All About the Essential Foundation

Breaking down all the parts that make our hero product, the Essential Foundation, from its eco-friendly packaging, to its plant-based makeup formula, plus an overview of its main features, and tips on finding your foundation shade match.

 Product Overview: Essential Foundation green beauty product with photo of bottle and box on a background of forest and Shannon Falls in Squamish BC

In this blog post:

  • 10 facts about our foundation packaging
    • Glass bottle
    • Upcycled components
    • Plastic-free box
  • What’s inside
    • A breakdown of the ingredients
    • Full list
    • The no-list
  • Main features
    • Coverage
    • Finish
    • Skin Types
    • Staying Power
    • Application
    • Shelf life
  • How to find your shade

Healthy Makeup: Beautiful Inside & Out

Let’s begin with our consciously created packaging, and why we made certain choices when it came to designing our latest bottle and box, released in September 2020.

Diptyque image showing two plastic-free boxes on grass on the left, and two upcycled glass bottle on a white sheet on the right

10 facts to know about our liquid foundation packaging.

Comes in a glass bottle:

  • Luxurious but also great for reducing plastic use
  • Metallic coating protects from UV exposure
  • Creative use of existing packaging components. More on that below!

Many components are upcycled:

  • We’re researching, learning, and designing new packaging for the future. In the meantime, we figured using up tens of thousands of components we already own from previous designs was THE MOST eco-friendly, responsible choice we could make as a business.
  • The bottle, pumps and caps are for the most part upcycled from previous variations of this foundation’s packaging. Their appearance may vary slightly different at times, for example the cap may be metallic silver or translucent grey, but the product will always be the same inside.
  • Using a gorgeous, stylized label around the bottle, matching our brand’s visual identity, we can use up more bottles, for any shade in the range, limiting what we need to produce in new components, our carbon emissions, and waste.

Three strips of SAPPHO labels of different shades on a white background

Its box is plastic-free:

  • Why is that important? You may not realize this, but many beauty companies use laminated paper to create their boxes, which is actually plastic-coated paper and way more difficult to recycle, if at all. Lamination can be useful to prolong the life of a paper product or card, but for single-use box packaging such as this, it’s definitely a good thing to avoid!

Infographic of sustainability features of our eco-friendly organic foundation makeup packaging 

What’s inside the Essential Foundation glass bottle?

 A high quality, luxurious organic foundation makeup formula that feels weightless and lasts all day.

  • 82% organic content
  • Low heavy metal, ethically mined minerals for colour
  • Skin-friendly ingredients you would find in advanced organic skincare, lotions, etc.

Close up of vegan foundation bottles and an open box

Let’s break down our natured-derived, plant-based ingredients together:

