Wednesday, 13 April 2011

How to choose the right foundation for you!

When shopping for makeup, finding a good foundation can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. So many options, so little time! It seems like every brand offers several foundations and it can be difficult to decipher what each formula has to offer. So, to help make some sense out of the multitudes of foundations out there, here are some tips and things to consider when looking for one that suits you best:

1) Figure out which formula is best for your skin type

More and more, companies are coming out with foundations that are catered to specific skin types. You can find them with oil control, moisturization, or all-day wear. When trying to decipher which may suit your skin best, look for descriptors like “oil-free” (typically best for combination or oily skin), “moisturizing” (best for those with dry or flaky skin, or for combination skin during the colder months), “dewy” (best for drier skins and those that like a glowy finish), “matte” (for a shine-free finish), and  “long-wear” (for those who don't want their foundation to budge throughout the day).

Choosing a foundation can be also be difficult because they are offered in a range of consistency, from sheer liquids, to rich cremes, to pressed powders. Here are some tips to navigate these options:

Liquid- The most common option, there are liquid foundations available for every skin type. They can be applied with fingers, a sponge, or a brush, and can sometimes be a bit time-consuming to apply. For oilier skin types, try Revlon Colourstay Foundation (offered in both combination/oily and dry skin formulas), MAC Studio Fix Fluid, or Laura Mercier Oil-Free foundation. For combination to dry skin, try Make Up For Ever's Face and Body foundation, NARS Sheer Glow foundation, or Almay Line-Smoothing foundation.

Powder- Powder foundations typically come in a compact and offer more coverage than traditional pressed powder used to set liquid foundations. They are typically best for oilier skin types because they leave a powdery finish (and often work like a foundation and powder in one). If you have drier skin but like using powder foundations, try a mineral formulation, which typically offer a more “glowy” finish. Some great powder foundations to try are Laura Mercier Mineral Powder foundation, MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural, and Clinique Almost Powder foundation.

Creme- Cream formulations are best for those with dry skin who are looking for a rich, moist finish. They are like a creamier version of traditional liquid foundations, and can be quite hydrating. Try Laura  Mercier Silk Creme foundation, Bobbi Brown Moisturizing Cream Compact foundation, Shu Uemura Nobara Cream Cover Stick foundation, or Avon Cream to Powder foundation . 

2)    Decide how much coverage are you looking for.

Foundations come in a wide array of coverage options, from extremely sheer to opaque, full coverage. When trying to figure out how much coverage a foundation offers, look for descriptors like “full coverage”, “sheer”, “natural” (usually meaning slightly more coverage than sheer foundations), or "high definition/light adjusting" (which usually claims moderate coverage that looks has the illusion of bare, flawless skin). When deciding how much coverage you require, ask yourself "What am I looking to cover? It is common for people with any skin imperfections to opt for a fuller-coverage foundation and apply it all over. I'm guilty of this as well, but if you're only trying to cover up minor or localized imperfections (small blemishes or scars), a sheerer foundation will show off the even-toned parts of your skin and you can leave the other spots to your concealer! If you do have more diffuse discolouration, such as all-over redness or larger patches of acne scarring, you  may want to opt for a more full-coverage formulation.

3)    What is your undertone?

Most foundations offer a wide range of colour options, and they're often categorized into Warm, Cool, or Neutral undertones. Those with Cool undertones tend to have more pink pink in their skin than yellow, look best in silver jewelry, probably have blue or green eyes, find clothes or eye shadows with pastel colours most flattering, and are best suited to  pink-toned blush. Those with Warm undertones tend to have more yellow in their skin than pink, look better in gold jewellery, probably have brown or hazel eyes, prefer earthy-toned clothes or eye shadows (like gold, bronze, or mossy green), and are best suited peachy or coral-toned blush. Those with Neutral undertones tend to have a mix of pink and yellow or a beigy tone to their skin. They can be a bit more versatile with what jewelry, makeup, or clothing colours they can wear. 

4)    Test it along your jawline

To ensure a perfect colour match, always test out a foundation along your jawline before buying. Basically, you're looking to see if it blends invisibly into your cheek and down onto your neck. You really want to avoid any visible lines of colour, and if it blends well into your jawline, you're most likely to avoid that dreaded "makeup mask" look! And to go along with this, when trying to find the best colour, always...

5)    Test it in natural light!

Beware of lighting at makeup counters! It can definitely be deceiving. Because you want your foundation to match your skin indoors and out, make sure you can check the colour match in natural sunlight before purchasing. This means it’s important not to buy foundations on a whim- test it, go outside, and think about it! And always get samples when possible! And finally-

6)     If you are in between shades, go with the lighter one!
Even with a range of colour options, it can still be the case that you’re in between shades. When this happens, it may be tempting to get the darker shade, as many of us would prefer a bit of extra colour over the prospect of looking pale. Thing is, when a shade is darker than your skin, a noticeable line between your jaw and neck is almost inevitable. If you go with a lighter shade, however,  you can always darken things up with a bit of all-over bronzer. It will look a lot more natural!

Hope this article was informative and helpful. If you want the details (price, where to buy) about any of the foundations I featured here, let me know! Also, if you have any other foundations tips and tricks of your own, share them here! :)       


  1. Thanks for the detailed advice! Buying foundation has always seemed incredibly daunting to me, so any helpful hints are appreciated!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it, Sarah! Any time you need to go foundation shopping, I'd be happy to accompany you :)

  3. What about something to make the purple rings under my eyes go away? I'm guessing foundation isn't for that, right?

  4. Hey, Allison! Yeah, even foundations with heavier coverage aren't the best for undereye circles. Concealers work best for that, and ususally those with a creamier texture (vs. liquid ones) offer the most coverage. Also, brands like MAC and Bobbi Brown offer undereye concealers in peachy/salmon shades that are specifically designed to counteract blueish-purple dark circles. Hope this helps!

  5. Avon is coming out with a colour-correcting palette that includes yellow, lilac, pink, and apricot shades. I'm probably going to purchase it with the hope that either the pink or apricot will help with dark circles. It will be available in the next campaign and is less than $10.

    (not affiliated)


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