A complete guide to choosing the right foundation for your skin

by - Thursday, September 28, 2017

Dimma Umeh choosing the right foundation for her skin

There is an obvious reason why foundation is called foundation and that's because it is the foundation of your makeup. You miss the foundation and you have a hard time balancing with the correct powder and concealer shades. It is therefore a foremost thought to consider choosing the right foundation for your skin.

Many women have had to struggle hard to find their correct shades. It is worse for black women, let alone, Nigerian women. I mean, you walk into the stores and scarcely would you find a beautician attendant to your makeup needs. You either walk into a beauty store knowing fully well what shade of foundation you are going in to buy or you begin the journey of trial and error.

Sometimes this all works. You pick the right one, or you pick one closest to the right foundation for your skin. If you pick one close to the perfect foundation for your skin type, you can figure out what next to buy and what now. What if I told you that you don't have to go through the trial and error process to find the correct foundation for your skin? Yes, you don't even need to be up and about looking for a beautician or makeup artist to look upon your with favour at the store.

It is cool to luckily have one ready to help you out, it's better to be able to work in confidently without having to worry about picking a wrong foundation for your skin. This blog post is going to be a complete guide for choosing the right foundation for your skin type.

First of all, let's determine your skin type. This is the first step to getting to know what type of foundation you would generally use in the first place. Your skin can be oily, dry, a combination or normal. You'd be surprised that you have been using the wrong foundation because you don't know your skin type. Eventually, you find out that the foundation makes your whole makeup look cakey, sometimes it is all off before the end of the day, sometimes your face is scaly after applying the foundation. You might also come to realize that you are ending your day with oil all over your face.

Knowing your skin type will help you pick what is for what. You should use a foundation for oily skin if you have an oily skin. Choosing the right foundation doesn't stop at picking the right shade alone, it goes as far as picking what suits your skin pores, facial oil production etc.

I will teach you how to know what type of skin you are dealing with. Firstly, you can determine your skin type by just observing it. You just pay attention to what happens to your skin whether you apply a product or you don't on it. You may already know your skin type if you are the type that listens to your body. If you do not know already, just do this simple test.

Wash your face or clean with a skin cleanser. By the way, you might want to read how on how to wash your face the right way. Pat your face dry and leave it like that. Don't add anything like moisturizer, cream, oil, powder, or anything. Just leave your face bare. After 30 minutes, observe your face again. You may wait another 30 minutes or even try this procedure more than once to be sure.

If after a while, you realize that your cheeks, forehead, nose and even chin look and feel oily, then you have an oily skin. If you find out that your face is stiff or looks cracked, you probably have a dry skin.

If nothing happens, your skin remains the same as before you washed or you see no marked or notable changes, you may have a normal skin. If you find out that only the T-junction of your face, that is your forehead, nose and maybe your chin is oily, you have a combination skin. Here is also a quiz to help you determine your skin type.

You can also use the blotting paper method to determine your skin type if you really need to be sure. Let me show you how to determine your skin type with the blotting paper method.

Just pat your skin with the blotting paper. The blotting paper is what makeup artists use to clean up excess oil after a long while of makeup. It is to make the overall makeup go back to its fresh state without messing up its entirety.

After patting your skin with the blotting paper, place it against light. If you see it very translucent with much oil, then you have an oily skin. If you find very little to no oil, well, you obviously have a dry skin. If you find out that only areas on the T-junction of your face, your forehead, your nose and your chin are oily, then you have a normal or combination skin. You can go on ahead to read this post on how to take care of each of these skin types that you have.

Blotting paper method for skin type test


When shopping for your foundation, try to check the labels or inscription on your foundation container. Make sure that you confirm which is for oily, or dry. For combination skin, you can use two different types of foundation to meet the need of the different areas of your face. You can also use only one and balance up with your powder.

Best foundation type for dry skin

If your skin is dry, you should consider choosing a creamy, liquid or hydrating foundation. This will help to deliver moisture into your skin while keeping it supplied with the necessary shine you need for the skin. It will deliver the consistency you need to achieve a good effect. Look for clues of this on the inscription of your foundation container. You will see something like 'compact' makeup or foundation. Also, be sure that it is creamy so that you don't end up being deceived by what you thought was in the container, so check.

Best foundation type for oily skin

Use oil-free liquid or powder foundation if your skin is oily. It will be boldly written on your foundation container so watch out for it. There can be other terms used but it will all point that it is the best match for your oily skin. If you are prone to breakouts, use foundation that contains salicylic acid. It will help to reduce the production of the oil. Overall, the best foundation for your oily skin is the one that helps to keep your face matte. Using the right foundation will make makeup last on your oily skin.

Best foundation type for combination skin

It is usually safe and better to pick a powder foundation. This is important because it will help you strategically distribute. You can safely put more of the oil - absorbing foundation where you are oily and then less of it where you are dry.

For the normal skin, you can be sure to use any of the foundation types. Just be sure that the consistency is comfortable on your face. Blend in very well and be sure that your foundation is set before you move on to the next step of your makeup.

Now that you have been able to ascertain your skin types and you understand that it will help in choosing the right foundation for the skin, let's move on to how to choose the right shade of foundation. If you however still need more details on picking the best foundation for your skin type, click here.

