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Choosing Your Foundation Type

Ever wonder how today's models and movie stars achieve their beautiful, seemingly flawless faces?

They know one of the best-kept secrets to "creating" beauty: Build from the ground up. In the world of makeup and "face design," that means choosing the right foundation and perfecting your application technique.

The importance of foundation cannot be underestimated. It's the "unsung" hero of makeup - the simple backdrop that creates "tone," hides imperfections and brings together all the other makeup "elements."

That said, how does one choose - and properly apply - the right foundation? Please read on.

- Peter Lamas

 

Choices, Choices

There are two basic steps to choosing the right foundation - determining which type of foundation is right for your skin type -- liquid, cream, compact, stick or tinted moisturizer - and then choosing the right color.

Five Types of Foundation

Choosing the right type of foundation has a lot to do with a person's skin type -- dry, oily or normal -- and a little to do with preference.

The following guidelines will help you choose the type that's right for you:  

Liquid

Liquid foundations are the most versatile type of foundation, suitable for a full range of skin types. They blend easily, are available in varying degrees of coverage and often feature moisturizers in their dry-skin versions. Most liquid foundations are water-based, although some are oil-based.

Cream

Cream foundations are known for their heavier coverage and more intense moisturizing properties, making them ideal for normal, dry (and especially extra-dry) skin. A word of caution, however: They're often oil-based and should be avoided by those with a tendency toward breakouts.

Compact

Compact foundations are ideal for on-the-go women who can't be bothered with cumbersome bottles and jars. Especially suitable for oily and normal skin types, compact foundations deliver a light, sheer matte coverage when applied with a dry sponge and a heavier matte coverage when applied with a wet sponge.

Stick

Stick foundations seem wonderfully reminiscent of crayons -- Just "color" in your face and you're ready to go! -- but unfortunately, application isn't quite so simple. Although stick foundations, which are best suited for normal skin, offer the convenience of a built-in concealer, their heavier texture requires skillful blending with a moistened sponge.

Tinted Moisturizer

Tinted moisturizer foundations offer the lightest coverage available, delivering a sheer, healthy glow to the wearer. Like liquid foundations, they're ideal for a full range of skin types. Their moisturizing properties help protect against the dry skin that comes from over-exposure to the wind, sun and other outdoor elements, and as an added bonus, they often come with SPF protection.

Dewy or Matte?

One of the most common makeup questions asked by women is whether to use a dewy or matte type of foundation finish. Although these two finishes are often positioned as "fashion" statements, the simple truth is that each is most suitable for various types of skin.

While matte finishes are ideal for all types of skin, they are especially suited for oilier skin, because they help counteract and control the oil that causes undesirable sheen and shine. One possible exception is during the winter months, when the air is often dryer and oiliness is less of a problem.

The use of dewy finishes should be limited mostly to non-oily skin types, which are not as susceptible to sheen and shine.

The "Color" of Perfect Foundation

Once you've determined the right type of foundation for your skin type, you're ready to choose the right color, or tone. This is an area where a lot of women make one of their biggest beauty mistakes. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. There are several secrets to choosing wisely.

The Disappearing Act

It's important to remember that foundation is a "backdrop" to your makeup. It's meant to create the kind of "perfect" skin we see in all the fashion magazines. Its role is to blend away blemishes and create an even, flawless skin tone. It should do its job and simply "disappear" from sight. Perfect foundation should be indistinguishable from perfect skin.

Color Me Natural

Foundation can only be perfect if it mimics the skin's natural tone -- which leads us to one of the most common mistakes made when choosing a foundation color: Choosing something other than a yellow-based tone, which is the only tone that's found in human skin. Although makeup companies are only too happy to sell foundations that feature pink, peach and orange tones, such products should be strictly avoided. For a perfect start to a beautiful face, only a yellow-based foundation will do.

Seeing Clearly

In order to choose the perfect tone of foundation, it's necessary to view the tone in natural lighting. If you're applying the foundation in a department store, it's often possible to take a mirror over to a windowed area or an entranceway to see if it matches your skin tone and "disappears" from sight. Fluorescent and other types of artificial lighting can distort the way a color actually looks.

Taking the Test

There's only one way to see if a color is actually the right one for your skin tone -- and that's to put it on. The secret is to choose a color that most closely matches your neck and then swipe a little of the foundation onto your jawline, blending it gently into your skin. If it's the right color, it should "disappear," leaving behind only a smoother, more flawless finish.

 

In Part One we learned about how to decide on the right type and color of foundation. But that's only half the equation. Picking the right foundation doesn't insure the optimum result. Now comes the next crucial step: The application.

Read on as we explore the ABCs of application!

- Peter Lamas