What's the best foundation for you?
Choosing your brand
First things first, you have to choose a cosmetic brand. This may not seem like the obvious first step, but it is surprisingly vital when it comes to your foundation.
How many times have you gone to purchase a top up of your favourite product to then find out it's out of stock, or worse discontinued. How many times has a brand randomly decided to change their formula of their products? How many times has a brand extended or changed the shades in their range?
All of these things are to be considered. Especially if you are on a budget, as foundation prices are constantly rising, especially at the drugstore.
5 things to consider with a cosmetic brand
Are they a mainstream brand? Will they close in the near future?
Are their products regularly stocked and available?
Are they vegan and cruelty free?
Do they use ingredients that work well with your skin?
Does their pricing really justify the product?
When I take on new clients, I always use a foundation I can use regularly. A foundation I can easily re-stock and match with other foundations.
The drugstore is your best bet for a good, regular and consistent foundation. Brands such as L'Oréal Paris, Rimmel London and Maybelline are staple brands in the cosmetic world. They are not going anywhere. The only risk is the brand reformulating the product or discontinuing it completely. Normally when a brand this huge discontinues a product, it's to release something of higher quality anyway.
Drugstore products can be found anywhere too. For example, if you're popping to your local supermarket (Asda/Tesco), they more than likely have a cosmetics aisle you can find your foundation on.
5 Brands I recommend
As well as drugstore brands, I also recommend looking into higher end makeup brands. I call these department store brands. Companies such as MAC, NARS and Bobbi Brown.
Most of these companies are under a large umbrella cooperation such as Estee Lauder, which unfortunately test on animals in some countries. However these products do work, they all have different qualities but they have been around for decades and have a large loyal demographic, especially makeup artists.
These brands also have staff on counters to help match you to your perfect shade if you pick their foundation. Before you do that though, we need to talk about your skin.
Everybody's skin is unique. However in the makeup world, skin is categorised into types. Using these types will help identify which foundation you need.
What skin type are you?
Combination (Bit of Both/T-Zone)
Normal (Neither dry or Oily)
These are the 4 typical skin types brands use to label their products. Let's go through each of them.
Oily skin is where your skin produces more oil than the average person. This is actually a great benefit to the skin, as it keeps the skin youthful and full. However when it comes to makeup, the makeup begins to break down from the inside out. Meaning your foundation won't last as long as someone with "Normal" Skin.
Dry skin is when your skin does not produce as much oil. Most of my regular client who are 50+ year old men, have dry skin. From years of shaving, sun damage and age. Dry skin allows makeup to last longer on the skin, however is prone to showing fine lines and pores more. This means dry skin types will have visible fine lines (wrinkles) and they're skin will begin to look more "dusty" as the day goes on. This is much easier to fix in my opinion than oily skin however.
Combination skin is as simple as it sounds. You have a combination of dry and oily skin. Typically people may have an oily t-zone area, especially around the nose and center of the face. For me personally, my eyelids and undereye are oily, whilst the rest of my face is normal. This can be difficult for beginners to overcome, however there are plenty of products to help you.
Normal skin is neither dry or oily, or a very small amount of either. This skin type is the best for makeup application, and can handle pretty much anything. Most people who have normal skin I find to be younger, around 18-30.
Which foundation for my skin?
Oily - Matte foundation
Dry - Dewy foundation
Combination - Demi-matte foundation
Normal - Any foundation
There are many contributors to your makeup routine, not just foundation. Such as powders, primers and moisturisers. For now, let's stick to foundations.
If you have oily skin, a matte foundation is typically best. A liquid to matte foundation is probably the most common trend at the moment. This foundation looks great on camera too, and is used in weddings, photoshoots and on the red carpet. A matte foundation also means you don't have to use as much powder, or any at all.
I always recommend using a liquid foundation. A cream foundation is good, but its more difficult to use and harder to find in the shops.
