Before you pick the formula, you need to find out the right formulation for your skin. If you’re oily, look for words like “oil-free,” “oil-control” or “mattifying” on the bottle. Got dry skin? Go for moisturizing foundations with “hydrating” or “moisture-rich” wording on the bottle. Foundations containing glycerin glide on easily.
For combination skin, determine if you’re more oily or dry and go from there. Cream-to-powder bases work great for combination skin. Mineral foundations work well on all skin types, especially sensitive skin. Consider if you want a light or medium-coverage.
If you have good skin, but want to even out a few ruddy areas, consider a light coverage. For women with really uneven skin tone or blemishes, consider a medium-coverage foundation. Some women swear by mineral foundations, so you might want to try these out as well.
Show up to the makeup counter with a clean, fresh face. It’s OK to wear eye makeup or lipstick, even moisturizer on your face, but you don’t want to show up already wearing foundation.
Select a few colors that seem close to your natural skin tone. Go for the yellow-based foundations, which look most natural on all skin tones. However, if you’re very fair, try a pink, cooler shade.
Apply a stroke of up to three colors on a cheek (the inner wrist or hand aren’t the best spots, contrary to popular belief). The one that disappears is the right shade.
Take a good, long look — near a window. Ask to borrow a hand mirror and stand near a doorway, or step outside, to see which foundation looks best in the natural light. The right shade is one that you can’t see because it blends in so well. If you are purchasing from a drugstore, take a couple bottles to a doorway, hold them up to your neck and see which one matches the best or if you have a favorite shade you want to match, match the colors of the bottles, never the swatch on the display.
Once you’ve bought the foundation, take it home and try it out. If you don’t like it you can return it. If you’re buying from a drugstore, purchase from one with a liberal return policy (like Rite Aid).
Try the color out on your jawline, not your wrist or hand.
Remember to stand in a doorway or outside to see if the color matches.
A foundation with sunscreen is a safe bet, but you will still need to wear sunscreen under your foundation. Also considering skipping foundation and opting for a tinted moisturizer (Laura Mercier makes a great one) instead.
Believe it or not, today foundation is totally optional. It’s healthier for your skin NOT to wear foundation daily.
If you have blemishes or pimples, try strategically placed concealer instead. Or just wear the foundation on the parts that need it most, likely around your nose and eyes and on your chin. Just make sure to blend properly.
Go for different looks for evening and day. A light foundation is perfect for work or weekend. While a sexy shimmer is great for evening.