How to Stop Your Foundation From Oxidizing, According to a Cosmetic Dermatologist



Monica Rodriguez - Getty Images

Ever go to take another bite of an apple, and notice how it's started to brown just a few minutes after the first bite? Or, how about the annoying fact that avocados will turn brownish-black in what feels like just seconds after you've sliced them?That's all due to a fun little chemical reaction called oxidation, and it doesn't only apply to food—it can happen to your foundation, too.

Chemically, oxidation occurs when a chemical reacts with another molecule and then loses some of its electrons, increasing its oxidation state or oxidation number. In cosmetics, this can result in color and consistency changes. So, you know how your foundation looked perfectly matched and natural when you ran out the door, but a quick middle-of-the-day mirror glance left you looking a little orange? Well, oxidation might be to blame.

There are many contributing factors that may cause your foundation to oxidize — skin texture, cleanliness, natural oils, and even the way a foundation appears once it is applied, dries, and is mixed with oxygen. Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent this.

Ahead, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, and Jamie Greenberg, celebrity makeup artist and Marshalls Beauty Expert for their expert tips to prevent your foundation from oxidizing.

01 of 11

Create a Clean Canvas by Washing Your Face

Lumene cleansing balm
Lumene Nordic-C Cleansing Balm $15

This may seem like a no brainer, but clean skin is healthy skin, and healthy skin is happy skin. Don't even think about applying foundation on an unwashed face (or worse — over yesterday's makeup!) That's just asking for mismatched tones and a host of other problems, too. Be sure to cleanse your face each morning, prior to applying any product or makeup.

02 of 11

Don't Skip Toner

Before you apply moisturizer, don't skip this important skincare tip! Swiping on a facial toner will help to balance the pH of your skin while also absorbing excess oil your cleanser may have left behind. Zeichner explains that foundation oxidation "occurs more commonly in people who have oily skin" so eliminating excess oil as much as you can prior to application is an important first step to preserve the integrity of the color.

03 of 11

Apply a Primer to Grip Your Foundation

tatcha the liquid silk canvas
Tatcha The Liquid Silk Canvas $52

Zeichner says that by properly applying a primer to your skin pre-foundation, it may help absorb excess oil while also creating a neutralized base layer for your foundation to bind to.

04 of 11

Opt for Water-Based Skincare Formulas

Greenberg recommends opting for water-based or more naturally composed skincare formulas that are light on the oil while still being effective and hydrating. The more you can avoid oil-based products, the less of a risk you'll run of having your foundation changing things up on you.

05 of 11

Choose the Right Foundation

kevyn aucoin
Kevyn Aucoin Foundation Balm $52

All this talk about how foundation oxidizes, but the battle really begins with the foundation itself, and fInding the right foundation for you is key. Greenberg explains that not all foundations oxidize — and it's really a matter of trial and error to find the right one for you and your skin in the first place.

She advises, "if you fall in love with a brand that oxidizes, you’d want to get that foundation in a shade lighter than what you would normally wear." This will help to balance the color change and make sure you're well matched.

06 of 11

Use a Jade Roller

Applying your skincare is only half the battle. Ensuring it is properly absorbed and not just sitting on your skin's surface is important to not only ensure it's effective but also to make sure your face is as clean as possible prior to applying foundation. So, Greenberg recommends utilizing a jade roller, like the Tru Spa Jade Roller with Interchangeable Massage Heads ($10) so that the product properly penetrates. (It also feels amazing, too!)

07 of 11

Use an Applicator, Not Your Fingers

Beautyblender The Original Beautyblender $20

Because the oils (and other contaminants) from your hands can cause reactions within your foundation bottle, it's important to use an applicator sponge or foundation brush and never your fingers or hands. Doing so will not only result in a smoother and more flawless application but, Zeichner says, will also preserve the integrity of your foundation and prevent oxidation.

If you're using a beautyblender, be sure to dampen it prior to makeup application for the most natural results.

08 of 11

Blot Away Excess Oil

Blotting away excess oil from your face is important both before and after foundation application. If your face accumulates oils or begins to appear greasy throughout the day, carrying blotting tissue, like Clean & Clear Oil-Absorbing Facial Blotting Sheets ($5) will help you to absorb the oil, as opposed to letting it sit on the skin's surface which may affect the overall appearance and tone of your foundation.

09 of 11

Use a Setting Spray or Powder

huda setting powder
Huda Beauty Easy Bake Loose Baking & Setting Powder $34

Spritzing on a setting spray or powder, Zeichner says, will help minimize oxidation, too. "It helps absorb excess oil to lower the risk of reaction with the pigment in the makeup."

The BareMinerals Pure Radiance Mineral Loose Powder ($6) is super lightweight loose powder and offers buildable coverage with a matte finish to help look in your look and keep oxidation at bay.

10 of 11

Be Mindful of Shelf Life

Zeichner advises that the average shelf life of a foundation is around 12-18 months. So if you don't use it daily, it's important to be mindful of how long it's been sitting on your shelf. If you use your foundation after the expiration date, it may appear dry and clumpy in texture, and may also be more likely to oxidize due to oils separating and rising to the top.

11 of 11

Clean Your Brushes

artis brush cleansing foam
Artis Brush Cleansing Foam $25

Take care of your trusty makeup brushes, and they'll take care of you. It's so important to keep your brushes clean and sanitary to ensure they're performing at their best, and are maintaining the integrity of your products. Excess oils left behind on brushes can lead to your foundation oxidizing, so prevent it by properly cleansing your brushes and sponges weekly or biweekly.

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