Need a foundation that won't turn orange
April 19, 2009 12:10 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for not-too-expensive foundation that won't turn orange on my very pale ivory skin?

I am pale enough that I can usually buy foundation in one of the two lightest shades in any given line. My two most recent failures were Mary Kay's both full and medium coverage foundations. Both turn orange on me, no matter how lightly I try to apply them. Previously I'd been using CoverGirl something or other, with the same problem.

I do use concealer but I have severely dark blue/purple undereye circles, reddish old acne scars, and the occasional red pimple, so I have a lot of skin tone variation. I don't know if all these powdered "Bare Minerals" knockoffs (for example, L'Oreal's Bare Naturale) can handle that much coverage, and they seem to be messy (as in, you get powder everywhere).

I need something affordable too, so preferably something I can pick up in a drugstore or Wal-Mart, not something Sephora-exclusive. What doesn't turn orange on you?
posted by IndigoRain to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I use L'Oreal True Match in Neutral 2, you could go one lighter, but I am so pale that I swear I am nearly translucent. You can find this line of makeup nearly everywhere. It is a very light and not greasy liquid foundation, and if you can't get an exact match for the color, it is easy to mix shades together; they bill it as super blendable.

You can find coordinating powder to set it, and liquid concealer for acne scars (I have many and it works great.) Additionally they have under eye stuff that comes with this brush on the end and you click the liquid up through it; I use it on the bluish circles under my eyes and it works quite well, but it is a little difficult to apply.

Quite often, I just use the pressed powder, as it has surprising coverage when you build up two layers of it.

I am about as far from Orange as a human gets, and I have never really had a problem as long as I stuck with the "neutral" range of the True Match line, as opposed to the "warm" or "cool" tones.
posted by Mizu at 12:51 AM on April 19, 2009

Your skin sounds similar to mine...

I use Almay Clear Complexion Makeup in "Ivory" and like it quite a lot. It's supposed to be for acne-prone skin and I haven't had acne in about a decade, but I find it works quite well on my combination skin and the coverage is great. I purchased it at my local drugstore.

For undereye circles I use Lancome Effacernes in "Porcelaine I." It's a little pricey but it lasts forever. I can't remember the last time I purchased a fresh tube - certainly over a year ago. This might be harder to find, but I bought mine at a local drugstore that carries some higher-end lines.

If you're thinking of trying a product and not sure whether it's worth a purchase, I highly recommend checking out the reviews at MakeupAlley. That's how I chose the Almay foundation I'm currently using.
posted by sanitycheck at 1:01 AM on April 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have very fair skin and I have had good results in the past from the Maybeline line - they seem to use colours that don't look orange. I have used a few of their foundations and all have been the right colour.
At the moment I am using Bare Minerals, which I love, but is a bit pricier.
posted by eclecticlibrary at 2:25 AM on April 19, 2009

I find Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse the best in the affordable arena - it might depend on your skin type whether the coverage is ok, but it does natural-but-diminished-blemishes just right for me without lookin makeuppy.

My skin's resolutely pink and though cycling outdoors has put me above finding the palest tones too dark, I still find it really difficult to find foundations that aren't orange. I just checked, and my Dream Matte Mousse is shade 020 - Cameo, but I definitely started with the palest shade (Ivory?) when it first came out.
posted by carbide at 3:51 AM on April 19, 2009

Mineral makeup is fantastic. I have similar skin to you, and Everyday Minerals (.com) is the best I've found. They have varying levels of opacity you can choose from too.
posted by Lucie at 4:28 AM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm another pallid gal, and I like Trish McEvoy, which is on the lighter side but just melts beautifully into your skin. Someone just told me that Dr. Haushka's concealer is tremendous -- and smells good. I usually just go for a spot concealer like Almay.

I know you didn't ask, but i just have to recommend starting the day with Neutrogena clear pore mask + AHA Enhanced Lotion (both available and highly reviewed at Since I started this a couple of weeks ago, my adult acne has disappeared. Another advantage: your makeup (whatever makeup you choose) goes on smoothly.
posted by cymru_j at 4:56 AM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

The effect of your foundation turning orange on your face is what's commonly called oxidizing. You can read more about it here. Basically, it's a reaction between your foundation and the oils in your skin; some foundations will oxidize on you, and some won't, and it's hard for a bunch of people on the Internet to know which. The paleness of your skin has nothing to do with whether it's turning orange, though of course it makes the color difference a bit more noticeable. Some formulas seem to do this more often than others, but what's worked for one person won't necessarily work for you.

