Remember when testing products out on your skin, do not apply them to the back of your hand because the skin there is a different saturation level altogether than the skin on your face, so look in a mirror and apply the tester-color to your neck. This is also a good way to see if your skin will have any allergic reaction to the product since the skin on your neck is very sensitive. A great makeup application is one that looks as natural as your own skin, so when looking for your ideal foundation or concealer, purchase something that best resembles your own skin.
When it comes to price-point, I'm not one to encourage the purchasing of expensive foundation products because, let's face it, they all contain harmful chemicals in similar amounts. So, if you're going to burn through a lot of product, you should opt for the drugstore brands rather than the expensive designer stuff. I personally have been very satisfied with the performance of L'Oreal's liquid foundation in the 'Visible Lift' and 'Infallible' line, as well as Maybelline's 'Match Perfection'. The positive note about these drugstore brands is that they are also at least SPF 15 so you get that little bit of protection that your skin needs from the sun's harmful rays (yes, even in the winter). If you have a choice of which kind of bottle to buy your liquid foundation in, go for the one with a handy pump because it keeps bacteria out of your product and is the most hygienic of the bunch.
If you're looking for a bit of a sun-kissed look, then opt for a foundation that has a little bit of a tint or go a shade darker than your skin naturally is. Always apply your foundation with either a sponge (which you should replace weekly at the latest) or a foundation brush (which should be washed regularly). All foundation brushes have the same bristle shape because it is ideal for applying your foundation to your skin. You will want a synthetic brush so the bristles do not get ruined from oil-based foundations and they are also easier to clean because the product will not penetrate the bristles, it will stay on top of them. If the brush does not absorb your product, you will also be using less product overall, thus creating less waste.
There are various finishes and types of coverage when it comes to foundation products. Usually the terms refer to the opacity of the product, or basically how much it will cover up your own skin. Sheer coverage is very transparent and will not hide your pimples and problem-areas but it will do a fairly decent job of evening out your skin-tone if that is all you're looking for (though, I would say that most of us need more coverage). Light coverage is basically the same except that it will cover very small colored-spots on your skin, such as freckles. Medium coverage is higher up on the scale and can cover blotchiness, discolorations, freckles, and some scarring (something that falls into this category would be a tinted moisturizer). Full coverage foundation, the kind most people probably are using at the moment, is very opaque and will cover anything you need it to camouflage. It is important that when you apply full coverage foundation, you do so very carefully, making sure to use a brush or sponge to blend the color all the way up into your hairline and under your chin, down to your neck. Otherwise, others will be able to see a visible difference in color and consistency between your skin and the foundation (even if you've chosen the perfect shade for you).
Choosing a shade
Sometimes it's hard to tell exactly what skin-tone we are, because much of it depends on which light we're looking at ourselves under. It is also important to realize that it is a complete misconception which says fair skin is cool-toned and dark skin is equivalent to warm-tones. This is not always the case as you will come to realize. Your shade can either be cool or warm, and within each of those categories there are sub-categories of light, medium, and dark.
Cool-toned light and medium skin has a pinkish cast and the inner wrist of the person contains more blue than dark veins. These individuals are highly likely to burn in the sun very easily. The darker shades in the cool-tone range have a blueish cast to their skin, have more blue than green veins, and can also burn easily. Warm-toned skin that falls in the range of fair to medium has a greenish cast and these people have more green veins than blue veins on their inner wrist (the exact opposite of those with cool-shade skin). This group is more likely to tan in the sun rather than burn easily. Dark warm-toned skin has a chocolate tone and shares all the same qualities with their fairer skinned group.
Make sure you know which category your skin fits into when you are purchasing your cosmetics. If you see 'NC' or 'NW' on cosmetic-codes (MAC uses these codes religiously in their concealers and foundations) know that it refers to 'neutral cool' and 'neutral warm' skin tones. You should stick to the one which best represents your skin tone for a flawless match. Some people can fall right in between, and in this case either of the shades will work for you.
Types of foundation
The types of foundation are classified according to their chemical base. Oil-based foundation is probably the oldest of the bunch, it has been around for a very long time, and the base is usually a waxy consistency or similar to petroleum. It provides the most coverage of all but easily smears and is really not practical to be using on a daily basis.
Alcohol-based foundation is a specialty product because it is made for people with problem-skin. It reduces the chance for the makeup to clog your pores, it is a difficult application using cotton pads and usually has 'pore minimizer' in the name, providing only very sheer coverage.
Powder or talc-based foundations are usually brushed on from a compact and they are 'stickier' than their loose-powder counterparts. Powder foundation is often used on top of other kinds of foundation for a fuller more-polished finish. One must be careful though, when applying this type of makeup, because it can look cakey and will probably need re-touching in warmer weather.
Mineral foundation is slightly different because it tends not to use talc as a base, being more 'healthy' for you in general. The coverage of these solutions is medium at best because they are in loose powder format and do not have so many skin adhesives or chemicals, they are mostly made out of minerals mined from the earth. They usually give a nice shiny appearance which gives the illusion of healthy, dewy skin.
Finally last but not least, my favorite all time foundation, water-based products! This is probably the most popular of the bunch and is a creamy liquid that can give you medium to full coverage, depending on your application (if you use it lightly, you will cover some of your problems, but if you use it heavily, you will cover everything up). I suggest using this product with a brush as it blends out much more successfully than with a sponge (definitely do not use your hands to apply this).