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How to Choose the Correct Foundation Makeup

by Jennifer Blair

Foundation can be a lifesaver if you have acne, scars, sunspots or other discolorations that you want to cover up. But with all the formulas and colors available, choosing the correct foundation can seem like mission impossible. The key to finding the ideal foundation is focusing on your skin type and tone and choosing a product that works best to hide flaws -- all while still looking natural.

Pick a Formula

Foundation comes in a variety of formulas, but finding the right one depends on your skin type. Liquid foundation works for most skin types, provided you choose the right type for your skin’s needs. If you have dry skin, look for a hydrating or moisturizing liquid foundation. For oily skin, opt for an oil-free, mattifying liquid. Cream foundation works best for normal to dry skin because it has a creamy texture that helps hydrate the skin. Pressed powder foundation is a good option for oily skin because it soaks up excess shine. Loose mineral powder foundation works well for a variety of skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin, because it doesn’t contain as many fillers and artificial dyes as traditional foundations.

Get Covered

When you’re wearing foundation, the key is to use the lightest coverage possible to even out your skin tone and use concealer to tackle any stubborn spots that require extra attention. If you don’t have much to cover, a sheer or light-coverage foundation is your best option. For skin with some redness, discoloration and mild to moderate acne, a medium-coverage foundation can help hide your blemishes. However, if you have serious acne, scarring, hyperpigmentation or birthmarks that you want to hide, a full-coverage foundation usually works best. This type also comes in handy for special occasions like weddings or photo shoots when you want a completely flawless look.

Finish It Off

Your foundation’s finish can make a big difference in how natural and flattering it looks on your skin. If you’re prone to oiliness throughout the day, choose a matte foundation that won’t add any extra shine to your face. For dry, dull skin, a foundation with a luminous or dewy finish is the best option because it brightens your skin and gives it a healthy glow. However, if you want the most natural look, choose a semi-matte foundation. It has just a slight, subtle sheen so it looks the most like real skin.

Get Color Matched

Often the trickiest part about choosing a foundation is finding the right shade. The two factors to consider when selecting are depth and undertone. Your skin’s depth is how light or dark it is, with very pale shades like porcelain at one end to very dark shades like ebony at the other end. Next, determine if your skin's undertones are cool, warm or neutral. If you’re cool, you have a pink hue and your veins appear blue. If you’re warm, you have yellow undertones and your veins look green. If you don’t lean warm or cool, you have neutral coloring. To find the correct foundation shade for your skin's depth and undertone, test several different colors in natural light on your chin -- the right shade will disappear into your skin. If you can’t find a shade that works, try mixing two shades together to create a custom foundation color.

About the Author

Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on BobVila.com, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images