5 Tips For Choosing Foundation

Trying to find the right shade of foundation can be a real nightmare, especially when you’re ridiculously pale like me. Before I went to beauty school I really struggled and didn’t really know where to start. As a young teenager wearing the wrong colour was a standard thing for me. Partly because cheap foundations were all I could afford and also shade wise the ranges were pretty limited. Luckily things are different now and foundation has come a long way. Back in the day a post like this would have really helped me, so that’s why I would like to share what I’ve learnt with you. Whether you’re looking to save or splurge the basic principles for finding the perfect foundation really do remain the same….


Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua: Available from Boots


Test Foundation on Your Jawline

Testing foundation on your jawline is an ideal place to start. I don’t advise putting it on the back of your hand or anywhere else on the body as the skin will most likely be a different shade. The best way is to put it on the areas that you’ll be wearing it, and if that’s all over your face then apply it there.

Use a Mirror

When out shopping for foundation make sure you take a mirror with you. It’s really important that you use it to assess the foundation on your face in natural daylight outside of the store. Most shops have fluorescent lighting which makes everything look much paler. Have you ever bought a foundation that looked spot on in the shop, but when you got home you looked more orange than an Umpa Lumpa? That’s why!

Ask for Advice

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s what the consultants in department stores are there for. Any shop assistant worth their salt will be testing lots of different foundation on your skin, and giving you the time to go outside and check it out of artificial light. Also beware of the consultants that are desperately trying to sell. If they’re not willing to give you the time you deserve, maybe you’re best off taking your business elsewhere.

Take a Sample Home

Most decent brands will give you a sample to take home and try yourself. Personally I think this is the best way to test foundation and make sure it’s the perfect shade. Companies such as Chanel and YSL are extremely generous with their samples, often giving out enough to last well over a week. This is why there’s a lot to be said for high-end brands, after all who wants to spend their hard earned cash on something that’s not quite right. Also, personally I like to test foundation over a few days in lots of different light. It’s always best to make sure the colour totally blends in with your skin. If it’s the correct shade you shouldn’t be able to see it. Also if pores look more visible, or it’s sitting in lines and wrinkles it’s definitely not the one for you. That’s why I love Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua, because it doesn’t do any of that. It’s not the cheapest foundation I’ve ever owned, but it’s probably the best.

Think Price Per Wear

That’s right, we really need to think of foundation in terms of price per wear, rather than the overall cost. Personally I like to splurge once, rather than waste loads of time and money trying out different shades and brands. When it comes to foundation it’s crucial that I get it right. Especially after all those years of getting it so badly wrong!

So there you have it, my top 5 tips for choosing foundation. I can honestly say you’ll probably never catch me making an impulse purchase with foundation again. Nowadays I always give a sample a trial run. There’s so much help out there too, with beauticians, makeup artists and consultants all ready to give advice – never again should we stress!

Do you have any tips for choosing foundation? Is it something you’ve found difficult too?

Carly x


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  • Great tips! This is so helpful, especially taking a sample home!

    Anika | anikamay.co.uk

  • These are such great tips, specially taking a mirror to check the foundation in natural light, the lights at stores can be very tricky


    • Yes I’m not a massive fan of the lighting in most stores when in comes to testing makeup! X

  • Really helpful tips – thanks for shring! 🙂 x

    ♡ itsjessiejane ♡

  • Taking a sample home is the best way to find if you’ll enjoy a foundation overall. Colour-matching is one thing but how it applies & wears is key too! Great post! xx


    • Ah yes I forgot about colour matching! I’ve never had it done. Sorry to hear that you are still feeling poorly. : ( xx

  • Stunning foundation and tips. Please check out my latest lookbook!

    Kisses xo | From Aliona With Love

    Instagram @alionawithlove:disqus

    Twitter @alionawithlove:disqus

  • Taking a sample home is such a good idea and I feel like most people don’t know about it! Sometimes a foundation will look perfect in-store, but then wears awfully during the day!

    COLLEENWELSCH.COM | An LA Lifestyle Blog

    • Yes I totally agree. I think it’s always worth asking if there are any samples available. Most high-end brands offer them for sure. When it comes to highstreet or drugstore brands they seem to be harder to come by! Or is it just me? xx

  • i’m so glad places offer samples–so helpful before taking the plunge!

  • Bernadette

    When buying high end foundations I definitely always take a sample home first. x


    • Me too! Imagine spending all that money to then find it didn’t suit! xx

  • I like to take into account what time of year it is 🙂 If I’m buying one in the middle of winter I’ll need one shade paler than in the middle of the summer! One shade doesn’t last the whole year round 🙂

  • Holly Sparkes

    I loved this post it was honestly so helpful, i’ll keep it in mind next time i go foundation shopping! It’d mean a lot if you could check out my blog and maybe follow me back- much love Holly xo


  • I don’t trust makeup ‘artists’ on counter anymore. I’ve had way too many experiences of being matched to a foundation that was too dark for me to trust anyone. I’ve been matched to an Urban Decay 4.5 by one artist & 3.5 by another, when I actually need 0.5! Luckily, I wanted to wear the foundation home both times to see how it felt & looked over the course of the day, so didn’t purchase either. Urban Decay aren’t the only brand I’ve had this experience with, but they’re the most dramatic in terms of how wrong the colour match was. It’s a shame, because I went to makeup artists on counter thinking that they would have more knowledge than me, but it turned out the opposite was true. Xx

    Tania | When Tania Talks

    • I’ve had the same experience myself, but because I’m a beautician I could see it was way too dark and steered them to a paler shade. These makeup artists have a really tough job as they are often working under fluorescent lights which makes everything look so much paler. In store you probably looked great, but the minute you step out into natural lighting it’s a different story. X

  • Carolyn Cheek- Massey

    I usually buy my foundation from Wal-Mart or Mary Kay. In the store you can’t try the shades so I try to get as close as I can to my skin tone. Mary Kay rep picked out one I thought would be ok but when I used it I looked like a Ghost. These are great tips.