Foundation is exactly as the word implies: it’s the basis for a flawless complexion, while acting as a primer to showcase our best features: eyes, lips and cheeks. The purpose of foundation is to even out skin tone, provide a smooth surface and hide imperfections; not to disguise the face, sit heavily on the skin or provide extra colour. If your foundation stands out in any way it’s more than likely you are wearing the wrong colour or formulation or simply applying your make-up incorrectly.
Wearing the wrong foundation is one of the biggest make-up blunders of all time. According to research conducted by Estée Lauder in Australia, a staggering 76 per cent of women are wearing the wrong foundation for their skin type and 77 per cent wear the same shade all year round. While these percentages seem slightly alarming, the good news is that by adopting a few golden rules and following expert advice, it is, despite common belief, easy to select a foundation that matches your skin type and seamlessly blends with your skin. Rather than camouflaging your complexion, today’s foundations are designed to enhance your natural skin tone.
Just like minimalist architecture and design, less is always more when it comes to applying foundation. However, this relies on having a good canvas to begin with, which requires following a proper skincare routine, getting sufficient sleep, eating healthy foods and consuming large amounts of water. Having a good complexion lessens the need for piling on foundation and allows your inner radiance to shine through.
Fortunately, with today’s advanced technology and cutting-edge ingredients, most foundations are cleverly concocted to act as an extension of your skincare routine, offering benefits such as sun protection, hydrating properties, anti-ageing ingredients, collagen and elastin boosters and light-reflecting pigments in a bid to create the perfect complexion.
With so many choices available it’s understandable why so many women are wearing the wrong foundation, but it doesn’t need to be this way. Follow our simple, three-step guide – choose the ideal coverage for your skin type, find the right colour, and learn expert application tips and tricks – to finding the perfect foundation and you will never look back.
TYPES OF FOUNDATION
The most common type of foundation, liquid foundation is easy to apply and provides good coverage. While it can suit all skin types, because of a high moisture content, it is well suited to dry complexions.
Try: L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Foundation. RRP $36.
Cream foundation, available as a stick or compact, offers full coverage with its thick consistency. Look for cream foundations that contain moisturiser for a smooth finish.
Try: Shiseido The Makeup Perfect Smoothing Compact Foundation SPF 15. Refills RRP $59; Case $20.
Most powder foundation, available loose or as a compact, provides sheer coverage that can be layered to achieve a fuller effect. Best for oily or combination skin.
Try: Dr. Hauschka Translucent Loose Powder. RRP $53; Innoxa Line Defying Powder Compact. RRP $30.
Mousse foundation is cream foundation in a whipped consistency. It provides a light coverage. It’s perfect for mature skin as it doesn’t settle in fine lines or wrinkles.
Try: Maybelline New York Dream Matte Mousse Foundation. RRP $34.
As tinted moisturiser provides minimal coverage it’s best suited to people blessed with flawless complexions.
Try: Bobbi Brown Extra SPF 25 Tinted Moisturising Balm, RRP $110.
Cream to Powder Foundation
Cream to powder foundation, available as a stick or compact, is creamy to touch yet dries with a powder finish for durable and long wear. Ideal for oily skin.
Try: Smashbox Camera Ready Full Coverage Foundation. RRP $68.
Free of irritants, mineral foundation is perfect for those with sensitive or problem skin.
Try: Jane Iredale Amazing Base. RRP $75; Jane Iredale Liquid Minerals. RRP $89.
Stick foundation acts as a cream foundation and concealer in one, providing good coverage. Ideal for normal to dry skin.
Try: Benefit Play Sticks. RRP $60.
1. CHOOSE THE PERFECT FOUNDATION COVERAGE
“The first step in choosing a foundation must begin with an understanding of your skin type,” says Rosanna Marks, Estée Lauder education manager.
If you are unsure of your skin type, a beauty consultant will be able to help you. Once you have established your skin type this will determine the type of formula and coverage your skin needs. For example, oily complexions need oil-free formulas that provide a matt finish, while dry skin needs foundation with moisturising properties that offers a dewy finish. You also need to consider the amount of coverage you are after – sheer to full. “It is important to try on as many foundations as possible until you feel comfortable that you have selected one that suits your skin type, colour and lifestyle while looking natural,” says Marks.
Women with dry skin have fine pores and thin, papery skin that often feels taut, is easily irritated and appears sallow. Opt for foundations with hydrating properties that replenish the skin’s moisture levels and give a satin finish without caking or collecting on dry patches.
Chanel Teint Innocence Cream Compact SPF 10, RRP $116
Consisting of 33 per cent water, this intensely hydrating foundation has a delicate, silky texture that becomes one with the skin when applied, giving a sheer yet radiant finish. Vitamins E, F and B5 help protect the skin from harsh external factors and ageing.
M.A.C Studio Sculpt SPF 15 Foundation & Studio Sculpt Concealer, RRP $70
Specially formulated for dry, sensitive and mature complexions, this gel-based cream formula glides on smoothly and blends effortlessly, giving the complexion an even-toned, radiant finish.
Natio Fluid Makeup, RRP $20
Containing moisturising properties to nourish dry skin and protect it from the ageing effects of the environment, this long-lasting foundation blends into the skin easily and provides moderate coverage.
Oily skin types typically have excess shine, large pores and are prone to breakouts. Though foundation is often considered the enemy for people with problematic skin, oil-free, non-pore-clogging formulas work to mop up extra sebum, leaving oily skin types with a shine-free, matt finish.
