How to choose the best foundation PLUS all my favorites!

Foundation has come a LONG way since the days of cake-face and orange demarkation lines along the jaw. I think seeing the bad foundation application jobs in high school scared so many of us (myself included) away from using a liquid foundation for YEARS!

Thankfully, cosmetic technology has improved drastically, and now we can count on foundation to conceal, but not take over. You still get to look like YOU, but with a little foundational help. 🙂 I've tried so many foundations over the years and these are my tried and true, go-to's that I always have in my makeup drawer, plus expert tips on how to choose and apply them!

best foundation Giorgio Armani
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Giorgio Armani

How to choose the right foundation

Skin Type

First, let's talk about HOW to choose the perfect foundation for your skin. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing foundation is your skin type! Most people are either dry, oily, both or neither. What does this have to do with foundation? Depending on your skin type, foundations have certain ingredients that can help control oil, add moisture, etc!

As a rule of thumb, if your skin tends to be oily, choosing a matte foundation or one with fuller coverage usually works best. I would also suggest topping your foundation with a setting powder, like this one or this one! It will keep your makeup in place longer, as well as help absorb oils throughout the day.

If your skin is more dry like mine is, look for foundations that have words like “glowy” or “luminous” in the description. Lots of times these foundations will include ingredients like shea butter, natural oils, or hyaluronic acid which boost your skin's moisture content!

Color and Undertones

Warm, neutral, cool undertones, what does it all mean and HOW do I find out what my skin is?! IT Cosmetics' website gives a really informative tutorial on how to choose your foundation color, based on undertones! You can also head to Ulta's site and take their test on how to choose a foundation shade. Simply enter the brand shade you've been using and it'll suggest what shade to get in a new foundation!

Favorite Foundations

Giorgio Armani

This award winning Luminous Silk Foundation from Giorgio Armani has over 1,000 perfect reviews!! Glowing reviews and glowing skin? That's a win-win. It is on the pricier side, but if you're determined to find the very best foundation out there, this is a must. It's weightless and hydrating and makes your skin look totally flawless and natural! I wear the color “7.”

If you tend to be more oily, try its sister product Giorgio Armani Power Fabric Longwear High Cover Foundation! It gives the same look, but with a slightly matte finish to help combat oils throughout the day.

Giorgio Armani foundation
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Giorgio Armani
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Giorgio Armani
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Giorgio Armani

Estee Lauder

Estée Lauder's Double Wear matches my skin flawlessly (I wear Tawny)! I cannot even say enough good things about this foundation. It really does last 24 hours and gives you the BEST, prettiest coverage without looking thick or cakey at all. It's also AMAZING for my oily-skinned sisters out there because it's not only oil-free, but oil CONTROLLING!! Yes, please.

Estée Lauder's Double Wear Nude is Estée Lauder's lightweight version of their cult favorite foundation and it has received rave reviews for years and years. If you LOVE the idea of a 24 hour foundation, but want it to feel like you have NOTHING on, you have to try this! It's perfect for dryer skin because it's water-based and will keep your skin feeling soft and supple all day.

estee lauder double wear foundation
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Estee Lauder Double Wear
Estée Lauder's Double Wear Nude

IT Cosmetics CC Cream

IT Cosmetics CC cream is straight-up MAGIC. It's SEVEN products in one!! That means you can literally skip your moisturizer, primer, color corrector, anti-aging serum, dark spot concealer, full coverage foundation, AND SPF 50 because this bottle whips it all up into one easy little formula.

You guys this stuff is a CULT FAVE of soooo many beauty bloggers and beauty professionals. IN FACT, when I was at QVC a while ago, their professional makeup artist used this exact stuff on me. She picked it over the bottles and bottles of every brand of full coverage foundation I know and love (and some I haven't even tried) and when she pulled it out to use it on me, I was like “oohh I love that stuff,” and she goes “I KNOW isn't it the best?!” Plus it's so easy to color-match! I wear Medium Tan.

And guess what?? Not only is there an original IT Cosmetics CC Cream, but it also comes in Illumination and Oil-Free Matte formulas as well! There's literally something for everyone and each foundation is just as good as the last.

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Cover up sold out, similar
IT Cosmetics CC Cream

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye foundation

I didn't think I would ever find anything to replace my holy grail CC Cream I just mentioned, but I'm in LOVE with this foundation. There are days (weeks even!) when I just want or need more coverage! This full coverage foundation gives a flawless, airbrushed finish. After applying, allow a few minutes for the product to oxidize into your skin to really see the true benefits and final look!

