September 07, 2019 3 min read

Shopping online can be a little iffy sometimes. It’s hard to know exactly what you are buying until you receive it in the mail! But it’s so easy, convenient and time-saving, so the benefits almost always outweigh the risks (as long as you’re shopping somewhere reputable, that is). When it comes to one of our makeup staples, how do you find a foundation online that is perfect for you without testing it first? To help us out, Seattle-based makeup artist Kat St. John dishes on how to buy foundation online, giving us her best tips for successful shopping.

1. Figure out your skin tone. 

The first step in picking a foundation is understanding your skin tone. This will help you pick a shade of foundation that is best suited for you. Start with figuring out if you are cool or warm toned. “To figure out if you are cool or warm toned, think about what neutral shades flatter you best,” says St. John. “If your skin, eyes and face look best in bright whites and stark black hues, you are cool toned. If you look better in ivory, off-whites, creams and brown/tan shades, you are warm.”

Pay attention to your hair and eye color. They can also help you decide what your tones are. “Often, folks who are ‘cool’  have blue, gray or green eye color with blonde, brown or black hair. ‘Warm’ folks typically have brown, amber or hazel eyes with strawberry, red, brown or black hair.”

Another way to identify your coloring is if you tan or burn when in the sun. “When you are out in the sun, does your skin turn a golden-brown, or does it burn and turn pink first? If you tan, you’re warm toned. If you are cool toned with fair skin, you tend to burn. Side note: Fair-skinned ‘cool’ girls will simply burn, while medium-skinned cool-toned girls will burn then tan.”

Related: Top Colors for Cool Skin Tones & Best Colors for Warm Skin Tones

2. Determine the type of finished look you’re going for.

The next step is to identify what kind of look you want. “For example: A pin-up/rock-a-billy gal is more likely to go for a matte look,” says St. John, “while a more boho-chic gal would be piling on the blush and illuminator, almost teetering on ‘tin man.’ I love that look!”

3. Find your brand. 

“What brand speaks to you?” says St. John. “Are you an artist or quirky and love sleek packaging to show off your product? Are you a vegan or cruelty-free type?” Kat suggests figuring out what is important for you to include (or not include) in your makeup. “We tend to surround ourselves with items that represent us and who we are. It sounds cheesy, but look for a brand that best represents you! Then you can start to narrow down the coverage nitty-gritty from there.”

4. Pick your formula and coverage. 

“This is a pretty personal decision,” says St. John. “Oily-skin folks tend to stick with more of a matte finish and veer towards a powder foundation or pressed powder. They already have so much shine, and are not into ‘illuminating’ their skin.” For shine control, powder foundation or pressed powder is your answer.

If you have combination skin, Kat loves to use a cream foundation. “Cream is nice because you can build coverage or dilute the cream with a moisturizer to thin it out and make a tinted moisturizer for those drier days. My skin tends to be dry on my cheeks and a bit oily on the nose and cheekbones. This allows me to be flexible. I can have coverage on my face where I need it without drying out my skin.”

If you have dry skin, it’s all about hydration. “Use a tinted moisturizer, cream or liquid foundation. And remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!” If you have dark marks on your skin from hyperpigmentation, acne scarring, etc., seek out full-coverage foundations to cover those troubled spots. Sheer coverage is perfect for adding tint, creating an even surface and providing a solid base for your other makeup products. If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, reach for the mineral foundation options. While full coverage works great in the winter, mineral foundations are ideal for summer!


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