Picking the right foundation is a tricky business. Get it right and you’ll look like you have a naturally flawless complexion that will leave your friends and coworkers wondering what your secret is. Get it wrong and it will look like you’re wearing a mask.
The good news is foundation options for coverage, finish, formula, and shade are practically endless. There’s an ideal match out there for everyone. But that’s also what makes finding the right foundation so tricky! What do all those terms mean? How do you even know where to start?
Of course, picking the right foundation is only half of the battle. You’ve got to get the application just right, too. But don’t worry! We’re going to explain exactly how to pick and use the right foundation for your skin once and for all.
- Choosing the Right Foundation for Your Skin Type
- How to Find the Right Foundation Shade
- How to Apply Foundation for a Naturally Flawless Finish
- Wrapping Up
Choosing the Right Foundation for Your Skin Type
Knowing your skin type and how to treat it is the first step to choosing the right foundation. The easiest way to understand your skin type is to observe how your face reacts after cleansing. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser, pat dry, wait an hour, and assess the condition of your skin.
- Dry skin: If your face feels tight or has visible flakiness, you have dry skin.
- Combination skin: If your face is a bit shiny throughout the forehead, nose, and chin only, you have combination skin.
- Oily skin: If your face is shiny all over, you have oily skin.
- Normal skin: If your skin is not oily and feels hydrated and comfortable, you have normal skin.
The Best Foundation for Dry or Aging Skin
Those with dry or aging skin will want to avoid foundations that have a matte finish. Dry and aging skin can appear dull, so a hydrating liquid or cream foundation that adds brightness, luminosity, and radiance will be a perfect choice. Look for products that say glowy or dewy finish on the label.
Choose a foundation that leaves your skin looking hydrated and fresh, but never shimmery or sparkly. Shimmer can accentuate dry patches and fine lines. Lightweight, sheer to medium coverage formulas that feel breathable or serum-like are a great choice for evening out the skin if you don’t need a ton of coverage.
The Best Foundation for Combination Skin
If your skin has both dry and oily areas, you’ll need to decide if you prefer a more dewy or a more matte finish.
You might want to change things up according to the season. Go with a more matte formula in the spring and summer when skin tends to be more oily. Then, switch to a dewy finish in winter when skin tends to need more hydration.
A liquid or cream foundation with a velvet matte finish can also be a great compromise because it will keep shine at bay without making you look ultra-matte. Light to medium coverage is best for a natural look, with concealer added just in the areas where you need more coverage.
The Best Foundation for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
Oily skin types will benefit from a liquid or powder foundation with a semi-matte or matte finish. If you have acne scars or texture, choosing a formula that provides coverage and smooths out the skin will be key.
A smoothing or mattifying primer applied before a full-coverage foundation can be extremely helpful for this skin type. You’ll want to avoid products that are meant to be illuminating or hydrating in favor of oil-free and mattifying formulas.
Stay away from thick formulas that can accentuate texture on your skin and avoid pore-clogging ingredients that can contribute to acne and blackheads.
The Best Foundation for Normal Skin
If your skin is neither oily or dry, you can choose your foundation formula based on your personal preference. Go for a hydrating or illuminating formula when you want a dewy or glowy finish. In the summer, a semi-matte or matte finish can keep shine away and help your makeup last longer in the heat.
Liquid, cream, and powder foundations will all work for your skin type, so feel free to experiment to see what you like best. You might also want to consider a BB or CC cream to even out your skin tone without being heavy or cakey.
A Note About Sensitive Skin
No matter which skin type you have, if you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to avoid heavy foundations that contain a lot of fragrance. Look for a lightweight liquid or cream foundation with the cleanest ingredients possible.
How to Find the Right Foundation Shade
What you’re looking for is a shade that matches your skin tone perfectly… but that can be easier said than done.
One of the best ways to start your search for the perfect foundation shade is to embrace modern technology. Many brands offer online shade finders to help you find the perfect match or at least point you in the right direction.
That said, nothing beats trying the product in person. If you’re shopping for a higher-end foundation, ask for several samples that are close to your skin tone. If you’re going to the drugstore, you’ll probably have to buy a few bottles and return the ones that don’t work out.
Once you get your hands on a few shades that are closest to your skin tone, try them out in natural light in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest. See how the product wears and oxidizes on your skin. If you love how it looks at the end of the day, you’ve found your perfect shade and formula.
How to Apply Foundation for a Naturally Flawless Finish
Here’s how to apply foundation for a naturally flawless finish.
- Prep your face with cleanser, exfoliator, and moisturizer to prevent clogged pores, remove dry patches, and hydrate the skin.
- Apply a primer that addresses your skin concerns. Primers come in formulas that help reduce redness, smooth out the texture, add hydration, mattify, and more.
- Start with a thin application of foundation, working from the inside out. You can add a little more in areas where you really need more coverage but be careful not to go overboard.
- Add concealer where the foundation didn’t provide enough coverage, such as blemishes and under eye circles. Tap it in gently to avoid rubbing your foundation away.
- Whether you’re using a brush, sponge, or your fingertips, avoid rubbing or wiping the foundation into your skin. Use gentle, pressing or tapping motions instead. This will give a more flawless finish, no matter what type of foundation or applicator you’re using.
- Be sure to blend the foundation carefully into your ears and neck so that they match your face.
- Set your foundation with setting powder that’s made for your skin type. A hydrating setting powder will set your foundation without dulling the finish, while a mattifying setting powder will help keep shine at bay for the long haul. All you need is a light application on the T-zone, cheeks, and under the eyes.
- Apply the rest of your makeup as normal and finish off with a setting spray in the finish of your choice to ensure that your hard work lasts all day.
So, once you find the perfect formula and shade, you’re done, right? Well, not always. Skin tone and type can change from year to year and even season to season. You’ll want to reevaluate every so often to make sure the foundation you choose is still working for your skin. Finding the perfect foundation is kind of like a lifelong quest… but we promise it’s worth it!