How to Find the Right Foundation

The right foundation—or tinted moisturizer, tinted oil, bb cream, cc cream, whatever you like to call it—for you is the one with the least amount of coverage you can stand. Coverage obscures your real, living, breathing skin, which, to the other humans, is incredibly attractive. But my breakouts! My undereye circles! All the red splotches! you may be tempted to object. Here’s the trick: Anything you want to actually conceal needs actual concealer. Foundation is for subtle smoothing, skin-tone evening, and complexion-warming—and that’s it.

A good one with clean, mineral SPF makes a fantastic daily sunscreen, though more day-at-the-office than day-at-the ocean. Beyond their potential for toxicity, chemical sunscreen ingredients degrade in sunlight and so need to be applied every two hours in order to remain effective—and contain some of the most irritating ingredients in the beauty industry.

To find the perfect texture, look for a formula that appears to melt instantly into your skin (the most flattering shade for your skin should do the same). Since the skin on the back of your hand is a little rougher than the skin on your face, it’s an excellent place to test out texture: If you really notice the formula sitting on skin, or conversely, notice it does nothing at all to smooth or even out the skin there, you haven’t found your perfect match.

Once you’ve zeroed in on a texture you like, your jawline is the best place to test shades: The perfect shade should blend seamlessly with little effort and—importantly—shouldn’t contrast with the skin on your neck.

SHEEREST POSSIBLE COVERAGE FOUNDATION

FOUNDATION FOR A NATURAL LOOK

FOUNDATION FOR MORE COVERAGE (BUT STILL FRESH-FACED)