What Is Foundation Made Of?

When we think of the world's oldest types of makeup, visions of kohl eyeliner and rouge lipstick come to mind. While foundation may seem like a new product, it's actually been in play for centuries. In fact, foundation variations have been a beauty standard since ancient Greek and Roman times. Of course, the formulation has changed somewhat (e.g., we no longer use fatal doses of lead), but it's still absolutely worth asking what your foundation is made of. Whether you opt for luminous or matte, here's a quick guide that will make your favorite product's composition a little less opaque.

What Is Foundation Made Of?

The ingredients in foundation depend partly on the type of foundation.

Powder-based foundation relies heavily on powder for its consistency, typically in the form of talc. Other ingredients include pigment (tailored to the hue of the product), emollients, and binding agents that help the foundation adhere to skin. Some powder-based foundations also include wax, which may be either natural or synthetic.

Water-based foundation utilizes either a combination of oil and water or a blend of water and emollients or fatty alcohols to achieve a lightweight, easy-to-apply consistency. This type of foundation is often made with clay as an ingredient, which lends a matte finish to otherwise high-shine products.

Silicone-based foundation, true to its name, involves a blend of water and silicone as the primary base. While specific formulations tend to vary among products, a few of the most common types of silicone used are dimethicone, polysiloxane, and phenyl trimethicone. Other ingredients that make up this type of foundation include mineral oil, alcohol, and minerals like titanium oxide and zinc oxide.

As anyone who's ever shopped for the ideal foundation can attest, formulas can vary widely, not only in their ingredients but in the way those ingredients play out on one's complexion.

If you're looking to experiment with a new foundation, here are 10 classic formulas we love.