I wore this foundation all day, in the humidity, during a long photoshoot and no joke it was still perfect afterwards! So if you're like me and LOVE the CC Cream but crave a little extra coverage sometimes, the Bye Bye Foundation might just be your dream come true. And, in true IT Cosmetics fashion, it also comes in an oil-free, matte version as well! I'm wearing the color Medium Tan in this pic, but when I have less of a tan I wear Medium!

bye bye foundation
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IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Foundation

The IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Foundation was my #1 choice to use for family pictures last year at the beach. I knew I would be sweating and running around, but afterwards my makeup was still perfectly intact! I use this foundation when I want a more full coverage look, or when I know I'm going to be out and about all day.

Corrine's Dress(sold out), similar here and here
Anabelle's Dress(sold out), similar

ILIA foundation

This ILIA foundation is chock-full of amazing ingredients like jojoba and aloe to soothe and calm redness and gives you such flawless finish while still looking like SKIN. If your top concern is beauty with CLEAN INGREDIENTS, this is the foundation for you. Period.

It is SO moisturizing and really acts as almost a skincare product as well as being a cosmetic foundation. It is also one of InStyle's 2019 BEST BEAUTY BUYS! So like, it's good enough to win awards, people!

The color matching on the True Skin Serum Foundation is so SPOT ON (I'm wearing Catalina SF7)! I love how lightweight it is, but that it still provides enough coverage. This one is definitely better for those with drier skin. It's reminiscent of a tinted moisturizer, but with BETTER coverage!

clean makeup ilia
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ILIA Foundation

L’Oreal Infalliable Fresh Wear

I've been using L'Oreal Foundation Infalliable Fresh Wear (shade 465) as a drugstore option for a while and it is truly BETTER than some of the department store foundations I've tried. It really does last ALL DAY and I LOVE that it has SPF 25. Enough protection, but not too much that I'll miss out on that summer glow! Bonus: this is inexpensive enough for me to rationalize having two bottles, one for when I'm tan and one for when I'm not.

L'Oreal also makes a killer oily-skin friendly version called Infalliable Pro-Matte! I know makeup artists who keep this in their kits because it's long-wearing, plus it's sweat, heat and humidity resistant! It has the prettiest soft matte finish and amazing coverage without being heavy.

Best foudnation - L'Oreal Foundation Infalliable Fresh Wear
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L’Oreal Foundation
L'Oreal Pro-Matte
Maxi Dress

How to apply

Depending on what tools you use to apply your foundation, you can achieve different looks with the same product. For example, if you want your foundation to be more full coverage, use a Kabuki or other densely packed, natural fiber or fluffy brush!

You can also use that same foundation with a synthetic brush (the ones that look almost like paint brushes!) to create a totally natural look! Brushes are the BEST way to get the most out of every product because they can change the usage, application and finished product.

My favorite ways to apply foundation are with a fluffy brush and a beauty blender! Especially when it comes to IT Cosmetics foundations, the ONLY way to apply it is using their brushes. Their Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection brush is my favorite way to apply both the CC Cream and the Bye Bye Foundation. I love the fluffier end to buff in the foundation and the smaller end to blend in around my nose or to use with concealer. When using a brush, start in the middle of your face and blend outwards.

it cosmetics cc cream
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Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection brush
IT Cosmetics CC Cream

You know that I looooove my beautyblender sponge. It's one of my MUST HAVE makeup products, often imitated, never duplicated! I rely on it for buffing out foundation, oftentimes just dabbing my foundation on different parts of my face and then stippling (a fancy word for the pressing and blending motion) the foundation all over. If you haven't tried one, you are missing out on airbrushed smooth perfection! 

Solid Foundation

I think choosing foundations can be a little daunting, especially with all the options and price points out there! I like to suggest going to a place where they will give samples and ask for a few different foundations to see what you love and what works best for you. Try buying a drugstore foundation in a different finish to have an option for a new look as well! What is YOUR favorite foundation?!

Corrine Stokoe

Corrine Stokoe is a blogger, podcaster and content creator behind the brand Mint Arrow. She and her husband Neil live in South Orange County with their 3 little girls and baby boy, she runs her blog and business with 7 team members, where they find the best daily deals and share favorite finds in fashion and beauty. They also run a podcast called Mint Arrow Messages. Mint Arrow has been featured in Forbes, Women's Wear Daily, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, AdWeek and Allure. Corrine is passionate about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ as often as she can and teaching others to use social media for good.

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