Why Does My Foundation Turn Orange On Me (And How To Prevent It)?

by Gio
how to prevent foundation from oxidising

Tell me if you can relate to this?

You’ve spent a small fortune over the years to find that elusive foundation shade that perfectly matches your skin tone. It was a bit more expensive than you usually like to spend on makeup, but you don’t care. This is IT.

You leave the store all excited about your new HG. Until a few hours later, when you accidentally catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror.

Your foundation has turned orange on you! How the heck did this happen?!

Why does foundation turn orange on your skin?

When foundation turns orange (or one or two shades darker than your skin tone), it means it has oxidized.

Oxy… what?

In plain English, the oils on your skin (i.e. sebum) interact with the pigments in your foundation, intensifying their colour – to the point you can end up looking like an Oompa Loompa!

You’ve probably guessed it: oily-skinned women (and men) are more prone to experience the dreaded orange change in foundation.

Makes sense: your skin produces more oil than normal, so the chances of something going wrong are higher.

But everyone can experience this. Don’t think you’re immune just because your skin is on the drier side.

Related: How To Take Care Of Oily Skin

How Do You prevent foundation from turning orange on your skin?

First things first: there’s no one way of knowing if a foundation will oxidise on you until you try it.

Always ask for a sample first. If the brand doesn’t have any, you can always test the foundation in store and go for a walk, eat dinner, whatever. If, after a couple of hours, your foundation hasn’t changed colour, go back to the store and buy it.

But what if the foundation has oxidised?

If you really dig the formula, you can redo the test again with a lighter shade. Chances are that, once it has oxidised, it’ll be a better match for your skin tone.

Applying a makeup primer underneath foundation can also help. A primer creates a physical barrier on the skin, preventing your natural oils to interact with its pigments.

Sadly, this method doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a try. Again, ask for a sample so you can experiment at home before splurging on the full size.

Related: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion Review

foundation oxidises

What Are The Best Primers To Prevent Foundation From Turning Orange?

Has foundation ever oxidised on you and how did you deal with it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Nikki August 25, 2009 - 2:30 pm

I know what you mean, I’ve tried putting on makeup to a client and after 30 minutes, it turned orange, I have to redo everything 🙁 I guess either they are acidic ! Primers do help 🙂 wonderful post 🙂
.-= Nikki´s last blog ..Askmewhats Version: "Jessie Glova" look =-.

Dao August 25, 2009 - 6:36 pm

One of the mineral foundation I used did turn darker on me. Primers do help a lot but the key idea is to wait to see if the color changes at all. It’s quite antagonizing, especially if you want to look pretty for a special occasion.
.-= Dao´s last blog ..MAC 168 Brush: Fabulous for Contouring =-.

prettybeautiful August 26, 2009 - 1:32 am

i have experienced this oxidization many many times. 🙁 so now i have to try first before i buy. primers also won’t help much for my case. *sigh*
.-= prettybeautiful´s last blog ..How to maximize the use of ONE cotton pad =-.

Anastasia August 26, 2009 - 3:21 am

Oh god, Gio, I was drinking Pepsi while your site loaded and that picture made me laugh so much I splurted it down my nose. Damn you, that’s so uncomfortable.

This is why I always tell people to never, ever buy foundation the first time they try it. Try it on your jawline (near the ear), and leave the store. Go home, walk around, whatever, leave it a couple of hours. See how it looks outside, in store windows, in your bathroom, etc.

Every single time someone colour matches me, I go “you might as well just go for the lightest shade” and they squint and hum and say “Oh, no, I think you’re a—” and then they try something, and frown, and huff, and concede and say “Oh, wow, yes that’s far too dark”.

Can’t trust anyone’s opinion but your own!
.-= Anastasia´s last blog ..Lime Crime: So Ordinary It Should Be Illegal. =-.

fabulessbeauty August 26, 2009 - 3:28 am

I hate when this happens to me. I find this common with mineral makeup.
.-= fabulessbeauty´s last blog ..CoverGirl Lashblast Length Mascara Review =-.

beautifulwithbrains August 26, 2009 - 1:08 pm

Nikki: thanks. Oh, that’s too bad! I’m sorry you had to redo everything. 🙁 Unfortunately foundations are tricky, you never know how they will react on the skin.

