Back To Basics: Choosing The Right Foundation

24 January 2014

If I had a dollar for the amount of times people ask me "Basmah, what foundation should I buy?", then I'll be rich. The truth is ladies, choosing the right foundation isn't as easy as 1,2,3, there are a lot of things you must consider before you go out and buy your holy grail. That is why, today we're going back to the basics, and I'm going to be talking about how you can choose the right foundation for you.


The first thing you should know is, whatever works for Suzi, won't necessarily mean it will work for Sally, get my drift? What I'm trying to tell you is, just because a certain product works incredibly on someone else, doesn't mean you will get the same results. Finding the right foundation is as hard as finding the perfect pair of jeans, it has to suit YOU.

What are undertones I hear you ask? Undertones is the colour underneath your skin. Knowing your undertones is crucial to finding the right anything really, whether it be makeup, clothes, jewellery etc. You can have the same skin colour as your best friend, but she may have cool undertones and you may have warm. Ever buy a foundation that looks damn close to your skin colour, but when applied it ends up looking ashy and grey? That's because you bought a foundation that has cool undertones and you most likely have warm undertones.

To determine your undertones flip your wrist over and look at your veins (in good lighting if possible), and follow the guide.



If they appear to be green then you have warm undertones, which means that your skin is mostly on the golden/yellow side. It also means that out of gold or silver jewellery, gold generally looks more flattering against your gorgeous complexion. Celebrities that have warm undertones include, Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Rowland, Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba and so many more! As you can see above, all these beautiful women have different skin colours yet they all have a beautiful bronzey/golden undertone to them. When looking for a foundation, make sure it has a yellow base instead a pink, as they will make you look grey and ashy.

If your veins appear to be blue or purple then it means you have cool undertones and your skin tends to look pink or red. Cool is the opposite of warm, so if gold looks good on warm complexions then silver looks fabulous on cool. It is an absolute myth that only porclein or pale skin can have cool undertones. Stunning women of colour, e.g. Alek Wek, can also have cool undertones. Celebrities that have cool undertones include, Amanda Seyfriend, Lucy Lieu, Alek Wek, Cate Blanchett, Emma Stone and the list goes on! Even though women with warm skin should buy a warm foundation, it isn't necessarily the case with cool toned ladies. If you're cool toned, try and get a neutral toned foundation as this will counteract the redness in your face and help even out your skin tone, but make sure you don't go too yellow!


If your veins seem to be both green and blue, then you're the luckiest of them all! You have neutral undertones, you can rock anything from golds to silvers because your undertone is a mixture of both cool and warm! Your skin doesn't have too much yellow and it doesn't have too much pink either. Celebrities that have neutral undertones include, Coco Rocha, Selena Gomez, Chanel Iman, Rosario Dawson, Kate Middleton etc.

So you now know your undertone, but you still have no idea what foundation you need to use, but be patient because we have another step to get through. Your skin type. Remember how I said, what works for someone may not work for you? This is where it comes into play. Determine your skin type, if you don't know your skin type then you can go to any salon and they can usually tell you with a skin diagnosis, but we'll cover the basics here:


Combination Skin: If you have large pores on your forehead, nose, and chin, (otherwise known as the T-zone) and they're the places you tend to get oily, but the rest of your face is either usually dry or not oily at all. (Note: Combination skin can be split into two categories, combination/oily and combination/dry).

If you're on the oilier side of combination skin, always look for formulas that state they're long lasting and oil free, as they will usually mattify the skin and keep the oil at bay. If you're on the drier side, then look for a moussy texture, such as the Revlon ColorStay Whipped Creme Foundation. Foundations like these will work wonderfully to disguise those dry patches along the sides of your nose and forehead.

Oily Skin: You have large pores all over your face, you tend to break out a lot and you're an oil slick by the end of the day if you don't blot or wash your face (sounds bad, but you're going to age slower than the rest of the skin types!).

