If this is your biggest make-up challenge, you're not the only one! You have every right to feel apprehensive – the wrong texture can age the skin and the wrong colour reveals to the world how much foundation you’re wearing (not a good thing!)
Step 1: Start by considering your foundation texture
While these are ideal for pale, tanned and medium skin tones, offering the most natural-finish foundation looks, they're not great on ethnic skin because the darker the liquid, the greater the difference between its wet and dry appearance. On very dark skins, as the foundation settles and dries, it dulls and results in a greyish finish.
A very fluid liquid foundation offers a sheer finish, resulting in a very natural look, even invisible finish.
Creamier consistencies offer more cover, yet still result in a natural-skin look. A foundation mousse would also fall into this category.
If you have dry flakey skin or large pores, a liquid foundation would be your best option.
If you have oily skin, choose a formula that is described as 'matte' or 'oil free' and if your skin is dry, avoid products with these labels.
Liquids are generally less aging than crème textures.
Creme foundations build up on the skin quickly, so spread the amount you use on your sponge as far as possible to avoid an obvious mask in daylight.
In the evening light, the thick texture is less visible, so creme foundations are fantastic for everyone to use to achieve a smooth, flawless cover.
Creme foundations rub off easily when you touch your skin, or even hold a phone against your face, so be sure to set the foundation by dusting loose face powder over the face.
These textures can feel heavy on the skin, so if you hate the feeling, but need the extra coverage, rather apply a liquid formula, and then apply a powder foundation over that for additional cover.
These are generally packaged in a compact or stick. The creme texture offers more coverage over red areas, darkly pigmented areas and blemished skin. These textures are also ideal for ethnic skin, as the foundation shade doesn’t lose its rich intensity, turning dull or grey when it dries.
They are ideal for quick, easy applications on even skin tones and are better suited to younger and oily-to-normal skin types.
They are the least messy (unless of course you drop them) which makes them ideal hand-bag items for touch-ups.
These textures are light-weight, so they're really comfortable to wear.
This is a foundation and powder in one! They look exactly like compact powders which merely blot away shine, but powder foundations are generally designed to offer soft coverage, as well as matte the face.
Step 2: Find your foundation shade
Now that you have narrowed down your options by selecting a foundation texture, you're left with less products from which you'll be choosing your shade... making this task far less daunting!
We still need to consider the following:
Unless you have the trained eye of a make-up artist, it's not easy to choose a foundation shade from a small test patch on the face.
Our skin colouring is not one shade throughout, but varies from nose to cheeks to chin to chest, so a single test patch may not be enough.
The lighting in some stores does not always allow for accurate tests.
The sales consultant, while enthusiastic about make-up, may be a beginner herself.
Now it's sounding overwhelming again, but don't despair, despite the fact that the rules are not in black and white, there's an easy way to test your shade, but it's going to require more time and effort, so plan accordingly:
Foundation, unlike other make-up products, cannot be purchased on a whim. Avoid peak shopping hours. The cosmetic counters are generally quieter around opening hours and at the start of the week, so you'll have more time with the consultant.
Wear a top that reveals your neck and chest area.
Ask the sales consultant to remove whatever foundation you're wearing and apply make-up to the whole face.
Once you're both satisfied that you've got an accurate shade, looking natural with the visible neck and chest area, wear the foundation for a few hours before you make your decision (you can always re-apply blush and lipstick to complete the look).
Within that time, arrange to meet a friend, preferably a man (don't laugh here... generally men hate visible foundation, so they are very in-tune with 'natural' beauty and will judge the foundation more critically). Ask for his honest opinion on how the foundation looks. If his response is something like, "You mean that make-up stuff you've smeared all over?" you know you need to continue with your foundation search. The best possible type of answer is, "Where is it?"
Remember that your face is an extension of your chest and neck, so if someone can notice a different colour on the face to the rest of your body, your make-up illusion is not believable! While the foundation shade need not be the exact colour of face or the neck or chest, but perhaps something in between, it must still appear to be your skin colour.
This is Joy Terri's first column in a series of 'how to' articles that will educate and empower you in choosing and applying make-up. Collect her columns every week for a complete make-up guide.
Visit Joy Terri's website, www.beyondartistry.co.za.