I’m going to level with you: Shopping for foundation isn’t fun. At all. It’s not like swatching with lipstick or eyeshadow, where you get to decorate your arms with various different pigments as you decide on a shade. It’s more just…. tedious, considering your whole mission is basically just to figure which texture/shade/formulation is going to make you look the least like a caked-on Barbie doll. Which is far less exciting than painting the back of your hands with glitter, IMHO.
To simplify the process ever so slightly (and make it less, well, horrible), we tapped makeup artist Gabriel De Santino, creator of Gabriel Cosmetics, to fill us in on the “big three” of what you should look for when shopping for foundation. The result? A product that will give you flawless, Instagram-filter worthy skin with every application.
- Shade: First things first: With foundation, you’re always going to want to make sure you match your shade to your skin. “Always try a sample before you buy a product—test it on several areas of your face if possible,” says De Santino. Keep in mind that different parts of your face are actually different colors—for example, your forehead tends to be much darker than your neck—so decide which you want to match your makeup to and go from there.
- Skin type: When selecting a formula, skin type is the number one thing to keep in mind. “Depending on whether your skin falls into the dry, oily, mature, or combination category, you’ll need a different type of foundation,” says De Santino. If your skin tends to get greasy, steer clear of oil-based formulas—opt for one of these oil-free foundations instead. And if you’re on the drier side, avoid anything with a matte finish that could leave you looking cake-y. No matter what formulation you choose, though, always prep your skin with moisturizer, primer, or both, which will help neutralize any problem areas and create a clean canvas on which to apply any foundation… even if it isn’t quite the right one for your skin type.
- Coverage: The other thing to look at is the foundation’s coverage, which is dependent on what, exactly, you want to achieve with your finished look. “If you have great skin but are looking to even out your skin tone, a sheer to light coverage is ideal, but for those needing more coverage we suggest medium to full coverage,” says De Santino. Pro tip? If you can’t decide what type of coverage you want, opt for a heavier product which can actually go both ways. You can apply it with your fingers for a full-coverage look, or use a fluffy brush for a more sheer finish.
Once you’ve got the right product, you’ll want to be sure you’re putting it on the right way. Famed makeup artist Pat McGrath has got you covered. And here’s how to use primer so your foundation stays put, care of Meghan Markle’s makeup artist.