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Secrets to Purchasing the Perfect Foundation for YOU!

Updated on April 24, 2007

Become a Savvy Cosmetics Consumer

Tired of getting home after spending what seems like hours at the cosmetics counter only to discover that you ended up with a foundation that is completely the wrong color?

Well, it’s time to stop wasting money and start looking good. Below are a few insider tips I have learned over the years by assisting people just like YOU at looking their best!

Selecting the Perfect Foundation aka Base

1) The first and foremost thing you need to know before you even test foundation is what type of skin you have. Is it dry, combination, oily, sensitive, are you prone to breakouts, etc. This is crucial in assessing the type of foundation you will be purchasing, because most foundation formulas are primarily geared toward skin type. Here is a quick breakdown:

Emollient based (cream, cream to powder, liquid, tinted moisturizer) can be used by people with dry, combination and normal skin. People with oily skin might also be able to use these products if the formula is oil-free, oil-control or water based.

Powder based (including mineral make-up)

There IS a difference between powder (which is applied as a final step to set your foundation making it last longer) and powder foundation. Powder foundation should be used by people with normal, combination or oily skin. People with dry skin should be aware that by using a powder foundation the wrinkles and dryness of their skin will be emphasized! Most mineral make-up can be used by people with all skin types (thus the reason they are all the rage plus you can build the coverage and they have ‘built-in’ sunscreens)

2) The second thing you should decide before purchase is the level of coverage you want to attain. Light coverage means that you want to even out your skin tone, you don’t like the feeling of make-up on your face, and you like a very ‘natural look.’ Medium coverage is basically the next step up, you still want to look natural, but don’t want to see imperfections (blemishes and age spots) on your skin. Full coverage means that you don’t want to see the imperfections on your skin at all! This includes major skin discoloration and even scars.

Light coverage: tinted moisturizers and some liquid formulas

Medium coverage: most liquid foundations, powder foundation, some cream to powder and mineral based formulas

Heavy coverage: cream (in stick or compact form), cream to powder, powder foundation and mineral based formulas

*Note: Some foundations have 'buildable coverage,' meaning coverage from light to medium and medium to full can be attained by layering the product.

3) Choosing the perfect shade of foundation is where it starts getting tricky.

Things you should know about picking the right color:

Foundation is usually made with either a yellow undertone or a pink/red undertone. Some companies even make neutral undertone formulas. Look at your skin. Does it look more pink/red or more yellow?

Now that you know the undertone of your skin...test, test, test foundation with the same undertone as your skin. And don’t test it on the inside of your wrist or on your neck, put it directly on your face! After all that’s where you are going to be wearing it right?!

Here comes the most important step: Let the product dry for a few minutes, then find some natural light (as close to being outside as possible) check yourself out with a mirror that reflects your entire face. Do this even though a busy cosmetic consultant might insist that it’s your perfect shade!!! Does the foundation blend into your skin color, or is it too dark or light? Keep trying until you find the perfect shade!

*Note: If you take a lot of pictures be aware of ‘light diffusing’ or ‘light reflecting’ foundations, which are normally labeled as wrinkle decreasing and age defying formulas. In photographs taken with a flash your face will be ghostly white!!


There is an expiration date on ALL cosmetics. Emollient based foundations especially, should be tossed by this date…no one wants to apply a healthy dose of bacteria (that has been growing in their expired foundation) to their face!

You should ALWAYS apply your foundation with CLEAN tools, whether that be with CLEAN fingers, UNUSED sponges or a CLEAN foundation brush!

Be aware; for a person with sensitive skin, formulas with sunscreen in them might irritate their skin.

If you are shopping at a department store don’t be afraid to ASK about the product. As intimidating as some cosmetic consultants can be, remember that without you they wouldn’t have a job!

MAC foundation sticks...emollient based formula.
MAC foundation sticks...emollient based formula.


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    • HERBERT ubaldo profile image

      HERBERT ubaldo 6 years ago