The Ultimate Foundation Guide for Every Skin Type

Foundation is the ultimate basic when it comes to your makeup. And yet, it is one of the trickiest things to get right. From finding the perfect shade to applying it so there aren’t any streaks, we put together a little pocket guide for you to reference whenever you need.

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finding foundation shade
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Find The Right Shade

Still not sure if you have cool, warm or neutral undertones? Join the club. An easier way to find your match is to pick two shades that you think most closely match your skin color, then step into some natural light (i.e., a window) to see which one disappears. Note: If you have freckles, match the shade to your overall skin and not the freckles themselves.

foundation formulas

Finding The Right Formula

When choosing what type of foundation to get, it’s important to consider both your skin type and the amount of coverage you prefer. Panicked by all of the options? The coverage level from lightest to heaviest generally goes like this: bb cream or tinted moisturizer, cc cream, liquid or serum foundation, cream foundation and powder foundation. Now, on to skin types!

oily acne skin foundation
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The Best Foundation For Oily Or Acne-prone Skin

Stick to liquid, mineral or powder formulas that won’t irritate your skin or clog your pores. (Tip: Look for the word “noncomedogenic” on the label. Bonus points if it has acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, zinc or witch hazel.)

dry skin foundation
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The Best Foundation For Dry Or Mature Skin

Liquid or cream formulas are easier to apply and will deliver even coverage without clinging to dry patches. Better yet, dab some face oil onto any flaky areas before applying your foundation to get the smoothest finish. And if you're concerned about enlarged pores or fine lines, mix in a few drops of liquid highlighter to get a blurring (and brightening) effect.

normal skin foundation
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The Best Foundation For Normal Skin

First of all, count your blessings. Second, all you really need is something that will even out any blotchy areas (which are typically around the nose and mouth) without covering up your skin completely. A tinted moisturizer or serum foundation will do just the trick.

apply foundation
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Learn How To Apply It

OK, now that you’ve got your foundation, how do you put the stuff on so it doesn’t streak or pill? Repeat after us: Less is more. Rather than apply it all over, dot some on wherever you need coverage and blend, blend, blend. If you prefer a makeup sponge, make sure to wet it and squeeze out any excess water before lightly tapping the color into your skin. If you like using a brush, use downward strokes to go with the grain of any facial hair.

foundation spots
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Don't Forget This Spot

The key to making yourself look naturally well-rested lies in one little secret—or spot, rather, that you might be missing with your application: your eyelids. Bring your foundation over your lids to help even out any discoloration there (which will brighten up your entire face).

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023
Jenny Jin

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...
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