According to makeup artist Bobbi Brown, wearing foundation is the surest way to achieve smooth skin — whether or not you were born with it.
Want some more good news? Finding a shade to match your skin tone doesn’t have to be rocket science, even when the makeup counter offers zillions of options. (And since foundation is a makeup kit key item, Brown suggests you don’t scrimp on it: “Even if you make all your other makeup purchases at the drugstore, try to purchase your foundation at a department store cosmetics counter, where you can get professional guidance in choosing the right shade, and you can test a color before buying it.”)
On that note, Brown says not even the most experienced salesperson will be able to tell you which is the exact shade of foundation for you. They can show you some of the closest possibilities, but the rest is up to you. “This is a case where you have to be your own makeup artist and judge the shades for yourself,” Brown explains. Here’s how:
1. Know what to look for. “The right foundation should not be too heavy or artificial,” says Brown. “In fact, it should be so perfectly matched to your skin tone that it disappears — you don’t see makeup, just a smooth, flawless face.”
2. Know what’s out there. There are four common types of foundation: Liquid, which is the most popular and user-friendly; Cream, a thicker, more opaque foundation that offers a truly flawless look; Tinted Moisturizer, moisture and color in one — the sheerest of all options; and Wet/Dry Foundation (also called “dual-finish”), a combination of foundation and powder that can be applied dry or with a damp sponge — good for oily skin types.
4. When you find a foundation that looks like it might work with your skin, apply a swipe of it on your cheek. Then grab your mirror and step outside into natural light. “Don’t let your salesperson talk you out of this exercise,” says Brown. “It’s the only thing that really works.” Look to see if the foundation is visible. If it’s very hard to see on your face, you’ve found the right one. If the swipe is obvious and visible, it’s time to move on to the next shade.
5. If you find that your skin falls between two shades, go with the warmer, or slightly darker shade. A lighter tone can make the skin appear chalky. Also, if your face and neck are different skin tones, compensate with a slightly warmer foundation on your face. When in doubt, choose a foundation with a yellow tone. “I’ve found that yellow-toned foundations look better on almost everyone,” says Brown, “no matter what your coloring.”