Expert tips on how to find your perfect foundation shade

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  • Finding the right shade match can be a nightmare because most women don't know their skin's undertone.
  • There are various formulas to consider, namely powder, liquid and cream.
  • Makeup experts say where you test your foundation is where many go wrong. 


With so many options available, how do you find the right shade for your skin, and to avoid that ghostly look?

Pro make-up artist Nthato Mashishi says, “Most women don’t know their skin’s undertone, which is the core of getting a perfect foundation. Consulting with a qualified make-up artist will make the process easier.’’

To help you get started, follow these steps:

It’s not just about finding the right colour – you also need to know what type of foundation your skin needs. First decide on the finish and texture you want because foundations come in different formulas – namely, powder, creamy and liquid:

Mineral powder is great for sensitive skin that’s prone to allergies as they have fewer ingredients. Pressed powders are ideal for oily skin.

Liquid foundations look good on most skin types but a water-based formula will work best if your skin is oily.

A creamy mousse with hydrating properties will give you a more natural finish and add moisture if your skin is dry.

Boitumelo Rametsi, founder and director of B Glam SA, says, “A foundation with a rich pigment load will enable you to apply less product, instead of laying it on thick.’’

READ MORE | Fans react to Rihanna's Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin coming to South Africa

Do a test

The most common mistake women make is choosing a foundation that’s either too light and makes them look pale, or one that’s too dark. Do a swatch match on your jawline, cheeks and nose, as these areas give a better indication of your skin’s undertone. Testing on the back of your wrist is a no-no – it tends to be lighter than your face. After application, go out into natural light. The right shade should disappear into your skin.

Prep your skin

Primers are not just an added extra that you should bypass. In fact, it creates a smooth and poreless finish. Give your primer 10-15 minutes to fully absorb into your skin before applying your foundation. This is to avoid creating a streaked canvas and creased look. “The best way to prepare your skin is by investing in it. Nourishing your skin will create a perfectly smooth canvas for foundation application,’’ Mashishi adds.

Apply it right

While using your fingers seems practical, you won’t be able to buff or blend the product properly. Instead of a smooth matte finish, you’ll end up with stripes and lines. Use a damp make-up sponge or a foundation brush to apply the base onto your face, which will make it last longer. Avoid slathering on layer after layer in an effort to create an even look – that will result in the make-up looking caked, and the colour may look lighter or darker than intended. Once you’ve applied the foundation, use a concealer to cover up any blemishes and marks.Finally, don’t only focus on your face as that can result in a mask-like effect. Make sure to blend it all the way down to your neck for an even finish.

Do it like the pros

Mihlali Ndamase – Beauty content creator:

“Before applying foundation, prep your skin with a hydrating serum or moisturiser that reduces the appearance of pores – you’ll get the smoothest finish.”

Nomsa Madida – Make-up artist:

“The best way to test foundation is to try it on your face, preferably on the cheek area. Many people test it on their hand, which is a mistake as the tones are different.”

Nthato Mashishi – Celebrity make-up artist:

“Always test at least three similar foundations on your jawline. The one that vanishes is the perfect shade.”

Beauty Ed's Tip

To ensure that your coverage is well blended, smooth and stays put throughout the day, add a primer, setting spray and foundation brush to your make-up kit. Adding a highlighter will give you that extra illumination that allows you to easily switch up your daytime look for a night out.

READ MORE | Celebrities share their skincare secrets for glowing skin

Products you can try

Sorbet bare-faced liquid foundation - R240.00

foundation, make up, 2022
Sorbet bare-faced liquid foundation.

Estée lauder double wear - R785.00

foundation, make up, 2022
Estée lauder double wear.

Black up no transfer concealer - R360.00

foundation, make up, 2022
Black up no transfer concealer.

Revlon photoready candid foundation - R159.99

foundation, make up, 2022
Revlon photo ready candid foundation.

Catrice True Skin Hydrating Foundation - R127.46

foundation, make up, 2022
Catrice True Skin Hydrating.

Clarins everlasting foundation+ - R605.00

foundation, make up, 2022
Clarins everlasting foundation.

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