Foundation 101: The Best for You

Posted September 27, 2016 by Shanna


We’ve all been there: looking through magazines, watching celebrities or seeing models on a runways and thinking, “I wish I had someone to make myself look that amazing.” You buy product after product hoping that will be the one that makes your skin glow and look flawless.

Instead, it joins the rest of the rejects that, for whatever reason, did not work. It’s frustrating and defeating. If your foundation doesn’t look good then it does not matter how well you apply the rest of our makeup – it will look off and you won’t like it. I hear you, I’ve been there, and I’ve had the drawer full of foundation rejects to prove it. I’d go into a store and (in the worst lighting possible to see colors correctly) I’d buy any foundation that seemed like it might match me. I’d go home, pull out my bag of foam triangle wedges, and try to rub it on my face. I’d be left with a streaky mess that didn’t match my skin tone or color and looked horrible! I had gotten to the point where all I would wear was a pressed powder foundation because that wasn’t as hard to match my skin tone.

Now, before I get into how to apply foundation, we first need to find the right foundation.  They are not all made the same but that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to get a good foundation that will work for you!  There are great foundations at every price point, you just need to learn the basics to choosing the right foundation for you: your undertones, shade, and what you skin needs.

Undertones are just what they sound like, it is the underlying tone in your skin. There are three types of undertones; warm, neutral, and cool. It may sound confusing, but there are a couple of ways to figure out which of the three you fall into.

If you have warm undertones:
  • The veins on the underside of your wrist have a greenish hue to them.
  • Your skin has a yellow/golden look to it.
  • You look better in gold jewelry.
  • Your wardrobe consists of more earth toned pieces (orange, red, yellow, brown, olive green).
  • You tan easily and rarely get sunburnt.
  • Your eyes are hazel, brown or amber in color.
  • Your natural hair color is strawberry blond, auburn, brown or black hair with a golden cast to it.

If you have cool undertones:

  • The veins on the underside of your wrist have a blue/purplish hue to them.
  • You skin has a rosy/pink look to it.
  • You look better in silver jewelry.
  • Your wardrobe consists of more jewel toned pieces (emerald green, blue, purple).
  • You burn easily even with sunblock and rarely develop a tan.
  • Your eyes are green, grey or blue.
  • Your natural hair color is ash/platinum blond, brown or blue with a blue cast to it.
If you have neutral undertones:
  • The veins on the underside of your wrist are had to see.
  • There is no obviously pink/golden look to your skin.
  • You look good in both gold and silver jewelry.
  • Your wardrobe is a mixture of earth tones and jewel tones.
  • You burn but it can turn into a tan.
  • Your eyes are any color.
  • Your hair is blond, brown or black.

Now that you’ve figured out the undertone of your skin, it’s time to figure out your best shade. This simply means discovering the lightness or darkness of your skin tone. Most foundations range from fair to deep brown with a number of shades in between. The best way to select the shade that matches your skin color is to apply a swatch of it.  Do not apply it to the back of your hand! Instead, either match it to the skin at your jaw line or your chest.  I personally prefer to match my foundation to my chest because most of my beauty products have SPF in them. This means my face is usually a shade or two lighter than my chest and neck.  By matching my foundation to my chest, I am making sure that it is one continuous color and not two distinct separate colors. You also need to allow the foundation time to see how it plays with your skin. Some foundations will oxidize and change color as it sets on the skin. I’ve seen a color swatched against my skin match perfectly and by the time I got home the color had changed to something that did not flatter me at all! I never buy my foundation the same time I swatch it. Instead, I shop for a while or return another day.

The hard part is done: you know your undertone and shade.  Now you need to decide what foundation to buy!  Gone are the days of plain liquid foundation!  Now we have BB creams, CC creams, liquid matte, liquid luminous, cushion, stick, powder, and mineral. How do we decide which to get?!  Each of these products cater to a skin need, level of coverage and work better with young or more mature skin.

BB Cream, CC Cream and Tinted Moisturizer: These have a sheer to light coverage. They will slightly even out skin discoloration but will let the natural skin shine through and will not cover any blemishes (freckles, moles, pimples, sun spots). These tend to moisturize and provide a small amount of coverage and are great in the warmer months because they are lighter in weight and don’t feel like they are sitting on the skin. These are good for both oily and dry skin as well as more mature skin.

Liquid Foundation: These can give a light to full coverage depending on the brand. These foundations come in a variety of finishes (matte, satin, luminous) and each work best with certain skin types.

Matte Foundation: These give the skin a matte or shine-free appearance.  These work great on people that have oily skin. The formula of the foundation will help the face appear less oily/shiny throughout the day. Matte foundations can be drying though so you have to remember to moisturize before applying it.

Luminous/Dewy Foundation: These give the skin a glowing/radiant appearance. These work best on normal to dry skin types. The formula of these foundations have added oils in them to give the skin a healthy looking glow because of these added oils women with already oily skin will have a hard time looking fresh and dewy. Instead they’ll be overly shiny and the excess oil can actually break down the foundation as the day wears on.

Satin Foundation: These are in between matte and dewy. These tend to give a soft, slightly shimmering look without the glowing look a dewy finish gives. This formula is great for all skin types though if you tend to be oily setting this foundation with a powder will increase the wear time you get with it.

Stick Foundation: These are similar to liquid foundations in terms of finishes (matte, satin, dewy) but these tend to offer a thicker, fuller coverage. This type of foundation is great for covering blemishes or problem areas on the face but are more likely to settle into fine lines.  Because of the tendency to settle into fine lines women with mature skin may not like this foundation.

Whipped Foundation: These are a type of liquid foundation that has air whipped into it.  The added air makes for a lighter, smoother foundation. This foundation works with most skin types. Whipped foundations can give light to medium coverage and because of how it’s made tends to not settle into fine lines making this great for mature skin.

Cushion Foundation: These foundations come in a compact that holds a cushion/sponge that is soaked in a liquid foundation. Cushion foundations come with a puff that is used to pat or press the foundation into the skin. This offer a light coverage to medium coverage that works for most skin types. Because of how light weight it is it works wonderfully with mature skin.

Powdered Foundation: These come in a few different types and can be worn alone as a light coverage foundation or over the top of a foundation to help set it and extend the wear of your foundation.

Loose Powdered Foundation: These comes in a container, usually with a shaker lid on top to get out a little bit of product at a time. This can be worn alone for a sheer to light coverage or can be applied on top of another type of foundation. These tend to give you a matte look and are better on those with oily skin because it can enhance dry patches on the face. Also, because of the texture, it can emphasize fine lines on the face making it not the best fit for mature skin.

Pressed Powder Foundation: This is similar to loose powder but comes in a compact and instead of being a loose powder it has been pressed into a hard disk. It is similar in performance to loose powder in that is can be worn by itself or with a foundation. Just like loose this tends to work better on those with oily skin and are not for mature skin.

Mineral Powder Foundation: These are made of minerals (talc, iron oxides, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and mica to be exact).  The minerals are grounded and milled to a fine texture to create the powder.  In true mineral foundations there are no filler items added or fragrance making this a great option for those with extremely sensitive skin or looking for a more natural foundation.  These give a light to medium coverage.  Unlike typical powdered foundations, mineral foundations can be worn by most skin types and do not settle into fine lines as easily making this an option for mature skin.

Now that you’ve figured out your undertone, skin tone, and what type of foundation you need – you are all set to go out and find your perfect match. Next time, we’ll talk about the different ways to apply your foundation. Until then, may your day be as flawless as your makeup!

Glitter, Glam & All Things Fab,