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Types of foundation

Depending on the coverage you’re after, there are a few different types of foundation to consider before deciding which would suit you best. All the major cosmetics brands have a number of foundations, so there is a large range to choice from ranging from cheap foundation to not so cheap foundation.

Stick Foundation

Great for a natural look and also used to conceal blemishes and spots, a stick foundation is advisable for wearers who don’t like the feeling of having a lot of make-up on their face. Far from caking it on, you can just dab a little here and there to lighten up dark areas and cover the bits you don’t want people to see. In addition, they are usually cheaper than full foundation and they’re infinitely portable.

Liquid Foundation

For light to medium coverage, liquid foundation is a good product for evening out skin tones and giving the face a blended, natural look. It’s great for everyday wearers who don’t want to appear as if they use a lot of make up. Maybelline do a great range of liquid foundations that won’t break the bank, they also incorporate moisturising ingredients to keep the skin supple, as well as anti-aging products for older customers.

Cream Foundation

Slightly heavier than liquids, cream foundations come in every form imaginable, tubes, tubs, compacts, there are so many different designs. Because they’re creamy and mixed a little thicker, they ten to be better for dry skinned people than oily skinned ones, as the moisture in the product encourages the pores of the skin to work to stop the skin drying out. L’Oreal do a good trade in cream foundation, and they also invest a lot in skin products, so they know what they’re doing.

Dual Finish Compact Foundation

If you’re after medium coverage, try dual-finish compact formulas that are also great if you have combination skin. Lancome offer a long-lasting versatile product that combines liquid and powder, although they do give good coverage, there’s a danger that the powder could dry out the skin if applied too liberally, so avoid if you have problems with dry skin.

Mineral powder foundation

Mineral foundation comes in hundreds of different shades from every big name cosmetic manufacturers you can think of, it’s that popular! The reason being that they provide coverage from light to full, so you won’t have to change your foundation daytime to evening, and the powder prevents oily skin from showing you up. Furthermore, it’s not usually much more expensive than other types of foundations, it’s long lasting and lightweight, so you won’t get that ‘caked-on’ feeling whilst wearing it.

How to test which foundation is best for you

It’s difficult to match your skin to a particular shade, since skin tones can alter depending on the time of year, i.e. you’re likely to be paler in the winter months than in the summer, so it might be worthwhile investing in a couple of good quality foundations to last you through the seasons. This could work out costly to begin with, but if you’re able to find a reasonably priced foundation that suits your changing skin tone, it could end up saving you money on wasted products in the long run.

It’s practically make-up gospel that you should test foundations before you buy it, even if it’s in a shop that has different lighting to your home, it’s not advisable to just steam in and pick up the first one you see. Most cosmetic retailers are only too happy to provide tester products so you can try some of them out, stop off at Superdrug or The Body Shop to test a few, but make sure you’ve set a little bit of time aside, it’s no good make-up shopping when you’ve only got five minutes to spare, you’ll end up with something completely unsuitable.

Match your foundation to your lifestyle

Firstly, select a one that you think caters to your lifestyle, for example, a cream foundation is better for heavy, all-day wear, whereas tinted moisturisers would suffice for those who don’t like to wear a lot of make-up. Dab a little of the sampler along your jaw line with your middle finger, it should blend with your natural skin tone and be barely visible – tide marks along the chin are definitely to be avoided. Allow it to dry completely before you pass judgement though, then assess whether the colour is suited to your skin, are there any obvious lines or blotches?

The golden rule is that is it shouldn’t be immediately apparent that you are wearing foundation, in this sense; it should almost be invisible, whilst at the same time covering your blemishes. If it’s clear that you’ve got a layer of make-up on, if it cracks or dries your skin out, then it could cause problems with your skins natural PH levels, and you should chose another.

Lastly, don’t be tempted to try out foundation on your hand in order to find your skin tone, the texture and definition of the skin here is completely different to your face, it won’t show the same results.

Shades of foundation

It’s almost harder to choose a shade than it is to choose a style of foundation, but with a little background knowledge the process runs much smoother, it might even end up being fun! To begin with, consider which brands have a wide range of tints and shades, it’s much easier to match your skin tone if there’s a lot of variation, and not everyone falls into the category of ‘light, medium or dark’.

The shade level is your first option, it’s basically just how light or dark you want the foundation to appear on your skin, this is much more a personal preference than an exact science, so examine what look you’re going for – gothic pale, or sun-kissed tan. It’s worth remembering, however, that if you go for a much darker shade on pale skin, it won’t look natural at all and it’s not likely to blend enough either.

The base colour is really the important factor here; this is the tone of the product and what ultimately matches to your own colour. In the make-up world, there’s no such thing as just ‘light’ or ‘dark’, it’s a million different tints of beige, porcelain, ivory, or toffee, sandy, and tan. The great thing about this is that once you have the ideal base for your make-up, you’ll know if you’re a ‘sandy’ or a ‘beige’.

Be careful about swapping cosmetic lines though, as the colours can sometimes differ slightly even if they’re labelled the same. If you can see one, go for a foundation with a yellow base colour, this isn’t always what immediately springs to mind – most consumers would probably go for pink or orange, but yellow is the natural base colour of the human face, so it stands to reason that a foundation would blend easier with it.