Monday, October 17, 2016

Avoid Foundation Flashback

Ever take a picture at night and feel like there's a weird white film over your face when you look back at the photo? That's foundation flashback and I went on a journey trying to find the best foundations to avoid it.

So I have this problem, it's a serious one and I've done months of research on fixing it- foundation flashback. It feels like no matter what foundation I'm wearing, when I take a photo at night with flash it rebounds making my face look super white. It's so severe sometimes that it makes me look a character on the Walking Dead. YIKES! Weird thing is in person, it looks totally normal and I know this happens to girls of all varying skin shades. So what causes foundation flashback?

Most people will tell you foundation with sunscreen is the only cause of foundation flashback. WRONG. While SPF is a big culprit you can also get flashback with foundations that contain no SPF. Mineral based foundation with good amounts of silica or silver mica can also be the cause. It also helps to avoid dewy finish foundation that can cause reflections and stick with matte formulas.

So the reason I started on this long trek to find the perfect foundation is because I'm getting married in December in a night ceremony. Meaning tons of flash are going to be headed my way. Even the slightest flashback can make me appear pallid and takes away my features. Something I definitely do not want on my big day.

So the following are the foundations I've tried that are touted as formulas that "don't" cause flash back *eye roll*. I also want to be honest and say that none of these are drugstore formulas and can get pricey. The reason being is that drugstores don't make a foundation that is light enough for my skin tone (not even M.A.C. makes one), so apologies that there isn't lot of variation in pricing.

Being a ginger is tough.

This is my good ol' faithful foundation and the one that most definitely causes flashback. I use to wear it at night regardless of the flashback because it just looks so darn good in person! It gives me a dewy finish, moisturizing, and has high coverage. Perfect for a gal with dry skin like me. I used to just suck it up that it doesn't look so great in photos because I was just such a fan. This just isn't gonna cut it though for the big day.

Since I'm a Lancome fan I though I'd try sticking in the family. A video blogger did a review of the Teint Idole and praised it for not only it's long wear but also for passing their flashback test. WHAT?! Video bloggers rarely do flashback tests so surely this one would be my gem. NEWP. Didn't do it for me and it definitely had that slight white filmy looking when I tried a flash photo. Shouldn't be too surprising since it does have a slight amount of SPF but I was too optimistic. Although I have to say that this is Lancome's lightest shade they offer and the only formula they have in (Ivoire 90N) so for all my super pale ladies out there- this was my PERFECT skin shade match and will probably switch to this for when I need a day time foundation. Not good enough for nighttime though so on to the next.

(The stuff of pure nightmares while also serving you bettlejuice realness)

This is probably one of the most highly touted, rated, reviewed foundations by professionals. There's tons of articles from professional make-up artists saying that this foundation is the absolute best and professional photographers have their models use it for fantastic results because it does absolutely not cause flashback according to the interwebs. So, this would obviously work for me then, right? You already know the answer.

This gave me the WORST flashback out of all of them- like actually frightening. And to be honest with you after trying it and having such bad results I felt a bit defeated. If the best foundation doesn't work for me than maybe my search is going to be fruitless. (Turns is out it has a lot of mica in it, one of those minerals you need to avoid)

So I turn my attention back to my old faithful Lancome and find this formula that has no SPF and limited amount of minerals that are known for flashback. Put it on my pale lil face and gave it the flashback test. NO FLASHBACK! WOOT WOOT! Here are some con's though. It's a serum to powder foundation, which I wasn't used to and was a little odd to put on (had to buy a special brush). I already have dry skin and I felt like this formula was really bringing attention to it. I still had another foundation coming in the mail so I was going to wait to get excited.

This foundation is a favorite for celebrities on the red carpet and ginger bloggers on the web. I figure if it holds up to hundreds of red carpet flash bulbs, and other red heads love it, then it might be a good fit for me. Out of the bottle it feels like a more traditional formula, goes on smooth, and the color match is fantastic. I tried flash photo test and it worked, no flashback!

The Final Test

(Ignore my 8 hour old lipstick stain)

So I've now have got two formulas that don't cause flashback (Give them a try yourself if you're having this problem too). Which one do I pick? I put the Nude Miracle on one half of my face and the Giorgio Armani on the other half and then take a picture in bright sunlight. While some people may not be able to tell the difference, the Nude Miracle on the right has a slight more yellow tinge that doesn't quite match my face. The Giorgio Armani it is!