Dao: I think trying it on before buying and see if the color changes is the best option. But if you already have a foundation that oxidizes, using a primer with it is worth a shot.

prettybeautiful: that’s a shame! But at least if you try them before you buy, you’re sure to pick a foundation that works for you and won’t be wasting any money.

Anastasia: oops, sorry Ana! lol. You’re so right! Always try the foundation on for a few hours before buying it, you never know how it’s gonna react once it is on your skin. A shade may be the perfect match as soon as you try it on and make you look like an orange half an hour later!
That’s happens to me too, it’s so annoying! We know better than them what suits us!

Fabulessbeauty: I agree and it’s very annoying!

Connie August 26, 2009 - 7:49 pm

I use a foundation primer before applying foundation and that helps heaps! I’ve also come to notice that water based foundations tend to oxidize faster compared to oil-based. When foundation oxidizes on me it turns grey and ashy >.<
.-= Connie´s last blog ..It Feels Like Christmas! =-.

beautifulwithbrains August 27, 2009 - 3:43 pm

Connie, I’m glad a primer helps in your case. Really? I would have thought the opposite.

emily May 30, 2010 - 1:29 am

I am a makeup artist and have noticed foundations turning gray on certain clients. Especially African Americans or women who hit the tanning beds WAY TOO MUCH. How do I fix this????

beautifulwithbrains May 30, 2010 - 8:04 pm

Emily, do you mean grey in pictures or in real life? Because certain foundations contain pigments that reflect light a lot and they can make you look grey/white in pictures or if you go out at night with all those artifical lights, especially if your skin is very dark. If that’s the problem, then I’m afraid your only option is to use a foundation that doesn’t reflect light so much. Hope this helps.

johhny June 9, 2010 - 4:17 am

hmmm i spend way too much on makeup… and my my foundation always turn orange on me no matter what primer i use grrrr . i hate my freaking skin its disgusting 2 look at! i have very oily acne prone scar skin ; ( FML !!! … i might try using a lighter foundation and see when it oxidize it might macth my skin tone … but im not looking fowward 2 forking out more money again. Gosh i hate my skin so much right now !!!!

beautifulwithbrains June 9, 2010 - 6:37 pm

Johhny, that’s too bad that you always have this problem even with primer. I think a lighter foundation is definitely the way to go as it would match you when oxidized. But maybe you can try asking for samples first so you can try it at home and see if it matches yuo without wasting more money on something that may not work.

glitter July 8, 2010 - 7:11 pm

I agree most counter makeup assistants do not know what their talking about when they try and match up your foundation colour, they just assume every one is dark! I tried jane iredale mineral pressed powder in warm sienna and it was way too dark for my skin tone.

But the most strangest thing was that after washing it offafter a dew hours it left a hue of colour of my skin. I tried washing it off several times but it is llike my skin has literally absorbed the colour and now it wont shift. My bare face colour looks as if i have i have a fake tan on which looks un natural. This may sound unusual but this mineral makeup has left a stain of colour on my skin.
Does anyone know if mineral makeup oxidizes and react to skin making it look darker even after you’ve washed it off ?

beautifulwithbrains July 9, 2010 - 3:49 pm

Glitter, SA always try to make me buy shades that are too dark for me too. The last time I went to my local beauty store, I asked the SA for help to find a foundation that matches my very pale skin and she wanted to make me try some from L’Oreal or Revlon which, at least here in Italy, don’t sell shades pale enough for me. She insisted on trying them on my anyway and the palest color was 3 or 4 shades darker than me! What was she thinking?!

I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with that foundation. I know mineral makeup can oxidize and turn darker but I never heard that can happen after it is removed. Have you tried exfoliating your face? That would get rid of the dead cells on the surface and make the color fade, at least a little.

