Your ULTIMATE Guide To Picking The Right Foundation

Foundation is just one of those things you can’t buy online (sigh), but have you ever thought about why? Probably because IT’S IMPOSSIBLE! There are so many things to consider when purchasing a foundation, but don’t you worry. I am here to be your foundation tour guide, and today we are taking the foundation tour. Buckle up.

If you’re new to the confusing world that is makeup, foundation is the skin colored liquid or powder you put on your face in an attempt to cover those pesky blemishes and even out your skin tone. If you didn’t already know that, I would start with reading my¬†Makeup List for Beginners first, and then find your way back here.

The first thing you need to do is identify your skin type.


Depending on the time of year or your constantly changing skin routines, your skin type may change, and that’s okay! What I have found works best for me is using one foundation in the summer when I tend to be more oily and a different foundation in the winter when my skin becomes really dry and sensitive.

Once you determine your skin type, it will help you identify key words used on foundation bottles that you either want in a foundation or want to avoid at all costs. Here’s a pretty good rule of thumb to go by:

Normal Skin – can pretty much use any foundation you please (and I hate you for it)

Dry Skin – stay away from powdered foundation and words like “matte”. These products will often stick to your dry patches and dry your skin out more. Instead look for foundations that use words like “hydrating”, “luminous”, “glowy“, or dewy“. These will keep your skin looking bright and hydrated throughout the day.


Oily Skin – stay away from foundations described as “dewy”, “luminous”, or “glowy”. These are foundations that will not only emphasize your oil but will also add to it. Instead you should look into foundations that describe themselves as long-wearing (i.e. 12 hour wear) and matte. *Always make sure you set your foundation with a light powder (i.e. loose translucent powder) all over your face, especially where you tend to get oily throughout the day. This will keep your foundation lasting longer throughout the day and your oils to a minimum.


Combination Skin – depending on how combination your skin is, consider mixing foundations! If that seems like too much to you, then I would focus on a strong skin care routine and making sure your skin is properly hydrated and staying away from “matte” and powder foundations. In my opinion, I would rather use powder and/or have to blot my oily areas throughout the day than try to work with a foundation that clings to where I’m dry. Overall, this one will come down to your own personal preference.

Sensitive Skin – look for foundations that are perfume free, talc free, and mica free. Look for foundations that use “sensitive” in their packaging. Also consider using a BB/CC cream. These are great to add color and some coverage to the face but also contain SPF and many hydrating components.

Once you know what to look for when comparing foundations at the store and you’ve decided which one to get, your next step is matching your skin tone.


If you’re at Ulta or Sephora, don’t be afraid to ask the employees to help you find your shade! They are there to help you and you’ll be thankful you did when you don’t end up with a foundation that is way too tan for your skin tone (they most often match your shade to your hand which isn’t a terrible option but ask them if they could match it to your neck as that will be the most accurate).

If you’re not at a store where you can open it up and test it out then no worries. All you have to do is whip out that sweet little smart phone in your back pocket and google “the name of your foundation swatches” and look at the images. This helps me really see the color of the foundations. *NEVER trust the color it looks to be in the bottle – it’s always wrong. If you find yourself between two shades, always go with the lighter shade. Trust me on this one.

And don’t forget: a lot of drugstores accept open makeup as a return. If you bring home the wrong shade, instead of torturing yourself by wearing it to get your money out of it, bring it back and see if you can get in store credit or exchange it for a better shade.

There you have it folks! Happy foundation shopping!