Make-up: Making A Matt Powder Foundation

I do a basic foundation color mix once a year. This year, I decided to do a matt foundation. The past couple of years I have taken the easy route and 'just' used micas. They're easier to work with because you just sift them together until you're happy with the color. The limitation – you get glittery foundation.

Although it's fine to have a subtle glow and bit of glitter, sometimes a neutral matt color is preferable.

Making a matt foundation powder requires a little patience because the pigments used are oxides and need to be ground and worked together in a mortar or suitable electrical device.

Because I acquired a powder mixer (a little hand-held, battery-powered thing that looks like a shortened version of a coffee grinder), I figured I'd try whizzing everything together. It saved me a heck of a lot of time and worked like a dream.

Step 1: The Base Powder

A base powder is necessary for any foundation. It helps to disperse the color evenly, make it adhere to where it is applied – and stay there.

Base powders can be made with a number of different ingredients. Many make-up ingredients suppliers will supply complete how-to's on making your own base powder mixes, and some will sell ready-mixed base powders.

This one is my own blend of 3 powders: 
  • magnesium stearate 
  • cornstarch  
  • cosmetics-grade talc (this one is oil-coated)

The finished base powder is set aside until the color blend is ready.

Believe it or not, this combination of non-skin-colored-looking colors eventually becomes my skin color.

Step 2: Mixing Pigments

Every single human skin color can be matched using only 3 oxides colors: ochre, brown and sienna red. 

These are mixed with titanium dioxide (or zinc oxide) and/or silk white pigment (depending on how opaque you want the color). 

For caucasian skin, ochre is dominant in the mix with a touch of sienna and brown.

After mixing for a couple of minutes, I stopped to check the color.

It was much too yellow-looking. 

Before adding more pigment, I decided to try a bit of the mixture on my face. Lucky I did, because on my skin, it looked like a perfect color match. The cotton pad on the right shows what I wiped off after the initial test.

An additional 6 minutes of mixing was required until the final color 'appeared'. The color mixture was then transferred to a separate container.

It may look like a trick, but I did not need to adjust the pigments. I just kept whizzing for an additional 6 minutes to get this result.  The little battery driven mixer was the reason this batch took so long. If you have a dedicated electric grinder, the process goes much faster.   

Step 3: The Final Mix

To create the final product (a powder foundation), the base powder mixture and pigment mixtures are combined. The amount of coverage the powder will have can be adjusted by adding more or less base powder (more base powder – less opacity). 

During the mixing process, I stopped a few times to test check the color and coverage in natural daylight.

TIP: always test on your face and along the jawline – and always check the color in natural daylight.

When the color and coverage were satisfactory, I transferred the contents to a powder container and saved some of the mixture for a cream foundation. (more on that later)

More Info

Find more Make-Up How To's at the How To Page


Rikke said…
Tak for endnu et spændende informationsproppet indlæg. Utroligt, at den gule pudder blev så hudfarvet uden mere pigment!!

God weekend.

Kh Rikke
LisaLise said…
Ih tak Rikke! Ja, jeg var selv overrasket over hvor meget der skulle til! Det havde været et stykke tid siden jeg havde lavet en matt farveblanding. :)
LiisK said…
Thanks for the tip as to where to get the mini blender :), I've been looking for one for some time :)
LisaLise said…
Cool! Glad to be of help. :)
Unknown said…
Can you offer a substitute for the talcum? I find that my skin doesn't agree with it (I have slightly sensitive skin) and it feels a bit weird on my skin.

LisaLise said…
Hi Michelle - Sure! There are a few alternatives to talcum. You could use silica, a 'coated' talc might also be an option, serecite mica is also a possibility. Best of luck with it!
Anonymous said…
hi lise, am an african living in Denmark and it has been very hard to get foundation that matches my skin tone. do you think i can use your recipie to create somthing similar? or couldi maybe use cocoa instead? also where did you get your ingredients? thanks a lot!
LisaLise said…
Hey there Anon - I am convinced you can use my recipe to make a foundation to match your skin tone! You are also lucky that you can order the exact same colors that I use from Urtegaarden here in Denmark.

For a darker skin tone, you will be using proportionately more brown and sienna red than I did for my own make-up. Check the
sidebar for a link to Urtegaarden. They have a shop in Copenhagen, but you can also order online.

Oh - final tip: get yourself a coffee grinder to do your mixing (and don't use it for anything else but your make-up powders). That will cut your mixing time down to a minute - easy peasy.

Best of luck with it!

Unknown said…
Hi Lise,

Do you happen to have the recipe for the base powder?

Thank you
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon - for an opaque powder you'll need 57% cosmetic grade talc, 22% magnesium stearate, 16 % kaolin clay (cosmetic grade) and 5% zinc oxide or titanium oxide :)
Unknown said…
Hi Lise, can I substitute talc with arrowroot powder perhaps?

Thank you
LisaLise said…
Hi Felysa - This might not work as well as talc, but give it a try. If I were looking to replace the talc, I would probably choose kaolin clay. You might even do a combination of clay and arrowroot. I'd love to hear what you decide to do and how it works for you. :)
Unknown said…
Hi Lisa,

Thank you for your reply, however as Kaolin Clay already in ingredients for 16% does it meant if I use Kaolin Clay it will be 63%?

Thank you
LisaLise said…
Hi Felysa, you'll have to try and play with the proportions a bit to get the feel you want. You could try adding micronized rice powder instead, or serecite ... there are many possibilities and it's all up to the feel you want. To replace the talc with arrowroot and clay, try using a total of 55% clay, 22 % mag stearate and 23% arrowroot--- let me know how it goes :)