How to Choose the Perfect Foundation for Beginners


The perfect foundation can be really hard to come by. We want clear, radiant, healthy skin, but life has other plans…Like pimples and stress and all the other non-glamorous things that interrupt our beautiful skin journey.

Makeup can help, but where do you start? Since we all have a different ideas of what perfect skin is depending on our own needs, the best way find your perfect foundation is to ask the following four questions:

short pixie haircut
short pixie haircut

(Note to reader: write down the answers as you go along!)

1.  What type of skin do you have? 

1.1 Oily Skin

Shine much? You most likely have oily skin. If your makeup has a tendency to disappear throughout the day, then it might not be suited for your skin type.

Suggestion: Go for a pressed powder. Pressed powders can generally offer anywhere from light to full coverage and are buildable and compact, which makes them ideal for touch-ups. I also suggest investing in a good oil-free moisturizer.

Go-to product: TheBalm TimeBalm Foundation. This powder-like foundation gives medium coverage and comes in multiple shades, making it easier for you to find the hue that’s right for you.

Oily skin is generally caused by overactive sebaceous glands, and when our skin isn’t receiving adequate moisture, it produces more oil to make up for the moisture loss. And here are some great foundations for oily skin for you to choose from.

1.2 Combination Skin

If you notice that your skin tends to be a little oily and dry, you have combination skin. Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to choose a product that caters to both.

Suggestion: Liquid foundation + finishing powder, (a finishing powder is a light loose powder for setting foundation), or a cream-to-powder compact. I have combination skin and I often find that if I use a facial scrub and mask 1-2 times weekly, my skin balances itself naturally.

Go-to products: Start with theBalm BalmShelter Tinted Moisturizer to add hydration and light coverage without overpowering. Top it with theBalm Sexy Mama Anti-Shine Translucent Powder for a soft matte finish.

Want to give your combination skin a little extra love? Try our honey and aloe mask and strawberry and orange sugar scrub. Bonus: you can make both at home, and they’re pretty thrifty!

1.3 Dry Skin

If your skin is on the drier side, you might want to consider investing in two things before you purchase your next foundation: a face scrub and moisturizer. You want to make sure you’re exfoliating at least twice a week with a gentle face scrub to slough away any excess dead skin and smooth over dry patches.

A good moisturizer is also very important. After any good scrub sesh, the first thing you want to do is to replenish the moisture back to your skin.

Suggestion:  Liquid foundation or cream compact. Either will do the job. If you’re looking for the lighter of the two, try liquid, as cream compacts tend to have more of a medium to full coverage.

Go-to product: Prep your face with theBalm TimeBalm Face Primer, then top with a tinted moisturizer for light coverage and all-day hydration.

1.4 Sensitive Skin

With sensitive skin, you have to be careful not to choose brands that use perfumes, dyes, known irritants, chemicals etc.

Suggestion : Look specifically for brands that focus on sensitive skin.

1.5 Mature Skin

So you’ve got a few crows feet? The trick is to avoid applying too much makeup around the area.

When you use a lot of makeup around such vulnerable areas of your skin, the result is that it’ll end up making the area look worse and actually accentuate your lines and crows feet.

Suggestion: Use a creamier, light to medium coverage foundation on top of a primer, then try some contouring.

Go-to products: theBalm TimeBalm Face Primer and theBalm Mary-Lou Manzier Highlighter, Shadow & Shimmer. Use Mary-Lou Manzier to highlight and add shape, playing up your youthful areas.

Primers are meant to keep your makeup from fading, but another quality that really makes them rock is that they do a great job at filling in fine lines, crows feet and large pores.

2. What type of coverage are you looking for? 

type of coverage
type of coverage

2.1 Light

A light foundation will help to cover minor skin imperfections and you should still be able to see your skin underneath. If you don’t like the “feel of makeup,” then you’d most likely start here.

Types of light coverage: tinted moisturizer, bb cream, liquid, loose powder.

2.2 Medium

Medium coverage is the best if you’re looking to cover up acne scarring or noticeable uneven areas and you don’t mind a the feel of makeup. Generally you can build with this type of coverage. (My favorite!)

Types of medium coverage: Pressed compact powder, cream to powder, cream compact, liquid.

2.3 Full

A full coverage is ideal for someone who has major scarring, skin discoloration and prefers a richer consistency. This type will completely hide any imperfections.

3.  Is it non-comedogenic?

If you have acne-prone skin, you want to be sure that the makeup you’re buying won’t cause your skin to break out. It’s no fun buying makeup only to find out later that it makes the situation worse. Even if acne is not a problem, it’s still good to know what’s in your makeup to avoid any unnecessary irritation or reaction.

4. What type of finish would you prefer?

Matte : A matte finish is smooth and usually comes in the form of powder or cream to powder foundations. A matte finish will avoid bringing attention to fine lines, crows feet, large pores, breakouts, etc. There are liquid foundations that also offer a matte finish, so if you prefer liquid, there are options!

Dewy : A dewy finish usually has a glow to it. Some companies use light reflecting particles to draw light to our more prominent features, such as the cheek bones, nose bridge, jawline, and forehead. It also generally has a bit of a moisturizing feel.

Semi Matte: A semi-matte finish is the in-between finish of dewy and matte. It can go on a little creamy, but also have a bit of powdery-smooth finish, so it has a nice resemblance to natural skin.

…Now that you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to find your foundation!

Once you find the brand that seems closest to your personal preference, it’s time to seal the deal with a swipe test!

Pick 3 colors that look closely match your skin tone.

The one that blends seamlessly into your skin is the winner. Now, before you get all giddy and run off to the counter to pay for it, be sure to use a hand-held mirror to check it in natural lighting (daylight). If it still matches, guess what? You win!

Wasn’t that fun?! Okayyy, maybe more fun for me because I love talking girly, beauty stuff! But then again, who doesn’t?

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