I’ve swatched hundreds of foundations—here’s how to tell you’ve got a good one

February 27, 2020 at 04:00PM by CWC


Odds are good that everyone has swatched at least one foundation in their life. It’s the easiest route to tell if a foundation will agree with your skin and whether or not a shade is the right match for you or not. And while it can feel playful and fun to test and try, for Huda Kattan, makeup artist and founder of Huda Beauty, it’s just another day on the job. She’s tested hundreds of foundations, and in doing so has gotten a sixth-sense for what makes a good foundation.

“If I had to guess how many foundations I’ve used in my entire life, I’d have to say around 250 to 300,” she says, though has definitely swatched exponentially more before landing on those. “Nowadays, there are so many out there.” As one of the very few beauty influencers with global name recognition, Kattan is extra selective about which products and tips she shares with her millions of followers (her Instagram alone has 41.4M fans watching her every post).

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Since Kattan is also a professional makeup artist—and has been for over a decade—she’s well-versed in what makes a makeup product work, and how to find a good foundation that’s perfect for your skin. So when I asked her for her secrets to snag the just-right foundation, I listened right up. Keep scrolling for her three pro tips on how to find a good foundation below, and take note.

1. Check the texture

“I have pores. I don’t have texture-free skin, since I’ve had acne before,” says Kattan. “So I always look for something that is not only going to perfect my color and make it look even, but for me, it’s always about texture. I think I’m more sensitive about foundation texture than most people, since I have uneven texture myself.” Her tip for finding a seamless texture? When you swatch it, make sure the product doesn’t separate. “If [the foundation] separates into the tiny grooves on your hand and doesn’t look seamless, it won’t look seamless on your face,” she says.

2. Find the right undertone

Matching your skin’s undertone is one of the trickiest elements of foundation shopping. “I have a lot of issues with foundation undertones,” says Kattan. “For the longest time, I used to look very gray when I wore foundations. Back in the day, there were only a few brands that did undertones really well—I always turned to L’Oréal Paris, M.A.C, Estee Lauder, and Makeup Forever.” Though she acknowledges that foundation shades have greatly expanded recently (finally), she says it’s key to make sure the shade matches your skin’s hue and undertone before grabbing it off of the shelf. Cool undertones tend to be more pink, while warm undertones tend to skew a bit more yellow. A quick test to find yours? Grab a t-shirt.

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3. Opt for skin-boosting ingredients

“I always want to look for brands that are either premium or have a good ingredient story,” says Kattan. “Foundation is heavy and it is just there on your skin all day long, so I want the quality to be really high and have good ingredients.” She points out that she’s a big fan of tinted moisturizers, too, since they tend to have skin-friendly ingredients packed in. “Always look for good ingredients in your foundation.” Nowadays, a lot of foundations are practically skin care, and spiked with hyaluronic acid, peptides, aloe vera extract, and other complexion-boosting ingredients.

For when you’re shopping, here’s what to know about the different types of foundation coverage. And this is the answer once and for all on whether foundation is bad for skin


Author Rachel Lapidos | Well and Good
Selected by CWC