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Choosing the Right Foundation

By Makeda

I have found that the choosing and application of foundation is the step that most women get wrong - sometimes horribly wrong. There are few things more unattractive than a face covered in foundation so heavy that the person looks like a wax figure or seeing that a woman's face is an entirely different shade than her neck. I always think, "Oh, no". I have wanted to attack more than one woman with a wet facecloth and start her all over.

Really, choosing a foundation isn't that difficult - it's just time-consuming, particularly for women of color. Historically, make-up has been made for White women, but now, many more make-up companies are addressing the needs of women of color with a wider array of color options and there are now companies devoted to us, though some of them aren't that good.

Please don't try to use foundation to change the color of your face. Foundation is designed to give us a smooth canvas on which to paint. Therefore, to pick out a foundation, you must find one that exactly matches the color of your skin. The whole point is to wear a foundation that is quite seamless - it should blend into your facial skin, making the make-up appear completely natural. It is worth the time it takes to find the right foundation - if you start with the right "base", it will make the rest of your make-up look so much better. Even those with the smoothest skin should consider using some type of foundation - it gives your color products something to stick to. Also, many of today's foundations can serve double or even triple duty - offering a bit of coverage, moisturization and even sunscreen.

When testing a foundation, always check the match in natural light. Apply the foundation to the side of your face, go outside, and check it in a small mirror, taking care to check that it also matches the color of your neck - a line of demarcation between face and neck is, frankly, ugly. Most of the time, a foundation with a yellow undertone is best, unless you have the fairest of skin tones. Also, it's important that the type of foundation you pick is the one that's good for your skin and meets your needs.

Choosing the right foundation formula means not only addressing your skin type, but also thinking about what your foundation needs are. Stick foundations are portable and easy to apply only on the necessary spots; tinted moisturizers are good for hot weather or when a heavier formulation isn't necessary; for a more "covered up" look, a heavier liquid is usually best. Then there are the different formulas for different skin types. Powder or cream-to-powder foundations are more suited for normal to oily skin types - women with dry skin will make their skin look flaky and even drier if they use powder formulations. Liquid foundations are good for all skin types - however, if you're oily, you should look for oil-free liquids and those with dry skin should look for moisturizing, creamier liquids. There are also mousses - good for oily skin, creams - good for dry skin, etc.

Many will say that, in order to find the perfect foundation, one has to go to the higher-priced lines. This is not always true. I advise that you try several different make-up lines when seeking out the perfect foundation. Even the drugstore brands are getting much better. I am continually impressed by L'Oreal True Match and have also found Cover Girl Tru Blend to be good - both lines have a great range of color options and are conveniently priced - they can be found in your local drugstores and even some supermarkets. I wear L'Oreal True Match Super-Blendable Liquid or Powder foundation almost every day and love it. However, the higher-priced brands do, generally, offer more choice. I especially like MAC, Bobbi Brown, Iman (designed for women of color), and Prescriptives (where they can do a custom blending to exactly match your skin).

The Types of Foundation

Oil-free liquid foundations: Though called "oil-free", most of these foundations do contain some oils. When applied, they dry to a matte finish. They are like a regular liquid foundation, though they can be slightly thicker and leave no shine. These foundations are good for women who want a matte look and are best for those with oily skin, because, on dry skin, they can make the skin look drier and flaky.

Ultra-matte foundations: With ultra-matte foundations, it is imperative that you blend quickly and well. If you use a moisturizer underneath these foundations, be careful because they can tend to make the foundation streak or appear greasy. These foundations sometimes tend to go on heavy and leave the skin feeling dry. It can also be difficult to apply creams on top of ultra-matte foundations. Women of color may want to be wary of these types of foundations, as they can leave a gray tinge to the skin and make it look ashy.

Liquid foundations: The first ingredient in these foundations is usually water and they also usually include some type of oil. These foundations are good for women with normal to dry skin. They can be worn without a moisturizer or with one that contains adequate SPF, if the foundation itself does not contain an SPF of at least 15. Liquid foundations tend to be flattering on women of color because they create a lovely glow which keeps the skin from appearing ashen. If the foundation leaves behind too much shine for your liking, you can follow with a light dusting of powder.

Oil-based foundations: The first ingredient in these foundations is oil. They are quite thick and go on greasy, but can blend nicely into a soft, sheer finish. They are best for women with very dry skin or those who have wrinkles. They sometimes have the tendency to turn orange on the skin, so they may not be best for women of color.

Pressed-powder foundations: These are the same as pressed powder, but they contain a little more coverage and stay put longer. You apply these powders with either a sponge or a brush, with the brush application offering a sheerer look. They aren't the best choice for those with dry skin.

Cream-to-powder foundations: They come in a compact like a pressed powder foundation, but have a creamier feel and appearance. They dry to a powdery finish and provide better coverage than pressed powder foundations. They are best applied with a sponge. They don't work well for those with oily skin because the creamy formulation could add to the oiliness and they don't work particularly well for those with dry skin because, once they have dried to a powdery finish, they can cause more dryness. Therefore, they're best for normal skin types.

Liquid-to-powder foundations: Liquid-to-powder foundations feel lighter on the skin than do the cream-to-powder foundations. They also last longer on those with combination or oily skin. They are best applied with a sponge, blending easily into a matte finish. However, they dry quickly.

Stick foundations: These are cream-to-powder foundations in stick form. They can do double duty as a concealer and are good for spot coverage.

As you can see, you have a wide variety of options when considering foundations. It may take some time for you to find the foundation that is perfect for you, but once you have, you'll be happy you did.

Perfume-scented hugs and lipstick kisses,