Back to Base – (Foundation 101 Part II)- Finding the perfect shade

Flawless skin- good health or foundation?

I’ve always said that the best “foundation” to makeup is great skin. That said, I know that healthy looking skin is something some of us have to work harder to achieve, whilst others just have it easier and are blessed with good skin.

Part of it is in are genes, and the rest is down to our diet and lifestyle choices. Heredity does determine how our skin looks and behaves to some degree, but taking good care of ourselves can help improve our skin’s health. According to Bobbi Brown’s Makeup Manual, we can do this by ..’Eating the right foods, [vitamins A, c and E, and "good fat" as in omega-3 found in fatty fish, and whole grain foods] some seeds,drinking plenty of water, exercising, getting enough sleep, protecting your skin from the sun, not smoking, and limiting your intake of both caffeine and alcohol’.

Wearing foundation isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the reason we wear foundation is to even out our complexion and skin texture. My clients have often chosen not to wear foundation because they’ve heard of or have had bad experiences with a “makeover gone wrong” – leaving them looking like they’re wearing a thick mask, on which one could finger paint, and which could crack as soon as they smiled! Truth is, foundation is used to create a more flawless (clear and smooth) skin that looks better than without foundation.

Even the “stage makeup” more edgy cosmetic brands in the market should have base (foundation, concealer and setting powder) products that are natural-looking. If you’re not sure what skin type you fall under, go for a consultation at a reputable cosmetic and skin care counter.

Generally, skin with larger or more visible pores (especially down the forehead, nose and chin (the t-zone) section) fall under Normal-Oily/Combination skin type; smaller or less visible pores on the t-zone and cheek area fall under the Normal-Dry skin type; and flaky dull-looking skin is Dry/Extra dry whilst visibly oily skin and active skin (that is often troubled with blemishes or acne) fall under Oily skin type. Although this may all seem obvious to some people, I don’t think we take enough time to honestly analyze our skin in a mirror and in good lighting, to get to know it’s behaviour and needs. For now, start by drinking more water and get into a daily cleanse, tone and moisturize regime.

I’ll go through some basic Skin Care tips in my next post ;) Skin Care and knowing your skin. That’s Step One.

Now, back to this post: ‘Finding the perfect shade of foundation’. (I can’t help but talk about skin care under this topic too, as both makeup and skin care really go hand in hand).

Here’s a quick general guideline to foundations to help you choose the right formula for your skin and “look”:

  • Tinted Moisturizer: Now comes in formula for Dry or Oily skin types. Light weight and sheer coverage. Won’t cover up blemishes and just “veils” the skin to provide a natural, slightly dewy look.
  • Stick Foundation: Better for normal, to Normal to Dry skin types. Easy on-the-go spot correction and touch ups, with buildable coverage. Great for photographic work.
  • Liquid Foundation: Comes in Moisturizing and Oil-Free formula. Usually provides natural-looking light to medium buildable coverage.
  • Cream Foundation: Comes in formula suitable for Dry or Combination-to-Oily (look for the Oil Free type) and gives medium to full coverage to cover up blemishes, acne or larger pores.
  • Whipped or Mousse Foundation: good for Combination skin types as it helps to balance the skin and provides medium coverage.
  • Mineral Powders:  Great for Oily skin types but be sure to use a good primer or prebase underneath it, to deter the mineral powder from darkening or “turning” when worn on very oily skin.
  • Airbrushed/Spray-on Foundations: for all skin types but better for Combination to Oily skin types. (The air streaming onto the skin tends to have a drying effect).

Note: Air brushing works by spraying tiny particles of foundation, which is carried by the air that’s provided by the air compressor, onto the skin. The foundation goes on much like tiny pixels (that make up a picture) that allow your skin to “come through” so that it blends to create buildable makeup, that looks much like natural skin. It takes a trained hand and proper equipment – especially if you intend to wear Airbrushed makeup on High-Def TV! Trust me, HD technology has been causing a number of makeup artists to re-think their trade as it has drastically altered the way we apply makeup for TV and camera. In a way, one could say it has helped to “weed out” the not so capable, from the really talented makeup artists in the Industry.

That’s Step two.

Step three is finding the right shade:

First:  Make sure the foundation has a yellow based tone. No, it’s not just us Asians who need yellow based foundations. In fact everyone, except for the 1% who burn even in the shade (who need pink-based foundations) has yellow undertones.

Secondly:  Pick out 2-4 shades that look close to your skin tone and test them on the side of your face, to just off your jaw line. Put a stripe of each foundation on: blending them into the skin next to each other. Remember that foundation should NOT change the color of the face but simply evens out the skin tone. The correct shade will “disappear” and darker shades will remain visible and may appear slightly orange, whereas lighter shades will appear ashy and visibly too light.

Thirdly: Bring a hand mirror and check the stripes of foundation on your cheeks to your jaw line in natural light. Walk to a doorway or window, even out of the store if you must! Most cosmetic counters and stores don’t have the best natural lighting available for the best makeup application. Adjust the shades under this lighting by reapplying test stripes on the forehead or across the nose and cheeks horizontally, as some women have darker skin around the outer areas of their face. Never test foundation on the back of the hand or on your arm.


Oily Skin sometimes “turns” foundation darker, so you may have to choose a slightly lighter shade to adjust accordingly.

You may need a deeper shade of foundation for the warmer seasons when you tend to pick up more color. This can be mixed with your regular shade for those in-between months when your skin is losing color towards the Winter months.

Once you find the perfect shade for your skin, it’ll be worth all the time you put into it. The right foundation and application on the face will allow you to look fabulous even with no other makeup on your eyes, lips and cheeks.

Have fun trying out foundations! You can always wipe it off if you get it wrong the first few tries. :)

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