How To Pick the Right Foundation

the right foundation
Photo: eskymaks
Today’s question came to us from Madison on Twitter, who asked “I’ve never worn foundation but I want to start. How do I pick the right foundation?”
An excellent question! Finding the perfect foundation can be an intimidating proposition sometimes—there are just so many formulas and colors, so how do you know which one is right for your unique skin? Luckily, your friendly neighbourhood editors here are DM have been through the Looking For Foundation ringer a few times, and we have quite a few tips to make the process easier. Here’s exactly how to pick—and love—the right foundation.
Know your requirements.
At the very least, you should know your basic skin concerns and what you’re looking for in a product. Are you prone to dryness or oiliness? Do you want sheer coverage or something more substantial? Are you looking for a matte finish or something more luminous? Make a list of the key elements that you’d like in your dream foundation. Even if you don’t know where else to start, simply knowing what you’re looking for is sometimes enough.
Do your homework.
Now that you know what you’re looking for, start checking around. Start doing some searches for the best lightweight foundations, or foundations that mattify even the oiliest skin. See which brands and ingredients pop up. Make a list of the products that you would most like to try, then go out and try them! No amount of reading online can replace actually testing a beauty product in real life—not only are colors and undertones impossible to judge on a computer screen, but so is the way a product feels when you wear it.
Dress for success.
And when a-testing you do go, make sure you wear a white crew-neck tshirt. This provides the most neutral frame for your face, no matter your skin tone or hair color—you won’t be distracted by too much skin, and you won’t have any peculiar colors reflecting off your clothing and onto your face. This way, it’ll be much easier to find a foundation that’s a perfect match!
Take your current product.
If you have a foundation that already matches your skin nicely, be sure to take it along with you. This way, you can compare the new foundations you’re trying to a swipe of your existing formula—and it’s way easier than swatching everything on your jawline!
Embrace technology.
If you live near a Sephora, get thee to a store immediately and get your complexion matched with their Skin IQ shade matching system. Not only will this amazing machine tell you how dark your skin is on a scale of 1-15, you’ll also be told your undertone and how strong that undertone is—and then you’ll be given a list of foundations that perfectly match that color. It is actually magical…and the service is free. Not to mention they’re also rolling out concealer matching AND helping you find your perfect lipstick. We truly do live in the future.
Find your light.
We all know that makeup counter lighting can be deceptive, so make sure you go outside in natural lighting to see how foundation really looks. If it seems too yellow, pink or cakey, kick it to the curb and try another formula—the right shade match will look flawless in any light.
Get samples!
All beauty-obsessed babes know that the way foundation looks and feels when you first put it on is not necessarily the way it’ll look and feel at the end of the day. So when you find a formula that you think you like, ask for a sample. Don’t feel like you can’t ask for this—the people who work at makeup counters and in beauty stores know what the quest for an amazing foundation is like, and they’re usually very happy to give you a mini bottle to roadtest for a week!
While you’re testing your foundation, make sure you really put it through its paces. How does it last at work? On the weekend? What happens when you sweat? Does the SPF sting your eyes at the end of the day? Does it crease up or fade away? How does it work with your powder or concealer? How does it photograph? The more thorough you can be in your testing, the happier you’ll be with the product you end up with!
Don’t get discouraged.
Maybe the most important tip of all. It’s very easy to get discouraged when the current foundation du jour leaves you feeling greasier than a piece of pizza, or after you try sixteen formulas and not one actually matches your skin tone. Don’t let it. Finding a great foundation is primarily trial and error—and sure, when you do your homework and go into it prepared, the ‘error’ part is cut down considerably, but it still takes time. Don’t let it get you down. Keep trying, and you will definitely find the foundation of your dreams—we promise.
If you have a beauty question, sing out, Louise! Drop the DM editors a line in the comments, on Twitter or on Facebook—we live for this stuff, and we’re happy to help!

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