A few thoughts:

-- Most drugstores (like CVS) offer a return policy on their makeup. So you can buy some foundation there, try it for a few days, and if it doesn't work out, return it and get your money back.

-- Are you using "oil-free" or "oil-control" formulas? Try those. If your skin is oily enough to turn your foundation orange, they might help.

-- Heavy application can definitely make the oxidizing effect worse, especially around the jawline. Even with skin variations, you probably only need coverage around your t-zone and under your eyes. Using a foundation brush or a sponge can also help you get smooth, natural coverage without heavy application.

I'm so pale I can't wear drugstore foundations (okay, I can wear the lightest shade of L'Oreal TrueMatch, but it breaks me out), so I'm not going to throw a bunch of brand names out at you. But I know how frustrating it is to look in the mirror at lunchtime and discover that you look like an Oompa Loompa. It's worth a little time and experimenting to find a foundation that works for you, cause I promise, there's something out there that will work.

And if you're interested in trying mineral foundations (which are incredibly affordable), I'll second Everyday Minerals and recommend Meow Cosmetics too. Plus, an extraordinary source of information. Good luck!
posted by junkbox at 5:34 AM on April 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'd like to second Mizu's recommendation of L'Oreal True Match foundation (US$10.49). I'm about as pale as a living person can be, and this is one of the only foundations I've found that actually matches the color of my skin.
The foundation comes in Cool, Neutral, and Warm tones. My skin is slightly cool-toned, but I use warm foundation (W1 - Porcelain) to prevent my face from looking too pallid. It blends in without a trace.
I have been using it for 5 years and have yet to find anything better at the drugstore!
posted by koakuma at 5:52 AM on April 19, 2009

I understand the desire to purchase at a drug store, but maybe one day when you're in the mall, you should just mosey into Sephora and ask for a sample of Laura Mercier's tinted moisturizer. It isn't heavy like foundation but provides amazing coverage nonetheless, and I have SUPER pale ivory skin and it looks just beautiful on me. People are always surprised that I wear a full face of make-up.

Yeah, it's a little more pricey, but it lasts forever and it is so worth it.
posted by sickinthehead at 5:59 AM on April 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

Thirding L'Oreal True Match. I also have similar skin to you, though I generally have to use the lightest shade there is. I actually use the Cool tones as I find it downplays the redness I have in my cheeks (from acne), It blends really well and it's the first foundation I've found that makes the pores around my nose disappear. I usually follow it with L'Oreal Bare Naturale Mineral Veil, which I'm also really pleased with.

Also seconding They have reviews for everything.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 6:05 AM on April 19, 2009

I'm glad junkbox addressed oxidization because I was going to suggest the same thing. If you have oily skin this is probably what is happening.

I pretty much overlooked Revlon Colorstay liquid foundation makeup for years. I finally tried it after all of the excellent reviews I was reading on MakeupAlley and YouTube. Colorstay comes in many colors. It has great coverage and looks natural. It doesn't break me out which is another reason why I keep buying. I use the oily/combination formula and you probably should too since you're turning orange.
posted by Fairchild at 6:07 AM on April 19, 2009

Try the Sally Hansen Inspired by Carmindy foundation for a liquid. You can get it at CVS and Osco, I know for sure.

If you like minerals, then take a look at Everyday Minerals. You have to buy online, but they have free sample kits so you can try out the colors to find the right one. Plus their minerals are bismuth free, so they don't cause breakouts like Bare Minerals can, and they're relatively cheap. I've placed two orders with them and shipping has been fast.

Also, you might look at just getting color matched at a MAC counter. If you're going to read Makeupalley at all (which I recommend!) then knowing that number will really help you out. It's a common reference point so that you can get recs for the proper shade in many other brands.
posted by sugarfish at 8:11 AM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and another nice thing about Everyday Minerals is that they have four different formulations, which just means four different levels of coverage depending on what you need.
posted by sugarfish at 8:12 AM on April 19, 2009

almay's clear complexion has never set my pale, pale skin wrong.
posted by nadawi at 8:22 AM on April 19, 2009

nthing Maybelline.I use their Shine Free in Ivory to good effect.
posted by Jilder at 8:57 AM on April 19, 2009

Nthing the L'Oreal True Match - from someone else with a very pale complexion who has a hard time finding a good foundation.

