Best Foundations for Different Skin Types

You cannot build a beautiful face without a solid foundation. No matter how pretty your eyeliner is, or what shade of lipstick you’re wearing, if you don’t have the right foundation, your not going to look good, ladies. The choices are endless and you can’t just use any old color or kind of foundation. It has to match your skin tone, skin type and the occasion for which it will be worn. I sense you starting to panic, or worse, considering a move to Boulder where au naturale is the norm.

Relax. Through years of trial and error I have amassed good advice and the information you need to find the best foundation for your skin type. After relentlessly scouring the Internet, department stores, my friend’s (and complete stranger’s) make-up drawers, the entire globe, I tell ya, I offer these words of wisdom.


Before you can even begin to think about foundation, you must get to know your skin very intimately. Basically we all fall into four skin types:

  • DRY
  • OILY

Normal is very, very rare and is usually “normal to dry” (moi!) so we’ll go with that. If you’re oily, you know it. Exxon wanted drilling rights to my face when I was in middle school. Thankfully, I grew up and out of the oily stage. Some of us never do. The last skin type, combination, means you have an oily forehead and nose (the T-zone) and normal or dry cheeks.

There are a lot of things you can do to clear up oil, get rid of dry flaky skin and clean a combo face. I highly recommend a quick trip to WebMD and read the What’s Your Skin Type article for help determining your skin type and how best to care for it.

We all have a skin undertone. You break it down by color and tone. Yellow or pink are the most common, but olive skin tends to have green or gray undertones. Go to WikiHOW and follow their advice to determine yours.


There are absolutely endless colors and types of foundations to choose from, so the RIGHT one is out there for you. I will help you find it. This can be a lengthy process, even with my pro tips, but once you find the right foundation, it will make all the difference in the world when making up your face.

You’ll get questions like: “Were you on vacation recently? (harmless, and flattering) Or, “Are you pregnant? Your skin is glowing.” (nosey, but nice to hear).

If you hear, “another late night? (grrrr!) Or, “are you feeling all right? You look kinda pasty” (bummer) then you are using the wrong color and type of foundation. Get thee to a make-up counter and let a professional help you determine what shade is best for you.

If you can’t do that, then find somewhere that has lots of samples on display and try them out (i.e. Kohl’s, Macy’s). Use a cotton swab and try the different shades on your face and neck. Do not put it on inside of your wrist, which is what used to be recommended to find your correct foundation shade.  That part of your body does not get as much sun or environmental exposure as your face to be trustworthy. Viewing the shades on the skin in natural light is the best way to find the right shade of foundation. You generally want to stay within one shade darker or lighter than your actual skin color.


The absolute best foundations for dry skin are multi-tasking cream formulas. You can find foundations that not only correctly match the skin tone, but also hide a multitude of skin sins. They can even out skin color by calming redness and covering dark spots. Look for moisturizers in the ingredients that will help fill in lines and wrinkles. The best cream foundation for dry skin should go on smoothly and plump up skin, not settle into wrinkles or lines. Use a sponge or make-up brush to spread a thin layer over your entire face starting from the cheeks and working out towards your ears, up to your hairline and down to your chin. Blend, blend, blend by patting gently. Don’t press down hard or rub, you want it to stay on top of your face, not be absorbed.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to find a good cream foundation. If you are a beauty on a budget, head to your local drugstore. Before you turn up your nose at brands like Revlon, or Cover Girl because they are stocked next to diaper rash cream, keep in mind, these are HUGE companies. They have lots of money to spend on research and development to bring you the best of what science and technology has to offer in the cosmetic’s industry. Most importantly, these brands have been around since the Stone Age and that mean they’re tried and true!

Almay Smart ShadeThe best cream foundation to be had at your local Walgreens or Target, in my opinion, is Almay Smart Shade Anti-aging. I use it everyday, for real. The beauty (pun intended) of this product is that it appears colorless when you put a dab on the back of your hand, but when you smooth it over your face it magically becomes your exact skin tone color. Almay calls it, tonemimic, and explains it as, “shade-sensing technology”. I have found this to be the perfect daytime cream foundation for me because it goes on smoothly, and blends into the skin effortlessly. It provides beautiful coverage for your entire face (I even put it on my eyelids) and it lasts all day. It truly looks like you are not wearing make-up after you put it on. Almay Smart Shade also boasts an SPF of 20, comes in a convenient tube that’s airline friendly and won’t bust your budget.

