Liquid Foundation Explained

Friday, 26 May 2017

Foundation has come a long way since it was introduced to the market in 1937. With the vast selection of foundation types to choose from, finding the right one for your skin can be a daunting task. We’re giving you the low-down on the most popular formula: liquid foundation.

What is a liquid foundation?

Liquid foundation has become a firm favourite with women of all ages. The lightweight formula blends into the skin beautifully, covering imperfections for a natural look. They are either oil-based for a long-lasting effect, or water-based for a ‘barely-there’ look.

Who should be using it?

As there are a wide variety of liquid foundations available, with a formula suitable for any skin type and age group. Foundations that are oil-based are best suited to normal and dry skin. For oily or sensitive skin, water-based foundations are best as they won’t clog pores or irritate the skin.

The benefits

Liquid foundations blend into the skin for a natural look without feeling ‘cakey’. They can be built up for a fuller coverage or applied lightly for the perfect ‘fresh face’ look. Liquid foundations lock in moisture and minimise the appearance of pores.

How should you apply it?

When applying liquid foundation it is advisable to first apply a primer to smooth out the skin and fill pores/ fine lines. Apply a small amount of foundation onto the back of your hand, then using either a foundation brush or a blending sponge, start applying it in light strokes. Work outwards from your T-zone and fade the foundation out towards your hairline. For a natural “no make-up look” only apply foundation to areas where there is discoloration and mask any small imperfections with a lightweight concealer.

Our favourites

Knowing what you want from your foundation is the first step to finding your perfect match. Do you want a long-lasting foundation, a matte finish, a dewy glow? Picking the right shade has to be the trickiest part. Who hasn’t come home with a foundation that the salesperson assured you was perfect and isn’t. Some tips to help you include double-checking your chosen shade on your forehead, as this is often the warmest tone on the face. If you’re unsure between two tones, it’s often more flattering to opt for the shade slightly warmer, as a colour slightly too light can make you look tired and washed out. Avoid colour-testing on your neck or back of your hand, as your face is often a different tone.

Here are a few of our current favourites to help you in your decision:

Chanel Les Beiges Foundation, R900

The dreamy, light-weight formula melts into your skin on application, giving a coverage that is complete but appears sheer. This, plus the optical innovations and specific ingredients for glow-enhancing qualities, makes it worth the price-tag.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Foundation SPF 15, from R550

This is a beauty-bag classic for good reason. The oil-free formulation is ideal for buildable coverage.

Clarins Ever Matte SPF15 Oil Free Foundation, R445

The fluid, lightweight texture perfectly melts into the skin, allowing it to breathe, without any drying effect. It’s staying power is very impressive.

Bourjois Air Mat Foundation, R212

It applies flawlessly and blends into the skin with ease. It provides me with just the right amount of coverage – not too sheer, yet not cakey. Enriched with mattifying micronised powders, it eliminates shine with no mask effect.

L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24H-Matte Mattifying Foundation, R159

There are few budget-friendly foundations that really get the job done well, but this one is a bit of a wonder-product. Matte but not drying, with medium-high coverage, this formula is best suited to skin slightly on the oilier side.

Your favourites as tested by Trial Team members

L.O.V LOVTIME 18H Long Lasting Foundation
, R247,95

I like this product as it’s oil-free, has SPF and is long wearing which is something I always look for in a foundation. It doesn’t crease in my smile lines and stays put without me even setting it with powder. It also doesn’t make me look oily throughout the day which is amazing. The first thing to note is that it is not a full coverage foundation but a light to medium coverage foundation. I could see a few of my freckles peeking through. – Aaliyah Simjee

31NA 3-in-1 Foundation, R299, 95

It offered good coverage – not too oily not too dry. It feels soft and covered all marks and made my skin look good. – Ria Kahl

I would highly recommend this 3INA foundation if you are looking for an even, clear and natural look. The texture feels great on my face and the coverage is very long-wearing. ­– Sameegha Wolhuter

Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation, R135

The foundation has a beautiful, natural looking, medium coverage, which is buildable to full coverage. I would definitely recommend this to those with oily or combo skin types. It is a very dry foundation so it will not work well on those with dry skin. It is VERY fast-drying, so you need to work quickly and in small sections while blending. It also rubbed off on my nose underneath my glasses, but it was easy to touch up. – Ashleigh Terri Parks

Rimmel London Match Perfection Foundation SPF20, R169,95

This is a good product at a great price! The shade complemented my skin tone and is the perfect foundation to use for work, but I still prefer a matte finish for evening wear. It was also very pleasantly scented. – Meryl Weits


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  1. Lineo Monoana

    Why have I been spending so much on foundation… this site is amazing

    2 years ago •

  1. Christina Somduth

    Lancome Teint Idole is the best liquid foundation.

    2 years ago •

  1. Mark Parr

    My favorite still is L’Oreal, both the primer and foundation.

    2 years ago •

  1. Feli0017 CHEYANAND

    At which stores can I find and purchase L.O.V LOVTIME 18H Long Lasting Foundation and 31NA 3-in-1 Foundation?

    2 years ago •


    L’Oreal and Rimmel are great brands.

    2 years ago •

  1. Mialise Tolmie

    I love the L’Oreal Infallible foundation! It’s definitely one of my favourites

    2 years ago •

  1. Arlene Beukes

    I absolutely ADORE Catrice HD Liquid Coverage foundation! By far the best foundation I’ve ever used!

    2 years ago •

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