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Even for those amongst us that are bona fide, card-carrying beauty addicts, choosing the perfect foundation colour can be a tricky business. For beauty novices, it can spell outright disaster. Nothing is worse than handing over your credit card, visions of your new, lovelier skin filling your imagination, only to arrive home and slowly realise that your hard earned cash has been spent on a shade that makes you look more Coco the Clown than Coco Chanel.
When choosing foundation, however, a little knowledge makes a lot of difference. These five tips should set you on the right track:
1. Preparation is key
Ok, so it might sound counterintuitive, but bear with me here. Before you do anything else when choosing a foundation, you need to take all of your make up off. The key to a good foundation choice is matching the colour to your actual skin, not to your existing make up. Blusher, eye shadow and luminous primer will all make you look more polished, but they’ll also trick the eye into not seeing what is actually there. You need to see what your skin looks like without any make up, in order to choose the make up that is truly right for your skin.
2. Evaluate your skin
Once your face is newborn baby-naked, stand in front of a mirror in natural daylight and look at your natural skin colour. (Go on, it’s not that bad!) The important thing to remember here is that skin on the face can be a different colour to skin elsewhere. Foundation needs to match the face, but it can’t be too different to the colour of the neck either, or your face and neck won’t blend. Ever seen those women whose foundation colour is fifteen shades darker than their neck? You don’t want to look like that, trust me! Ignore red patches, spots and other areas that you want to correct and focus on the underlying tone of the areas that you want to match. Foundations generally fall into pink, neutral and yellow-based tones; try and work out which of these you might be.
3. Go Shopping
Once you’ve worked out the basic tone of your skin the fun really begins- it’s time to go shopping! The least make up you can wear when shopping for foundation, the better. If you really can’t face leaving the house without something on your skin, (and I hear you, I can barely leave my bed without makeup) focus your makeup on the centre of your face around the nose and chin and blend out to leave your cheeks as bare as possible so you can use them to try out foundation.
Have a look at the various options on sale and try a few against your skin. A good place to try foundation is the area of your cheek just in front of your ear, as this tends not to have too much uneven pigmentation. Narrow your choice down to two or three options and do small, blended stripes of them on your cheek and down onto your neck. The one that disappears into your skin is your new best friend.
4. Ask for a sample.
Standing at the beauty counter with your heart racing and your credit card burning a slow, smouldering hole in your pocket, it can be difficult to walk away and wait before making your purchase. However, you haven’t come this far to end up looking like Morticia Adams. Beauty Hall lighting is flatteringly deceptive, and some foundation formulas can change colour once on the skin, either of which could leave you with an empty bank account and an orange tidemark on your jawline.
Always, where possible, ask for a sample and take it home. Once there, apply it over your whole face, do your make up as usual and then check it in natural daylight, at your office desk, at your boyfriend’s flat… everywhere! If you aren’t happy with your first choice go back and get another, different sample, repeating this step until you get it exactly right.
5. Ask the opinion of friends
Choosing foundation is a little like choosing a husband. With any luck there will be a Eureka moment, and you will just know that this is the one. Most people still have lingering doubts though, so ask trusted friends (the ones that won’t be afraid to tell you if you look like an Oompa Loompa) whether they think that this is the shade for you. Only once you are completely certain that you have found the perfect match should you hand over your credit card and start showing off your new, more perfect looking skin.
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