  • In a base of Aloe Vera leaf juice, rich in glycoproteins with anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory properties. It feels soothing and helps to improve the appearance of fine wrinkles.
  • Next, the organic alcohol. While maybe daunting to some, rest assured this is gentle, and commonly used in organic skincare lines. Distilled and infused with flower extracts using a unique process, it’s found here as a natural preservative, to keep the pores clean and unclogged, and to act as a skincare carrier agent in combination with other ingredients.
  • Ideal moisturizing ingredients, like Shea Butter (ideal for dry skin, plus balances the alcohol above), Jojoba Oil and Esters, Beta-Sitosterol, Squalene (vegan origin), Tocopherol (Vitamin E from sunflowers), plus…
  • OK this one is a mouthful: Saccharomyces/Agave Tequilana Leaf Ferment Filtrate or simply put, fermented Blue Agave, is quite unique in makeup to our Essential formula. It utilizes the agave plant's defense mechanisms to protect the skin from damage caused by increasingly intense surroundings, and to promote moisturization, soothing, and the overall health of the skin.
  • Powerful antioxidants such as Rooibos leaf and Superoxide dismutase, with flavonoids considered to have protective qualities against cell and tissue damage, green tea extract, German Chamomile oil, and Vitamin E.
  • Anti-inflammatory ingredients like green tea extract, Calendula flowers, with vulnerary action said helpful for acne, eczema and skin issues, soothing for a soft appearance, Neem oil, and many of the essential oils listed further as well.
  • Some ingredients you may not be familiar with provide specific features, like Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (emollient, dispersing “slip” agent), Polyglyceryl-2 Stearate (skin conditioning emollient, emulsifier), Xanthum gum (thickener for ease of application), Sclerotium gum (thickener, emulsifier, stabilizer), Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate (preservative), Soybean Peroxidase (preservative found in the blue agave) were chosen with purpose.
  • Mica, for slight reflection and a radiant effect, always verified child-labour free, from suppliers part of the Responsible Mica Initiative.
  • Neem oil is an interesting addition, pressed from the seeds of neem, used since ancient times in Indian medicine and Ayurveda, which research has found to have antibacterial properties. It’s an effective anti-inflammatory and studies conclude it’s good for acne.
  • Essential oils for both a pleasant, light scent and formula function: Rockrose oil, with many properties including anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, astringent and cicatrizant; Deodar Cedar oil, which can help soothe irritation, inflammation, redness, and itchiness, as well as dryness that leads to cracking, peeling, or blistering, helps regulate sebum production, eliminates acne-causing bacteria, guards the skin against environmental pollutants and toxins, and helps to eliminate unpleasant odours; Indian frankincense oil, effective for inflammation, soothing and calming, clinically shown to improve skin elasticity and visibly reduce wrinkle depth, for firmer skin; Lavender flower oil, with both anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, and feels soothing to the skin; Tea Tree leaf oil, used for its antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties, and may help with acne and oily skin ; Carrot seed oil, antioxidant and emollient; Roman & German Chamomile oils, for their anti-inflammatory qualities. Linalool is a naturally occurring component found in a variety of essential oils, like lavender, in small amounts.
  • And the “May contain”? Ingredients like CI 77891 et al. are minerals, found in nature and used for colouration, which may or may not be present in a particular shade, in smaller or greater quantity. All our minerals are sourced from ethical, Ecocert suppliers. 

In the spirit of transparency, here is the full list of ingredients, which you can also find on the Essential Foundation page.

Aloe barbadensis Leaf extract*, Alcohol*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butyrospermum parkii Butter*, Simmondsia chinensis seed oil*, Polyglyceryl-2 Stearate, Glyceryl stearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Jojoba Esters, Xanthan Gum, Mica, Azadirachta Indica Seed Oil*, Beta-Sitosterol, Sclerotium Gum, Squalene, Tocopherol, Saccharomyces/Agave Tequilana Leaf Ferment Filtrate*, Aspalathus Linearis Leaf Extract*, Calendula officinalis flower extract*, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract*, Cistus Ladaniferus Oil, Cedrus Deodara Wood Oil,* Boswellia Serrata Oil*, Lavandula angustifolia oil*, Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil*, Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate*, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil*, Daucus Carota Sativa Seed Oil*, Chamomilla Recutita Oil*, Soybean Peroxidase, Superoxide dismutase, Linalool, may contain +/- CI 77891, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, CI 77947

Here are some ingredients you will NOT find in our vegan foundation makeup, for your health and that of our planet, water and wildlife:

  • PFAS: Having recently come under scrutiny after being found in many common North American beauty products, this “forever chemical” is often not listed in ingredients but found upon testing by third-parties. So, we tested ours independently in 2021 and 2022 the results came back great: we have undetected levels of 100-150 common PFAS and of organic fluorine, a likely marker for up to 12000 PFAS!

“PFAS do not break down and accumulate in the environment and human body over time. The substances persist for long periods of time, hence the nickname "forever chemicals." They are linked to severe health effects such as cancer, hormone disruptions, weakened immune systems, and low birth weights.” 