Tip: put on some moisturizer before you apply the foundation, it will go on a lot smoother.
posted by AV at 9:47 AM on April 19, 2009

As far as mineral foundation goes, I use Bare Minerals. I'm pretty pale (not porcelain pale, but I'm about 3 shades into the foundation spectrum - I use BM in Light), with dark circles, some minor redness, along with tiny red pimples during my period.

I was super skeptical at the beginning, but I got a Bare Minerals kit from Sephora for Christmas and the coverage is amazing. It's easy to apply. I've never gotten powder everywhere.

It's great because it doesn't feel like a mask of makeup on my face and it doesn't cake by the end of the day. You get a kind of almost airbrushed look.

As far as drugstore foundations, I've had the most luck with Cover Girl, but it cakes up. For liquids, I now use MAC Studio Fix Fluid. Despite the raves above, Maybelline oxidized on me, so you can see just how individual reactions are.

So you do need to find something that works for you.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:19 AM on April 19, 2009

Oh, and just to speak to the application, you use the foundation on your face and with the concealer brush, you can pack it on more densely to use as a concealer. It's still smooth and you can buff that a little afterward with a face brush too. But it generally takes my circles from purple to normal looking. And it doesn't settle as much into the lines under my eyes as liquid or cream concealer does.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:24 AM on April 19, 2009

It's not that your foundation is turning orange, it's starting off orange.

Most drugstore foundations tend to have a lot of orange and yellow in them, because those are the most common undertones in people's skin, and they're playing toward the middle of the market. My skin (and it sounds like yours too) has a lot of blue in it. That means the vast majority of foundations out there will make you look like an Oompa Loompa.

Go by a Prescriptives counter and get colorprinted. I'll bet dollars to donuts you're a Blue/Red or at the very least a Red. Their foundation runs from $32-40, which is certainly not cheap, but it's cheaper than throwing away buying bottle after bottle of foundation. If it turns out you're a Yellow/Orange or a Red/Orange, then oxidation may be the culprit.

As for the mineral makeup, make sure you stay away from the ones with bismuth oxychloride. It's nasty, nasty stuff and causes redness, itching, and burning in lots of folks (including me).
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 10:38 AM on April 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

I know you wanted to get it at a B&M store, but I use everyday minerals and wouldn't go back to anything else. If you get one of their full kits, it is MUCH cheaper than anything you'd get at walmart. They also have these great sample kits and you only pay a couple of bucks for shipping. My sample kit lasted 6+ months.
posted by Lullen at 10:58 AM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

MAC matched me for $30 CAD, with their lightest NC15 liquid mineralize. The reason why I suggest it, despit the price, is because my large face takes one dot to cover all the redness and blue-grey circles under my eyes. True I can get drugstore foundation for less, but the lightest ivory still isn't my colour in anything and if I use a brush it makes up its cost by lasting for a long time.
posted by Phalene at 1:05 PM on April 19, 2009

I have pretty pale skin as well with redness and scarring, and I use Bare Minerals and love it. I have gotten so many compliments on my skin. I can't stand using anything else now--anything else makes me feel like I've got a heavy layer of makeup on.
You can adjust your coverage with Bare Minerals from light to more pronounced just by layering it on. It really is as easy as dip, tap, swirl. It's not messy, and it lasts a long time. If you have a Bare Escentuals store in your area, or an Ulta store, head there and check it out.
posted by FergieBelle at 1:58 PM on April 19, 2009

I have oily/combination, sensitive skin and am very pale (in winter at least). In the past I've tried Almay Clear Complexion Makeup in "Ivory" (in NZ available at K Mart, not overly expensive). Loved how it went on, loved the coverage, loved how it didn't irritate my skin or make me break out. But on me it was a bit too pale and chalky so, to my surprise, I had to change to something more orange (Revlon Colourstay, Revlon is all orange based so I'd advise you stay away from it). It sounds like the Almay would be perfect for you, it works well for your skin type and really is creamy ivory coloured with no yellow/orange tones.

