Everything you need to know about foundation

Here are the basics of foundation.

Get Stuff We Love

Subscribe to our newsletter.
SUBSCRIBE
/ Source: TODAY
By Chrissy Callahan

A solid skin care routine is the key to achieving that glowing complexion we all crave, but foundation certainly comes in handy whenever you need to fake it.

This multitasking beauty basic can seamlessly create a polished, radiant look in a matter of minutes, but mastering the art of foundation is easier said than done.

Whether you need help finding the right foundation shade or are simply looking for a few application tips, you've come to the right place. To help us step up our complexion game, we asked TODAY style expert Bobbie Thomas to stop by the studio with makeup artist Danessa Myricks. These two makeup mavens are breaking down the ins and outs of foundation and sharing a few insider tips and tricks along the way.

Are two foundations better than one? Can you mix two different foundations together?

In an ideal world, we'd all find the perfect foundation shade to match our unique skin tone. In reality, finding your foundation soul mate is a little bit like searching for a needle in a haystack.

"The beauty hack that I would love to talk about is not just looking for one shade," Myricks said. "Because how many people do you know who are the exact same shade all over their face, who have the same skin concerns all over their face?"

The key to finding your perfect foundation match is searching for not one, but two shades that you can mix and match to your heart's content. And besides, a lot of us are actually already using two shades.

"If you think about it, most people will buy a foundation, and then they'll buy a concealer. And the concealer is never the exact match to the foundation. It's generally a few shades lighter. Which is the same thing as wearing two shades of [foundation]," Myricks said.

Applying one shade of foundation all over your face can make you appear a bit flat, but blending two shades together can give you a more natural look and allow you to pay a bit more attention to the individual areas of your face.

"It's really about getting away from the mask, and using your foundation, your complexion products, in a way that just enhances and brings attention to what's special," Myricks said.

Stuff We Love

Get a daily roundup of items that will make your life easier, healthier and more stylish.
TODAY

How to find the right foundation shade

Now that you know to look for two foundations, the question is: How do you find the right shades for your skin tone?

As you head to your local beauty aisle, keep this checklist of Thomas' and Myricks' tips handy:

  • Don't see a perfect match? That's actually ok! "You're really looking for something that bookends your skin. So a little darker and a little lighter," Thomas said.
  • It's all about blending! When you add a shade to your chest, it should disappear seamlessly into your skin.
  • Test your chest, cheek and jawline in the store to see if the shades blend in with the edges of your face.

Find your perfect undertone

Most of us are familiar with the term "skin tone," but the term "undertone" can cause a bit of confusion. Undertone is basically a fancy word for the colors beneath your skin's surface, and knowing which undertone category you fall into — warm, cool or neutral — can help you find your perfect foundation match.

How to determine your skin's undertone:

  • Look at your veins: If they're more on the blue side, you're cool. If they're more on the green side, you're warm. If they're purple and blue, you're a neutral.
  • The color test: Hold up something that's white and something that's ivory. "If you prefer yourself on the crisp white, you're typically cool. If you like the way your complexion looks against the ivory, you're typically warm," Thomas said.
  • Break out your jewelry: "If you like wearing gold jewelry and that seems to complement your complexion, you're warm. And if you like silver jewelry or platinum, typically you're cool. Because that harmonizes better," Thomas said.

Foundation application techniques

Once you've found your perfect foundation, the real fun begins! Playing around with application techniques and knowing just how much product to use can help you achieve a totally professional look at home:

  • Do what works best for you: "You can start with the lighter tone first and then do the outside, or you can do it reverse. It doesn't matter. Either way works," Myricks said.
  • Brighten things up: Have some darker spots around your mouth or other areas of your face? Apply your brighter foundation tone to balance things out.
  • Less is more: It's tempting to dump out a blob of foundation and rub it all over your face, but you only need a little bit. "You can dab in the areas [where] you need the darker shade, and just dab in the areas [where] you need the lighter shade," Thomas said.
  • Don't be afraid to use your fingers! You can work some foundation magic with a brush, sponge or your fingers. "For some people, just using their hands is just easier. It's that tool we were born with that always knows what to do. We don't give it enough love. I love using a hand. Look how bright and cheerful the inside of her face is now. I just love that," Myricks said.

How to customize your foundation

Whether you prefer a matte or glowing finish, there's a foundation formula out there for just about everyone. If you can't seem to commit to one formula over another, that's OK, too! Part of the fun about foundation is customizing your product to fit your mood.

Myricks prefers a hydrating formula that adds a touch of glow, but realizes that many formulas tend to run more on the matte side.

"If you like a matte face, it's great. But there are lots of ways that you can add radiance. And you can kinda dial it up or dial it down to what feels good for you. But even that little touch makes a huge difference," Myricks said.

Creating what Myricks calls a "beauty cocktail" and adding a bit of glow is easier than you might think:

  1. Take your two go-to shades and mix in a touch of highlighter or any brightening product.
  2. Using your fingers or a brush, add your custom blend to the inside areas of your face.
  3. Want to avoid extra shine in typically oily areas of your face? Add your custom foundation blend to the cheekbones, the bridge of the nose and the chin.