Make sure you stay away from anything that has a dewy finish, as they tend to accentuate the pores and will make sure you look like the contents of your fry pan by the end of the day. As said before, matte formulas tend to work better on oily skin, but by saying that, never limit yourself to one finish. Satin finishes also look great and can work as long as you set it with a powder, and who said you have to use a liquid foundation? The great thing about oily skinned girls is that you can get away with using powders, and they may work better than liquid!


Dry Skin: Your face feels tight if you don't moisturise straight after washing your face, and your skin becomes extremely flaky. You have practically no pores visible and your skin produces very little oil.

One word. Cream foundations. Think about it, you have dry skin so you need extra moisture and a formula that won't bring out those pesky dry flakes, cream foundations work beautifully for that purpose! My favourite is the Shiseido Lifting Foundation. If cream foundations aren't for you, and you tend to lean more towards the liquid variety, then look for something that is hydrating and has a dewy finish. Dryer skins tend to look very dull so something that makes you look like you're lit from within is definitely something that you should try! Never buy a foundation that has the word "oil-free" as it is precisely what it says. Oil free. Remember, if you end up buying a matte foundation, it will bring out the texture in your skin and make it more visible.

Normal Skin: The luckiest of them all! Your skin is neither overly oily nor overly dry. You can try any foundation you like!

Always remember that this is just a guide and not something set in stone. There are SO many more things to consider when buying a foundation, heck, you may not even want a foundation, you may want a BB cream, or a CC cream, and I heard there was an EE cream now? (wth?).

Write a list of what you want in a foundation, e.g. coverage, formula, finish etc, & don't worry if you don't find the perfect foundation the first time, I'm a makeup fanatic and I still haven't found my holy grail foundation. Oh, and NEVER buy a shade lighter or darker than your skin. Please. No one wants to see a terrible foundation line on your jaw, go for the closest match to your skin as that is what would look best. Draw a stripe of foundation down your jawline and whatever blends seamlessly is the foundation for you! You can always ask for samples if you're buying a high end foundation, because who wants to waste money on something that isn't right for them? No one.

One last thing, try and have two foundations. One that matches your skin tone in the summer, and one for the winter, as skin colours change during this time. Also, you can always mix colours to make your perfect match!

I hope I helped you, if you have any further questions feel free to tweet me @BasmahQazi, and I'll love to answer your questions! If I have left out anything that you know the answer too, then leave a comment down below!

Leave a Comment

  1. Oh my word Basmah, what an utterly awesome article! I love everything about it - the layout, the information, and the suggestions. Congratulations my dear, this is truly a blogging labour of love and you should be very proud of this top class effort :-) I have combo skin, and was delighted to see my Revlon ColorStay Whipped Creme Foundation in that section. I haven't tried the Lancome Teint Idole Ultra, but can thoroughly recommend the Teint Visionnaire for disguising enlarged pores. I'm also a "warm" skin tone, and totally agree that pinky foundations make me look ill - I wore the wrong shade for almost 30 years! ♥ ♥ ♥

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    1. Thank you SO much for the kind words Kat! Feels like the hard work paid off once I receive lovely comments like these! It's one of my favourite foundations! Works so well for all skin types and has a lovely finish as well! x

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  2. Fantastic post Basmah! Foundation would have to be the hardest thing to buy. I'm pretty lucky really, cos I've got normal-dry neutral toned skin, but I'm yet to find my HG foundation.

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    1. Thank you Rose! It really is isn't it? I have a foundation graveyard, so many foundations I've bought in the past that just haven't worked out!

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  3. Basmah, thank you for sharing this invaluable information, hun!

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  4. Great post! You made it so simple, I've always been confused about how to figure out my undertones! Now I know! :)

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    1. Thank you Melanie! I'm so glad it helped!

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  5. Woah, you can really see the effort you put into this! Brilliant and really informative, very well done: it's better than I could have done! :)

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  6. Such a great article, well thought out and helpful! Stella - Electrik Flowers

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