Best foundation 2021: 20 formulas for perfect coverage and every skin type

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  • Because all good makeup looks start with a great base

    Finding the best foundation is the first step to really perfecting your make-up routine.

    Applying it should be a pleasure and wearing it should be a joy. It should enhance the way your skin looks and feels. And it should conceal the bits you want hidden, smooth out any imperfections and create the perfect canvas for the rest of your look.

    How to find your best match

    There are so many things to consider when looking for your foundation. The finish – do you want one that’s glowy or matte? What about coverage – do you prefer a full-coverage formula or something a little more sheer?

    And that’s before we’ve even got on to your skin type. The best foundation for dry skin is nourishing and dewy, whilst targeted non-comedogenic formulas make the best foundation for oily skin. And if you’re slightly greasy on the t-zone, but dry on your cheeks, you’ll want the best foundation for combination skin. If skin pigmentation is your biggest worry, a buildable full coverage foundation is essential.

    We also recommend looking beyond just one foundation. Our skin changes throughout the year, as do our personal priorities. So consider buying two foundations to keep in your kit. A lighter, richer formula would probably suit you better in winter. And come summer, when it’s warmer and your skin tone has got a little deeper, opt for a darker shade with a more lightweight texture.

    The best thing to do when buying a new foundation is to pop into store and test the shades out, but in a growing digital age there are now smart, techy ways for you to buy your base online.

    1. Findation.com

    Findation.com is a website that compares hundreds of different shades from all of your favourite brands to help you find the best colour for you. For example, if you know your which shade you use in Estée Lauder Double-Wear and Nars Sheer Glow Foundation, then it will recommend which shade of Bareminerals Original Foundation you should go for.

    2. Il Makiage

    The Il Makiage Power Match foundation quiz is remarkably accurate. It asks you 20 questions – everything from what jewellery you wear to what your skin worries are – and at the end it emails you their recommendation. Our Senior Beauty Editor, Katie Thomas, took the test and was amazed by how perfect the formulation and shade was.

    3. Dcypher

    The people behind Dcypher don’t think that any of the shades on the beauty shelves are good enough. They want to help you find your exact match. They’ve developed a technology that creates your perfect foundation formula – one that’s the ideal coverage, texture, finish and shade that matches your skin tone. Pop onto their website, take three pictures of your face, answer three questions about your personal preferences and they’ll come up with a code unique to you. They’ll send you a sample first to check they got everything right (if not you can make changes) and once happy, you can order your foundation.

    Should you apply foundation or concealer first?

    It’s the great, age-old beauty debate – to pre-conceal, or not to pre-conceal. While there’s no right answer and it’s all down to personal preference, many make-up artists advocate for applying concealer after foundation.

    Why? Because once you’ve given yourself a gorgeous base, it’s much easier to determine which areas need the additional coverage of your best concealer, and how much product you need to use on said areas.

    It’s also possible that by applying foundation over concealer, you’re wiping off lots of the good work you’ve just done, not to mention wasting product. Plus, your foundation should be doing most of the hard work for you anyway – so think of concealer as an added flourish.

    How to make your foundation last

    For foundation that lasts all day, we recommend using the best primer before your base. Alternatively, there are some really brilliant make-up setting sprays out there that you would use as your very last step that help with longevity.

    However, if we can offer one piece of advice it’s that the key to really good make-up lies in a brilliant skincare routine. If you want your foundation to look its best and last as long as possible, then applying it to a well hydrated, healthy and smooth complexion is the way to do it.

    Ensuring that you are exfoliating and getting rid of the build up of dead skin cells will stop foundation gathering into flaky patches. Using the right serums and toners for your skin type will ensure that your skin is in the best possible condition, and foundation will glide on perfectly and stay there.

    Foundation and SPF

    Just because your foundation says it contains SPF, that doesn’t mean you should be skipping your best facial sunscreen step. The amount in the foundation formula isn’t enough and we definitely don’t apply enough foundation to provide the adequate protection.

    Plus, SPF only protects from UVB rays and not UVA. Just to recap UVB rays burn the skin and UVA rays cause skin ageing and cancer.

    With all that in mind, let us help you find your perfect match.

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