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Foundation is, well, foundational to many women’s makeup routines. It provides a solid base layer to even out skin tone and imperfections while prepping your skin’s surface for additional products. 

But with so many foundation options on the market, how do you know which one is right for you? Here are the most important considerations to keep in mind when shopping for this makeup staple.

Foundation vs. Concealer

Foundation and concealer are both popular beauty items, but do you know the difference? As the name implies, foundation is meant to be a solid base layer for your makeup; it smooths the colour and texture of your skin and creates an even, well-blended area for you to apply additional makeup. While foundation will cover and mask some skin spots and imperfections, it’s not meant for concentrated treatment in one area. Concealer, on the other hand, is for spot-treatment in areas with dark spots, circles, redness, etc. Your concealer will often be a shade noticeably different than your skin tone to balance out the imperfections. Usually, you’ll apply concealer after applying your foundation. Having both a concealer and a foundation is a good idea for most basic makeup applications.

Liquid vs. Powder

On your quest for the perfect foundation, you’ll find that you have options that include liquids, creams, and powders—how do you choose? Ultimately, the correct foundation format is up to personal preference and will differ depending on the rest of your makeup routine and your skin’s needs. Liquids and creams are popular options for those with dry skin since they can provide moisturizing benefits. However, liquids are harder to blend well, so make sure to use a high-quality makeup sponge for application. In contrast, powders offer easy application to those who want a quick morning routine or are just getting started with makeup. Powders can also help oily skin appear less shiny, but they tend to settle into fine lines and wrinkles (so avoid if you have more mature skin). 

Finish Options

Along with choosing your foundation format, there are several foundation finishes that you’ll see when shopping: sheer, dewy, radiant/luminous, and matte. Sheer finishes generally provide the least coverage, while matte options tend to be heaviest. Use a sheer finish if your skin needs a bit of a boost to look even and prepped. Often, a tinted moisturizer can be a great sheer finish foundation. A dewy or radiant/luminous look foundation will leave your skin a bit glossy and glowing and is easy to find with liquid applications. (There are also luminous powders available that use some sparkle and shine in the foundation to achieve that glow!) If you want to eliminate all shine and create an even, neutral canvas for the rest of your makeup, try a matte look; powder is your best option for an effortless matte finish.

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An important consideration when choosing a foundation is whether it includes SPF. Having sun protection every day (even if it’s not summer!) is one of the best ways to keep your skin healthy and youthful, so make sure to incorporate an SPF into your routine, either by using a separate sunscreen formulated for your face or by choosing a foundation that includes at least SPF 15.

Colour Matching

When it comes to selecting a foundation, the above options are simple when compared to choosing the right colour, especially if you shop online! With more shades than ever on the market, however, you should be able to find something perfect for your skin in every season—that’s right, you’ll likely need different foundations for summer and winter. Many brands have colour match guides online that you can use to determine your best fit, but a general knowledge of your skin’s colour qualities will make the process easier. First, think about where your skin falls on a fair to deep spectrum. Then, think about whether your skin’s undertones are warm, cool, or neutral. (Pro tip: Think about what colours look best on you for a good indication of your undertones.) You’re ultimately looking for a foundation that is almost invisible on your skin, so don’t be afraid to try several options to find the right fit. If you’re shopping in person, try a swatch on your inner forearm to compare colours!


While many women choose to incorporate foundation into their beauty routines, there are good reasons to leave it out based on personal preference. For some, a heavy foundation can clog pores and feel too bulky. For others, their skin and/or makeup routine doesn’t require a smooth base layer to achieve the desired look. In this case, a moisturizer might do the trick instead.

Ultimately, foundation is an excellent tool for your makeup toolbox, but the type and frequency of use are entirely up to you!

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