There are a lot of things to keep in mind when on the hunt for a foundation: Your skin tone and undertones, how much coverage you need, etc. There's one shopping "mistake" I just learned about that I wish I knew a lot earlier: I wasn't thinking about how my coloring is different throughout my face and neck. "We have different colors on our face," says celebrity makeup artist Andreea Ali, whose clients include Natalia Vodianova and Izabel Goulart. "The forehead would usually be darker, and the neck is usually lighter. So try to find a balance that works between forehead, chin, neck, and chest. Apply foundation in the center of the face and make sure you spread it on the jawline as well. The foundation should disappear somewhere between the jawline and neck so it does not have that mark we're all familiar with."
With that in mind, when you're searching for a new foundation, Ali has some tips for both online and in-store experiences. Online is a bit trickier than in-store, but you most likely only have that option right now. "It is really a guessing game when it comes to choosing the right shade," Ali says. "Usually, foundations are categorized by tone and undertone. Tone is fair, light, deep, rich, etc., and the undertone is the hidden color of your skin, which could be warm, warm olive, peach, yellow, red, etc. If you know which one is your tone and which one is your undertone, then you might actually win the game."
If you're able to shop in-store right now, you might not be able to test the products. Ali says that you can make it work by bringing a foundation with you that's already a perfect match. "Apply that on the back of your hand, and then go check out some new foundations, and see which one resembles the one you already have," she suggests.
While you're at it, opt for a hard-working formula, for instance, one that has anti-aging properties that can protect your skin. "It's multitasking at its best!" says board-certified dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD, FAAD. "You can protect your skin from sun damage, environmental stressors, and give it an extra boost of antioxidants, all while looking polished and ready for the day." And you can start using one as early as your mid- to late-20s, Henry adds, noting that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Anti-aging formulas are sometimes more expensive than their regular counterparts, so make sure you do research into which products have high-quality active ingredients. "An anti-aging foundation should include SPF for protection; hyaluronic acid or glycerin for moisturized and plump skin; antioxidants (like vitamins B, C, and E) to protect from free radicals and environmental stressors; and peptides, which boost collagen production," Henry explains. "You can also choose a foundation with retinol to reduce fine lines, and wrinkles or caffeine to reduce puffiness."
And last but not least, don't forget to consider your skin type. "If you have mature skin, your complexion will likely be drier, as we lose our ability to create and hold moisture with age," Henry says. "You'll want to choose a lightweight, creamy formula that locks in hydration (look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid) and won't settle into fine lines and creases. Stay away from heavy coverage and powdered/matte finishes." For oily skin, Henry recommends lightweight, mattifying formulas that control shine and even foundations with retinol to reduce oiliness.
Once you have the perfect foundation for you, there are a few application tips to keep in mind:
1. Use a Larger Mirror: "Apply your foundation in front of a window if possible, and make sure you can see yourself in a decent-size mirror, not just a powder mirror," Ali says. "You might miss some spots when using small mirrors."
2. Moisturize First: "Applying your foundation to dry, dehydrated skin won’t do you any favors," Henry explains. "Make sure to use your moisturizers and serums before applying foundation for beautiful coverage."
3. Use a Clean Brush: "There are really no rules when applying makeup other than making sure your brush is clean! If you get a synthetic brush, you can literally wash it and dry it with a towel every single day," Ali says.
4. Choose Your Brush Wisely: This will help you get the coverage you want. "Beautyblenders are literally packing the product on to your skin, so that is if you're looking for heavy-duty coverage," she explains. "Brushes will give you medium coverage, and fingers will give you the most natural coverage, and they're probably the most hygienic."
5. Pay Attention to Your Jawline: "Common mistakes people make are not blending the foundation on the jawline, and using the same brush for foundation, blush, and bronzer. That will never work," she adds.
"This foundation contains SPF 27, vitamin E, caffeine, and iris extract to nourish and protect. It is quite hydrating so it does not emphasize fine lines and wrinkles," Henry says.
This popular drugstore foundation is formulated with goji berry and collagen to improve firmness and elasticity. It also has SPF 18.
Both full-coverage and lightweight, Charlotte Tilbury's Magic Foundation has anti-aging benefits. It contains mushroom extract to tighten pores and moisturize; hyaluronic acid to retexture skin; and vitamin C for a glowy effect.
Formulated as a serum, this foundation contains both anti-aging ingredients and SPF 25 to protect your skin. It leaves a glowy, smooth, and even finish.
A good brush can make your makeup routine so much easier. This one is designed to give you an airbrushed look.
Henry recommends this one because it's formulated "with SPF 20 and retinol to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And at only $14, it's pretty affordable too!"
This is another foundation that acts as a serum too. It has ingredients such as neuropeptides to minimize the appearance of wrinkles; daisy flower extract to even skin tone; and bisabolol to brighten.
This foundation is unique because it has a lightweight gel consistency, so you won't experience any caked-on discomfort. It has nourishing ingredients like aloe, chamomile, arnica, rosemary, green tea, and rice bran.
This full-coverage foundation will protect against sun damage with broad-spectrum SPF 20. The formula locks in moisture and smoothes wrinkles.
Sun protection is key in this foundation. It's got SPF 50+. The full-coverage product is infused with good-for-skin ingredients such as hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid, niacin, peptides, and antioxidants to firm, smooth, and plump.
This is both a foundation and a wrinkle-reducing serum. The liquid formula leaves your skin firm, smooth, and radiant-all with a matte finish.
This anti-aging foundation is super hydrating thanks to vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. It will blur any blemishes and dark circles.
"If you are choosing an anti-aging foundation mostly for prevention, prioritize SPF since this is the most important ingredient for preventing skin damage," Henry says. This CC cream from Supergoop! is our pick because it also minimizes the look of pores, fine lines, and wrinkles.
One of the pricier options on the list, Sisley Paris's anti-aging foundation leaves skin glowing, firm, and plump. It has long-wear coverage for up to eight hours.
This handcrafted nylon brush is designed with precision in mind. It has a short handle that helps you get close to the skin.
s drugstore pick is a three-in-one: Moisturizer, primer, and serum. It's also formulated with SPF so your skin is protected against sun damage and premature aging.
The cushion foundation has amazing anti-aging ingredients and technology that minimizes pores, evens skin tone, restores skin, and protects against environmental damage. It's also got broad-spectrum SPF 25 to shield from UVA and UVB rays.
With a clean formula, this serum skin tint leaves light coverage and a dewy finish. It has ingredients such as squalane, zinc oxide, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide.
Another affordable option, this foundation targets the five signs of aging, leaving your skin smooth, firm, bright, and even. In a test, 68% of users saw a reduction in wrinkles.
Tarte's medium-coverage foundation is hypoallergenic and vegan. Marine plant extract reduces the appearance of fine line and wrinkles, while vitamin E and water work to moisturize and nourish.