My top recommendations for a matte foundation are:
L'Oreal Infallible (Matte)
Maybelline 24 Hour Superstay
Estee Lauder Double Wear
Fenty Beauty Matte Foundation
NARS Soft Matte
Let's talk about dry skin. Dewy foundations are your best bet. However I highly recommend using a good moisturiser before your base. Skip the primer, primers are expensive and are not really needed for dry skin.
Dewy foundations do not dry down, so if you are going out for the day and need your makeup to last, use a light amount of translucent setting powder to keep everything in place.
Dewy foundations look like skin. When I say dewy, I do not mean "glowy". "Glowy" foundations can have shimmer in them, these are a completely different type of product.
My top recommendations for a dewy foundation are:
L'Oréal Infallible Freshwear (My favourite)
Rimmel Lasting Finish
Maybelline Fit Me
Too Faced Born This Way
The Ordinary Coverage Foundation
For both combination and "normal" skin types, I recommend a demi matte foundation.
Combination skin can be tackled with primers and powders, I am guessing you only want to buy the one foundation and not 2 for both areas. This is expensive and tricky, and not really necessary.
Normal skin can handle both types of foundation. Although any foundation that claims to have a "Velvet Matte" or a "Demi-Matte" finish is your best bet. The name changes all the time, currently they label these foundations as "Faux Filter" or something very similar. Basically what this means is, it's a matte foundation but it doesn't dry down too fast or too dry. Leaving extra wiggle room when applying other products, and allowing the skin to breathe.
When using these "Demi Matte" foundations, you can set it in place with a powder foundation instead of a loose powder. Causing less cakey-ness and less product build-up. Alternatively you can set it with a setting spray instead.
My top recommendations for demi matte foundations are:
MAC Studio Fix Fluid
NARS Natural Radiance
Huda Beauty Faux Filter
IL Makiage Woke Up Like This
Illamasqua Skin Base
What's your shade?
One of the most challenging tasks when you wear makeup, is choosing the right foundation shade.
As a working makeup artist, I can speak for all of us, we try our best to match your skin tone. Typically matching to your chest or your neck. However, clients can come in spray tanned, sun burnt or have other skin conditions we have to contend with.
I highly recommend speaking to a makeup artist who can match you to your perfect shade. Visit a counter at your local department store, MAC are really great for this, and they shall match you to your best shade.
A little tip, if you want to get matched but are on a budget, go to a MAC store or an AVON store and get yourself matched. Then you can hop online to a website called "Findation" which will match that shade to all the other brands. It doesn't 100% work, but it has worked for me for the past 7 years.
What's your undertone?
These are all the undertones. They differ from the skin tone too, for example a woman of black skin can have red undertones, but not pink.
There's also other undertones that are thrown into the mix, like "Peach". As a makeup artist I typically stick to Pink, Golden, Olive, Neutral and Red undertones. Even if a client has very cool undertones, I would warm up their skin using a pink undertone to give the skin a heathy glow. Especially if I'm using bronzers and blush.
There are plenty of resources online to look at for your undertone. Typically you can look at your veins colour and determine what undertone you have.
Many brands however do not cater to specific undertones. For example I find MAC's foundations to be super golden, and not catering to Cool/Olive undertones atall. Drugstore brands also have a hard time of getting deeper skin tones right, they always use a red undertone for the deepest shades.
I shall list below good brands for people with deeper skin:
I hope this little blog helped you decide what foundation you are going to look into purchasing.
If you follow these tips, I am certain you will find a good foundation for your skin. Your first purchase may not be perfect, but if you keep searching, eventually you will find your perfect product.
It took me 7 years to find my perfect products. I have 2 for my skin, the MAC Studio Fix Fluid for a heavier look and the L'Oréal Infallible Freshwear for a more dewy look.
Remember these top tips when looking:
Find a consistent brand
Find a foundation with more than 20 shades
Be as cheap as you can
If you have any other questions or if you are still stuck. Make sure to check out my YouTube channel and Instagram page for regular updates on my top products.