Armani Luminous Silk

       If I am planning a special night out, or know I will be photographed a lot (like in my sister’s wedding) I turn to Armani. I’m not talking about evening gowns, either. Armani Luminous Silk Foundation is divine. The price tag is hefty, about $62 per bottle, but, trust me when I say, it’s worth every penny if you need to look your best. Luminous Silk has the unique ability to give you an “airbrushed” effect on your face, eliminating skin blemishes, fine lines and wrinkles. What Armani calls micro-fil technology, I call reverse aging. This cream foundation glides over my skin and makes me younger in a flash. Once it’s properly blended in, your pores will disappear, leaving you      J-Lo luminous.


If you have over-active sebaceous glands, don’t despair. While most cream formula foundations will slide right off, you do have options. The best foundation for oily skin is in a loose or pressed powder form. The key to looking lovely is; first, clean you face, blot away excess oil and never ever use your fingers to apply your make-up, which can lead to blemish breakouts. I highly recommend mineral foundations if you have oily skin. These types of foundations are non-irritating (so, good for sensitive skin) have natural SPF protection and great staying power. L’oreal Paris Translucide can be found in any drugstore, doesn’t cost a lot and provides beautiful coverage with light reflecting particles and a healthy dose of vitamin C.

For superior coverage with a matte effect that dampens unsightly shine, you can’t go wrong with MAC Sheer Loose Ultra. It comes in ten shades, and is easy to apply due to the ultra fine powder, which feels silky when you dust it on.

Pressed powders also make good foundations for oily skin. Neatly tucked in a swanky compact, Milani is one of the beauty world’s best-kept secrets. Their Even Touch oil free pressed powder uses aloe vera juice to make application a smooth snap, and it has a calming effect on your skin. Here’s the best part: it cost less than ten bucks!

Another good option for oily skin is a tinted moisturizer, loose powder combination that can create the flawless look you favor. Laura Mercier’s tinted broad spectrum SPF 20 moisturizer comes in multiple shades to match most skin tones. When you combine it with Laura Mercier’s loose setting mineral powder it will give you a lovely complexion with the powder absorbing excess oil on your face to keep the shine down. You will probably need to touch up your make-up mid-day, but it’s worth the extra effort to have a healthy glowing face.


Life feels especially unfair when you’re saddled with combination skin. Your forehead and nose are shiny, your cheeks normal, or worse, dry and flaky. What’s a girl to do? Well, don’t give up on finding the best foundation for combination skin because it’s impossible or too expensive to buy different product for the different areas of you face.

Science and technology to the rescue! As a powerhouse in the cosmetics industry, Estee Lauder is your new best friend. Their Double Wear Stay In Place foundation mixes the right amount of moisture and shine control to deliver a great product that smoothes and plumps dry skin while dampening unsightly shine on your nose and forehead.

If you feel like Estee Lauder is out of your price range, try Revlon Photo Ready foundation. This is a great for day, worn over a moisturizing sunscreen. Because it has staying power, with just a simple touch up, you can transition it effortlessly from a daytime beauty to nighttime glamour.

To really get the best look, combine your liquid foundation with Neutrogena’s Mineral Sheers Loose Powder foundation. Using a powder puff, gently roll it over your T-zone with a rocking motion. This helps set the powder, which will absorb excess oil for a flawless matte finish.


Make up brushesThe right foundation for you is out there. Once you have found it, you need the right tools to apply it. Sponges and brushes are best. Read the “directions for application” on the box, if any. If not, go to the company’s website and find out what is recommended for applying your particular foundation. It’s important to remember to clean your brushes and sponges regularly to keep oil and bacteria from building up on them and then getting all over your face. Go to EHOW and type in “How to clean make up application brushes.” You can wash sponges in hot water and air-dry them a few times, then toss and replace.


A last thing to keep in mind: your skin can change over time. The dewy look of toddlerhood gives way to the ick of acne prone pores in adolescence. Genetics, the climate you live in, diet, and age all have an effect on the skin and can change it as we age. Lucky for us, cosmetic companies are always looking for the next big break-through in skin care. Where there used to be only a few jars of basic foundation in three shades there are thousands of choices that do more than just cover your skin. Multi-tasking formulas in a vast array of hues are available to shrink pours, hide dark spots, sop up extra oils, and turn back the clock as we rush forward with our busy lives. Periodically check in with your skin to make sure you’re still using the right products, especially foundation, so you can always put your best face forward.

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