Foundation – How To Find The Perfect One!

testing foundations nars bobbi brown clinique

When I enter any shop that sells make-up I always leave with foundation on the back of my hand. Expensive or not whatever budget I’m on I like to test them & compare shades. I like to research them on Youtube to see what people think & make sure to listen for their skin type too. It’s a bit of a mine field when it comes to foundation so these are my tips & tricks to getting the right product without hopefully wasting money.

Skin Type & Skin Finish

The first pit fall is knowing your own skin type so you can aim for specific foundations. When a foundation has the word matte or velvet in the title then it’s more suitable for those with an oily complexion. If it has luminous, glow or dewy then it’s for drier skin types. If you have normal skin you can get away with most without having to worry more than your own preference. However these factors shouldn’t stop you choosing the finish you prefer. What it does mean is you may need a primer or a good skin care routine to help fix any underlying problems. With me I prefer a satin finish somewhere between matte & dewy. I used to use Max Factor Color Adapt which is a velvet finish but it clung to dry patches. At the moment I have Macs Mineralize Moisture Foundation it’s dewy so it suits my skin type but I still powder it down to a soft focus finish. You can make most finishes work for you if you like it enough.

Skin Tone

Foundation - Try Before You Buy - nars clinique bobbi brown

In drugstore brands this usually isn’t as much of an issue as most don’t cater for skin tones as yellow based foundations suit most people. Loreal True Match probably is the best for this if you do find it an issue with affordable brands. When you swatch them look at what colour stands out most it’s usually yellow neutral or pink. If you’re not pink & you get one it will stand out like a sore thumb on the other hand yellow tones tend to brighten the skin so more people suit them. For example in the above photo Nars Sheer Glow with Bobbi Brown Moisture rich are yellow tones, Bobbi Brown Skin is neutral & Clinique’s Beyond Perfecting is very pink.

Colour Matching In Bad Lighting

Foundation - Try Before You Buy Nars Clinique Bobbi Brown - compare with others

If you already have a foundation that matches you always swatch that first so you can compare it to the other foundations your interested in. I know its suggested to put it on your face then go outside for natural light but who actually does that without feeling like an idiot (my personal feeling). Yes the lighting is yellow in most stores so the sample that matches you will look off but under the same bad lighting they match then they are going to be similar shades in day light. If not its google images to find a blogger with a similar skin shade to you & start there. Then it’s trial & error at this point, multiple reviews with swatches can be seen to work out the most likely match.

As you can see above the two on the right are Mac Mineralize Moisture & Revlon Colorstay both very similar shades which I already own. Using these as the guide I can see that the closest shade match is Bobbi Brown Skin in Porcelain although it’s a touch darker. From this it’s a good idea to search the website which I then find there is one shade lighter in Alabaster.

Colours Can Oxidize

Foundation - Try Before You Buy - nars clinique bobbi brown - swatches

Foundations can look wonderful when you apply them to the back of your hand but make sure to blend  them out until dry. As you do this the foundation can oxidize which makes the shade 2 or 3 shades darker than it went on. Once dry apply it wet next to it to see if the shade has changed. It may look subtle between them but this can get even darker as you wear it through the day. Also don’t assume it’s just the drugstore brands this happens, a lovely Bobbi Brown counter girl (woman, what is the right term?) showed me this herself.  If I had bought the foundation even in the lightest shade I would have looked as daft as I did in my Clinique Beyond Perfecting post. Keep in mind that if you get a sample that is the wrong shade still try it out at home, see the Clinique link. It’s the wrong shade but you get a feel for how the foundation applies, the coverage & the finish.

Asking For Samples For The Right Reasons

When you’re searching for the perfect base this can mean higher cost . With this they tend to have bigger shade ranges, more choice in finishes & counter staff that can give information on what will suit you. Your not just paying for the product but the service too. I don’t have a designer bag or clothes but that doesn’t mean I don’t expect the same service as someone who does. If you speak nice to staff & they don’t give the same courtesy go somewhere else, that will. Most are on commission so give your money to the ones that treat you well & go back to them for other things after. They will remember you custom & likely help you out even more.

If you’re looking to get free foundation samples for life this post isn’t for you, counter staff aren’t stupid & they do talk. If you never intend to buy anything they quickly will realise it & let the others know. However if you’re looking for the perfect foundation then you have to ask for a sample. If you go in knowing your skin type, what coverage you like & the finish then they can make the best suggestions. Then look at the shades if you’re not sure do as above & compare with a swatch of a shade that you know already matches you. You only need to ask & say could I get a sample of that one please & more often than not they have them in. Some may be a sachet, others have bottles of each shade they decant into a little bottle. I suggest when you want a new foundation to ask multiple counters, it helps to lose the fear factor & get the foundation that’s right for you.

If there’s a John Lewis near you (no I’m not getting paid to say this) I suggest to go there first as god staff seem to be a clear part of how the stores run in all departments.

The First Isn’t Always The Best So Try Another

If it’s your first time with high-end foundation then the first sample usually feels amazing. That’s not to say a drug store foundation doesn’t but you expect more when you pay more. This can lead you to buying the first one you tried without knowing what else is out there. Even if the second isn’t as good you then can see what your preferences are in the future.

For some more comparisons of shades see my Concealer & Foundation for pale skin posts.

I’m in search of a wedding foundation which is what prompted this post, if you have any suggestions I’m pale with dry skin. What’s your favourite foundation?

author dupesagirlsbestfriend


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