How To Choose The Right Foundation

Now that you guys have a better understanding of the different kinds of foundations, I will focus a little on how to choose the right foundation.


To start, let us look at the various skin types. If you have:

Dry Skin – Look for something that is hydrating like liquid and cream formulas. Stay away from anything with alcohol or words like mattifying and anti-shine.

Normal Skin – You are the luckiest out of everyone because any formula should work for you.

Combination Skin – Liquid, cream, cream to powder formulas are your best bet.

Oily/Acne-prone Skin – Look for something that is water-based or oil-free. Liquid, powder and mineral foundations are all good choices.

Sensitive Skin – Avoid anything heavily scented. Try a liquid, cream or mineral foundation.

Mature Skin – Like those with dry skin, you want something that is moisturizing and possibly contain light-reflecting particles to blur away fine lines and perk up the complexion. I like liquid and cream foundations best on mature skin.

Onto picking the right shade…

* One of the biggest mistakes people make is testing the foundation on the back of their hands. The color of your hand bears no resemblance to the skintone on your face so make sure you ALWAYS test along the jawline. Apply 2-3 different shades of the foundation along your jawline then blend onto the neck. You have found a good match if the color disappears completely into your skin. Make sure you check under natural daylight as well.

* Another common mistake is picking a foundation that is too light or too pink. You should always pick a color that is as close to your skin tone as possible. If you have to pick between a lighter or darker color, err on the dark side.

Note: All the above suggestions are based solely on my personal experience. Different people have different skin types, so what works on other people may not necessarily work for you. Sometimes it does take trial and error to find the perfect foundation but if you keep trying out different things, you will get a better idea of what works for you.

Phyllis Li is the Founder and Editor-in-chief of Makeup For Life, one of the top 50 beauty blogs that focuses on celebrity makeup breakdowns, product reviews, makeup tutorials and all things beauty. Having lived and traveled in North America, Europe and Asia, she was exposed to different techniques and products at an early age and hopes to put a global perspective towards beauty. Phyllis won the Best Content Award by Total Beauty in 2008 and has been featured in various publications and websites including ELLE, Glamour.com, Yahoo Shine!, AOL Stylelist, Nylon Korea, VOGUE China, Ming Pao Daily (Canada) and Shanghai Weekly. In 2010, she was appointed one of the nine Real Women Ambassadors in the United States to take part in the Latisse® Wishes Challenge, working with Hollywood celebrity Kathy Ireland and raised over $400,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant wishes for approximately 54 children. In 2012, she teamed up with luxury skincare brand TATCHA and released a limited-edition 3-Piece Set of her favorite beauty products. Phyllis currently lives in Chicago, US. She is the beauty editor for Shanghai Daily's StyleHai Magazine and a member of the Glam Beauty Network.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Anonymous said…
    how do you make your face ‘glow’? (:

    there’s a couple of ways to make your skin glow. you can:

    a) use a foundation with shimmer in it. make sure the particles are super fine though – you don’t wanna look like a disco ball.
    b) add a drop of liquid bronzer/highlighter into your foundation (try Revlon’s Skinlights Face Illuminator or MAC’s Strobe Cream)
    c) use a shimmery bronzer

    I can prolly write an entry on this next week if you want.

  2. AH! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    hooray, i’m off to buy bare essentuals….question though…if i can’t match my skin tone, should i go for the darker, or spend more money on buying 2 pots so i can combine them?

  3. Hi! ahah from soompi here, i love ur makeup blog =) haha very nicely done! I LOVE LOVE LOVE MAKEUP TOO haha i am so obsessed =P i find ur information very accurate and knowledgeable! =) thanks!

    -jasmine

  4. Anonymous said…
    AH! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    hooray, i’m off to buy bare essentuals….question though…if i can’t match my skin tone, should i go for the darker, or spend more money on buying 2 pots so i can combine them?

    it would be best if you could get a color that matches your skin tone, so I say buy two and mix them if you have the money but if you don’t, go for the darker shade – just make sure it’s not 2-3 shades darker.

  5. yea i’m going to go get bare escentuals too. thanks for the tips, it’s been hard finding the right for my oily and acne prone skin. thank you again.

  6. I LOVE BARE ESSENTIALS!
    It has been my biggest discovery in foundation. For years I’ve used some over-the-counter products and other professional brands but nothing tops BARE ESSENTIALS! Seriously…if you’re looking for a natural glowing beauty…Bare Essentials is the one for you!
    ( it comes with a bonus too…it’s a Confident booster!)

  7. After zillions of failures in determining the right shade, I have the following facts to share:
    Choose a darker shade when you have feckles to hide;
    Choose a lighter one if your skin is really the foundation tends to be “oxidized” by your face oil into a yellowish tone, and the a lighter shade may counteract the effect

  8. I’ve heard mineral make-up can make you look really shiny after you’ve been wearing it for a few hours. Have you had any experience with this? PS, your site rocks, I check it all the time for tips, tricks and new products. I’m in Oz so we dont have alot of the products you do, but its still awesome info. Keep it up!!

  9. I personally am not a huge fan of mineral makeup. I’ve tried Bare Escentuals and Everyday Minerals and even though they both gave great coverage and a glowy
    (not greasy) look, they made my skin slightly dry and flaky. I’m going to stick to my liquid foundations unless something better comes along.

  10. Anonymous said…

    how do you make your face ‘glow’? (:

    I use this liquid foundation by Rimmel. It’s called Rimmel Recover or something, with a red cap and beige-y bottle. Oh it’s fantastic! It does what it says and has slight shimmer particles in it and looks really pretty.
    It’s got this anti-fatigue system for it, I can’t remember all the details, but it’s a good price, works well and gives nice coverage.

  11. Hey, this is a fantastic blog!! Anw, I am wondering whether u can perhaps teach me how to use foundation/concealers to cover operation scar…I have a growth on my face and an operation left a 1cm scar on my cheek…my type of scar is not potruding…its kind of like acne scar just that its a line. I really need help! Thanks

  12. Great blog, though one thing I will say is, that if having to choose between a lighter or darker shade, I would say go for the lighter one. My reason? Lighter shades blend more easily, darker shades don’t and thus can cause that horrible dark “ring” around the jawline.

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