Close-up of liquid foundation, loose and compact powders, concealer pencil, correctors with brushes and cosmetic sponges on brown textured surface. Makeup products to even out skin tone and complexion

The great news is that a beautiful, even complexion is just one foundation away. But which one should you use to achieve that perfect dewy glow? Read our ultimate guide to foundation and find out what type you should add to your shopping basket next.

Close-up of liquid foundation, loose and compact powders, concealer pencil, correctors with brushes and cosmetic sponges on brown textured surface. Makeup products to even out skin tone and complexion

What is Foundation?

Foundation is skin-coloured makeup that you apply to your face to even out your skin tone. For many, it is the first step in their decorative makeup routine - after all the nourishing creams and primers, of course.

Foundation helps to cover flaws, spots or pigmentation on your skin resulting in a beautiful uniform complexion. Foundations come in liquid, mousse, powder, mineral powder (perfect for those keen on light organic materials) and stick forms.

Test Before You Buy

To achieve that dream dewy glow, finding the right foundation for your skin is key. Everyone’s skin is completely different and what your best friend swears by may not work for you. This is why it is extremely important to test a foundation before buying one.

Some brands provide samples, so if you have a chance, definitely try it first and see how it looks on your skin in natural light. If there is no sample, you can ask the makeup artist or shop assistant in store to apply a little bit on your skin.

Having said that, don’t rush to buy it on the spot. Go out of the shop and look at it again in natural light. If the shade is right and you are keen on the texture, go back to the store and purchase it or simply order it online.

We’ve all heard stories about drawers full of foundations that have been used once and then abandoned forever as they weren’t quite right. Be savvy, sample the product and make sure it is what you are looking for.

What Shade of Foundation is Right for Me?

Everyone’s skin has an undertone. This means that people who at a glance have similar skin, may have different undertones and the same product may look very different on them. Generally there are three types of skin undertone:

  • Your undertone is cool if: You look at your wrist and your veins are really visible with blue, purple and pink being dominant shades. Another way of seeing whether you have a cool undertone is paying attention to your skin when tanning. If your skin goes red (or red and then tanned), you have a cool undertone.
  • Your undertone is warm if: Shades of yellow and peach are the most prominent on your skin. Also, if your tan goes golden without going red first, it’s safe to say you have a warm undertone.
  • Your undertone is neutral if: You have a mix of both warm and cool undertones.

It’s worth adding that this doesn’t mean that all light-skinned people have a cool undertone and everyone with darker skin has a warm one. Another way of seeing what undertone you have is opening your jewellery box and seeing whether your complexion is enhanced by wearing silver or gold.

Be honest – not the metal you like most, but the metal that genuinely makes your features stand out. If you look better in gold, you are more likely to have a warm undertone. If silver makes your natural beauty pop, your skin has a cool undertone.

Knowing whether your skin has a warm, cool or neutral undertone will help you when choosing the right shade of foundation. You will also get a better understanding why some shades may not work on your skin even though in the packaging they look like they would do wonders.

Now that you know your undertone, focus on the shade of the foundation. When choosing the colour, it is best to apply a little bit of the product to your jawbone that is closest to your ear and see how it compares to the neck.

Ask yourself: Is the colour close to your skin tone? Does the colour blend in well? If so, continue applying this shade of foundation to your face, bit by bit. When you have applied the foundation to the whole of face, step into natural light and look at yourself in the mirror.

If the foundation blended in well with your skin and has the same tone as your neck, hands, shoulders and chest – you’ve found your shade.

What Foundation Texture is Right for my Skin Type?

Acne-Prone Skin

If your skin is prone to acne or breakouts, you will need a foundation that can cover textured skin. If you are applying your foundation with a brush or sponge, make sure they are squeaky clean each time. Look out for a foundation that is mattifying and ensures full coverage.

Miss Sporty Miss Sporty So Matte Perfect Stay Foundation Ivory 1 £2.99 Buy Now
L'Oreal Paris L'Oreal 24H-Matte Waterproof Foundation 11 Vanilla 35ml £8.99 Buy Now

Aging Skin

For aging skin it is best to go for light formulas as heavier products may build up in fine lines and wrinkles, drawing unnecessary attention to them. Look out for a foundation with medium to light coverage – it will tick all the right boxes.

