Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to find the perfect foundation

Foundation match (by match I mean shade, texture and finish) is arguably the most important step to achieve a naturally flawless complexion. A mismatched foundation gets my vote for the worst makeup fault. Foundation is the platform for the rest of the makeup you put on your face. And do I need to emphasize on the words “your face”? Finding the right shade is just one part of a perfect match. The ingredient (e.g. SPF vs. non-SPF), the formula (e.g. cream, liquid, powder, aerosol, oil vs. oil-free), the application method (e.g. brush vs. sponge) and the reaction of your skin to the foundation can turn things up side down.

I practiced, tested, failed miserably and finally succeed to find my holy grail foundations, yes plural! Why did I take trouble of developing a tactic? Having a professional matched your foundations doesn’t guarantee the desire outcomes. Trust me it happens all the time especially when you’re uncertain about your own skin or under the unrealistically flattering lighting inside the stores. Here are a few things I think crucial in matching foundations.

Skin tone. I find it very helpful to know your skin undertone. Warm/yellow, neutral /peah and cool/pink are common references to your skin undertone. The most accurate indicator in my opinion is your wrist vein color. Under natural sunlight, warm tone skin has green vein and cool tone skin has blue vein. If you can’t tell whether you blue or green, you’re neutral undertone.  My favorite method is to try on a pale pink and a coral lipstick without foundation. If your complexion brightens up with a pale pink lipstick you’re cool undertone, otherwise you’re warm-toned. The perfect foundation should have the same undertone as yours.

Skin type. Oily, normal, combination, dry, sensitive or non-sensitive makes a huge impacts on the behavior of the foundation on your skin. If you’re oily-skinned, an oil-free formula and matte finish will extend the wearing and reduce shine on your face. Dry-skinned ladies would generally want a hydrating foundation with satin to luminous finish. If you have normal or combination skin, you can wear pretty much any types of foundations.  

Coverage. Do you want light/sheer, medium or full coverage? Full coverage foundations cover more blemishes than the others. I prefer medium to full coverage foundation, the first for good skin day and the latter for bad skin day.

Longevity. Similar to coverage, foundation longevity varies with personal taste. Long-wearing foundations work best for oily skin even though combination skin may also require long lasting formula.

Texture. Modern foundations are geared toward water-based liquid rather than oil-based. They are more light-weight, gliding on more smoothly and hence more comfortable to wear. But there are great foundations out there that’s not light weight or water-based. It’s your personal choice.

Formula. I find cream foundation is generally the smoothest due to its consistency. I prefer liquid to the other formulas as it melts on my skin easily facilitating even application. Powder foundation works best when you’re in hurry as it’s easy to blend and won’t require setting powder.  It also suits oily skin better than the others.

Finish.  Matte for oily skin and dewy/luminous for dry kin is the general rule. I don’t find it always applicable, though. The texture, the formula and your skin behavior can turn around the foundation finish on your skin.

Other benefits include SPF, lifting, hydrating, or nourishing with vitamins. SPF is generally a no-no for flash photography unless you desire a ghostly-white face. Mature skin would enjoy lifting and nourishing foundation. I don’t fancy those foundations that offer extra benefits beside moisturing. No matter how good the foundation it can’t replace your skin care routine. Since most of us do prepare our skin before applying makeup, I think this extra stuff is just a deal-maker (or sometimes a deal-breaker).

Price range. Headache I know. As cliché as it sounds I have no tips on how much should be spent on foundations. It’s not the matter of how much you spend but your personal taste. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not advocating for high-end products. You may pay a big buck and hate the foundation. I’ve never had good luck with drugstore foundations but many do.

After considering the above, it’s time to go shopping. Phew!

It's really hard at first to choose from an ocean of beauty brands. The next post will be dedicated to several beloved foundations from the blogosphere. So stay tune.  Now let's just assume you pick a brand (I recommend Giorgio Armani, Dior, Chanel, Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier, Makeup Forever, MAC, NARS, Lancome, Revelon, L'Oreal, Maybeline for their wide range of shades and foundation types to play with).

Trying 3 different shades under daylight is probably the best way to find your exact shade. Sometimes it’s best to have 2 shades for different areas or to mix for the most natural match. But the formula also affects the shades. Remember foundations oxidize when exposed to skin oil through out the day. Either a setting powder and blotting papers or a slightly lighter shade if you sweat a lot will do the trick.

Try 2 different formulas. It sounds troublesome but it’s worth every single penny you spend on the foundation. Chanel Matte Lumiere looks more natural on my skin even though it has exact same shade as the Chanel Teint Innocent I tried. 

Ask for the samples of your potential foundations and try them for a few days. Wear them under different lighting, take pictures, go to the beach, have a dinner and so on. Foundations are big investment so it doesn’t hurt for being patient (which is not myself at all when it comes to makeup). After a few days you can be ready to pick up (or exchange or return!)  your foundations. Hopefully it will be your holly grail until something suits you better becomes available on the market.

Other beauty bloggers/vloggers rave and rant about foundations.....

The Beauty Look Book’s impressive foundation review is here.
Delicate Hummingbird’s overview on foundations is here.

Marlena from makeupgeekTV  has an excellent video on both high-end and drugstore foundations.

Jen from frmheadtotoe extensive revew of BB cream (Part 1 below).

Pixiewood sisters’ favorite Chanel foundations. Some of the foundation reviewed here were discontinued though :(

Good luck finding your perfectly matched foundations! Have other tips on matching foundation, please share here ladies. I’d love to learn from you all. 

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