Foundations for Every Skin Type
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Foundations for Every Skin Type

The latest foundations for every skin type, plus fast fixes for fine lines, big pores, and other nuisances.

Foundation How-Tos

Who hasn't stood staring at a wall of compacts and bottles at a makeup store and thought, Okay, am I more ivory or more beige? Do I want a powder or a liquid? Argh! The choices! Our all-new expert advice will help you find the best choice for your skin type and color.

How to Choose the Right Shade

In the store, apply a dab of foundation on your collarbone. Why there? "To avoid a line of demarcation, foundation needs to match your neck and your chest, not just your face," says Brigitte Reiss-Anderson, creative consultant for IsaDora cosmetics at Walgreens. Other areas, like the jawline and the inside of your forearm, may be pigmented similarly to your face, but they're usually paler than your decolletage.

How to Apply It Like a Pro

Always blend foundation on after applying moisturizer. Start with a dime-size drop and work from the center of your face out to the edges. Different application tools give you different finishes. For the sheerest look, use a damp sponge. Fingers can be used for more coverage; their heat helps the product blend seamlessly. Foundation brushes offer the same results, but they blend extra fast and don't absorb as much of the product as other applicators, so there's less waste, says Collier Strong, makeup artist for L'Oreal.

How to Flatter Dark Skin

Choose a liquid or cream -- they blend better on darker skin tones than powders, says Strong, because these formulations tend to have sheerer pigments. Powder foundation often contains micronized minerals like titanium dioxide, which can look ashy or white on dark skin. If you like the staying power of a powder, use a liquid or cream foundation, then apply a touch of loose, translucent powder.

How to Make It Work with Blush

If you're partial to cheek stains, you should know that they actually look best if you put them under foundation (your healthy flush will show through, we promise). But other formulas, like powders, gels, and creams, should be applied over foundation, says Sonia Kashuk, creator of the Sonia Kashuk cosmetics line at Target.

How to Get the Look of the Moment

Go either matte or dewy -- they're both in style. But there are some times when one is more appropriate than the other. "Matte is more of an evening finish because it looks done, while dewy is perfect with minimal makeup for day and especially on weekends," says Brian Duprey, a makeup artist in New York City and creator of Duprey Cosmetics.

How to Look 'Au Naturel' -- Only Better

Try tinted moisturizer -- it contains about half the pigment of a medium-finish foundation. It gives a little boost to the complexion, but not much coverage, says Reiss-Anderson. If you have a mostly even skin tone, use tinted moisturizer instead of your usual hydrating lotion, then spot-conceal with a cream foundation or concealer.

How to Prevent a Foundation-Related Breakout

Stick with the newest formulas, which are noncomedogenic (meaning they won't clog pores), and even contain good-for-skin ingredients, like vitamins and moisture-binding humectants. But as with all cosmetics, there's a toss-by date to prevent contamination. "Liquid and creams in nonairtight packaging can breed breakout-causing bacteria," says Laura Geller, makeup artist and owner of the Laura Geller Makeup Studio. Discard them after six months, and replace powder after a year.

How to Use Foundation Instead of Thick Concealer to Hide Undereye Circles

Blend a liquid formula along your lash line. Foundation is less opaque than concealer, so you'll get uniform coverage rather than the lighter, raccoon-eyed look you can get with concealer. Plus, you'll need one less product in your arsenal. "Women are always surprised by how even their face looks," says Geller.

How to Get a Smoother Foundation Finish

Use a primer. Applied under foundation, this sort of silicone-based gel can even out skin texture. If you have fine lines, large pores, or a bumpy skin surface, a primer will help create a smooth canvas for makeup, says Duprey. An added benefit: It helps anchor foundation, so you'll get extra wear. Smooth primer on after moisturizer, then follow with foundation.

How to Add Serious Staying Power

Set your makeup with a dusting of loose, translucent powder to get extra mileage. "Follow with a spritz of water spray like Evian to prevent a chalky look," says Reiss-Anderson. This will take away the powdery finish, but the foundation will stay set.

Seriously High-Tech Foundations

Welcome to the brave new world of foundations. Here, all-new formulations so advanced, we've included detailed instructions.

M.A.C Studio Mist Foundation, $28.50,

The all-new secret: Superfine pigments look invisible.
To use it: Spray this airbrush formula onto the back of your hand, then apply with your fingers to areas that need coverage.

Yves Saint Laurent Perfect Touch Radiant Brush Foundation, $50,

The all-new secret: Antibacterial brush blends in seconds.
To use it: Twist open, then squeeze the tube gently to release foundation into the attached brush. Blend on, starting at the center of your face.

SK-II Air Touch Foundation, $150, select Saks Fifth Avenue locations

The all-new secret: Ionic technology attracts makeup to skin so it looks 100 percent natural.
To use it: First, apply all your powder-based makeup, such as blush and eye shadow. Then press the button to release a mist that creates an ultra-fine matrix over your skin. The formula is magnetically charged to be attracted to the moisture in your skin, so it won't adhere to powder, hair, or clothing.

Best for Your Gym Bag!

Have limited space? Stash Model Co. FluidSplash, $42, The light, oil-free foundation contains a perfect-match concealer in its cap, so it's all you need to leave the gym with you-only-better glowing skin.

This Stuff Is Magic!

Fix any skin issue with these easy solutions.

Fix It! Redness

Smooth on a cream-to-powder compact foundation, such as Prescriptives AnyWear Multi-Finish Powder Foundation SPF 12, $32.50, Micronized pigment spheres form a veil over skin, lightly diffusing redness and spider veins.

Fix It! Dry Patches

Infuse moisture with a rich cream formula like L'Oreal Paris Age Skin-Support Perfect Makeup SPF 12, $16.59, Intensely hydrating ingredients, including water, keep skin dewy, plus collagen and peptides will help plump up deeper layers.

Fix It! Fine Lines

Light-diffusing ingredients, like the ultra-fine pearls in Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Cream Foundation, $9,, help create the illusion of a smoother surface.

Fix It! Visible Pores

Apply a product that contains a mix of oil-absorbing powders plus pigment, such as Shiseido The Makeup Dual Balancing Foundation SPF 17, $35, The combination minimizes shine in oily areas, so skin takes on a finer texture.

Fix It! Dark Spots

Brush on a mineral-powder foundation like Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Foundation, $12.25, Titanium dioxide covers freckles and evens out undereye circles without looking opaque or masky. Plus, it naturally blocks the sun's rays to prevent new hyperpigmentation from forming.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, December 2006.