The Trick to Choosing the Right Foundation That You Didn't Know

Choosing the right foundation can be a daunting task, you not only have to get your shade right, but you also have to find the right formulation that works on your skin type. As anyone who’s ever switched foundations based on someone else’s glowing skin and recommendation knows, what works great on some may not work best for others. Finding the best formula for your skin type is key to preventing breakouts, extending coverage and enhancing your complexion to achieve a flawless finish.

The first step is to identify your skin type. This might sound like a no-brainer; skin falls into four types—normal, oily, dry and combination, but determining your skin type can be rather tricky and you might need a little help. “If you’re having trouble knowing your skin type, going to a professional will lessen the frustration. They will guide you along the correct path to find the best foundation for your skin,” says Stephanie Torres, aesthetician at The Spa at Delamar in Greenwich, CT.

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Once you’ve determined your skin type, look for formulations with a base that works best on your skin. You may have heard that foundations are either water- or oil-based, but according to cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos, it’s not that black and white. “Today, most foundations are water and silicone emulsions. The ‘oil phase’ of modern foundations often refers to the silicone phase,” says Dobos. “Because there are so many options, start with the overall base of the formula—silicone, oil or water and match to your general skin type.”

If you have normal or dry skin, look for an oil- or silicone-based formula like Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup ($64) or Dior Diorskin Nude Air Serum ($53). “Oil-based foundations work best for dehydrated and mature skin. They give skin extra moisturizing and a dewy look, and also help with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Torres.

For combination or oily skin, look for lighter, oil-free, water-based formulas. “Oil-based foundations can be problematic for oily skin types, as they can exacerbate shine and contribute to a greasy feel as the day progresses,” adds Dobos. We like Make Up For Ever Face & Body Liquid Make-Up ($40), Clinique Even Better Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 15 ($27) and Too Faced Amazing Face Liquid Foundation ($36) for oil-free coverage that lasts all day.

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