Brand Description of the Product Price Buy Now
Max Factor Max Factor Ageless Elixir Miracle Fdn 2In1 45 Warm Almond £12.99 Buy Now

Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, a moisturising foundation is your best friend. Don’t be tempted by heavy formulas and opt for a foundation with light coverage, a tinted moisturiser may be just as good.

Revlon Revlon Color Stay Foundation Norm/Dry Freshbeige 30ml £12.99 Buy Now
Maybelline Maybelline Dream Velvet Foundation 01 Natural Ivory £7.99 Buy Now

Oily Skin

If your skin is oily, it’s best to opt for a medium to full coverage foundation with a mattifying finish that will keep the unwanted shine at bay. You can also opt for oil-free foundation.

Don’t be tempted to apply foundation with your fingers as they can transfer excess oil on to your skin, opt for a brush or sponge instead.

Revlon Revlon Color Stay Foundation Combi/Oily Ivory 30ml £12.99 Buy Now
Brand Description of the Product Price Buy Now

Normal Skin

A variety of foundations will work on normal skin. For day looks, go for a light-weight formula, and if you’d like a little bit more coverage for an evening event, go for medium to full coverage. Shop around and see what foundation texture works best on your skin.

Brand Description of the Product Price Buy Now
GOSH Gosh Foundation Plus+ Honey 006 £9.99 Buy Now

Foundation Finishes

Foundations not only come with different types of coverage – light, medium and full – but also with different finishes. Here’s what they are:

Natural Foundation

Natural

This finish gives you a natural look as if you are not wearing any foundation. Your skin looks even and fresh.

Matt Foundation

Matte

This is a popular option when putting together an evening makeup look. It’s also the best finish for people who have oily skin as the formula in matte foundations soaks up excess oil. This makes skin look soft and powdery, without the unwanted shine.

Satin Foundation

Satin

This finish gives you a healthy glow or a subtle sheen. This is perfect for those with normal to dry skin and often comes with light or medium coverage, however this can often be built up to full coverage depending on how much product you use.

LuminaFoundation

Luminous

Foundations with a luminous finish are designed to give you a dewy, radiant glow. Although a lot of the products with this type of finish would suit those with normal to dry skin, there are quite a few ranges that also suit oily skin. If you have oily skin and are keen on a luminous complexion, speak to a beauty adviser and make sure the foundation you are keen on will give you a sheen rather than a shine. If in doubt, simply use a mattifying foundation and add glow with a luminous highlighter.

Extra Hard-working Foundations

The beauty sector is ever evolving, which means new formulas are being developed every day. A lot of foundations out there have extra benefits. Some products come with SPF filters that protect you from harmful sunrays, eliminating the need for a separate facial sun screen in your everyday skincare routine.

Some foundations have an extra moisturising formula which is perfect for those looking for a hydration boost for their skin. Equally, there are a lot of oil-free foundations out there which are perfect for oily or acne-prone skin.

Brand Description of the Product Price Buy Now
Collection Collection Illuminating Touch Foundation Porcelain 1 £5.99 Buy Now
Brand Description of the Product Price Buy Now
L'Oreal Paris L'Oreal Paris True Match Minerals Foundation W1 10g £14.99 Buy Now

How to Apply Foundation?

There are three ways of applying foundation:

  • Using a foundation brush: To get the best coverage, opt for large brushes with a flat head. If you need a bit more precision, try an angled brush. The angle will help you cover harder-to-reach areas. While on the topic of brushes – make sure you always keep your brushes clean by washing them regularly.
  • Using your fingers: This is a fuss-free way of blending your foundation. Dot your foundation across your face and softly blend with your fingertips. If you have acne-prone or oily skin, it’s best to avoid this technique and opt for brushes or sponges as fingers can transfer excess oils on to your skin.
  • Using a sponge: A makeup sponge is one of the best ways to apply foundation. Dampen your sponge, squeeze out the excess water and dab it in the foundation. Then with a light motion simply press and bounce it off your skin, evenly applying the product.
Real Techniques Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge £5.99 Buy Now
Makeup Revolution Makeup Revolution Pro Go Mini Brush Set £4.95 Buy Now

Foundation and Concealing

The trick to applying foundation is adding a bit at a time rather than piling it on. If you feel that you have areas that could do with a bit more coverage, opt for a concealer. This beauty essential can work wonders if you want to cover blemishes, sun spots, dark circles under the eyes or to lighten up a tired face. Remember, conceal the tricky areas first and then apply foundation – this will result in fantastic coverage, a brighter complexion and a more natural finish.