Foundation, as the name suggests, is the makeup that lays the base for all other makeup to follow. It goes on after applying concealer (used for correcting any color irregularities) and before applying powder (that sets the makeup) to give the skin a smooth, even canvas on which to build. Flawless overall coverage is usually the starting point for any makeup look. Whether you consider foundation to be a staple item in your makeup bag or just something to use for special occasions, there is a coverage type to suit your needs.

Choosing Foundation

# '''Know your skin type'''. You want the foundation to blend into your skin seamlessly so that even you can't tell that you're wearing makeup. Part of getting the right foundation is choosing the right ingredients that will either moisturize the skin or keep you from breaking out. Part of this may also have to do with your age and the rest of your skin regimen. # '''Understand your skin color'''. This includes undertones and skin "temperature" or skin "season." Below you can find out more about figuring out whether you are a summer person, if you have warm undertones or if you have yellow overtones. It sounds complicated but it is quintessential to finding the perfect foundation shade. # '''If you can skip it, do'''. You only need so much coverage. Choose the minimal amount necessary to get the look you want. Often, young women with little discoloration or hyperpigmentation won't need much to smooth out their complexion. It all depends on the state of your skin and how much you need to counteract any flaws. # '''Save or splurge'''. Buying foundation is extremely personal. If a $6 bottle of foundation matches your skin and feels great on, then great! You're a very lucky person. However, if it takes the $30 bottle of foundation to make it blend in seamlessly and not cause you to break out, then you may have to just deal with it. Not everyone will love Chanel and the same goes for Cover Girl.

When to Say Adieu

Remember that foundation, like other makeup, has a shelf life. Keeping it too long will eventually cause it to lose its consistency and it can make it unsafe to wear, clogging your pores and even causing unnecessary breakouts, rashes or other skin conditions. For liquids, get rid of it anywhere from three to six months after opening while powders can last up to a year. When in doubt, give it the sniff test if anything smells foul the foundation needs to go.

'''Understanding Undertones'''

This is one of the most difficult things to figure out when choosing foundation, but it is the most important for getting the right shade. One of the best ways to determine the undertones of your skin is to hold up two pieces of clothing or paper next to your face. First try something silver and then gold. If your skin has warm undertones, the gold will look best next to your skin. If your skin has cool undertones, the silver will look best next to your skin.Usually, those with pink skin will have cool undertones, while those with yellow skin will have warm undertones. Olive or tan skin often has warm undertones, and those with dark skin usually have cool blue undertones. When shopping, don't be afraid to compare and contrast a variety of foundations until you find the right hue. Testing on your hand is okay, but it's better to try a few swatches on your jawline. After sampling the shades, head outdoors with a mirror and see which color disappears into your skin. That one is the right one.

Foundation Coverage Type

Here are some quick suggestions about what each skin type needs. To learn more about each type of foundation read on. You'll also find product recommendations for each foundation type.

Lightest Coverage

The lightest coverage is meant for those with little to no skin discoloration or hyperpigmentation to cover up. For most people, it is ideal for use as an everyday foundation because it is the least likely to irritate the skin or cause breakouts and it rarely feels like it's even on the skin. Teens, young adults and even older women may enjoy this type of "barely there" foundation. Also, those with freckles might like sheer foundation because it lets their freckles shine through. !

Medium Coverage

Full Coverage

Major Brands


Related Buying Guides

International Resources

For this resource in your home country, please see: ! NL: Foundation Shopgids