How To Find The Right Foundation

how to find the right foundation

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve recently been in the market for a new foundation. I’m an Indian girl with a yellow undertone and am most recently switching from full coverage to light coverage foundation. Despite all the efforts from brands to become more inclusive with their shade range, there is still a LONG way to go, especially for us Tinted girls! After a thorough search and trying out over a dozen foundations, I was finally able to find the right one. Based on my experience, I decided to write a guide on how to find the right foundation. Keep reading to see what you can do to find the right foundation for you.

Determine Your Skin Type

To find the right foundation, you first need to determine what your skin type is. Is your skin type dry, normal, combination or oily? This is the first step in determining what foundation will work best for you.

If you have dry skin, you will need a more hydrating foundation, while oily skin types need a foundation with a matte finish.

In addition to foundation, the primer you choose can also help with bringing the best out in your foundation.

Some great foundations for dry skin for example are MAC’s Mineralized Moisture Foundation and Too Faced’s Born This Way Foundation.

how to find the right foundation

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Determine What Kind of Coverage You’re Looking For

Coverage varies from light coverage, light to medium coverage and medium to full coverage. Really light coverage is best achieved from BB creams and Tinted Moisturizers. If you’re looking for more coverage, foundation is your best option.

Light to medium coverage foundations are often marketed as a “second skin”, giving you a natural finish, while medium to full coverage foundations have more of a glamorous made up look.

I don’t recommend full coverage foundations for aging skin, because it can settle into fine lines and wrinkles, making you appear even older. If you have aging skin and require more coverage, I recommend a light to medium coverage foundation and using concealer to cover certain spots. Addtionally, many foundations are builable, allowing you to increase coverage by applying a second coat.

For really light coverage, people swear by Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer.

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If you’re looking for light to medium, some great brands are Giorgio Armani Beauty’s Luminous Silk Foundation (except that the colour range sucks), Bobby Brown’s Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation and Urban Decay’s Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Foundation.

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Lastly, medium to full coverage, I love Make Up Forever’s Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation and NARS’ All Day Luminous Weightless  Foundation. Some really full coverage foundations on the market are Estée Lauder’s Double Wear Foundation and Becca’s Ultimate Coverage 24 Hour Foundation.

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Learn Your Skin Tone

This one is tricky, because it’s not always obvious. I actually learned my skin tone after shopping for foundation. My skin tone is brown with a yellow undertone, however many brands only offer darker hues with a red, pink or “neutral” undertone. What’s a neutral undertone anyway? Red makes me look dark and muddy, while pink and neutral undertones make me look ashy/grey.

I’ve tried Sephora’s Color Match IQ and it pulled up a red undertone which wasn’t accurate. Only you know what matches your skin best, not a computer, so trust your instinct. If you don’t like how something looks or the colour seems off, it probably is and you CAN do better.

If you’re not sure about your skin tone, maybe start with MAC or Make Up Forever foundations, as they have the most inclusive shade range. Experiment with different colours and if you find one that really compliments your skin tone, ask the sales associate how you would describe your skin tone based on that match.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Direct Sales Associates When Choosing Colours

Further to my point above, I often found that sales associates at make up counters, immediately upon seeing me would reach for the medium deep hues with red under tones. I would then have to explain to them that this foundation is too red and I need something with yellow in it. Now when they’re helping me, I’ve started pointing out to certain colours that I think may work and ask them to try it on me. I’ve had experiences with sales associates initially refusing to try a colour I proposed, convinced that it wouldn’t be the right match.

I recall when I was picking out my last foundation a few years back, the sales associated kept recommending the colour Syracuse from NARS. Despite her resistance, I urged her to try Tahoe on me instead, which ended up being a great match. It wasn’t until after she saw it on my face did the sales associate concede.

Most Foundations Oxidize

Almost all foundations oxidize. Have you ever noticed that when you first put on your foundation it’s lighter, but then a few hours later it looks darker? That’s your foundation oxidizing, which is caused by the interaction between the oils on your skin and the pigments in your foundation. Similar to apples for example, if they’re exposed to air, they will turn brown. That’s what’s happening to your foundation. This is why I prefer to go slightly lighter with my foundation, so that when it does oxidize, it will be a better match.

Your Skin Changes Over Time

Your skin type and skin colour changes over time. For example, about 2 years ago, I’d swear by NARS’ All Day Weightless Luminous Foundation in Tahoe, but lately it wasn’t suiting me the same. When I tried it on at Sephora to show the sales associate what would be a good colour match for me, she noticed it was actually too dark for my skin tone. My skin tone has brightened over time and while this was a perfect match just last year, it’s no longer doing the trick.

Another major change is age. The biggest trigger for me that prompted a change in foundation was aging skin. Age happens, it’s inevitable and if you embrace it, it’s a beautiful blessing. Now that that’s settled; I found that my current foundation was sitting in my fine lines. I’d get all dolled up but didn’t like the way I looked.

I don’t believe in a holy grail foundation that you’ll find and stick with for the rest of your life. Your skin can change from oily to dry, to lighter to darker or vice versa and you should change your foundation accordingly.

I’m currently using Bobby Brown’s Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation in the colour Honey and most recently when I did get dolled up, I felt like me again. The colour match and consistency of the foundation made ALL the difference.

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Do Side by Side Comparisons

When I recently found my perfect foundation, I was in Sephora for over an hour. Mind you, this was my third trip after a few fails. A lot of luxury brands have a very limited shade range, so finding the right colour is always such an onerous task.

I started off by trying foundation on one side of my face and if I liked it, I would try the next one on on the other side of my face. Being able to see the difference side by side (literally) really allowed me to see which one suited my skin better. For example, I was really liking Urban Decay’s Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Foundation, until I tried on Bobby Brown’s Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation. Then Bobby Brown’s foundation became the benchmark and when I tried on other foundations on the other side of my face, no other foundation could hold a candle to it.

Take Advantage of Sample or Full Refund Policies

With all that research said and done, the true test is wearing it out and seeing how it settles over a longer span. Remember my point on oxidization? This is where those samples and refund policies really come in handy!

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I’ve gotten samples of Fenty Beauty and Becca and although I liked it in store, once I got a chance to wear it out for a longer period, I didn’t like how it oxidized and settle into my skin.  Before finalizing my latest foundation, I purchased 3 other foundations and ended up returning them for a full refund. If you need more time to get a feel for a foundation, do take your time and don’t be shy to return it, within the constraints of the refund policy timeline of course!

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