Face it: A great foundation is a must for flawless-looking skin, but it’s tricky to get it right. And colour is just one piece of the puzzle. From tinted moisturizers to loose powders, there are countless formulas, finishes and different techniques for applying them.
Try Before You Buy
Not all makeup should be tried before you buy, but foundation is definitely one that should always be taken for a ‘test drive.’
We’ve all been there: You go to your local shop and buy a new foundation, only to get it home and find out it’s so not your shade. Choosing a foundation at the drugstore can be frustrating because you don’t have the luxury of trying it on like you do at the department store or makeup counter. I’ll share my tips on how to find your perfect foundation match, or at least have a better understanding of it. I’ll also share my favorite application tricks to guarantee a flawless finish!
Have A Type
Foundations today come in so many different types–cream, powder, liquid, mousse–that it’s overwhelming to try and figure out which is best for you. If you have dry skin, go for a hydrating liquid or a cream. If you have oily skin, then a mineral, powder or oil-free liquid formula is best.
Know Your Undertones
You’ve probably heard someone talking about undertones–the subtle tint or cast of colour underneath your skin–before. Knowing your undertones is essential to finding the right foundation because only a foundation that matches both your skin tone and undertones is going to blend in seamlessly. There are three standard types of undertones: Warm, Neutral and Cool. **Note: Color-tone systems vary from brand to brand, so be mindful of that when trying out different foundations from a variety of brands. If you feel up for it, go in to a makeup store or beauty counter and experiment for yourself, hold up a yellow/golden based as well as a peach/pink based foundation to your jawline to see what matches best. You should almost immediately see the undertone in the makeup pop against your skin tone. If you are still unsure, or feel overwhelmed by the whole undertone concept – leave it to the professionals to help you out, that’s what we’re here for!
Match Made in Heaven
So now you know your formula type and have a better understanding of your undertones, but how do you find a match without testing it on your skin? I recommend bringing in a shade that you already own and know works for you and using that as a reference point. Hold it up against all the other shades and see which one is the closest match. If you don’t have a go-to shade, choose the two or three hues that come closest to your skin tone. When doing this, make sure there is enough light available, if you have to- grab a mirror and go to the front of the store or by a window where there is more natural light.
Having trouble deciding between two shades? I suggest to buy them both, then try them out at home to see which works best. By figuring this out now, you will save money in the long run. It’s also important to keep in mind that your skin tone changes with the season; it will be lighter in the winter and darker in the summer. It’s also a good idea to have two shades on hand, one lighter than your skin and one darker. You can also blend the two shades together to create a custom shade that is just right. I often get asked this question: “Can I use a foundation a few shades darker than my skin tone to appear more tanned look?” I don’t suggest going too much darker because not only is it really difficult to make the colour look natural – but also, the darker you go the more the undertone in the foundation becomes apparent. We don’t want to be part of the Oompa Loompa crew now do we?! haha So, unless your body is a lot darker than your face, try and match the foundation to your skin tone as best as possible- You can always warm up your complexion with a good bronzer and/or blush.
Bought the Wrong Shade?
Worst case scenario: You picked up the wrong foundation colour. First, see if the store/counter has an exchange policy for used cosmetics. (MAC & Sephora are pretty flexible with exchanges/returns) If they don’t, you can still use it, just very sparingly and only where you really need it. Don’t use the wrong shade all over your face: whether its too light or too dark -It will give you that mask effect that looks good on absolutely no one. You can also try mixing the incorrect shade with a lighter or darker foundation to try and get a closer match.
Apply Like a Pro! The whole point of foundation is to enhance your skin, not hide it. You want to apply it so that it looks natural and blends in seamlessly–you shouldn’t be able to tell where you put foundation on. Apply your foundation with whatever tool works best for you, try a dense foam sponge or foundation brush. I like to use a dense stippling brush such as the the Morphe G2 or the Real Technique brushes. (Links below) Using a brush allows you to use as little product as possible and the foundation appears the most natural. For an even, more natural look, go over the face with a damp sponge by pushing the product into the skin after you’ve applied the foundation, being careful not to remove the makeup. If you’re on the oily side- Finish by setting with a light dusting of powder.
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