how do you know if makeup is water based or silicone based

How do you know if makeup is water based or silicone based if you’ve ever experienced a foundation catastrophe, like slipping and sliding all over your face or falling off, your foundation may be to blame. No matter how good the foundation is, it will only stay in place and look smooth if it is compatible with the foundation you are using.

Like foundations, face primers are typically water- or silicone-based, and celebrity makeup artist Jamie Dorman emphasizes the importance of choosing the one that will work with your foundation. “If a foundation is not compatible with the foundation you use, it will clot on your skin, creating a broken-finish texture,” she says.

Below, he explains the key differences between types of makeup primers, tips for selecting the one that will work best for you, and some of his favorites.

Water Based Primers vs Silicone Based Primers

While it’s crucial to make sure your foundation is compatible with your foundation, it can also be helpful to understand how water-based and silicone-based foundations individually benefit your skin. “Water-based primers are best for dry, dehydrated skin—they will last longer and look better on dry skin,” says Dorman. “While silicone-based primers look better on oily skin, as the silicone creates a layer that prevents the oil from breaking down.”

That said, water-based primers will give you a more natural look because they “let the texture of your skin shine,” Dorman says. When looking for a water-based primer, be sure to look at the ingredients: water or glycerin should be one of the first three.

If your goal is to create a smooth surface for makeup application, you’ll want to find a silicone-based foundation and primer. Again, ingredients matter: cyclopentasiloxane or dimethicone should be listed as one of the three main ingredients.

Now that you understand the key differences and what to look for in silicone and water-based primers, find some of our editor-approved favorites below.