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We’ve probably been there before at some point. You apply your foundation and it looks flawless, only to find two hours later that your face has turned orangey or at least darker by one or two shades. More often than not, those of us who have oily/combination skin have experienced this – our foundation oxidising.

What does it mean when your foundation “oxidises” and how do we prevent ourselves from looking like a Trump parody?

What does it mean when foundation oxidises?

foundation oxidising - oxidation

Oxidation occurs when a reactive ingredient reacts with oxygen and causes a reaction. So what exactly does oxidation mean in foundation? In terms of makeup, it refers to your foundation becoming darker or turning orange after it has been applied to your face. This can happen anytime, from just a few minutes after application, to a few hours later.

Usually, the darkening is caused by iron oxide in your foundation reacting to oxygen, foundation ingredients reacting with the acid mantle of your skin, or foundation ingredients reacting to the oils on your face.

This may sound like a nightmare to many, but thankfully, not all hope is lost. Now that you know more about what it means when foundation oxidises, let’s explore some tricks to keep your foundation true to colour all day.

Tips to reduce the chances of your foundation oxidising

1. Cleanse your face

foundation oxidising - cleansing

Before you put on any makeup, be sure to first cleanse your face with a suitable cleanser for your skin type. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’ll be surprised how much of a difference it can make!

2. Use a toner

foundation oxidising - toner

For those of you who have not incorporated a toner in your skincare routine, you need to start now. A facial toner will help to keep the pH of your skin balanced. At the same time, it will also absorb any excess oil on your face, providing a cleaner canvas for you to apply your makeup later on. Plus, with less oil on your face, there will be less chances of your foundation oxidising.

3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

foundation oxidising - moisturiser

Oxidation is a common chemical reaction that occurs in a lot of substances. In terms of foundation, it is probably a result of the reaction between the oils and pigments in the foundation and the natural oils that your skin produces.

Hydrate your skin suitably with a moisturiser before putting on any makeup. Use a lightweight oil-free lotion or hydrating serum. This will make sure that your skin isn’t overproducing oil to compensate for any dry spots. When the oil on your face is reduced, there is less of it to react with the foundation, reducing the chances of your foundation oxidising!

4. Prep and prime

foundation oxidising - primer

Using a primer before applying foundation creates a barrier between the foundation and your skin. This will reduce the contact between your natural oils and the pigments in the foundation. Silicone primers are most effective at minimising oxidation since they form the best shield.

5. Use a jade roller

foundation oxidising - jade roller

Most of the time, your foundation will not sit properly if it is applied too early before your moisturiser is absorbed into your skin. As such, to ensure that your moisturiser is properly absorbed, use a jade roller to apply it instead of your hands. This also prevents oils from your fingertips from transferring to your clean face!

6. Blot away

foundation oxidising - oil blotting

As mentioned earlier in the article, excess oils can increase your chances of your foundation oxidising. As such, it is important to remove as much excess oil as possible.

One trick for doing so is to take one ply of facial tissue and use it to blot your face. Do this before and after applying foundation to help makeup last longer and in its true colour.

7. Use an applicator for your foundation

foundation oxidising - applicator

We know it can be really tempting to just use your fingers to apply your foundation because it’s just so much easier. However, the oils from your hands can react with the foundation and cause it to oxidise even earlier. If you want to reduce the chances of your foundation oxidising, we’d recommend using an applicator like a beauty blender to apply your foundation. This also helps to ensure that your foundation is evenly applied, so score!

8. Ready, set, go!

foundation oxidising - setting powder

Setting your foundation with powder will help to “lock” it in. This is definitely a lifesaver since Singapore’s humidity is not our foundation’s best friend. Setting powder also helps to absorb excess oils on the face.

Instead of using powders that contain talc, use 100% silica powder, which is great for absorbing oils while minimising the appearance of your pores at the same time! Alternatively, you can also use a setting mist to set your makeup.

9. Adjusting your pH

foundation oxidising - ph levels

Few may know that balancing your skin’s pH levels will help lower the chances of your foundation oxidising. Changing parts of your lifestyle and diet can help to achieve the right pH for your skin from within. A proper pH for your skin would be pH5.5. If your body is too acidic, your foundation will more likely react with your skin and turn darker over time.

10. Go lighter

foundation oxidising - go lighter

If the above steps don’t work for you, you can also consider going a shade or two lighter when purchasing foundation. Trial and error is required to get it right. When buying a foundation, test it along your jawline and leave it on for a few hours to see how it reacts to your skin before purchasing it. And if you finally found a holy grail foundation in the right shade, stick to it.

Lastly, think about switching to an oil-free foundation – less oils means a lower likelihood of oxidation occurring.

11. Take note of your foundation’s shelf life

foundation oxidising - foundation

According to experts, the average shelf life of foundation is approximately 12 to 18 months, so if you hardly use your foundation, be sure to take note of its shelf life before using it. We know it can be tempting to continue using it to prevent wastage, but using your foundation after the expiration date not only results in your foundation oxidising due to the oils separating and rising to the top, but it can also cause damage to your skin. We’d say it isn’t worth it, so if you want to prevent wastage, take note of your foundation’s shelf life and finish it before it expires!

12. Clean your brushes

foundation oxidising - makeup brushes

How many of us are guilty of not cleaning our brushes regularly? We always tell ourselves we’ll do it soon, but ‘soon’ never seems to arrive. Although we might be busy at times, we should still set some time aside to wash our brushes weekly or biweekly. This is important because the excess oils left behind on our brushes can result in our foundation oxidising. As such, we need to clean them regularly to ensure that they are sanitary and they maintain the integrity of our makeup products.