Determining your true colour

The sun and the harsh weather conditions do not help matters so your skin colour may fluctuate depending on what season of the year we are in. In fact, for some people, their skin colour is already constantly changed from the original or base colour into a shade very tan because of the skin.

There are also situations where you have different colours of skin on your face depending on where the sun hits the most. Your forehead may be entirely different from your cheeks. So, examine your skin colour, just be observant enough to see what your skin colour is. In doing that you can then decide what you want your foundation to blend in- whether you want your foundation to blend in to your sun-kissed skin or your normal skin.

Test your foundation on your face not your hand

A lot of people advise that you apply your foundation on your hand and see what rhymes. While this might be a good test for some in choosing the right foundation, it might not be for you. The reason is definitely not far fetched. Like I explained earlier, your true skin colour is very important here.

If the sun rarely hits your hand and it does hit your face frequently, why would you compare colours of both and determine your correct foundation shade on that basis? In choosing the right foundation for your skin, you test it on your face and not on your hand. Run three shades of close colours to what you think will fit you on your jawline. This is a good place to start.

If you have too many colours on your face and you are confused, you can trust your neck over your face. Apply the foundation on your neck instead of your face in this instance.

Your foundation should disappear into your skin during testing

I know that some stores won't allow you to test with their products because they rarely have test products for you in Nigeria. This is where you need the help of a makeup artist who obviously has all the shades you can think of. You can ask them to give you three of the foundation shades closest to your skin. Of course, one will be approximately your skin colour, go for one darker and then one lighter.

Apply a swipe of each side by side and see which dissolves into your skin without a trace. Listen, foundation is supposed to be on your face like nothing was applied except for the resulting visible skin glow it leaves you, after that nothing else. It should perfectly fit into your skin and after rubbing, it should leave no extra colour.

When you are still in doubt and are torn in between colours, pick the darker shade. A darker shade is safer than a lighter shade because the lighter shade of foundation will reveal the secret. It will glaringly stand out and make you look overdone.

Test your foundation with different lighting

Be sure to be in a place with natural lighting when testing your foundation. This will help reveal the true colour of the foundation on your skin. Also, try to take a selfie with the foundation on. Take a selfie with and also without a flash on your phone. This is to help see the resultant effect. Remember that I said earlier that there is a reason why foundation is called foundation. You get it right, you get your makeup right.

If after taking a selfie and you look so off, or your colour seems to shine way off than you would normally have, begin to think of a change. This will normally happen if the flash light is on. If you have taken all the foundation tests and that shade really seems to be the one that hits it off, you may just have to balance off with a lighter or darker shade of powder depending on what you need to create the natural glow. There is this post on how to apply powder before foundation. There is no harm in experimenting with different makeup techniques

If you have bought the wrong shade of foundation or you are just finishing one , don't worry, let's see how to make a few corrections so that it can still work while you find your perfect fit. You can customize your foundation to fit your exact skin.

If your foundation is too dark

You can try to apply it with a wet sponge instead of applying with your fingers. You can also try to mix your darker foundation shade with a moisturizer, a primer or a lighter foundation. You can even mix with a concealer to create a custom colour. Otherwise, you correct this with your finishing powder.

If your foundation is too light

Instances of having the foundation too light are usually more common than the darker foundation problems. Add blush to the foundation or a darker shade of concealer or foundation. You can also mix this with a darker foundation if you have one or have a friend who has a darker shade. A tinted moisturizer will also do wonders.
Fenty Beauty's 40 shades of foundation
Fenty Beauty's 40 shades of foundation


Tips to applying your foundation correctly

It is not enough to choose the right shade and colour of foundation, it is important that all your efforts in searching for the perfect fit are not lost because you didn't use your foundation well.

- Apply a primer before applying your foundation. It will help to serve as a base and help to achieve consistency.

- If you like to use concealer to hide some lines and wrinkles on your face, apply it before you apply your foundation. It will help smoothen everything out and give you an evenly coloured face.

- It is best to use your fingers to apply a liquid or creamy foundation. This is so that the heat generated by the action of your fingers on your skin can help you to achieve a good consistency and make it easy to blend into your face.

Here is a video on how to apply foundation with your fingers:


- If you want to go lighter and don't want too much foundation on your face, you can use a sponge or a blender. This will help you hold back some of the product so that only the right amount is delivered to your face.

- Be patient when applying your foundation. Your foundation is supposed to be evenly distributed. You can go as far as distributing your foundation to your neck and ears. This will help to produce a finer finish. If you get your foundation step right, the rest of your makeup is easy.

- A tip to having a flawless makeup after applying your foundation is to have a flawless skin. Take care of your skin, exfoliate the proper way, moisturize well, and use a lot of water on your skin. You can read up on the immense benefits of water on your skin here.

Are there other things you would like to add to this, please use the comments section? Suggestions, questions to ask, more additions, corrections to make this blog post as useful as it can be? I would like to hear from you if you are a makeup artist. You definitely have more tricks and methods to making sure your client is using the right foundation for her skin.

Photo credit: Dimma Umeh

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