Make-Up - Foundation Stick First Batch

This was a test. I've never made a foundation stick before, and thought it was about time I gave it a whirl.

I started this all backwards – by taking a look at my stock to see which ingredients I had at hand – and then formulating from there.

Before you get all impressed at my amazing formulating capabilities, let me just say, this batch was a fail.

But, we'll get to that in a minute.


Since this was a let's-make-something-from-what-we-have-in-stock kind of a product, I even allowed myself to use 'old' ingredients.

Ok – just the foundation pigment mix – it was from last year.

Still, not ideal by any measure.


I'm not going to give you the formula because you wouldn't be happy with it. I'm just going to show you what I did, what I used - and then what happened.

The waxes are a mix of beeswax, candilla and carnauba. These were melted over low heat in a beaker - directly on the heat source (my preferred method, but using a bain marie is also an option).

Beeswax is a tried and true ingredient for lip balms and 'stick's of all types. Candilla and carnuaba offer a hardness that is great for helping 'seal' a surface.

Example: carnuaba wax used as a thin coating on consumables such as candies to keep a soft meltable center from melting in your hand (think m&m's).

The pre-mixed pigments were added to fractionated coconut oil and mixed with a bit of shea for 'buttery smoothness'.

This was added to the melted waxes, stirred thoroughly and poured into containers.

Here's a peek at the mixture directly after being poured. It stiffened very quickly and had to be remelted (over very low heat)


Although the color is a perfect match, I was not quite pleased with the resulting stick for 2 reasons.

1. There was not enough pigment in the mixture, so the stick functioned more as a foundation-tint-stick than a foundation stick, making it necessary to keep applying.

I might have been able to live with that bit, but the second reason was the kicker.

It didn't take much applying until this showed up.

... hard, lumpy bits is not what one looks for in a foundation stick, is it?

At all.

Back to the Drawing Board

The positive: This was a learning experience. I know how much pigment to add for the next batch, but the lumpy bits has to be addressed and solved. These are not shea lumps or grains, they are waxy bits.

Do Tell

Do you make your own make-up? Have you ever made a foundation stick?


Signe said…
If you don't consider those lumps, those look kind of perfect to me? Waiting for the whole formula, if you are going to publish it... ;)
LisaLise said…
Hi Signe - I do plan on sharing this formula but first I have to get it right! :)
Unknown said…
I agree with Signe - as far as first attempts go, this one is really good!
Also being able to control coverage could be quite an asset for many.
Unknown said…
Looking forward to seeing your published formula. I want to be able to make my own mineral makeup..liquid foundations, primers and concealers.
Unknown said…
Looking forward to seeing your published formula. I want to be able to make my own mineral makeup..liquid foundations, primers and concealers.
Olivia J said…
I commend you for having the patience to try this. I thought about making my own but realized the texture and the ingredients I wanted would probably cost me more than buying one. Maybe someday!!! Can't wait to read more of this makeup journey!1
Bob & Angela said…
That's a mixing problem, not a formulation issue. Come talk to us at Chemist's Corner, we'd be glad to help.

Also, this is a good starting point:
María said…
The coverage depends a lot on the titanium dioxide. The more TiO2, the more coverage.
And the lumps, I think they could be formed after the waxes cooling too fast, but it's only my opinion :)
But the idea is really good.
LisaLise said…
Hi @Juanita - I hope I won't disappoint!

@Anna-Vera - Thanks. I will keep working on this. It can't be that tough of a nut to crack :)

@Olivia - thank you! I totally agree that it is very easy to overbuy ingredients. I have built up my stock of make-up specific ingredients little by little for this very reason.

@Bob - You are my hero of the day - thank you so much for your input!

