Here I spew everything I know about shopping for foundation onto one page. If you follow these tips, chances are you’ll be very happy with your final purchase.
Firstly consider what type of foundation you would like.
- Coverage: full, medium, or light
- Formula: liquid, cream, or powder
- SPF: yes or no (affects how it appears in flash photos)
- Tone: warm (yellow) or cool (pink) (don’t worry if you don’t know this)
Note these down and don’t hesitate to tell the makeup counter assistant exactly what you’re looking for. Search online for the kind of foundation you’re after, and read reviews by people with a similar skin type. (MakeupAlley is great for this.) You can save time in store if you shop with a shortlist. Only ever buy online if you’ve already tried exactly that foundation in that colour.
Buying High End
Always get colour matched at a makeup counter. Never try to guess your colour unless you’re prepared to be disappointed.
Take with you:
- your previous foundation for comparison
- a magnifying compact mirror
- makeup wipes – to clean your hands after testing formulas
Ask the makeup counter assistant to match your foundation colour to your neck, not your face. The best place to do this is on your jawline. Once matched, check the match in natural light if possible. Pop outside or to the nearest window.
Once happy with the match, ask the assistant to apply it to your whole face, and wear it for the day. Confidently tell the assistant that you want to take it for a proper test run. Don’t let anyone pressure you to part with money before you’re ready to.
Don’t be intimidated by the assistant: they’re there to help. If you’re polite and they’re rude or judgemental, they’re doing their job badly and don’t deserve your money.
Inspect the applied foundation throughout the day and assess how it looks and feels. Have a good look in natural light; ask your mate how it looks; take some flash photographs. You may find that it wears badly, your colour matching was wrong, or it makes you look like a ghost in photos. Some foundations get darker over time (this is called oxidising). This is a good way to thoroughly test a foundation before deciding whether to buy it.
If you don’t want the hassle of multi-day testing and shopping, plan your day accordingly. For example, if you’re going shopping for the day, get the foundation applied at the start and go back to buy it at the end. If you want to test two over a day, get them applied on either half of your face. Get creative!
A few of my favourite high end brands are MAC, NARS and Laura Mercier.
If you are after a high street foundation, I recommend still being matched at a makeup counter. MAC has an extensive range of colours, and is often used as the baseline for finding similar shades in other brands. Find your MAC shade, and search online to find similar colours in high street brands before you try them in store. (Temptalia’s Foundation Matrix tends to match higher end brands, but is worth a look.) As above, read reviews and, once in store, get a good look in natural light before buying.
A couple of my favourite high street brands are Bourjois and Rimmel.
I know this post is word heavy, but I wanted to be thorough. I hope it helps even a few of you! Have you ever had a foundation disaster? Let me know below!