5 Tips For Finding the Perfect Foundation

Finding the perfect foundation can be intimidating. There are so many options to choose from, and if you make the wrong choice, your entire skincare and makeup routine could be thrown off – and you’ll still have to search for a better foundation.

Foundation should do exactly what its name suggests: provide even coverage, smoothing out blemishes and evening skin tone. And finding the right foundation shouldn’t be a struggle. Follow these tips to find the perfect foundation for any skin type.

1. Figure Out Your Undertone

You might know your skin tone, but do you know your undertone? Everyone’s skin has an undertone – yet many people have no idea what their undertone is.

Your undertone is literally the color underneath your skin. Unlike the color or tone of your skin, which can change based on factors like sun exposure or hormones, your undertone is “temperature” based rather than a specific shade. There are three different undertones:

  • Cool
  • Warm
  • Neutral

In order to determine where your undertone falls, complete a quick and easy test. You can even find these tests online – you’ll just need to answer a series of questions about the color of your hair, eyes, and veins, as well as questions about whether your skin burns easily in the sun.

Want to skip the test altogether? Here’s an easy way to tell whether you’re a cool, warm, or neutral undertone: do you look best in gold or silver jewelry, or both? Silver jewelry looks best on those with cool undertones while gold is ideal for people with a warm undertone.

Once you’ve figured out your undertone, it gives you a much better indication of which foundation colors will work with your skin.

2. Know Your Skin Type

Once you’ve determined your undertone and which foundation colors will work best with your skin, the next step is figuring out your skin type. In order to pick the perfect foundation, you’ll want one that suits your skin type – or, to put it simply, you’ll want a foundation that looks great on you.

There are tons of different types of foundation, but the most common are liquid, powder, mousse, cream, and stick. Each of these types of foundations look different on different skin types, and for seamless, flawless application you should let your skin type guide your choice.

Typically, people with oily skin will prefer an oil-free liquid or powder while those with dry, flaky skin find a cream or stick foundation works best. People who have sensitive skin or skin that’s prone to breakouts should pick a gentle, hypoallergenic foundation.

Depending on which foundation you choose (and how you apply it), different types of foundation will give different levels of coverage. You’ll want to take your skin type into consideration here as well. For example, if you’re breaking out or have a very uneven skin tone, you may want to opt for a heavier level of coverage from a liquid or cream foundation. If you simply need to even out your skin tone, powder may be your best bet.

3. Try Before You Buy

So you’ve picked your undertone and decided on your skin type and the right foundation type – but there’s another important step to take. One of the most important things that you can do when purchasing a new foundation is try it out before buying.

You want to make certain that the foundation you choose matches your skin when it’s actually on your face. Every foundation looks a little different on color charts and in its container than it does on your skin – and even more importantly, foundation oxidizes as it hits the air, which can change its color. There’s no way to know whether something that looks great in the bottle will remain the same color once it’s applied to your skin unless you try it out.

Before buying any foundation, ask for a sample. Many makeup and beauty stores will allow you to try a sample on or offer you a sample to take home. Take the sample home, if possible, and apply it to test it out. If you have to try the sample in-store, just remember that something that looks amazing under the fluorescent lights of a store may not look great under natural light.

The best way to see whether a product works for you is to apply the sample at the store, and wear it over the course of a few hours as you go about your day. You’ll be able to see how it looks over time, as well as in different phases of daylight.

4. Put Your Foundation to Work In Different Ways

It’s easy to rely on foundation and apply it the same way every single time you go through your beauty routine. There are many of ways you can change your level of coverage by simply applying your foundation in a new, different way.

For example, applying powder foundation with a dry makeup sponge rather than a fluffy brush makes it adheres to skin better and allows you to customize the coverage. Applying liquid foundation with a wet sponge instead of fingers can make it lighter.

Once you’ve found a foundation you like that suits your skin, experiment with your makeup tools to see how you can customize your foundation to make it even better. Once you discover how to use a single foundation in a variety of ways, you can get even more out of a great beauty product.

5. Try a Nontraditional Foundation

A traditional foundation isn’t the only beauty product that can work as a foundation. What many people don’t realize is that while foundation is a great base layer, it can’t do everything – and sometimes, a totally different beauty product can do an even better job at smoothing and evening out your skin.

For example, if you rely on foundation to cover up blemishes or redness, you may be disappointed. Foundation was designed to smooth out skin, not cover up major issues, and it often can’t hide dark spots, under-eye circles, and other common skin woes. Using beauty tools like concealer and corrector as a spot-treatment on blemishes will offer better coverage than foundation can at times.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that foundation perform best if skin is prepared in advance. Dry, flaky skin will make foundation look patchy, while oil will seep through foundation and make skin look shiny. Ideally, skin should be prepped before putting on foundation. Well-moisturized skin is key. If you want your foundation to last for a long time, consider using primer beforehand.

Gang Zhou / Getty Images

Feb 27, 2019