How to Choose the Right Foundation

how to choose foundation

Foundation — A Primer

Bad pun aside, I’m hoping this post will shed some light on foundation. When I worked with women in the makeup industry, my clients’  biggest struggle was always  how to choose a foundation.

Women are either:

A) scared of it


B) love it so much they haven’t changed it in twenty years, and they have the line on their chin to prove it.

First things first: foundation is neither scary nor permanent.

If you’ve never tried it, you should. If you’ve used the same one since high school prom, then read this first and head out to the store second.

The right foundation will enhance your natural beauty.

It can be easy to apply for an everyday look, and it can right just about any wrong. So read up, and then do yourself a favor and find a formula for you.

how to choose the right foundation

Foundation’s main role is to even out skin tone, not give you more color. Therefore, you should work to match your neck when you are looking for the right shade. Never match your hand, which is typically nowhere near the shade of your face, especially as you age.

My neck is a shade lighter than my face, and my hands are about three shades darker (thank you UVB rays). My foundation always lightens my skin. Never fear, I’m not trying to send you out of the house looking sick — that is what bronzer or cheek color are for.

how to choose foundation

I would highly recommend going to a makeup counter to match your foundation, and make sure they try it on your face. Even if you don’t buy it there, look at the color when it’s out of the bottle. That will give a better idea of what to look for elsewhere. If you can self-sample, spread a little line on your chin and blend in. Wait a minute and then check to make sure it matches your neck. If it does, that’s your color.

The right foundation should provide coverage and still feel light.

Whether you choose the light coverage of tinted moisturizer or powder or the heavy hitting creme foundations, there have been plenty of advancements in the industry over the years to allow any formula to provide ample coverage and not feel like Halloween masks or dried clay. Most are oil free, and some are even extra hydrating for more mature skin.

Laura Mercier, on the high price side, and Neutrogena, on the lower, offer anti-aging formulas as well as correcting formulas for acne prone skin so there is no excuse not to try!

Transfer Resistant Foundation

A foundation that is labeled transfer resistant or “buildable” will sink into the top layer of your skin (not clog pores, or collect in wrinkles) so that it doesn’t come off on your friend’s shoulders when you give her a hug. All of the brands of creme/liquid foundation I’ve listed in this post have proven transfer resistant.

Transfer resistant formulas should last all day as well and can withstand a clothing change if necessary. Now, this doesn’t mean wipe your tired face with your shirt or put on a turtleneck just after you have applied foundation. Like anything, these guarantees have limits.

Put your shirt on first or stretch the neck over your face to ensure you don’t wipe off all your hard work. Transfer resistant doesn’t mean smear proof. Creme and liquid foundations tend to be better at staying put than powders. So far, the only powder I’ve found that’s completely transfer resistant is Smashbox’s Halo Perfecting Powder.

Bare Minerals foundations are pretty good, but the more you build them, the more they come off.

Mary Kay creme and liquid foundations never move from your face, no matter how long your day.

Finally, I hate to say it but I have yet to find a foundation that doesn’t get on my phone. Some are better than others, but when it’s pressed to your cheek for an entire conversation, you’re going to have something left on the screen. The question to ask is does it stay on your face even if it comes off on your phone? If the answer is yes, you’ve found yourself a perfect match.

No matter what you try, I can assure you you’ll feel better with skin that’s primed with color-evening foundation.

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About Jo-Lynne

Written by Jo-Lynne Shane, a professional lifestyle blogger, brand advocate and community manager. Named one of Nielsen’s 50 Most Influential Women in Social Media, Jo-Lynne is best known for her award-winning lifestyle blog, Musings of a Housewife, where she dishes up an assortment of food, fashion, fitness and family travel. She has been featured on, Southern Living Magazine, and in Cosmopolitan Magazine. In the local sphere, Jo-Lynne facilitates the vibrant networking group Philly Social Media Moms, providing community, support and education for 200 area bloggers. Jo-Lynne lives and works from home in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her husband of 17 years, three lively children and one extremely spoiled shih tzu named Savannah.