Heading over to your local beauty store and blindly trying to find your next foundation bff is sure to leave you overwhelmed by options. With all of the different finishes and coverage options available, it’s sure to leave your head spinning.
So, to make it easier, I’ve created a short guide on how foundations work and look according to your skin type, preferences, and needs, alongside some recommendations. Hope this helps! xo
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What’s Your Skin Type?
The first thing you’ll want to consider when choosing a foundation is your skin type. There are 4 types: oily, combination, normal, and dry.
If you’re not sure what your skin type is, the best way to figure it out is by washing your face, not applying any product to it afterwards, and letting it be bare for 2 hours. Once the 2 hours is up, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of what your skin type is.
If your skin doesn’t feel neither too oily or too dry in all areas of the face, you have normal skin.
If your face is shiny and feels greasy everywhere, you have oily skin.
If your skin feels oily in your t-zone but dry on your cheeks, you have combination skin.
And if your face looks matte and feels tight, you have dry skin.
(You can learn more about how to take care of your skin type here.)
What’s Your Preferred Finish?
Once you’ve figured out if you’re dry, oily, combination, or normal, you’ll need to look for foundations that have a finish that will work with your skin type and not against it. “Finish” here means the level of luminosity found in the foundation and how it will translate onto the skin.
Think of it this way: On a scale of 1-10 (1 having no light reflection to 10 having lots), matte is a 1, satin is a 5, and dewy is a 10.
Someone who already has a lot of light reflection due to an oily skin type usually don’t want to look any shinier, so a matte finish works beautifully because it absorbs the light, dries flat, and is more long wearing.
Whereas on the other end of the spectrum, dry skin types already have naturally matte skin and need products that will help reflect light and be hydrating enough to not settle into dry patches and fine lines.
→ Dry skin looks best in a dewy finish.
→ Oily skin looks best in a matte finish.
→ Combination skin looks best in a satin finish.
→ Normal skin can wear any finish they prefer.
How Much Coverage Do You Need?
Coverage is the opacity of pigment you’d like to have in your foundation.
Minimal coverage is perfect for those who have clear skin and/or just want to even out their skin tone a bit. (Typically contains 13% to 18% pigment.)
Medium to full coverage is best suited for those seeking to blur and cover acne, large pores, hyperpigmentation, freckles, birthmarks, or any other discolourations of the skin. (Can contain anywhere from 18% to 35% pigment for general makeup use — Camouflage makeup can contain up to 50%.)
THE BEST FOUNDATIONS FOR…
NORMAL, COMBINATION-DRY, + DRY SKIN TYPES WHO WANT…
→ Minimal Coverage + A Dewy Finish: Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation
→ Medium to Full Coverage + A Satin Finish: Too Faced Born This Way Foundation (Note: Dewy finish foundations tend to contain more oil, which in turn sheers out the product. So if you’re looking for fuller coverage and have a drier skin type, a satin finish is a great middle ground because it has a high concentration of pigment whilst still providing some luminosity. Just make sure your skin is well moisturized beforehand!)
NORMAL, COMBINATION-OILY, + OILY SKIN TYPES WHO WANT…
→ Minimal Coverage + A Matte Finish: Giorgio Armani Face Fabric Foundation
→ Medium to Full Coverage + A Matte Finish: Estée Lauder Double Wear Liquid Makeup