Road Test

I'm not done yet people! I put the Giorgio Armani on with a full face of make-up and test it out and a night time social. I take a ton of photos with flash and I really like the results. WaHoo! My journey is a officially over and I've found my perfect wedding foundation, phew.

Hopefully all of these foundation tests help you in your future flashback free ventures too.


I used the Armani for my wedding and it did me wonders! But i'm currently even paler now and the Armani's palest is too dark for me in 2018 (v. sad). 

Cover FX's Natural Finish Foundation can cause minimal flashback. I've been using P10 but I've gotten EVEN paler recently (lol) and now moved on to N0. In some lighting with flash I get NO flashback, but then in some lighting (like the photo above) I get minimal flashback. I'm just so pale right now that I can't wear my trusty Armani without looking weird in person (it's just too dark). While the Cover FX causes foundation flashback in some lighting, I find that it's minimal enough for me that it's bearable.  

So right now, Cover FX is my current go-to for night time photography as they just have a bigger skin match range. I do feel like considering my shade limitations this is a great swap for my beloved Armani. If you can find your shade in Armani though, I would prefer that over the Cover FX- but what's a pale girl to do! 

2018 Flashback Fails

A total flashback fail for me was Kat Von-D's Lock it Tattoo Foundation in Light 41 Neutral. Good color match, but I have dry skin and found it bother super thick and drying- plus TRULY terrifying flashback. Making it both a bad match for daytime (too cakey) and not good for night (flashback). 

Cover FX Power Play in N0 is a good skin match for my super pale months, but it does cause foundation flash back for sure. If you have dry skin like me, make sure to use a moisturizing primer because this is super drying to me. If you have oily skin, this could be your daytime go to.

Setting Powders/Primers

So this blog has gotten a lot of attention (I knew this was a problem for other people! lol) and I had forgotten to include that a lot of setting powders can cause foundation flashback.

For my not deathly pale girls, use Too Faced's "Peach Perfect" loose setting power If you're super pale like me don't use anything that has a skin tone to it. If you do, that slight tint will cause your foundation not to match. This does have a slight peachy tint, but if you're not pale it will just give you a nice glow with none of the flashback.

For my pale girls that need that ish to be truly transparent like me (or any other skin tone too), I use Stellar's Cosmic Face Finish Powder in "Haze". No Flashback & no tint change to your foundation- perfection!

Make sure your primer doesn't have any type of sunscreen or the bad minerals I listed at the top of this article (silica or silver mica) that can cause flashback. I use Smashbox's Photo Finish Hydrating Primer; they don't carry it at Sephora anymore (here's hoping they're not cancelling it because I love it!) but they still have it at amazon. Really, just make sure to avoid the bad minerals and anything with sunscreen in it.

Does Not Cause Foundation Flashback
  • -Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
  • -Lancome's Nude Miracle Weightless Foundation
  • -Cover FX's Natural Finish Foundation (one commenter said this did cause her FB, I use this regularly & find that sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. Get a sample to test it on yourself before buying.) 

  • -Too Faced's Peach Perfect Setting Powder
  • -Stellar's Cosmic Face Finish Powder in Haze

Causes Minimal Foundation Flashback
  • -Cover FX's Natural Finish Foundation


  1. Thank you so much for putting this information out there. I, too,find nearly every foundation I've tried gives me flashback. I am not that pale, I normally wear Clinique Even Better Foundation in Alabaster (big time flashback). Thank you so much for the extensive research!

  2. Well, I tried the Cover Fx Natural Finish Foundation and I still got flashback.☹️

    1. BUMMER!!! The only ones for me that were truly 0% flashback were the Armani Luminous and the Nude Miracle from Lancome (try these if you haven't yet!). Cover FX is the closest now to no flashback, but I do prefer the other two when it just comes to flashback- they just don't have the shade range for me right now.

      You probably already did this but make sure you're not using any primers or setting powders that cause foundation flashback, something that people don't think of but it can definitely contribute to the issue.

      If you're super pale like me and end up finding something that I haven't listed, comment and I'll try it out and do a 2019 update. God Speed, flashback is the WORST.

  3. I’m super pale and the Armani is wayy to dark for me and the Lancôme is discontinued :(

  4. I’m super pale and the Armani is wayy to dark for me and the Lancôme is discontinued :(

  5. I’m super pale and the Armani is wayy to dark for me and the Lancôme is discontinued :(