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How to shop for drugstore foundation, according to top makeup artists

Forget everything you think you know about foundation — especially that you have to spend a bundle to get great coverage.

Drugstore brands have really stepped their game up when it comes to foundation, but we have to admit that digging through the aisle to find your perfect color match hasn’t gotten any easier.

TODAY Style spoke to three celebrity makeup artists to help take the frustration out of foundation shopping. Read on for six key tips to keep in mind.

Tip No. 1: Do your research beforehand.

The internet (and specifically YouTube) can be a lifesaver if you’re looking to try something new. Consider beauty bloggers and editors your new best friends.

“I always spend multiple hours watching videos of reviews of all the newest products,” says makeup artist Lucky Smyler, who works with Viola Davis, Sunny Anderson and Tia Mowry.

“After you narrow it down to a brand and formula, try it on and wear it for the day. if you're not happy, exchange the unused portion for something different.” Word to the wise — keep your receipt handy!

Editor’s pick: L'Oréal Paris Visible Lift Serum Absolute Advanced Foundation, $11, Target

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Tip No. 2: Match the color to your chest, not your face.

When it comes to testing out color, you may be relying on your jawline. But if you want to look like you were born with flawless skin, set your sights a bit lower.

“I always match foundation to the upper chest,” says celebrity makeup artist Kristofer Buckle, who works with Mariah Carey, Blake Lively and Kelly Ripa.

“Our faces are paler than our bodies because of sun protection that is already included in many products. Our necks are paler because it is shaded by our jaw,” Buckle explains.

Worried about the shade not matching all over? “Once you find your color match, you can create a seamless complexion by applying foundation and blending it down the neck,” he says.

Editor’s pick: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint, $15, Ulta

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Tip No. 3: Learn your undertones.

Unfortunately, figuring out your skin undertones isn’t as simple as learning the color wheel.

“Most people don't have a trained eye to easily identify their undertones,” says makeup artist Nick Barose, who works with Lupita Nyong'o, Tracee Ellis Ross andGugu Mbatha-Raw. The trick, Barose explains, is finding the right lighting.

"Try to apply in natural daylight whenever possible — it doesn't lie,” Barose says.

Editor’s pick: CoverGirl Queen Collection All Day Flawless Foundation, $12, Walgreens

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Tip No. 4: Find your favorite texture.

Liquid, powder or cream? There’s a lot of ground to cover.

“Listen, picking a foundation is very personal,” says Smyler. “What looks great on one person, may do the opposite for the next. Preferences and body chemistry are very unique; you must try things on to see what you prefer.”

He personally prefers using cream foundations because they are versatile, easily buildable and can work as a concealer in a pinch.

“I find that most cream foundations need to be set with powder for durability reasons,” Smyler adds. “I also love a matte finish because they tend to last on the skin longer, have more coverage, and require less maintenance throughout the day.”

Editor’s pick: Revlon ColorStay 2-In-1 Compact Makeup and Concealer, $13, Target

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Tip No. 5: Cover your bases (for a natural finish).

If you want to fake flawless skin, try it out on your ears first.

“Apply a little makeup to your exposed ears and on the back of your neck — if you can't see where it ends, the eye tends to believe it's all real,” Buckle shares.

Putting in a little prep work goes a long way as well. “(Your skin) quality is so important to faking a natural look — even if you prefer a full-coverage foundation. Make sure your skin isn't dry and is well exfoliated so that makeup isn't laying on top of unnecessary texture,” Buckle says.

Editor’s pick: Maybelline Dream Cushion Fresh Face Liquid Foundation, $16, Ulta

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Tip No. 6: BB vs. CC vs. foundation — it’s your pick!

With all the new formulas on the market, it’s tough to find the right one that works for you. “I look at them all the same way,” admits Barose.

“Skin perfectors like BB and CC creams have added benefits, so if you can find one that covers your skin and adds whatever you need, then go with that! Tinted moisturizers are sheerer and more natural than foundation, but offer less coverage," says Barose.

Editor’s pick: e.l.f. Cosmetics Acne Fighting Foundation, $6, Walmart

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