@María - When I mix foundation pigments, I am generous with the T-Dioxide (I have to be because my skin is so fair), so the pigment mixture already has coverage - I do need to add more pigment to the next batch. I think you are spot on with your observation on the reason for the lumps. Check the link in Bob's comment above - it is to a formula with specific temps for heating and cooling.
María said…
Hi Lisa,
I think the coverage is a matter of personal preference, but maybe when mixing the powder in the stick base, the proportion of coverage and colouring may diminish.
I mean, in 5 g of powder is all pure pigments. In 5 g of this stick, there are the powder and the stick mixture.
Maybe the proportion of powder by stick mixture has to be bigger, also to have a more "powdery" texture after application
LisaLise said…
María - I have just purchased a white 'paste' with t-dioxide in oil that I am looking forward to trying in the next batch - this should def give a more opaque color
Anonymous said…
Really excited to see how this goes on for you! I have made a couple foundation sticks before with good success, however I still prefer powders as they feel lighter on the skin. I think these lumps are due to the waxes cooling, and you may need more of your powder blend in this for more coverage. I am currently working on pressing my mineral foundations and blushes. This is a bit tricky but I am getting there. How have you been doing in the way of pressing? Currently working on making a good, pressable base that is creamy and doesn't kick up too much dust, and picks up pigment on the brush well. What a fun adventure making makeup is!
LisaLise said…
Hi Ashlynn - I'd love to hear more about your foundation sticks - and you are right about the cause of the lumps in this stick. Your pressed powder challenges are equal to mine - getting that perfectly creamy yet dry texture. It is fun doing make-up. I learn so much every time I make any make-up product. I wish I had time to do more exploration and testing because it is real satisfying being able to tailor my own makeup -- it sounds like you feel the same way about it :)
Unknown said…
Yes Lisa I very much enjoy making cosmetics particularly! I love dabbling in skincare, however, everything right now is anyhydrous as I haven't started on emulsions, balanced pH, etc.
Currently I am working on pressing my foundations and other face products. I have been trying to find information on the formula of the powder itself. I understand we need dry binders and I have those at the recommended amounts, using a scale to measure all my ingredients now as well. I see that the ingredient lists of many green and clean pressed powders seems to be mostly mica, and a few recipes I found for pressed formulas are anywhere from 40-80% mica and/or a starch such as rice, tapioca, or as some use, talc. Yet some do not contain starches. Then there is the issue with wet binders. Finding just the right amount for your particular formula and just enough to make it creamy, yet not kick up a bunch of powder and make a mess. THEN there is the actual pressing technique! Oh so much to learn! Have you had any progress in pressing lately?

As far as my stick foundations, I would have to go look back at my recipe, but I needed to use quite a bit of mineral powder blend to get a good medium-full coverage stick. I also found that using pre-dispersed Titanium (in castor) was much smoother and resulted in a smoother product. There is a fine line with powders; add too much and you get a bit of a draggy, putty-like consistency, but any less and the coverage isn't great. I have the basic oxides and titanium pre dispersed in castor, including black, brown, red, yellow, but do not have chromium green or ultramarine blue, as I cannot find them available for home-use purchase. I don't want to use any other dyes apart from oxides either, as I want to keep things quite natural with my products. Also, holding heat while mixing in the minerals is important, as well as melting all oils, butters, and waxes thoroughly before adding powders. Making stick concealers and foundations proved to be a bit tricky, as the smallest adjustments of oils and what minerals you use make a big difference. I would love to hear more about this one as well!

Unknown said…
Also, I have two accounts! The Primrose Petal is still Ashlynn Kaplan =)
LisaLise said…
Hi Ashlynn - Thanks so much for your input on pressing powders! I am working on a lot of make-up these days, so expect more posts on that. I know what you mean about finding the perfect binder to powder ratio - it's an ongoing process because there are lots of interesting powders to try. I've been using micronized rice as of late in combination with other powders-. I'll be posting on composing powders for a foundation soon. It's GREAT to have someone to compare color-make-up-making notes with :)
CC Mirabella said…
I've made quite a few stick foundation , concealer & bronzed sticks. It's gone through many transformations & started with Susan @ point of interest with her anhydrous stick formula 30% beeswax, 65% oils, 1% e & 4% ronaspheres.
My latest adaption from that is : phase A
20% beeswax
10% cocoa butter
10% coconut oil
12% triglyceride
10% c12-15 alkyl benzonate
10% isoeicane
5% capucu
2% carnauba
3% microcrystalline
Phase b

2-8% titanium dioxide
8% pigments
Obviously I have to adjust the percentages depending on how much dry ingredients I'm adding

Phase c

I prefer to ad 2-4% silicones so I take out of oil phase then ad them

Thanks for sharing!!!!
CC Mirabella said…
I meant to say as primrose petal mentions the disperable titanium dioxide, I either do my own in castor oil or ad it dry after blending in my grinder but also when adding it I have a wire whisk attachment to one of my lab beaters & I beat it right in the beaker while I'm heating it really comes out great! So glad to see this on here it's so fun to see what others are doing and share!!
Thanks again
LisaLise said…
Hi Tracey - Your tips are gold! thank YOU for sharing .. :)