Choosing the right foundation is always a bit of a guessing game. But when you're picking out foundation at a drugstore, it's like playing a guessing game blindfolded. You can't sample the product like you can at a department store beauty counter. The color swatches aren't always accurate. And that harsh overhead lighting is not exactly flattering.
And sure, you can always return the product if it doesn’t work out, but who has the time to go running back and forth to the drugstore? Buying foundation shouldn't be an extracurricular activity. So we reached out to Sir John, L’Oréal Paris Celebrity Makeup Artist, who gave us some truly genius tips and tricks for taking the guesswork out of drugstore foundation.
#1. Hold the bottle up to your neck.
You might instinctively hold the bottle up to your hand to compare, but it won't give you the most accurate read. "Bring the bottle up to your neck to try to match the color to your skin, as close as possible," says Sir John. He also advises to seek out the area of the drugstore that has the best lighting and mirrors. "Sometimes this is not always the makeup aisle," he explains.
#2. Determine your undertones.
Sure you know your skin color, but do you know your undertones? "You can figure out your undertones by looking at the area in front of your face where your cheekbones are," says Sir John. "It's not your cheek and not your eyes — but, rather, right between those two areas." Another spot that reveals your undertones? "In the middle of your forehead, close to your eyebrows," says Sir John. "Depending on what color you see in either of these two areas — yellow, peach, green, flush pink, etc. — you can determine your undertone."
#3. Consider your skin type.
"A huge thing to consider when picking out foundation is your skin type, not just your skin tone," explains Sir John. "This will be a major deciding factor in choosing the foundation that suites you best. How the foundation dries — matte, luminous, etc. — will affect different skin types. If you are oily, lean toward a matte finish. If you have dry skin, lean toward a hydrating, luminescent formula."
#4. Err on the dark side.
If you're deciding between two foundation shades, Sir John advises to go for the one that is slightly darker. "The key word here is ‘slightly,’" he stresses. "Typically, liquid foundation will appear to be a little darker in the bottle, but when you pour out the formula and test it on your skin, the color lightens a bit."