Averting Disaster: Choosing the Right Foundation

By Miriam Nichterlein, Beauty Editor

Make-up trends may come and go, but flawless, glossy and youthful skin is always in.

It has been over a century since Max Factor first introduced foundation to women (aptly named ‘pan-cake’), after actresses were taken with the product which had been originally developed for film.

Foundation has come a long way since its ‘pan-cake’ origins, offering the choice of every shade and consistency you can think of.  Due to the overwhelming choices available across make-up counters, selecting the right foundation can be a daunting task.  To help work out which foundation is right for you, I answer three of your most commonly asked questions.

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1. Should I use stick or liquid?

Ideally, the answer is both. The key to being flawless rather than ‘caked’ is starting with a sheer fluid to even your overall skin-tone, and then only adding a heavier base where needed.

That said, if you have overly dry skin, use hydrating liquid formulas, as stick foundation may cause further dryness. For normal to oily skin, the right formulation of stick foundation is your best friend. My favourite is Bobbi Brown's Foundation Stick ($72).

2. Should I go for a semi-matte, matte or luminous finish?

Semi-matte works best on everyone and has a similar sheen to natural skin. If the packaging doesn’t specify its finish, assume it is semi-matte. For dry and mature skin, semi-matte and moisturizing formulas work best.

Matte foundations are great for very oily skin. They absorb oil throughout the day and are long-wearing. The gel base of the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even-Finish Foundation with SPF 15 ($78) creates an emollient texture and smoothness minus the oil!

Luminous finish foundations work well on most skin types and a great for those days when you feel and look a little lack-lustre. The light reflecting pigments in this formula diffuse the look of fine lines and wrinkles, giving you a youthful glow. Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation ($90) is the Rolls-Royce of luminous foundations and a make-up artist’s best friend.

3. What shade should I choose for my skin-tone?

This is the unanswerable question! You will find every brand has distinct  shade categories and, most of the time, they are separated into "yellow-based" and "pink-based" varieties, or "cool" and "warm". As a general rule, yellow-based foundation is far more natural and suits most skin tones.

I am all for bargain beauty finds, however the more established and expensive brands have their shade formulas fairly close to perfect. My favourites are Bobbi Brown, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Nars, Chantecaille, Becca, YSL and Tom Ford. These can be purchased from Mecca Cosmetica’s online store or the David Jones online store.

To ensure you have picked the right shade for your skin-tone:

  • Get the help of a friend or cosmetic consultant and try out a few shades.
  • Match the colour along your jaw line and ensure smooth blending from your jaw to your neck. You will find your face is most likely lighter than your neck. Always match your foundation to your neck.

  • Once applied, check the shade in a few different light sources, including natural daylight.

  • When you have the right shade, pause, take a deep breath and ask for a sample! Take it home and try it in the light of your own bathroom. Maybe even do a few selfies!

  • Be aware that your skin hydration and tone will change with the seasons. As the cooler months set in, you may need to use a lighter shade.