The struggle of buying the perfect foundation

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“The cosmetic counter lady gave me the wrong foundation”, “My foundation is too dark”, “My foundation is too light”, “I look orangey after a while”, “I look like a ghost after applying my makeup”, “My foundation is not full coverage”

These are some of the nightmare statements we hear and fear often when it comes to purchasing foundations. I receive so many Whatsapps, Facebook messages and comments of followers pleading for me to assist them in choosing the correct foundation.

So here is the thing. It’s very difficult to recommend a foundation shade to someone by just looking at they Facebook Profile Pic. Even if you are sitting right in front of me, I might not be able to steer you in the correct direction, and lets face it: dragging me to the shops with you is definitely not going to happen. But wait! There is hope! Because this is such a highly requested topic. I decided to give you a few guidelines and tips when it comes to foundation shopping. YAY!

Before choosing the perfect foundation, you have set your expectations first. This will make it easier for the consultant to assist you. Sometimes we are overwhelmed at a makeup station and answer questions without thinking about them. Most of the time, the consultant will just recommend the foundation she likes most and you might hate it (99% of the time)

So sit down and write your expectations, for example

I want a light/medium/full coverage foundation

I want a long lasting foundation, so I don’t need to touch up during the day

I want a matte/dewy foundation

I don’t want a foundation with SPF in it (Photo Flash creates white face)

I want a moisturising foundation

I want a foundation that has anti-aging benefits in

I want a brand that does not test on animals

I want a Summer/Winter foundation

The list can literally carry on for days, but once you have that covered, it really narrows the options down to the perfect product you are looking for. Remember that in Summer we tend to be more tanned. The shade we wear in Summer, would most probably be darker than the shade you rock in Winter. This also means that the undertone of the foundation might also be different. For example: In Summer, I tend to wear really warm toned foundations (yellow undertones), whereas in Winter, as my skin becomes pale, I gravitate towards more pink undertoned foundations to suit my complexion.

So let’s get to the fun part:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for more than one sample

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I use to feel so bad asking for samples, because I didn’t want people to think that I am a cheapskate. I would always end up buying something from the brand, or just end up buying the actual product I wanted a sample from. Until I almost spent R900 on a Dior Foundation, when my dearest friend, Luzanne, told me that I should never feel ashamed of asking for a testing drop or two. When I got home and tried two of the samples I was absolutely disappointed and at the same time relieved that I saved my bucks from being tossed in the bin. When it comes to high end makeup shopping, you really want to make sure you are 100% happy with your choice of product. You spend a lot of money, and the last thing you want to do is regret your spent a week after.

Many of my clients have actually confessed to counter assistants recommending the wrong shades to them, or even product choice. Remember one thing ALWAYS: They are sales consultants at the end of the day, and if they can persuade you to buy a product, then it’s a win for them. I am not saying that all consultants are terrible foundation matchers. You get some really friendly and competent ones, but rather let them match a few shades (two to three) and take home samples to try them first before buying. It might look nice in store, but you want to make sure it does not oxidise during the day and that it is as long lasting as promised.


2. Swatch test in-store

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So obviously asking for a sample from a drugstore is a bit more challenging. The consultants aren’t always as clued up as they have a lot of brands to sell, and most of the time they do not give samples. So then you can do the swatch test.

I know a lot of people test the foundations against their jawline. *BUZZER* . That I would not recommend for two reasons:

  1. Most of the time you are already wearing foundation, and just cleaning up a small spot with a wet wipe and adding a foundation swatch might not be as effective as you think. Your eyes can sometimes play tricks on you:  the swatch might look blended with the rest of your face, contour, bronzer ect.
  2. You want to match foundation to your body. Your face tends to be a few shades lighter than your body, so matching foundation to your face could cause a Casper complexion.

Once you have selected your favourite brand and foundation type, select 3 of the shades that are the most convincing judging by the eye. (it could also be from different brands)

Swatch them level to your collar bones.

Blend the top part of the swatch by lightly dabbing it with your
finger. (see picture above, yes! I actually swatched 3 shades)

Look into a mirror. The shade that looks like it’s disappearing is the “one”

If there are two shades winning over your heart, rather go for the lighter one, as it is easier to cheat it with a bit of bronzer, than to make a dark foundation look lighter.

You can obviously follow this same trick when shopping for high end makeup and you want to match the foundations yourself.

