The inspiration for this Transfer-Resistant Cream Foundation came from two places. Place #1 was my 2020 Second Skin Cream Foundation, which was inspired by RCMA’s cream foundations. I love this formulation and have been using it ever since. My love (and use) was intensified when I ordered my favourite magnetic palette and wanted to put all the things it it. I scraped my Second Skin Cream Foundation out of its little 5g pot and moved it to a standalone 36mm round pan and was off to the races! I now positively adore having as much of my makeup as possible in a magnetic palette, which is where piece of inspiration #2 comes into play.
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Inspiration #2 was a combination of a desire to have a transfer-resistant foundation that would work in a magnetic palette and research I did into polyamide-3 when I was working on my Clear Lip Gloss Base (without Versagel!) last year. Most long-wearing foundations and concealers are volatile liquids or creams. The first few ingredients are usually something fast-drying like isododecane, cyclomethicone, and/or water, and then the film-forming element comes from something like trimethylsiloxysilicate or Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer. Part of the efficacy of these formulations comes from the dry-down and the volatile base ingredients, which is great, but fast-drying liquids need tight-fitting lids, so they don’t work well in magnetic palettes.
This got me thinking about transfer resistance in non-volatile formulations, which brought me to polyamide-3. Polyamide-3 thickens, is compatible with castor oil and esters like isopropyl myristate (IPM) and C12-15 alkyl benzoate, and it brings transfer-resistance to our formulations. I figured I could just swap the waxes in the 2020 formulation for some polyamide-3 and that’d likely work out pretty well—and it did! I did a proof-of-concept riff as an exclusive video for my Patrons earlier this year, and while that formulation needed a bit of tweaking, the idea was a solid one. Hooray!
You will need a batch of your own custom-blended mineral makeup for the coverage and colour matching. I go into a ton of detail on how to make your very own bespoke mineral makeup in my book, Make it Up: The Essential Guide to DIY Makeup and Skin Care.
Making-wise, this isn’t a hard thing to whip up, but it is a bit tricky. The makeup needs to be liquidy enough to stir and pour, but between the high solids content (51% of this formulation will not melt) and the high melting point of the polyamide-3 (around 100°C), the makeup doesn’t really want to be all that liquidy, even when heated. I go into heaps of detail about the best way to make the makeup in the video, and I highly recommend watching it to learn more and see the making in action.
The finished foundation blends out beautifully with a really skin-like finish. It’s not completely transfer-proof, but it’s definitely transfer-resistant and wears really well all day long (12+ hours). It also makes a surprisingly decent eyeshadow primer in a pinch. Enjoy! ❤️
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Relevant links & further reading
- C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Castor Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Silica Dimethyl Silylate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Polyamide-3 in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Make it Up: The Essential Guide to DIY Makeup and Skin Care
- Other foundation formulations:
- My favourite magnetic palettes
Transfer-Resistant Cream Foundation
2.5g | 50% mineral makeup (from the blog or the book)
1.175g | 23.5% C12-15 alkyl benzoate (USA / Canada)
1g | 20% castor oil (USA / Canada)
0.05g | 1% Silica Dimethyl Silylate (SDS)
0.275g | 5.5% Polyamide-3
Weigh all the ingredients into a beaker or heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Stir to combine; it’ll be lumpy and pasty, and that’s ok.
You’ll want to heat this with direct heat. If you’re using a beaker and you have a glass-top stove or a hot plate you can put the beaker straight onto the surface of the stove and melt everything over low heat. Keep a close eye on it to avoid scorching the mixture.
If placing the mixture directly on a heat source isn’t an option you can use your oven; place your beaker or measuring cup on a baking sheet and set your oven to around 100°C (220°F).
It’s a good idea to pre-heat your packaging—if possible and safe—to make pouring the makeup easier. It sets up really quickly, and will solidify almost instantly if poured into a cold pan. I used a standalone 36mm round pan from TKB Trading and put that on the hot plate next to the beaker.
Once the mixture has melted, stir to combine and then quickly pour it into your packaging before it solidifies. This can be a bit messy, especially if your packaging is cold. Please watch the video for tips and tricks!
Leave the foundation to solidify, and that’s it!
I like to use my fingers to apply this foundation, but you can blend it out with a brush if you prefer.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this product does not contain any water, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid (my 2020 batch of similar Second Skin Cream Foundation is still going strong 2 years later). If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this formulation in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 5g, which is a lot of foundation. I do not recommend scaling this formulation up!
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could probably try a store-bought mineral makeup if that’s all you have, though that will make this DIY significantly more expensive.
- I do not recommend swapping out the castor oil.
- You could try Isopropyl Myristate instead of C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate.
- The polyamide-3 is essential to this formulation; if you don’t have it and can’t get it, I recommend making my Second Skin Cream Foundation instead. It’s still lovely, just not transfer-resistant.
- You can try the Polyamide-3 from Making Cosmetics, but it is different than the one sold by TKB Trading and will perform slightly differently. Please read the Polyamide-3 encyclopedia entry to learn more.
- For the Silica Dimethyl Silylate:
- You could try silica microspheres or Silicone Elastomer (Dimethyl Siloxane Elastomer, Fumed Silica) instead.
- You could try sericite mica or starch (corn starch, arrowroot starch, etc.) instead.
- You could replace it with more castor oil.
- I do not recommend adding fragrance oil, essential oil, or anything else that needs to be added at a cool temperature as this formulation is solid at anything close to cool temperatures.