How to Pick Foundation Like a Pro

At some point, your makeup routine is going to include starting with the ultimate base, foundation. Just as the name describes, foundation is designed to help even out your skin tone, blur potential imperfections and in some cases can even help address skin issues. But even if you’re experienced with makeup, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices available in this makeup category. So, if you’re intimidated every time you walk down the foundation aisle at your favorite beauty store, keep reading for a crash course in picking a foundation. 

Picking the Right Shade

We’ve all seen someone who’s wearing a foundation that’s too light or dark for their skin tone. And often this is caused by matching a foundation to your face instead of to your body. It’s not uncommon for a person’s face to be slightly lighter than the rest of their body. Unfortunately, this can lead to “floating head” syndrome where there’s a mismatch between your head and the rest of your body. 

Avoid this issue by testing shades on your chest instead of your face or the back of your hand. Also, think about investing in two shades. Most people are slightly paler in the cooler months and tanner in the warmer months. So, having a winter and summer shade can ensure that you have options to blend colors so you never struggle with a mismatch. 

Choose the Right Coverage

For the most part, you’ll find three main coverage levels, sheer, medium, and full. Sheer is great for evening out minor hyperpigmentation and is usually found in tinted moisturizers. Medium coverage is considered the most universal since it offers buildable coverage but can also be sheered by applying with a damp beauty tool. And full coverage is best for photoshoots or special events where you need the most camouflaging support. 

Which Finish is Best?

This is going to come down to a mix of personal preference and your unique skin issues. While you might find various names for foundation formulas, you’re going to usually see three main options — matte, semi-matte, and radiant. Matte is ideal for people with oily skin since it can help to banish and prevent shine. Radiant refers to dewy finishes and may be best for people with dry skin since it’s infused with moisture. And semi-matte is the most universally flattering option since it’s not a true matte finish and offers a natural “your skin but better” effect. 

Does Formula Matter?

The short answer is yes, it does. Formula refers to whether a foundation is a liquid, powder, or cream. And again, this is going to depend on your skin type and personal preference. Liquid tends to be a universal option that will work on most skin types. But people with dryer skin should usually steer clear of powder formulas unless it’s infused with hydrating ingredients. 

When in Doubt, Ask a Pro

Understandably, picking a foundation can be a difficult process if you don’t know where to start. There are countless options available and the volume of product choices continues to expand by the day. If you’re feeling adrift, don’t be afraid to rely on the pros. Experienced makeup pros at beauty stores are adept at helping you pick the right color, coverage, finish, and formula. And in many cases, you can try before you buy thanks to generous sample options many stores offer.

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