What foundation is right for me?

Looking at a wall of foundation at your local drug store or cosmetics department can be overwhelming. With a myriad of types and colors, not to mention so many different brands, you may not know where to begin. But following these guidelines can help even the most inexperienced makeup wearer quickly find the right one.

What is foundation?

Makeup Kit 5-5-09 IMG_3543photo © 2009 Steven Depolo | more info (via: Wylio)
Foundation, as the name implies, is the base of any makeup routine, and sets the stage for all other applications. Foundation is used to produce an even skin tone over the entire face. It’s not to be confused with primer, which goes on under foundation, and is used in certain locations to fill holes and wrinkles to achieve smooth skin, nor concealer, which is a spot treatment to hide acne, redness or dark circles. Trying to use foundation to hide these kinds of imperfections won’t work as well.

Examine your face

It’s important to determine your skin type, from dry to oily or anywhere in between. Certain types of foundations are created for different skin types. A dermatologist can give exact answers to your skin type, but it’s just as easy to go to a makeup counter in a department store, or drop by one of our cosmetology schools, where the consultant will go over your skin type with you.

  • For dry skin, use a moisturizing formula, with words like “moisture-rich” or “moisturizing” on the label.
  • For oily skin, look for products with “oil control,” “oil-free,” or “mattifying.”
  • For combination (both dry and oily) skin, first determine if you tend to be oilier in your oily spots, or have just a little bit of oil. Cream-to-powder foundations help to combat multiple skin types for an even look.
  • For sensitive skin, mineral-based foundations work great.
  • For those with no skin problems, use bottles marked “for normal skin” or ones without any of the terms listed above.

How much coverage?

Women with blemishes or uneven skin tones may want to use a medium-coverage foundation. Mineral-based foundations are great for providing medium coverage. Women who do not have as much difference with their skin tones should choose a light-coverage foundation.

If a medium-coverage foundation does not help blend out facial redness, especially around the nose and cheeks, you may want to speak to your doctor about rosacea, which involves chronic skin irritation, and can cause more severe problems with your eyes and other parts of your face. There is no cure, but there are new prescription medicines to help with the symptoms.

Start with a clean palette

Before you go to the store to make your selection, clean your face really well. Putting on a moisturizer or even lipstick is fine, but don’t go any further. Putting on a foundation beforehand will defeat the purpose.

Color your world

Select a few foundation colors that are closest to your natural skin tone. Hold the back of your hand up to the color charts provided by the makeup companies to give you a place to start with a general idea. Lighter skin tones should go towards the pink end of the spectrum. Average skin tones should be good in the yellow spectrum. Nowadays, women with darker skin tones no longer have to go to African-American beauty shops. All of the most popular makeup companies have a broad range of ethnic colors.

Using the samples provided, take the colors you’ve chosen and test them on your cheek. Although using the back of your hand was a good place to start to get the product off the shelf, it’s not as good of a place to test the actual product. The color that “disappears” into your skin is the one that you should pick.

If you’re unsure of which color is best, don’t be afraid to ask, whether it’s the professional behind a department store makeup counter or the lady two feet away getting ready to make her own selection. We’re all in this together, and a friendly unbiased opinion can go a long way.

If it doesn’t look right when you get home, don’t be afraid to return it for another one. Many stores are becoming more relaxed about returning makeup.

Brand and price

There’s almost no right or wrong answer when it comes to brand. You can’t go wrong with famous name brands such as Maybelline, L’oreal, and Cover Girl, and it’s really just a matter of personal preference.

More expensive brands of foundation will provide more specialty types of coverage, but if those are out of your price range, shop around to find a store that has their own generic version of that product.


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