Tips for finding (and applying!) that perfect foundation

how-to-find-a-perfect-foundation

Finding that perfect foundation can be a real struggle, amiright?

It’s a struggle that I am way too familiar with. Having fair, problematic skin that also has a lot of redness means that I’ve always had trouble finding the right formula that would match both my skin tone and my skin type. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve had my makeup done at a department store, saw myself in the mirror, thought “damnnnnnlooking flawless!“, only to get in the daylight and see that my face doesn’t match the rest of my body. Not a cute look. It took some practice, but I finally know exactly what to look for in a good foundation. Sooooo, I thought that today, I’d share a few things that I’ve learned along the way.

There are three things in particular that you should look at when looking for that perfect foundation: texture (cream, powder, liquid, etc.) finish (dewy, demi-matte, matte, etc.) and coverage (sheer, medium, full). You have take things like your skin type into consideration, but you also need to pay attention to what goes underneath your foundation. Your skin type will always affect the way your foundation looks when applied on your skin- what can be a holy grail product me, might not necessarily work for you (unless we have similar skin type). This is something you should always keep in mind.

TEXTURE

This is a personal preference- it all depends on what kind of consistency you prefer to work with. I’ve used everything from cream to powder to liquid and I find that liquid and powder foundations work best for me (depending on what my skin feels like at a given time). My skin is naturally extremely oily, BUT because I currently use a lot of drying products in my skincare routine (like Tazorac, BP and Retin-A- all prescribed by my dermatologist) I also know what it’s like to have very dry and flaky skin. Creams and liquids generally work great with dry skin types. Cream/wax based foundations are also really nice because you can sheer them out and really control the coverage and sort of adjust it to your needs. Powder/mineral makeup works well with all skin types, except for extremely dry and flaky skin.

THE FINISH

This will depend on your skin type. I always loved the way dewy-finish foundations looked on others, but having extremely oily skin means that dewy-finish foundations would leave me looking greasy within 10 minutes. Now that my skin is on the dry side, I can totally get away with using foundations like L’Oreal’s True Match Lumi or Clarins True Radiance. If you have oily skin, then it’s obvious that you should stick to matte formulas- those will work best with your skin. Avoid anything that is moisturizing. If your skin is dry, do the opposite.

THE SHADE

Ahh.. this is where the fun begins! I’ve had the worst luck finding matching foundation shades for the longest time. Being fair, with acne-prone skin and a lot of redness means that most of the time I go for lightest available shades, which, sadly, have mostly pink undertones. The problem is, the rest of my body is does not have pink undertones. Just because you have a lot of redness on your skin does not mean that you have pink undertones. When looking for a right shade, don’t just look at your face, but also your neck and your chest. I find that a lot of foundations I’ve used are either too pinky or too yellow and what I really like going for are neutral-tone products- those seem to work best with my skin tone. Finding perfect foundation, one that works nicely with your skin is useless, unless you can also find a matching shade. Lisa Eldridge has a fantastic video that you might find really helpful when it comes chosing the right shade of foundation (click). One last tip is to not judge the foundation by the way it looks in a bottle. I have quite a few foundations that look way off in the bottle or even when swatched on my arm, but once blended into my skin, they actually match my skin tone.

Foundation swatches

Some of my current favorites. Click on this image to enlarge it and see the swatches better!

APPLICATION

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the couple of years, is this: don’t be afraid of light coverage. Your foundation shouldn’t look obvious (this is just my own personal preference though, so please keep that in mind!) and ideally, it should still look like skin. Because of years of dealing with acne and acne marks, I always went for full-coverage foundations and applied as many layers as it took to completely cover any redness. This resulted in my foundation looking very obvious and quite cake-y after a couple of hours of wear. When applying your foundation, always work in thin layers and instead of putting more foundation in order to cover any redness or blemishes, spot-conceal those problem areas with concealer. I personally think that even if there’s still slight redness or some blemishes peaking through my foundation/concealer, it’ll still look better than when covered with 3 layers of foundation,  2 layers concealer and powder. If you want your foundation to look really flawless, apply a very generous amount of moisturizer a few minutes prior to your foundation application (you can always blot the excess using a tissue). Remember that good skincare is key and it doesn’t matter how good or expensive your foundation is- if your skin is in a really bad shape, your foundation will never look good. If you find that your foundation just never looks good, it means that it’s time to take a closer look at your skincare routine. If you have oily skin and find that your foundation doesn’t last a very long time, try applying a thin layer of powder BEFORE going in with your foundation. Also, pay close attention to what you put on your skin before applying foundation- don’t mix oil products with water-based ones, keep in mind that silicone-based products also do not mix that well with water-based ones. Look at the ingredients in your primes, moisturizers and foundations.

finding a good foundation

SHOPPING FOR FOUNDATION

Unfortunately, I had nothing but bad experience when it comes to being matched to a foundation shade in-store. I visited a lot of makeup counters over the years- Sephora, MAC, Chanel, Estee Lauder- and I never came home with a perfect match (whenever I visit MAC I always get matched to a different shade- from NC15 to NW20). First, lighting in-stores is almost always “off”; second, because I have a lot of redness on my face, MUAs tend to match me to pink-toned foundations, which look awful on me because while the skin on my face has a lot of redness, the rest of my body is more neutral-toned, maybe slightly yellow, but definitely not pink. So, when I use a foundation with pink undertones, the color of my face never matches my neck, chest and the rest of my body.  Your face and body should look like they’re the same color (duh). The best thing to do when shopping for foundation is to always ask for samples first- this way you can always test-drive the foundation before actually spending your money. Thankfully, a lot of places are generous when it comes to samples and I recommend that you sample at least two shades so that you can see which one works better for you. Always swatch your foundation in daylight- grab a mirror and stand by the window. Best place to swatch your foundation to see if it matches both your face and your neck, is on the BACK of your jaw bone. When visiting a store, know what you’re looking for; explain your skin tone (if you have a lot of redness, like me, but your skin doesn’t have pink undertones, make sure to mention this) and skin type- this will make things a lot easier and you will save yourself a hassle of having to go back to the store to return the product.

