Tuesday, 19 February 2013

How to: Choose a Foundation

Swatch foundation more towards the jaw line, obviously neither colour is close

Foundation is one of the most difficult things to get right and one of the products we use the most and are the most loyal to. It is difficult to get right because not only does it have to perfectly match the skin (yes I said perfectly) it also has to work with the individuals skin type and lifestyle. And when the three pieces fall together? Perfection.

Now there are a few things to be said before we dive in. I like liquid foundation on everyone over powder. It just blends with the skin better and gives a more natural look to the skin. It also does a far better job of evening out the skin tone and it doesn’t settle in fine lines and wrinkles. The older you get, the less powder you should be using. If you use powder for the ease of application, try a cream to powder instead which is much more forgiving to the skin. I am going to be talking for the most part about liquid foundations in this post.

Always, if you can, get swatched with a minimum of three different colours on your jawline. You want your face to match your neck; you don’t want the bald eagle look. Go during the day to get a true idea of the colour in natural light preferably with no makeup on. And get help! This is where you really need a makeup person helping you out because it is fairly difficult to choose because between the three shades; the difference is usually fairly tight. Even I still do because it is impressively difficult to accurately see the colours on your own jaw. By the same token, if you are in a store where they are trying to sell you a foundation that is obviously too light/dark/wrong tone because they are limited by what they are selling, leave.

Also, don’t try and change what you are born with. Don’t get a foundation in a few shades darker/lighter because you want to be that. Just because I want to look like Jlo doesn’t mean I can or should try to. Makeup should be about being the most beautiful version of you, whether that means porcelain or ebony and everything in between. Just be you. Commentary over, and now on to the makeup.   


So choosing your coverage is more of a personal style thing than anything else. Sheers generally are for people who really don’t want to look all that made up and just want to tone down a bit of redness. These people don’t even necessarily have to go with a foundation if they don’t want they could go with a tinted moisturiser or a BB cream. Lighter coverage foundations also work well on girls with freckles. Medium coverage works well on most women. It’s a good balance between covering and letting the natural tone of the skin shine through. Full coverage is for women that really want that porcelain doll look or more want to use it as a concealer on specific spots.
There is some flexibility with the coverage in the way the foundation is applied (which I will be doing a post on). You can apply a full coverage foundation very lightly and get a lighter coverage effect whereas it is very hard to get more coverage out of a sheer foundation.

Wear and Finish

This is tricky because it is largely dependent on skin type. Normal to oily skins usually prefer longer wearing formulas because they absorb oil well and often have a more matte finish. A longwearing formula on a dry skin, usually doesn’t actually wear that well because it dries out the skin and can be flakey. Dry skins tend to do better in foundations with a natural to dewy finish. For most women, no matter what the finish, oil free is preferable because it really does give better wear because it sets. Unless you are extremely dry, stick with an oil free foundation.


Finding the right shade is the most important factor. You have to be aware of not only light and dark, but the tone of the skin as well; more pink or more yellow or somewhere in between. Most brands because they are made/designed in Europe are pretty Caucasian-centric unfortunately. This means that there are a lot of brands that deal with middle of the road white people that tend to be more on the pink side. A good makeup person should know which brands will work for your completion and which won’t. Clarins for instance is decidedly pink and doesn’t have a wide shade range, so although the foundation is great, if you are a warm toned, dark, latino, I probably can’t give you a descent match even if you wanted it. Here is my brand list for you by skin tone:

Pink: Clarins, Elizabeth Arden, Guerlain, Maybelline
Yellow: NARS, Bobby Brown, Smashbox, Shiseido (although they do have the B's which are on the pink side),
Both Lancome (and L’oreal which owns Lancome) and Estee Lauder have a great system where their shade are marked with a “C” for cool meaning pink undertones, “N” for neutral tones somewhere in between, and “W” for warm meaning yellow tones. I find many of the “W”s from Estee Lauder work very well on hard-to-match Asian complexions. Clinique, which is quite pink, doesn’t seem to match anyone particularly well.

As far as light and dark goes, if you are at either end of the spectrum, either really light or really dark again your options become limited. Lancome now has a pretty decent shade range in both directions, and so does NARS but the foundation is light in coverage. Maybelline goes quite far into the dark direction now for a more inexpensive option. The foundation that seems to have come out with the greatest shade range is the new Urban Decay Naked foundation. I have yet to find anyone who can’t wear this foundation.
My top foundation at each coverage level is as follows:

Skin Illusion Natural Radiance Foundation SPF 10 - Clarins
Clarins Skin Illusion Natural Radiance Foundation SPF 10
Great for sheer, very natural coverage, natural finish,
unfortunately limited shade range

Urban Decay Naked Skin Liquid Makeup
Urban Decay Naked Skin Liquid Makeup
Light to medium coverage, natural to dewy finish because of its hydrating properties, oil free, water based,
Fantastic shade range
Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H
Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H
Full coverage (but very workable), light to medium finish, oil free, long wearing
Very good shade range, slightly pink

So what is your favourite foundation?
do you think I am right about some makeup working better on some people than others?
Do you think about your skin type when choosing makeup?


No comments:

Post a Comment