How To, Makeup

Your Guide To Shopping For A New Foundation

Shopping for a new foundation is a task that most of us do not enjoy. It’s a long and complicated process and often leads to us coming home with a foundation that doesn’t match or that we end up disliking after only a few uses. Even as a makeup artist, I have yet to find my holy grail foundation and the never-ending search seems to occur for other MUAs as well. So, to try and ease some of the pain, I thought I would write a little guide to helping the average person out and hopefully make things a little less complicated and stressful.



Know your skin

Before you even go out to look for a foundation, you should know a little bit about your skin. Most makeup artists working in the retail world will ask you to tell them about your skin when you come into a store anyways. What I mean by that is, what type of skin do you have? Oily, dry, combination or normal? If you don’t even know that, then ask yourself this— How does your skin feel in the morning? And if you were to go a whole day without makeup, how would your skin be by the end of the day? Knowing what type of skin you have plays a huge factor in the foundation you choose. Too often I hear girls saying that they want to try a foundation because their friends told them it’s amazing or “It looks so good on my friend.” Well, your friend might not have the same type of skin as you, so what looks good on her might not look good on you. Sorry to break it to you. For example, Kat Von D’s Lock-it foundation is an amazing foundation but if you have dry skin, it’s probably going to enhance the appearance of your dryness because it is such a heavy and long wearing foundation.


Do some research

If you are interested in a particular foundation, read up on it. Find out what type of skin is best suited for it and read some reviews. Not all reviews might be accurate but it will give you some sort of idea as to how it wears throughout the day and if it tends to heavily oxidize or not. For more info on what Oxidization is you can watch this youtube video right here:

Also, coming in to a store with SOME idea of what you want will greatly help you out so that you’re not just wandering around with no idea what to look for.


Light, medium or full coverage?

Foundations come in many different consistencies and are made with many different ingredients. Just because you have one type of skin, does not mean you can only stick to one type of coverage of foundation. Also not all full coverage foundations will look heavy or “cakey” as a lot of people tend to think.

When it comes to coverage, just think of this— When you paint your nails, you can do one, two or three coats. One coat will usually leave you seeing some natural nail underneath. This is like a sheer or light coverage foundation. You would need more coats to build up the “coverage.” Sometimes though, one coat is all you need. That would be like a medium or full coverage foundation where, with just one layer or “coat” you wouldn’t be able to see the natural texture of colours of the skin through the foundation. Sometimes, you will hear the term “buildable” which means you can take a light coverage foundation and build it up to a medium coverage foundation or build a medium to a full. However, you often can’t make a light coverage foundation into a full coverage foundation without it starting to look like you’ve just packed on a bunch of makeup. Most makeup brands will usually tell you a little bit about the coverage or “finish” of a foundation somewhere on the display.

The finish of a foundation refers to how it looks once it has either dried (if it’s liquid) or is finished being applied. Most common finishes are matte, natural and luminous or dewey. You can alter how your foundation finish looks though, by adding a specific setting spray or powder though.



Foundations come in quite a few different formulas besides liquid. There are loose powders, pressed powders, creams, and cushions (which, although is a liquid, is a different type of packaging. Think of a compact liquid foundation. Very popular in Korea and starting to become more present in North America.) Finding which formula is best for you is often just trial and error. Technology and science have come a long way now a days so even though you have dry skin, you can still wear a powder foundation without it making your skin look dry. Although, it is of course always good to read up on the product and ingredients beforehand to make sure there aren’t any evident signs that it might not work for you. There seems to be a lot of misconception with foundation formulas. I often hear people say they don’t want a liquid foundation because it will feel like they have makeup on or it will look greasy. I’m not exactly sure where people get these ideas but it’s completely untrue. I mean, maybe you’ve worn something in the past that made you feel or look that way but let’s not go and generalize. Usually, if you have oily skin, it’s good to look for foundations that say they’re oil-free. These can be liquid OR powders. Creams tend to be heavier and fuller coverage and not look as matte or shine free. If you have oily skin or tend to look oily throughout the day, anything with a matte finish or oil control will probably be best for you.



Another term you will hear when searching for a foundation is undertone. Everyone has either a yellow or red undertone to their skin. Sometimes you will hear people say warm or cool. The reason being is because based on your undertone, you will want to look for a foundation that has a red or yellow base. The easiest way to know your undertone is to look at your wrist. If you veins are blue/purple you are likely cool toned. If they are green, you are likely warm and if you aren’t sure or you are kind of in the middle well then you are probably neutral! Foundations with a pink hue are cool toned and foundations that appear more yellow are warm toned.


One product can’t do it all

Foundations are, as their name states, a foundation. They are what you use to build a foundation for the rest of your makeup. They should have a base (a primer) and should also be set with a powder or spray. Foundations aren’t meant to cover dark circles or acne scars. That is a whole other rodeo. Yes, foundations will diminish the appearance SOMEWHAT, but you need to build a routine of products if you have a long list of concerns you want to address. Makeup is just that. It’s not magic, so make sure when you start your search for a foundation or any product for that matter, that you go in with realistic expectations. The makeup artists working at a counter or in Sephora or MAC generally know what they are talking about so do listen to them and consider what they have to say. Yes, sometimes they might suggest something that isn’t right or the best for you, but we can’t always be right and no one knows you, your skin and your lifestyle better than you.


Last few tidbits

-On the day you go to buy foundation or look for one, go in without anything on your face. Sephoras have a device called Colour IQ which reads your undertone and can match you to any foundation but it works best when you have a bare, clean face.


-Swatch a few different foundations on, then go walk around for 15-20 minutes. This will allow the foundations to set, dry and oxidize if they do and then you can see how they look after sitting on your skin for a while. It’s also nice to leave the store and check the swatches out in more natural light. Most makeup stores have very bright artificial light and although the foundation looks good in that lighting, natural light is the best and most revealing. So judge the swatch in natural light rather than indoors if you can.



Hopefully reading this will help you out in your future search. Good luck!