Posted in beauty

a guide to choosing the right foundation (& not looking like a prison inmate)

Never only judge a foundation by its shade.

— Me, 2020

We’ve all had our struggles while choosing the right foundation—let’s speak the truth, shall we? Sometimes it makes you look orangey enough to resemble one of Trump’s offsprings and other times, it’s so yellow, that you receive ‘get well soon’ cards from your relatives… You know, jaundice. Oftentimes, it’s darker than your soul and the lesser frequent times, it is so white that you’re suddenly deemed as Caucasian (in case you aren’t).

Hoo boy, talk about slapstick comedy.

Moving on. With “sheer makeup” or “soft glam” establishing dominion, full-coverage foundations have been pushed behind and to be honest, I love the trend! Soft glam encourages unfiltered skin to be represented more in the media and normalises active acne bumps, scars, freckles (Which are frowned upon for some inane reason, like, gurl, I’d kill for those) and other, general skin textures. I have also switched to sheer, breathable foundations that tend to be a bit more non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic.

That’s completely my opinion; this piece, nonetheless, is for everyone—customers who prefer full-coverage or minimal!

1. Forget Mr/Ms/Mx Right, we’re here for The Right Formulation, sis

The shade of the foundation isn’t the only notable feature possessed by it. Foundations can be oil, water or even silicone based and not all of these are suitable for your skin. First off, silicone based foundations should be cancelled because a) they’re terrible for the environment and b) if you want some clogged pores and dehydrated skin, go for it!

• If you have oily skin, then you should maintain a good, say, ten-feet distance from oil based foundations because they invite acne breakouts to come over for dinner and stay for the night. Or a week, even. I know, dewy-looks are in. But if you are blessed with some pre-existing oil, then maybe, you should go for matte styles or lightweight foundations.

I recommend: Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Foundation ($29.50) or L’Oréal Infallible 24H Matte Foundation (£5.80)

• If you have normal to dry skin types, then go for liquid foundations! They are a great option since they are super hydrating and give off a radiant appearance without making you look oily or caked-up.

I recommend: Milk Sunshine Skin Tint SPF 30 ($42)

Milk Sunshine Skin Tint SPF 30

• Kids out there with combination skin—believe me, when I say this—I feel your pain. I know what it’s like to sit in the washroom and strategically mix and match various types of foundations. Again, stick foundation and liquid foundations should be the go-to for us. Dewy look? Check. Lightweight? Check.

I swear by: Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint ($26), Milk Flex Foundation Stick ($36), L’Oréal’s True Match Super Blendable Liquid Foundation (£10) or Clinique Chubby in the Nude foundation ($28.50)

Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint

• Sensitive skin? We got something for you too. Make mineral foundations your BFFs. They don’t barge in and house your pores, they aren’t suffocating and let your skin… Breathe. The only catch here is that if you’re allergic to Titanium Dioxide or Zinc, then you’ll have to bid farewell to these as well. Most of the mineral foundations have SPF therefore, they’re full of the aforementioned chemicals. When choosing between powder and liquid mineral foundations, don’t think twice and pick the powder ones because liquids often clog pores, causing acne! Beware, children!

I recommend: L’Oréal Paris True Matte Naturale Mineral Foundation (£22.90) or bareMinerals Original Loose Powder Mineral Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 ($32)

2. Finding Nemo VS Finding the Right Shade

You know, I’m not a stand-up comedienne for a reason.

Anyway, here comes the reason why you came here in the first place! Choosing the right shade totally depends if you’re in a specialty store or a drugstore. Department/Specialty stores tend to have trained professionals who show you swatches and patiently listen to your rants but if you’re like me—too scared to go and ask for help—then you’re kinda on your own in both the situations.

Keep in mind to try out all the shades in natural light, for example, near a window or something. Yellow or flattering lights often mislead you.

If you’re in a department store, try out the swatches on your jawline/cheek. Swipe the product over the curve of your jawline and into the upper area of your neck, if the foundation seems to disappear into your skin then congratulations, I may now pronounce you foundation and spouse (Gender-neutrality exists, people).

The main problem arises when you’re in the drugstore. No swatches, no one to help, it’s kind of a helpless situation. In that case, bring the bottle near your chest and if it matches, then you’re halfway (Keep reading to find out why it’s halfway) there.