Revlon ColorStay Velvet Crème Matte Makeup, RRP $40
This creamy foundation transforms into a silky, powdery veil on contact with the skin, giving a light, matt coverage that lasts up to 12 hours. The formula helps control oil breakthrough while restoring moisture levels.
Clinique Even Better Makeup SPF 15, RRP $58
Though designed for all skin types and any age, this foundation is lightweight and oil-free, making it ideal for oily skin. It provides a smooth, matt finish.
i.d bareMinerals Foundation, RRP $75
Made of pure, crushed-up minerals, this loose powder foundation is free of allergens, fragrance, preservatives, talc and oil, making it ideal for those prone to breakouts or irritation. The weightless formula can be built up, depending on the desired coverage.
If you experience dryness on the cheeks yet your skin feels oily on the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin), you have combination skin. An ideal foundation for this skin type is one that keeps the skin hydrated yet is dry enough to reduce shine on the T-zone.
Bobbi Brown Invisible Coverage Skin Foundation SPF 15, RRP $92
Ideal for all skin types, the weightless formula is blended with a unique balance of pigments, emollients and light-reflective optics that provide a completely natural feel and look.
Moisture Mist Dual Control Liquid Foundation SPF 18, RRP $34
For skin that can’t make up its mind, this lightweight foundation is designed to balance moisture levels, controlling excess oil as well as dryness.
Dior Diorskin Natural Glow Fresh Powder Makeup, RRP $89
This loose powder foundation contains nearly 20 per cent water which acts as a moisturising and energising cocktail for the skin, delivering a flawless complexion that improves over time. Worn on its own or over liquid foundation as a finishing powder, it has a weightless texture and finish.
As our skin ages, foundation often becomes the enemy: it can accentuate facial lines, appear heavy and highlight exactly what we want to hide. Fortunately the latest formulations for mature skin are specially designed to help these skin types.
Estée Lauder Nutritious Vita-Minéral Liquid SPF 10 Make-Up, RRP $74
This liquid foundation is infused with antioxidant-rich pomegranate, which helps protect the skin and gives a luminating quality.
Clarins Super Restorative Foundation True Lift SPF 15, RRP $80
Specially designed for women over the age of 50, this foundation features pigments that enhance the complexion by subtly supporting sagging facial features. The velvety smooth texture also helps hide the signs of ageing and gives the skin a natural, radiant glow.
Lancôme Teint Renergie Lift R.A.R.E, RRP $84
Lancôme’s latest anti-ageing foundation lifts, firms and adds radiance to the skin. The end result is a more youthful appearance and medium coverage.
2. SELECTING THE PERFECT SHADE
To choose the right foundation for your skin, the second step is to find the perfect colour that is the closest match to your natural skin tone.
Choose three foundation colours you think are closest to your natural skin tone and draw three stripes along your jawline using a cotton bud. It’s important to always use your jawline as a reference as foundation should always be blended down towards your jaw and neck. Choose the foundation shade that seems to disappear into your skin. You may need to repeat this step a few times.
If your neck and face are two different shades, choose a foundation colour in between the two. If you have to blend your foundation into the neck area to avoid a demarcation line between your face and neck, you are wearing the wrong colour.
Always test foundation colour in natural light and let it rest on your skin before you decide to make a purchase as the oils in your skin may alter the colour. You’ll need at least two foundation shades per year; one for winter months and the other for warmer months when your face gains more colour.
3. APPLICATION TIPS & TRICKS
Once you have selected the right shade, step three is knowing how to apply the foundation to achieve a flawless, natural finish.
– Before applying foundation, always thoroughly cleanse, tone and moisturise to ensure you have a smooth and flawless base for your make-up application.
– Use a primer for extra staying-power and to ensure the foundation glides on evenly. Not only do primers create a velvety surface for easy make-up application, they stop your skin from absorbing foundation.
– Resist the temptation to be overzealous with your foundation. For a natural look, the less that is applied the better.
– Every make-up artist has a different opinion about what tool should be used to apply foundation. Find one that best suits you, whether that means working with a sponge, brush or simply using your fingertips.
– Always use a light hand when applying foundation: it should never feel like a mask. If it does, you are wearing too much or you may need a lighter formula.
– Study your face and only apply foundation to areas that need some extra help (look for uneven, blemished, discoloured or red areas). Start by dotting foundation on the T-zone and blending the foundation outwards using your fingertips, a sponge or foundation brush.
– If you do apply foundation on your entire face, blend as far as the jawline, ensuring that your face is not a different colour to your neck or décolletage.
– Make sure your foundation is blended into every nook and cranny, particularly around your nose or eye sockets.
– Set your foundation with translucent powder, pressed or loose, to give a matt, shine-free finish.
– Check your make-up in more than one mirror before you go out.
Just as you may have a pair of shoes for different occasions, you should also have a variety of foundation formulas for that very same reason. Experiment with a range of formulas to help determine what type of coverage you desire. For example, tinted moisturisers work well for weekends or for when you want light coverage; hydrating, long-lasting formulas suit hours spent in the office or daywear; and creamy liquid foundation that offers a radiant glow is a good option for evenings or when you feel the need for a pick-me-up. It is also important to change your foundation annually as your complexion changes each year as you age.
Want professional help to determine the perfect foundation? Make-up and skincare brand Prescriptives offers a tailor-made foundation to perfectly complement your skin tone and needs. Its Custom Blend Foundation service allows you to pick a texture of choice – oil-control, moisture-rich, brightening or firming – and a finish, such as Candlelight or Radiance. The consultant “colourprints” your skin, then blends the formula. The service is available at Mecca Cosmetica stores in New Zealand and Australia.