Choosing The Perfect Foundation

Face it! we are obsessed with achieving flawless skin, and why not? With so many products on the market and many claims being made I aim to break things down a bit to help you make an informed choice.

Make-Up by Katherine Gould (Author of this article), Photography by Jessica Sim

Face it! we are obsessed with achieving flawless skin, and why not? With so many products on the market and many claims being made I aim to break things down a bit to help you make an informed choice.

Know Your Skin

Really pay attention to what type of skin you have. Quite often I have clients claiming they have oily skin and have a couple of hormonal spots on their chin while the rest of the face is dehydrated through use of drying anti-acne cleansers. If in doubt consult a professional. Most dermatologists and skin clinics offer free skin analysis, remember, they are trying to sell you something whether it be a course of treatments or recommending their in-house products.

Choose the right skincare to suit. Using the same cleanser in your 30s as you did in your teens is in general a big no-no. Skin changes over time and adapting your use of products to suit your skins needs is a must. The same can be applied for seasonal changes; skin can become much more dehydrated in winter – see Julia’s informative piece on winter skin care.

Moisturising and Priming

If you find that your skin is very dry then maybe you should look at adding a serum to your night regime or using a richer moisturizer. Try not to use anything too heavy during the day as it may cause foundation to separate and look patchy, but ALWAYS moisturize.

Some Primers can help the longevity of foundation on your skin, create a more even surface and reduce redness. Others are used to create a more glowing base-an almost pearlized glow to the skin, creating a bright, fresh look. Again choose the base suited to the needs of your skin and the look you’re trying to achieve.


Everyone’s skin is different and just because your friend has glowing, flawless skin it doesn’t necessarily mean you will achieve the same look by using the same product. Talk to consultants at beauty counters, if you find someone who is doing their job properly they should ask you a few basic questions before applying anything to your face. “What is your skin like? How much cover are you looking for? How do you want your skin to look?” etc.… quite often we, as the consumer, haven’t actually thought about the answers to these questions, do you want glowing or matte skin? Read more about different types of foundation

Try It On

The most effective method is trying on a full face of foundation. Therefore if you are about to go out and already have a full make-up on then it’s perhaps not the best time to try. A patch test is never going to give you enough of an idea especially if you already have foundation on!

  1. Remove all existing foundation so you have a face of bare skin, while your consultant is doing this they should be asking you about what you’re looking for.
  2. Moisturize appropriately for skin type
  3. Apply foundation to half the face – this will give you a good idea if it is a correct color match.
  4. Keep in mind the color of your chest and neck. Once the foundation is all over your face you’ll want it to blend down seamlessly.
  5. Add concealer – I prefer to add concealer after and layer it with the foundation. Applying it first means you tend to apply more when your foundation could be doing most of the work for you. Find out more about concealer, what it does and what is right for you.
  6. If you are in between shades then you can use a Bronzer or darker mineral powder to add more color to your face.

Step Back

Very few people are going to see you from mere inches away, take two steps back from the mirror and assess the overall look. Check in natural light too if possible. If your unsure ask for a sample so you can try it at home. Make sure it is clearly labeled so if you want to purchase it you know exactly what it’s called.


Hands, brushes or sponges… yet another thing to decide on. Whatever you choose make sure you are being hygienic!! Wash/cleanse/replace whatever works for you but you don’t want to contaminate your product or skin with nasty bacteria and germs. Click here to learn about sanitation and to learn about tools in which to apply your foundation.

Do You Need Powder?

A lot of people tend to use powder as par for the course without actually needing it or are using the wrong one. Do you want to set your foundation? More color? More coverage? Read more about powders here to help you choose the best one for you.

Touching Up

You shouldn’t need to reapply your entire face if you’ve moisturized and primed your skin correctly; however there are always patches like your nose and chin which will need a quick touch up. I like to keep a lightweight concealer, colored pressed powder and travel brushes in my handbag for touch ups.

I hope this piece is been helpful for you in negotiating the minefield that is choosing the right foundation. As always feel free to share amongst your friends and comment to let us know what you think.