Lastly, I really want to mention a few videos from my all-time favorite makeup artists: Lisa Eldridge and Wayne Goss. I’m sure that just like me, you’ll find these extremely helpful.

Choosing The Right Shade Of Foundation- Lisa Eldridge

How To Shop For The Right Foundation- Lisa Eldridge

Foundation Tip That Will Change Your Life- Wayne Goss (already mentioned this one within the post)

How To Apply Foundation Without Looking Cakey- Wayne Goss

Do you guys have any other tips for finding perfect foundation? Hope you enjoyed this post! x

  • rock_sister

    I have the same trouble finding the right foundation shade all the time! I actually tried the L’Oreal True Match Lumi shade that you have and I love it! I originally bought the W1-2, but it was way too light for me. I’m gonna look into those other foundations you swatched because I was never sure of my shade but you might be a reference for me now!

  • I am super pale like you but I have neutral undertones, which is hard to find in really light foundations. Tarte has amazing light foundations with neutral undertones and I prefer to apply foundations with a brush :)

    Nereyda│ This Girl Is Obsessed

  • Oh yes, finding the perfect foundation is a real struggle, aha! Even after years of trying it I don’t always get it right. And don’t even start me on being matched at the counter, always wrong, haha! x

    Mummy’s Beauty Corner

    • It’s the worst, isn’t it? I don’t know how these MUAs are trained at shade matching, even though every single one I dealt with was very talented and knowledgeable, but I honestly never leave with a right shade.

  • Foundation is the hardest!! I have pale skin so really struggle to find a perfect match!! This was beyond helpful!! Lovely post <3

    Amelia | http://amelia-g.blogspot.com.au/

  • L’Oreal True Match is great :) Although I recently noticed I look way paler than I usually do in photos – not sure if I should blame my foundation or powder for that..? :)

    • It might be the powder or the moisturizer you use underneath, if it has SPF. I have the same problem sometimes and avoid using foundations with SPF when attending any events where I know there will be flash photography!

  • Getting the shade right AND making sure the finish continues to look smooth and fresh is always my biggest issue.

  • Ana

    Thank you for the tips! I have struggles with make up so this was useful ;) xxx
    http://fallingforablog.blogspot.com/2016/05/5-outfits-for-spring.html

  • Some great makeup application tips! I have been using a primer underneath my eyeshadow and I have recently been using a Beauty Drop (similar to a Beauty Blender) from Tropic Skincare which makes makeup application so easy and velvety!

    You have some great foundation favourites listed here also, especially the Chanel one.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Laura xo

    http://www.shehearts.net

  • Lots of lovely resources and a very useful guide Paula! I love liquid foundations the best and a dense foundation brush or a beautyblender is the way forward for me :)
    – Ambar x
    http://www.herlittleloves.blogspot.com

  • So I have extremely oily skin and I’ve never thought about putting a light dusting of powder on before my foundation — brilliant! Again Paula, great post, so informative! XO -Kim

  • Finding that holy grail foundation is never an easy task and sometimes I do wonder have I actually found ‘the one’ haha. I always test a foundation first at the counter or with a sample at home before buying x

    Beauty with charm | Benefit Cheekathon Giveaway

  • Ah the foundation struggle!! I am yet to meet someone who hasn’t encountered all of these problems! Lots of great tips in here though and one thing I have definitely learnt more recently is how much of an effect skincare can have on how the foundation works on your skin. I am still on the hunt for my perfect foundation but the two I’m enjoying at the moment are the L’oreal lumi magique and bare minerals complexion rescue. As I have really dry skin though I love a dewy finish and that swatch of the urban decay naked skin looks lovely :) xx

    eat-sleep-breathe-fashion.blogspot.co.uk

  • The Gossip Darling

    Such a great post!!! Foundation is so difficult! I ordered IT Cosmetics cc cream because everyone has bee talking about it and I love the brand but….the colors didn’t match my skin tone! I had to mix colors which is hard when I’m in a rush and running late to work! Great foundation but I need more options! Ugh. Thank goodness for my trusty Tarte.

    Mel | http://www.thegossipdarling.com

  • Great points!! I love that you use that big of an assortment of shades! Some warm, some cool, some neutral! I totally agree women can (& should!) have more than one bc our skin isn’t the same all year let alone all season!

    I have a foundation color matching quiz for the line I represent, and yes, it mentions more than one share could easily work for people!

    Morgann
    http://colormatch.younitedbeauty.com

  • Thanks for visiting!

  • I really love this post, thanks for compiling it! I love those Lisa Eldridge videos. I never used to be brave enough to properly “test drive” foundations and just walk away from the counter, but I do now – shop lighting is so unrealistic, the same shade in daylight can be a bit terrifying afterwards!

    Beekeyper – Latest post – Top Travel Tips to Eliminate Stress this Summer

  • Could anyone recommend a foundation that suits pale skin and large pores? I struggle to find foundation, they tend to make my skin look really textured and unpolished. Any help would be appreciated! :)

    carrymetwo.com | Sarah

  • Shannon

    I can definitely relate to the struggle of having a hard time finding a matching foundation! Do you have any favorite foundation brushes you can recommend?