur finishing powder. If it contains titanium dioxide then you’ll end up with this gray cast all over your face in photos (trust me, i look ghoulish)
also, strange as this sounds, coordinate your foundation with your moisturizer. if you use a water-based moisturizer, dont use an oil-based foundation and vice versa. even if this looks fine in real life, the camera can pick up all sorts of imperfections :P
AND USE A HEAVIER HAND. i just hate how everything looks so vibrant in the mirror but looks non-existent on camera :(
hope this helped :)

this really helps… have the same problem with my brides, their pictures are fine when done by pro photographers due to them retouching the photos after but for the point and shoot ones, i can really see the difference. I was told that maybe the culprit is the finishing powder, thanks a lot i know now exactly what to check on the powders ingredients list :)

I live in Thailand and I use the Revlon Color Stay all the time. It lasts all day and even if you sweat it doesn’t come off easily. If I don’t feel like doing my whole makeup routine I use Bare Essentials Mineral Foundation. It gives you a healthy look but when you sweat and wipe at your skin it will come off eventually.
Also powder is your best friend here. I have to re apply it during the day but it makes it so much easier. When you live in the Tropics you really need primers in the States you can wing it without (even in the South ;-) ) but here there is no way around it or you look like the bad witch half way through the day (I am melting).

I live in Paraguay, and my country es very very hot and humid! The best foundation for our weather is Kryolan Dermacolor. Just apply very lightly with a wet sponge and it lasts all day! I usually wear it with a setting powder on top.

I live in Texas where it is really hot and humid for at least half the year. I also have oily skin and tend to sweat easily. I just recently started doing the following things in my foundation routine. I apply a small amount of moisturizer with SPF. Then I use my concealer. After applying the concealer I use mineral veil all over my face. Doing this has helped to set the moisturizer which can sometimes feel oily, it also helps to set my concealer. I use a very very light layer of Revlon Photo Finish, then I set that with mineral veil again, and then I finish with a very light layer of Bare Minerals Foundation. It seems like a lot of products but I have had great success keeping my foundation in place doing it this way and believe it or not my foundation feels really light. I can touch my face without getting it all over my hand or kiss my husband without him getting it all over his face.

hey! you should check out the diorskin nude for oily skin, is mattifying enough that you wont be super shiny all day but it does give you a “face skin polish” look instead of hiding it all. is good for girls who like medium to full coverage for acne scars or just plain acne and it works beautifully! i tried it for a month with just that and a bit of make up for ever HD powder to set it and i didnt have to retouch my makeup for 12 hours (except my chin after i ate and drank water)
works really nicely :D

I’ve read about your article about foundations and skin undertones. For some weird reason i had been classified as having a cool undertone (per MAC SA) yet mostly my veins appear more green though my face have some kind of redness. Weird coz all these times i mostly thought that im warmed toned.

I was checking the ingredients list and i saw that titanium dioxide was a key ingredient in revlon colorstay.. does this affect the way that the foundation turns out in photos??

I have an ongoing issue. My skintone is very hard to match at all. Mixing foundatioins will not work. My skin is very olive and and everything is not yellow enough. I have found one that fit and that was shiseido perfect refining foundation. The problem is that my skin is very oily, so even I use a primer and urban decay de slick my face still gets shiny after 4 hours. I spent so much money on these products and they do nothing to help my skin. I used to wear bare escentuals but it makes my face look really pink against my neck. Need some suggestions please!

Hi!I have a dance show on Friday and have been asked to wear Heavy makeup!Which foundation would you recommend for stage performances??SOS!please reply!

Hi Marlena! I was wondering what color do you use for Revlon Colorstay? I read you use Neutrogena Healthy Skin in #60 which i do too. It would make it easier to find my color based on the color you use, your absolutely AMAZING and super talented keep up this great work! xo

Hello Marlena! do you recommended MAC foundations? In other videos you use a lot of MAC products but you don´t use the foundations why?. And I wanna know if you recommended apply the foundation whit your fingers? thanx a lot! love your work!