It doesn’t matter if your skin is dry, oily, or acne-prone, finding the best foundation can be tough. Drugstores don’t give you samples, and when you get the bottle home, the color on your face can look nothing like you thought it would. Even if you go to Sephora or a department store that lets you test the color first, you still need to make sure you’re choosing the right formula for your skin.
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Before you buy new foundation, follow this easy guide to find the perfect formula and shade for you.
1. Choose a formula designed for your skin type. Don’t just go by what it says on the bottle —the beauty lingo can be confusing. Instead, choose the formula that works best for your skin. If your face is usually dry, pick a liquid or stick foundation because it’ll be creamy and pack the most moisturizing properties. If your skin is oily, go with a powder foundation that’ll help absorb excess shine, leaving a matte finish. Combination skin seems difficult, but it’s really just a matter of being careful where you apply the foundation. A powder formula is the easiest because you can layer it lightly over dry spots, and heavier on oily patches.
2. Make foundation work overtime. Other than checking out the shade and the formula, make sure to read the ingredients to get the most out of the product. Have acne-prone skin? Use a foundation that contains zit-fighting salicylic acid. Dry, flaky skin? Look for serum-infused products that will help you stay moisturized. And if you don’t feel like putting on SPF before foundation, find a formula that has at least SPF 15 already in it.
3. Decide what type of coverage you want. Love your freckles? Let them show through with a light coverage foundation or a tinted moisturizer (like BB or CC cream). Go with medium coverage if you want a more airbrushed look (like for prom), and full coverage if you want to cover everything, like acne.
4. Shop stores with liberal return policies. You probably know Sephora lets you return opened makeup, but there are some drugstores that do, too. (CVS is great about taking back used makeup if you have your receipt.) If you’re worried that a product might not be right for you, inquire about the store’s return policy before you purchase it.
5. Figure out your skin’s undertone by checking out the veins on your wrists. If they’re olive, you probably have warm undertones. If they’re more blue or purple, your undertones are cool. If they’re blue-green, you have neutral undertones. Then choose a shade of foundation that complements your undertones. Warm tones look amazing in yellow- or- peach-based shades; cool tones work well with pink-based colors; and neutral tones match best with yellow shades.
6. Test foundation shades against your jawline. If you’re able to score a sample at a makeup counter, don’t just swatch it on your wrist. Find natural light outside or near a window, and dab the foundation directly on your jawline. This will help you see how it blends between your face and your neck. It should totally disappear into your skin. Testing multiple colors side-by-side will make it even more obvious which shade is the best match for you.
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