Smithsonian Magazine

  • Dimethicone: While often accepted in clean beauty makeup formulas, our founder JoAnn isn’t yet satisfied with the available research and studies (don’t get her started on the animal testing for this one!) and so, until we are sure it is safe to use, for us and for accumulation in nature, we’re keeping it out.
  • Silicones
  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Synthetic fragrance
  • Gluten
  • Animal or insect by-products

What’s good about the Essential Foundation? 

This super lightweight foundation is great for everyday wear, especially if you’re looking for a more natural finish. Even if you’re not the foundation wearing type, we encourage you to give this one a try, as unlike mainstream foundations, heavy-feeling with silicones and a mask-like finish, it feels like you’re wearing nothing. It’s usually the first thing people say after we apply it – that and how nice it smells. Essential is truly one of the best vegan foundations out there.

Check out our Trial Sizes if you’re unsure and want to see for yourself.

Model wearing a natural foundation makeup look, holding Essential Foundation bottle and vegan Buffer Brush, glancing sideways

Coverage: Light to Medium, buildable (means you can get more coverage by applying more layers).

Finish: Soft satin finish, gets slightly dewier as the day goes by.

Skin Types: Almost any skin type can wear this organic foundation.

  • Regular or normal skin types
  • Mature or aging skin (not to toot our own horn, but it’s been said to be the best organic foundation for mature skin available!)
  • Breakout or acne prone skin
  • Sensitive skin, although a patch test is always a good thing to try first!
  • Dry skin types may prefer to use a makeup primer first to boost hydration (like our Skin Perfecting Primer for Dry Skin) and avoid applying powder over top
  • Combination or oily skin types, while it’s not mandatory, may want to use a primer (like our Skin Perfecting Primer for Oily Skin) and set oily areas with a powder (a loose powder like our Silky Setting Powder or a pressed powder like our Shine Perfecting Pressed Powder Refills)
  • Dehydrated skin types may wish to work with an esthetician, a dermatologist, or a skin specialist to address skin moisture first. This may not be the ideal foundation right now! 

Staying Power: Can last all day and evening, of course depending on your skin type and level of activity. Oily skin types may like to blot excess sebum and reapply powder throughout the day.

Application: Applying this foundation is quite easy. It dries quickly and can be applied with a brush, a slightly damp makeup sponge or even your fingers.

To make things extra easy, we offer this incredible vegan foundation brush (shown above) called Perfect Finish Buffer Brush, and it wears its name well. Use it to apply foundation as you would with any brush, starting from the centre towards your hair and jaw lines. Finish with circular motions, to gently buff to an even finish and smooth skin texture. It’s a favourite of both our team and our customers, and it makes foundation application a breeze!

For more application tips to make liquid foundation look more natural, check out this earlier blog post from our team.

Shelf Life: Offers a 30-month shelf life from the date it’s made, and good until the expiry date once opened.

Finding your shade.

If you’re shopping online, you might be finding it hard to figure out your shade. We’ve created a few different ways to help you. 

Diptyque image with model having a virtual consultation on the left, and a mature skin model wearing shade Norma on the right

  • Ask us to match you! Use our online chat, email us or send us a DM on Instagram. You can:
    • Send us 1-2 photos of you in natural light, from the shoulders up, and wearing as little makeup as possible so we can see your skin tone.
    • Give us your current match in another product you know works well for you
  • Use our Shade Guide, which shows photos of models wearing each of our 14 shades.
  • Take the Makeover Quiz to help narrow down your skin tone and find your match.
  • Order Trial Sizes, which are mini tubes containing just enough for 2-3 applications. You can order just one shade if you think you’ve figured it out, or a few so that you can swatch them on top of your jaw line.

(Side note: our sample tubes biodegrade 76X faster in landfills than normal plastic, which takes hundreds.)

 Green beauty foundation bottle and two samples placed on a plant with bright leaves

Don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you have any questions or need personalized advice at



This blog post/website is made available by Sappho New Paradigm Cosmetics for educational purposes only, as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of ingredients, not to provide specific legal descriptions or claims.
The SAPPHO New Paradigm blog/website should not be used as a substitute for competent medical advice from a licensed professional or dermatologist in your area.