3. Getting a dupe.

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If you do not know what a dupe is. It is short slang the more affordable duplicate of another product. Let’s say you absolutely love your Este Lauder Double Wear Foundation, but it’s running out and your budget is a bit tight this month, so you want to go and find a drugstore dupe. Just grab your high end foundation and take it to the stores with you. You can swatch other foundations on your hand next to your high end foundation to try and find the closest match. Voila! A budget saver of note!

4. Lightening and Darkening Drops:

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You guys must have seen me chat about these guys before. It’s the perfect match for a makeup artist kit, and it definitely comes in handy when your foundation doesn’t match your current skin tone. These are the Shade Adjusting Drops from The Body Shop (R300) . If you a babe on a budget, I would recommend investing in the lightening drops to help you adjust the darker shade foundations. I tend to use that one the most.

It will last you forever since you only need to add one tiny drop to your foundation you are applying for the day. I mix it on the back of my hand before starting my flawless foundation application, and best is that it does not compromise your coverage. In actual fact, I think it adds to it. The lightening drops has got a little bit of a pink undertone, where as the darkening drops -grey. And these are must haves if you want to stick to one foundation all year round.

I am absolutely positive that if you follow these few tips and trick, you are destined to find your perfect match without the disappointment of spending money on a product you do not want.

Here are a few of my current favourite foundations, in case you are looking for something new:

Loreal Infallible (glass bottle) – full coverage, long lasting

Loreal Infallible 24H Matte (tube) – High coverage, Matte finish, great for oily skin.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation – Buildable coverage, natural feel on face

Catrice Even Skin Tone Foundation – Medium Coverage, Dewy natural finish


I hope this post was really helpful to all of you. Let me know in the comment section down below if you have ever had a bad foundation experience. Also if you have any questions? Just leave them down below and I will defs answer them for you.

Happy foundation shopping, may you find your true love :)


Kandy Kane

8 thoughts on “The struggle of buying the perfect foundation

  1. Simone says:

    I ran out of my L’oreal infallible matt foundation and headed to Clicks out of desperation to replace it, but they didn’t stock L’oreal. I went to check out Rimmel as I heard some good reviews and the assistant tells me to try Revlon. I tested it, walked around in the shop and then thought, perfect. Bought it and headed home.

    Wore it to work 2 days later and was horrified how pink it was. I had still put bronzer over it and it made it worse.

    Today I mixed in some green colour correcting concealer and it seemed to help a bit, but still not perfect. Any advice on how to use up this R300 bottle of foundation? I am a working mom of 3 and can’t just throw it away :(

    I plan to just stick to my L’oreal. I must admit I meant to take my foundation with me to the store to swatch alternatives, but rushed out the door and forgot it on the table.

    • Kandy Kane says:

      Hi darling x shame thats terrible x u see maybe in the future these tips could help you prevent a dillemma like that again xxxx sometimes when u have the wrong ToNe foundation, like u have then its difficult to change it xxx then u would have to add more orange to it to make it more yellow toned than pink which means u probably have to go and buy another foundation anyways :) so u might as well then just look for the right foundation xxx the struggle is real x maybe u can find out from a family member or friend if they would like to buy the foundation off you for like a few buck cheaper or so :) xxx

  2. Carmen van Leeve says:

    Good tips – so I have learned to swatch near my collar bone & to take my foundation with me when looking for something similar.

    I currently use Loreal infallible – Matte – as I have combination/oily skin – which is perfect. However in winter my skin tends to be a bit dehydrated – do you think I should switch to the glass bottle version in winter?

    Thanks for all the tips it as it helps to make our purchases a bit easier :)

    • Kandy Kane says:

      Hi Carmen… Thank you for taking the time to comment… Im so glad I could assist in some way :)… YES> my skin is exactly the same… tends to me more dry in winter, then i do also switch over to more liquidy foundations :) XXX

  3. R Fourie says:

    Currently I am using the Catrice Even Skin Tone Foundation. As it is medium coverage I want to buy a full coverage like Estee Lauder Maximum Cover. I hope they will be able to match me in store. Thank you for the info :-)

    • Kandy Kane says:

      At least now you have some guidelines so yolu dont spend too much on the wrong shade :) xxx take your Catrice shade with you and they can match it up to that shade :)

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