Most of these department store level brands have testers available so maybe you could list a few ideas from this thread then just go try some of them? You really need to leave it on for a day or so to make sure it's not oxidising so testing before you buy makes sense.
posted by shelleycat at 3:31 PM on April 19, 2009

Nthing L'Oreal True Match, I wear the absolute lightest (Ivory???) in the cool tone. I've been using it for years and it's the only thing that seems to work. I usually set it with loose powder in a slightly darker shade, it seems to make me not quiet as pale. And at Walmart it's about 10$ and lasts for months.
posted by piper4 at 4:43 PM on April 19, 2009

I like Make Up Forever's HD foundation. They also make tinted primers that will help neutralize under eye circles and redness.

It doesn't really feel heavy or clog my pores either as long as I don't like, sleep in it or anything. The other thing I like about it is that it does not have a tendency to sink into the fine lines around my eyes like the mineral makeup seems to.

A bottle of the foundation is somewhat pricey (around $30) but I don't go through it very fast because it covers extremely well and I don't have to use tons of it.

I have really wretchedly awful skin that is really uneven and when I switched, lots of people started complimenting my on my "perfect" skin all of a sudden. I also get people who can't believe I wear a full face of makeup because it matches so so well and doesn't look cakey.

I went into Sephora and they helped me choose the appropriate shade, since I tend to fall somewhere between the lightest shades in a lot of brands. You can also try almost anything in the store before you buy it, so that makes it a piece of cake to pick something you like.

I've not had much luck with drugstore brands of foundation because they're either too orange, or they don't stay put on my oily-ish skin or they settle really grossly into my various facial crevices.

I need a lot of coverage though, so YMMV. I'm in love with the stuff, but I've read reviews on Sephora's site that said it was way too much for some people.
posted by howrobotsaremade at 6:45 PM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have super pale Irish skin and have trouble finding foundation that doesn't look yellow or orange too. I wish I had a solid cheapo recomendation for you, but the brands that worked best for me have been Shiseido, Prescriptives and Clarins. At the moment, I'm using Clarins express compact in the lightest shade they have and I'm really happy with it. It's very sheer - almost invisible - but covers up my undereye bags, red chin and nose really well. It's kind of exy - $50AUD or so for a refill? - but lasts for ages. I wear makeup every day and there's heaps left in the refill I got about six months ago.

The next best compromise I found was L'Oreal minerals Golden Ivory - it was about $30AUD, I think. But I find I have to be really careful about not overdoing it, or I get the dreaded yellow/cakey look. After putting a very small amount of mineral powder on with the brush, I usually give my face a quick, light rub with a towel and then add the Clarins stuff, under my eyes.

Oh! I just remembered. When I was younger and (even) broker, I used to use the palest shade of Maybelline I could lay my hands on and dilute it with moisturiser for a sort of DIY tinted foundation.
posted by t0astie at 12:50 AM on April 20, 2009

I have your skintone. Maybelline and L'Oreal (aside from a mattifying foundation that went on like stage makeup) are too orange. Everything else goes on like gravy browning.

Here's what I've found to work:
- MAC foundation in NC15 (I just tested different shades at a counter, for free)
- Tesco Make-Up in Ivory (this is my current foundation, and it's very light and goes on like powder. Also, £5.50 per bottle)
- Boots No.7 Illuminating Foundation in the palest shade they do - I don't recall which this is.
- Bloom foundation - was hard to get in the UK so I don't know about overseas.

I also found tinted moisturiser does the job, as the colour coverage is thinner.
posted by mippy at 8:01 AM on April 20, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you all for your suggestions. I had never really thought about returning makeup for being the wrong shade before. I will go down the list and start trying things.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:09 PM on April 22, 2009

I make my own mineral makeup...because it's pennies per ounce that way, but my best friend hates using the big kabuki brush, so for her, I make up the mineral makeup, and then add it to her bottle of moisturizer. We can match her skin tone perfectly, and she gets a very light, non-greasy foundation that stays true for hours, and can be reapplied if needed.

Let me know if you want to try your hand at making your own makeup, and I'll get you a link to my supplier...who doesn't use any chinese can buy a year or two worth of supplies for less than $40 last time I checked. I was astounded at what mineral makeup companies were able to charge for a couple of teaspoons of product, when you can buy pounds of the stuff for less money.
posted by dejah420 at 1:57 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

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