Finding the perfect foundation can often feel like a total crapshoot. Many times, the shade you would have sworn matched perfectly when you tested it winds up being a total mismatch when you apply it post-purchase. The way to avoid that dreaded buyers remorse, according to celebrity makeup artist Katey Denno, is to put your product through the “two-spot test” before you buy.
First things first, you’ll want to find the right product. Most importantly, that means taking the formula into account. If you’ve got oily skin, go with something mattifying, like Mented Cosmetics Skin by Mented ($30), and for dry skin, choose something with hydrating ingredients, like Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Hydrating Longwear Foundation ($36).
Next, you’ll want to weigh the amount of coverage you want (sheer versus medium versus heavy), and your application style of choice (are you more of a “swipe on with a stick” kind of person, or a BeautyBlender gal?). Then, it’s time to put it to the test. “I always suggest folks find their perfect foundation, and then try one shade on either side of your face,” said Denno during a Facebook Live for Well+Good’s Fine Print Facebook group. For example, if you live in a place where you’re in a car, the left side of your face tends to get more exposure than the right side. Checking how a foundation works in multiple points on the face (or even just two) can ensure that you buy a shade that will blend imperceptibly all over.
Since your complexion tends to have multiple different needs from top to bottom, you’ll want to see how a foundation appears in various different spots to ensure that it will work all over. Denno likes to think of her face in “zones” instead of as a solid canvas, and apply accordingly to different areas. For example, you may need a deeper shade on your forehead than on your cheeks, or vice versa.
Sometimes, that may mean you’ll need to invest in more than one shades to get it right, though there are a few ways you can hack a single product to make it work all over. To lighten, mix your go-to foundation with some moisturizer. To make it a bit darker, mix in some bronzing drops, like Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops ($36). And, bonus? You can use this deeper version of the shade to add a little contour on your cheek bones and nose, or double it as a makeshift bronzer.
Another trick for being sure your foundation will truly matches your skin when you get home? Denno says to think about the products that are going on ahead of the foundation. So if you’re testing foundation, you’ll want to test it on top of whatever oil and sunscreen you’d be wearing when you actually wear that foundation, because those things can also have an effect on that color,” she says.
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