Choosing a foundation can be an exercise in trial and error—an expensive exercise. But with a little guidance from the pros, you can get the perfect amount of coverage for your skin type without wasting time and money.
For dry skin
“Nothing will ever take the place of a good skin care regimen,” says Kelley Mitchell, makeup artist for the cast of Glee, but she adds that the right makeup can add even more moisture to dehydrated complexions. Start by smoothing on a primer to lock in the hydrating powers of your day cream or lotion. Primers like CoverGirl & Olay Simply Ageless Primer ($13.99, www.target.com) create a barrier on the surface of your skin that not only traps moisture but also fills in fine lines and wrinkles for a more flawless face. Follow your primer with a moisturizing, liquid foundation like Laura Mercier Moisturizing Foundation ($42, www.lauramercier.com). Hydrating liquids won’t grab on to and highlight dry patches like powders and mattifying products can.
For oily skin
Getting your foundation to stay in place all day can be tricky when you have oily skin, as excess sebum can cause many types of makeup to melt. Foundations that contain mattifying and oil-absorbing ingredients tend to last the longest and can also reduce some of the shine associated with oily skin. Try Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Foundation ($$8, www.target.com). Another pro tip: “Avoid formulas with silicone, which will only enhance shine and remain too greasy on oilier skin,” advises Mitchell. Keep in mind that some matte foundations can leave skin looking dry, though, so be sure to use an oil-free moisturizer and an oil-free primer before applying foundation.
When working with women who have sun spots or an uneven complexion, “I like to use a tinted moisturizer with SPF and follow that with a mineral powder that also contains SPF,” says Mitchell. This combination of products evens out blotchy skin tones without looking too heavy, plus it provides important sun protection to prevent further UV damage. For super-light coverage with SPF, try Miracle Skin Transformer SPF 20 ($48, sephora.com) or Aveeno Positively Radiant Tinted Moisturizer, SPF 30 ($17, www.walgreens.com). Then dust on Colorscience Sunforgettable Mineral Powder SPF 50 ($34, www.colorscience.com).
Mineral-based foundations are perfect for anyone whose skin is easily irritated by cosmetics, as most mineral formulas contain soothing ingredients and are free of those that are too harsh, like perfumes and dyes. “They also protect against the sun for those who are sensitive to chemical sunscreens,” says Mitchell. One to try: Bare Escentuals bareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation ($26, www.sephora.com). To conceal any redness caused by skin sensitivities or allergies, be sure to look for a foundation shade that has more of a yellow base than one that is pink or peach.