Foundation, in my opinion, is one of the trickiest things to get right--be it the shade, formulation, texture, benefits and what it does to your skin hours later like oxidation, which is foundation turning orange as it reacts with air. So if you're also on a journey to discover the perfect foundation for yourself, keep these things in mind:
1. Don't scrimp on foundation
If I had to pick one thing that I can't absolutely do without, it's natural-looking, even-toned skin. And no amount of blush, lipstick or eye liner can make you look like that. But hey, that could be just me. Given a budget where I could splurge on one and only one makeup item, it would be foundation and/or a concealer. The result that a great, not necessarily expensive, foundation can achieve is highly underestimated.
2. Check in natural daylight
I cannot stress how important this step is to evaluate whether the shade of foundation that you're wearing matches your skin tone or not. And natural daylight is your best critic; it can't get more honest than that. Even your best friend couldn't give you a more honest verdict. Natural daylight works because it is the harshest light--if a shade looks invisible/natural in natural daylight, it is the right shade for you. A shade that is lighter than your skin tone will make you look greyish/pinkish/whitish. A shade that is darker than your skin tone will make you look unnaturally tanned as it won't match the rest of your body, unless you plan on applying foundation to the rest of your visible body parts. And in case you were wondering, most makeup stores selling foundations have an ambient lighting, which is a warm yellowish light that doesn't reflect the true colour/tone of one's skin. So, don't feel shy--step out in daylight, double check the shade applied on your skin and take your time. You're spending hard-earned money so due diligence matters.
3. Be wary of ignorant sales people
Recently, I visited the Estee Lauder outlet at Inorbit Mall, Malad. As part of their signature services, the beauty advisor (she should be stripped of that title!) chose the wrong shade of foundation to match with my skin tone. I may not be a makeup guru, but I know which shades work for me, and which don't. So I pointed out to her that she's probably gotten the shade wrong. She was either too confident or too ignorant to believe me. As expected, I ended up with a mask of greyish-beige foundation on my face. And if you think that I'm exaggerating, you should have seen how people looked at me while I was (hurriedly) exiting the mall with my clown face. Conclusion: not every word that comes out of the mouth of 'beauty advisors' should be taken seriously. Most times, they are right, but you can know that only if you're knowledgeable yourself. Self-knowledge is paramount.
4. Always try samples
Clinique, a much-loved brand,
Anyway, I'm sure I'll discover some more things about foundation as I go along, but I feel slightly more equipped and confident now in my hunt for the perfect foundation.
Update: I have found the perfect shade for myself--it is the Clinique Stay Matte in shade no. 23 (Ginger). Looks perfect in natural daylight. Looks like second skin but more even toned. Bonus: keeps my skin matte but not corpse-matte. Couldn't be happier!