Are You Scared of Buying Foundation?

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I’ve been blogging about beauty—particularly products for darker skin tones—for almost 11 years. Lately I’ve been noticing some apprehensions from some of you about buying foundation (other makeup as well, but I want to focus on foundation here). Over the years I’ve gotten some common questions and statements that showed some hesitation about foundation, but lately as we have more foundation shade options than we have ever had, I’m seeing more of you expressing apprehensions about foundation. For instance, in some of my recent foundation reviews of lines that have many shade options for darker skin, some of you are saying they you have too many options, get confused, and don’t buy anything. This is just one example, but it’s pretty common for me to get comments about not being able to shade match, being scared to shade match, being nervous about trying department store foundations (side note: department store foundations are probably easier to buy because you can test them in-store and in most cases get samples to take home), etc. These questions and comments come in often enough to make me want to put this post up.

I’ve written and filmed quite a bit of content to help you figure out your undertones, how to shop online for makeup, how to shop in store for makeup, how to know if you’re wearing the wrong foundation, etc. I’ll list them below—please bookmark them and read/watch for future reference :)

The Black Girl’s Guide to Shopping at Sephora
The Black Girl’s Guide to Shopping Drugstore Makeup
Why MAC is NOT a Foundation Guide
Why ONE Foundation Won’t Cut it for Women of Color
Why I Highlight and Contour EVERY Time I Do My Makeup
How to Get Your Foundation to Do the Most
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Foundation (470) w/ Comparison Shades + Some Things You NEED to Know
Foundation Reviews & Swatches on Dark Skin

And here’s a playlist of me applying different foundations.

So here’s where I need you to help me, help you. Perhaps because I’m so deeply entrenched in this having been a makeup artist back in the day, and blogging about this for over a decade, but what is it about foundations that seems to scare some of ya’ll? Like, I get that too many of us have had that experience where someone matched you with the wrong foundation, but you know, getting the wrong match is helpful in finding the right match. Also, it can be washed off if you get it wrong. I’m not trying to be cute or condescending, I really want to know where some of the apprehension comes from because it helps me help you through my content.

Some other observations I’ve noticed through blogging/Youtubing/Instagramming is that some people want EXACTLY what I use. Which of course is very flattering, but not all foundations are created equal and not everything is for everybody. This is why I review so many different types of foundations. It’s so that I can bring you content on more than what I like. Because what I like changes (even with the seasons) and what I use may not be right for you. We all have different skin types, different makeup styles, different coverage wants/needs, etc.

I would strongly suggest going through the posts and videos I linked above as they go into detail about things about undertones, how to get samples, what to look for when buying foundations, etc. I know that in this age of Instagram and Snapchat, so many people want information fast, but some things cannot be properly explained quickly.

What apprehensions do you have about buying foundation? Tell me in the comments!

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About Danielle

A former finance girl, Danielle is a New York City based freelance writer and fashion and beauty expert. She's a Hofstra University and Fashion Institute of Technology grad with an obsession with fashion and beauty which she loves to tell you all about every weekday on her award-winning blog. Think of her as your style and beauty entourage all wrapped up into one bubbly brown package. Danielle's work and expertise can be found in print and across the web in Cosmopolitan for Latinas,, and more! She's also appeared as an on-air style and beauty expert on The Real, CBS New York's "The Couch" and WPIX11's Savvy Shopper segment.

6 Responses to Are You Scared of Buying Foundation?

  1. Anonymous says:

    What a great post! I personally am not afraid of trying new foundations (sephora, ulta, and target all have great return policies), my biggest gripe is finding the something that actually works for me. It’s incredibly sad that we can celebrate a launch of a brand with several darker shades that fit various undertones, but then the formula doesn’t work with your skin type or that color we celebrated just doesn’t look the same after a 2 hr wear test.To date CoverFX has the best color match for me – so I thought I had more neutral undertones. But then my Becca has more bronze undertones so then I began to question things. Of course when I realized I loved the finish on a Laura Mercier foundation and realized it had far more golden undertones, I just shrugged and went with the flow. I’ve realized its a lot of trail and error. Certain foundations require more work than others; some may have a great color match, but then we enter into the realm of formulas and finishes, etc. Different formulas oxidize and the advertised undertones don’t always match with my face. Different strokes for different folks.

  2. NAriel says:

    Hey Danielle,

    I think lately my biggest fear with buying foundation has been knowing I have the right undertone especially since newer lines like Dior have included more options than ever. Love the blog and your recommendations !

  3. Pea says:

    My fear of buying the wrong foundation has come true, and I lived to tell the tale! The consequence is that I have 6 or 7 at home at the moment.

    I think a girl should have a foundation wardrobe, though, and for me its important because I’m on and off retinoids and my skin seems to change so often that I have justified having different levels of matte/sheen and of coverage.

    It’s useful for changing seasons and skin colour, too. If I truly buy the wrong one, I have a teenaged daughter who will use if or give it to a friend.

  4. Shantal "TheFirstNicole" says:

    This is super interesting. My niece was hesitant (college student) for a while because she had a bad match and said she would just use concealer for certain spots because her foundation doesn’t look like mine. I explained to her that concealer could be off too depending on what you are trying to cover. I totally agree with your advice about going to a department store. I have found something useful from every single post I’ve read. I gave my niece homework starting with “Why ONE Foundation Won’t Cut it for Women of Color” and ALL the posts about hyperpigmentation and dark spots. My advice to fellow beauty lovers is that treat your foundation exploration as an adventure! Also don’t be intimidated by a rep trying to make a sell! If you try on something and it looks nuts it could be the formula (powder, liquid, matte, etc) versus the actual color that is making it off…I’m sure you have a post for that too…

    But back to your question for your followers. I suppose I am hesitant about new foundations because I compare EVERYTHING to what currently works for me! LOL. I wear MAC and Urban Decay and it just depends on what I want to wear and how much coverage I need. In college I wore Iman. I have Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis so when I have a flare my skin is like a foreign object and my makeup routine is flipped upside down. But I have items that work and allow me to continue my makeup routine or to tone it down until my skin is healthier. So all these beauty brands are discovering the power of our colorful dollars and are throwing out 20 to 56 shades and I’m like whatever! I am good with my two brands until they stop working.

    So, what is your advice for me…should I play and take my own advice to go on a “new foundation exploration”?

  5. Renee says:

    The most difficult thing is deciding when a formula is only offered online. Foundation is my favorite part of make-up but more and more brands are offering their products online only or some of the shades aren’t available in the store.

  6. Treva says:

    Very interesting post. I’m not afraid to try new foundations; however I ma frustrated with the process. Even in store matches vary. I went to the Lancome counter in two different stores and was given completely different info on which shade was the right shade for me. I watch videos and read to figure out my under tone but still confused. I recently took the Cover fx match quiz. Their questions ask about tanning or burning in the sun. I’ve never hung out in the sun like that so…No clue.
    My neck and chest are much lighter than my face. Blending hasn’t worked because I can’t find the right shade. Frustrating!
    Your posts offer options which is helpful.

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