If you’re still in a state of dilemma then despite it’s offering you cookies or not, go over to the dark side. Choosing a shade darker is always a life-saver instead of picking a lighter shade and looking like the white crayons which preschoolers often overlook. No one wants that, Karen.

Some brands have quizzes on their website, so you can fill in one of those to find out your right shade on the spot! Another way is to get yourself matched at a department store and later use it as a reference when you’re in a drugstore.

3. Heard of Skin-Tones? Now get ready for Undertones!

Undertones are essentially muted tones of your skin-tone. You must’ve come across the words “neutral”, “cool” (Which I’m not) or “warm” on foundations. That’s exactly what an undertone is.

People with warm undertones have green veins on their wrists/ankles and have rosy complexions whereas, individuals with cool undertones have blue veins and rock warm colours such as yellow and orange! If you have a mix blue and green veins on your wrists/ankles, then you’re probably an alien.

Just kidding, you have a neutral undertone!

Undertones are so crucial because they make your makeup look blended without any labour. Your entire lewk becomes ten times more natural when you have chosen the correct undertone.

Foundations in drugstore don’t have articulately planned, posh names with deep, impactful Latin origins like they have at a department store. They’re usually simple, such as “Neutral Medium” or “Cool Dark” so it’s fairly easier to figure out Mr/Ms/Mx Right.

Q. Which foundation do you use and how?

I use all the foundations mentioned in the Combination Skin Type section above. It really depends on the look I’m going for—if it’s a “no-makeup makeup look”, then I pick Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint (Which is the only Glossier product I own, lol) or Milk’s and if I’m doing “full-makeup look” then I incorporate L’Oréal or Clinique.

My mum gave me this tip way back: always add moisturiser to heavy foundations. Even though L’Oréal’s is medium-coverage, I add a few drops of moisturiser to it without fail because it makes the foundation hundred times lighter! Other than Clinique’s Foundation Stick, I’m also a big fan of its Acne Solutions which I used to employ to my makeup routines earlier ‘cause back in the good ol’ days, your girl used to allow acne to live on her skin without rent.

I use The Ordinary’s High-Spreadability Fluid Primer (£5.50) or MAC’s Prep + Primer Fix+ (£21) before slathering my face with foundation to hide my insecurities. Trust me, a small drop of a primer goes a long, long, long way. It allows a glow to surface and prevents uneven accumulation of the foundation under the eyes or around the nose.

The Ordinary High Spreadability Fluid Primer

Another tip, courtesy of my mum, don’t use foundation all over your face. I know, it sounds kind of weird and defeats the entire purpose of using a foundation but trust me, it works. I start off with a meagre amount of foundation and work it off on questionable areas. Usually, when you’re forced to smother your face with foundation in order to make it look even, then you, my friend, my pal, have bought the wrong shade.

I use beauty blenders! (Instagram Beauty Gurus who use disturbing objects to blend in there makeup are being triggered all around the globe) and to top it all off, I use Forest Essentials’ Facial Tonic Mist Panchpushpa instead of a setting spray to achieve the dewy look!

Happy New Year, folks! This piece was written in 3 hours and so… You understand why I had to crack weird jokes here and there. Heh. It’s 2020 and there are still brands that are not inclusive enough and have those five, lousy shades made only for white people.

Makeup is something that is not limited to gender or race, it’s a way of expressing yourself and expression is everyone’s right. I hope, more brands come up with a wider range of shades for us POCs because right now, I am jet-packed to write an entire thesis on the Struggles Of A Person Of Colour When It Comes To Makeup and it’s side adaptation, Struggles Of Person Of Colour When It Comes To Literally Anything.

I’m sorry, I’m highkey pissed. Hence the poor comedy. Thanks for reading this malarkey that I managed to spew. Y’all are the best. Also! Thank you for voting for “How to Choose the Right Foundation”on my Instagram story poll, it meant a lot to see so many responses! Next up, what do you want to read about? The upcoming industry of Halal Cosmetics or a Confessions™️ for The Body Shop?

Stay tuned for more!


By the day, I’m an avid reader, writer and a bio-chemistry student and by the night, I’m a makeup addict and a full-time procrastinator. Mostly the latter.

3 thoughts on “a guide to choosing the right foundation (& not looking like a prison inmate)

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