Unmasking foundation

Unless you are a diva celebrity with an entourage of make-up artists, you probably fall victim to the odd beauty blunder. Many women make common mistakes when it comes to applying their foundation.

Choosing the wrong foundation is probably the most common mistake. Not only do you have to colour match in artificial lighting, but you have a whole range of types to pick from – oil-free, luminous, powder finish, smudge-proof, water-proof… the list is as long as your arm.

Average, fair skin tends to have a combination of skin tones, with a little pink in the cheeks and yellow undertones throughout the rest of the face and neck. But colours can vary from red, orange, yellow, olive, purple, blue, brown and reddish-brown depending on your race. Try looking at the underside of your arm to establish your dominant skin tone and match your foundation accordingly.

Many foundations tend to be pink-based, despite the dominance of yellow undertones. If you are a combination of pink and yellow or have Asian or olive skin, opt for yellow-based foundation as these neutralise any pink or red undertones, giving a more flawless look.

Always colour-match to your real shade and not the colour you would like to be. Do this by applying a tester on your neck and along your jaw line, preferably in daylight.

Types of foundation

You should use the sheerest formulation possible for a truly natural finish.


these are the most versatile types of foundation, suitable for almost all skin types. Liquid foundations usually offer sheer coverage and provide a natural look. They blend easily and are easy to apply. They are available in water-based – good for oil-prone and combination skin – and oil-based formulas, which are suitable for dryer skin.


a cream-based foundation goes on smooth but dries quickly, so blending can be difficult. These are usually selected when heavier coverage is needed. Creams usually provide more intense moisturising properties, making them ideal for normal and dry skin. Because of the heavier coverage, you are more likely to end up with a mask effect.


these are best for oily and normal skin types. Compact foundations deliver a speedy, sheer matte coverage when applied with a dry sponge and a heavier matte coverage when applied with a wet sponge. These are a useful quick fix, but results for poorer quality products can have a caked effect, especially around the eyes or fine lines.

Liquid to powder:

a great choice for women on the go. However, they can sometimes be difficult to blend because they quickly change from a pliable liquid to a non-blending powder. Practice becomes perfect in this case.

The best method

If time is not of the essence, go for a liquid foundation to even out your entire complexion. Should you need more coverage, select a concealer in the same shade and apply over your sheer foundation. This way, you can pay special attention to any imperfections without hiding the rest of your skin under a blanket of cover. 

Set with a dusting of illuminating powder.Picture caption: Compact powders are great for oily and normal skin types.

Picture caption: Compact powders are great for oily and normal skin types.