Glitter July 11, 2010 - 6:25 am

Its been day 7 now and my face colour has cleared up. I have been using gentle micro dermabrasion everyday since that strange incident with the dark foundation. Its much better now thanks.

beautifulwithbrains July 11, 2010 - 6:40 am

Glitter, I’m glad to hear that your face color is back to normal now. That must have been a weird, horrible experience.

alexa October 6, 2010 - 8:37 am

I am Asian and have a brown skin (you know some asians are white kkk) … I wanna try maybelline mineralize products. what shade is good for me? thank you.

beautifulwithbrains October 6, 2010 - 12:06 pm

Alexa, unfortunately I’m afraid I can’t help you there. We all have different skintones with different undertones and the same foundation may not oxidize on anyone so the best thing to do is try a tester and see which shade suits you best. Remember to see how the color looks under natural lighting and if you think the shade is a good match, wait a couple of hours to see if it has oxidizes (turned durker) before buying the full size. Hope this helps.

Macbarbie03 August 30, 2012 - 12:01 am

Hi, i have this problem all the time too! No matter what i do, it doesnt work. Ive tried going lighter but then i just look super pale! But i did find a way to make it work! I just use a concealer stick to cover up any blemishes( essence cover stick) and then use a loose powder( cover girl) and i havent had problems with it yet! Ive use this for about 3 days now. This might not work for everyone, and my personal advice is that some times if you turn orange, its because its not blended well enough! Also, the brand might not be good. Alot of drugstore ones dont work. Haha. But yeah
Xoxo beth

beautifulwithbrains August 30, 2012 - 12:12 pm

Macbarbie03, I’m glad you’ve found something that works well for you and thank you for sharing it. I’m sure other people will find it useful too.

Liz December 31, 2012 - 7:29 pm

Hi! please help me, my foundation turns grey and pale on me, in the natural light and when I take photografies whit flash. It´s revlon colorstay whipped, I have latina skin, like natural tan.

beautifulwithbrains January 2, 2013 - 2:28 pm

Liz, it sounds like your foundation contains a high amount of Titanium Dioxide, a sunscreen ingredient that reflects light, thus causing the white/pale cast. Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do except change foundation.

Alex April 24, 2013 - 11:34 am

I have a fairly pale skin tone 110 cover girl. I have recently begun to change to maybeline dream matte because I can’t get cover girl In my area. My advanced radiance 110 cover girl liquid mousse foundation and compact powder never turns orange but the new maybeline mousse nude light 4 makes me look like a orange about 10 minutes later which is usually when I’m at school. What can I do??? I only have chemists in my area and I can’t afford to spend heaps of money. Another thing is even garnier bb cream light sometimes turns orange. Help?

beautifulwithbrains April 24, 2013 - 8:42 pm

Alex, I’m sorry to hear about your problem. Have you tried using a face primer? They create a base on the skin that prevents the makeup from coming in contact with the oils on its surface, and there are good ones at all price points. An alternative would be to try a shade lighter of your foundation and see if, when it becomes darker, it matches your skintone well. Hope this helps.

Alex April 24, 2013 - 11:43 pm

Thankyou. I will try a primer and the tone lighter. Hopefully that will work. Thankyou

beautifulwithbrains April 25, 2013 - 5:37 am

You’re welcome. 🙂

Somasam July 30, 2013 - 3:30 am

Hello, i have a t zone problem my skin gets very oily specially on the nose and forehead i hve tried many foundation now i use avon liquid and thn apply mac studio fix powder but it still gets oily. I hve used sephora primer but once i apply the primer the face is so dry forthe time being that its hard to put the foundation it clots at one place. Also i hve tried lighter shades but than it makes myface lookssoo caky. I don’tknow whatto do please help me i can find a good foundation thatglows my skin, isnt too dark. I like to look lighter but nottht much tht it looks caky.

beautifulwithbrains July 30, 2013 - 9:16 pm

Somason, have you tried Clarins Truly Matte Foundation SPF 15? It’s a great option for those with oily skin. I’d also recommend you use a primer, such as Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer, underneath. It’s expensive, but it contains oil absorbing ingredients.

I’m not sure if you already are, but if not, I’d recommend you also use a leave-in product with either salicylic acid or retinoids, which will help reduce oil production.

Somasam July 31, 2013 - 2:19 am

Thank you so much for all your help, I am definitely going to try and see how it works on my skin and what do you mean by leave in product??? Can you tell me some and what are they??

beautifulwithbrains July 31, 2013 - 5:30 am

I mean a product that stays on the skin for hours, like a moisturizer or serum. These ingredients won’t be able to do much when used in a cleanser as you’ll be removing them within minutes.


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