What's your process in figuring out if a foundation is working well for you?

Since I’m spoiled for choice, it’s hard for me to wear a single foundation every day, but I like to test a foundation over a few weeks so I can see how it applies and sits over my skin at different periods (many formulas have looked one way the first application and totally different on the sixth application).

— Christine
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I only buy foundation if I can get a sample bottle of it to try it out. I wear it for several days, sometimes with primer, sometimes without, and with different setting powders. I check it over the course of the day in different lighting to see if it has congealed or oxidized. Right now, I am wearing Lancome Teint Idole from the sample bottle for the third day and I’m very impressed by it. I have two backups of EL Double Wear and a half-finished bottle of Bare Minerals BarePro, so I don’t need anymore foundation at the moment, but I will definitely pick up the Lancome the next time a sale comes around!!

I need something that won’t give me “polkadot pores” – that’s the first “tip off” as to whether a foundation will work or not. Then, I like ease of application generally – I need to be out the door without a lot of faffing around and blending, using several setting and baking powders, etc. etc. I also want my skin to look like skin, not like some sort of wax-work overlay (there’s a certain youtuber – well known – whose skin looks flawless but flawless to the point of a latex mask….not the sort of look I want in my real, every-day life). And I need a product that won’t break down in a grisly way. If it wears or fades evenly, I’m relatively okay with that but that hideous breakdown that can occur with a lot of foundations….ugh. My days are really long and touching up during the day isn’t something I want to do (all I take with me to work is a lipstick and sometimes a mattifying powder…I’m not prepared to carry a bag full of makeup to fix things half way through the day). So longer wear is something else I want, or at least a wearing-off process that doesn’t look dreadful.

– It needs to match (easier said than done, I’m quite fair so the lightest shades in some ranges are too dark for me)
– It needs to be matte (or at least satin – I’m too oily to wear dewy foundations)
– It needs to last through a workday without melting, separating, or wearing off

After that, everything else is gravy.

I test out foundation over several days, to see how it works with or without primer, applied with fingers, sponge or brush, how much I need to set it with powder, etc. I find that results can very a lot depending on techniques and skincare products applied before make-up, so every foundation deserves a go. Also, sometimes the primer or SPF or powder can cause oxidation (although most foundations these days seem to oxidize darker), so testing out over several days also helps with seeing if the shade truly matches me.
But I don’t like `high maintenance` foundations; if I have to modify my routine too much to make it work, it’s a no-go.

I try to get samples first, because foundations are tricky for me.

First, it has to be a color and undertone match. I do a patch test underneath my jaw to check for an allergic reaction.

Then, I try it out on my entire face see how it feels. For example, most full-coverage foundations feel mask-like to me, and I don’t like that. I apply with a beauty blender-type sponge. If it feels OK, I’ll wear it for a day to see: 1) whether it oxidizes, 2) how it applies, and 3) how it wears. I try it out over primer and with setting powder as I’d normally wear it.

If it doesn’t oxidize, but I don’t like how it applies, I’ll try using a different primer and a few different brushes and my fingers. Different foundations apply better with different methods.

If it stands up to my oily skin for at least 8 hours without oxidizing, melting off, or breaking up, I should be good to go.

Generally by how it wears over the course of an 10+ hour day. Does it break up on my upper lip? Does it crease under my eyes? How badly? The match is also important, but I can generally fix it with a yellow mix in.

First of all, it has to have a good shade match! This is very important for me, as my skin tone along with its undertones isn’t as easy to match as one may think at first glance. Other factors include; it not pooling or settling into pores and lines, not being too dewy and thereby creating those dreaded whitened “freckles”, nor drying my skin out making it look crinkly and shrink-wrapped! And please, NO OXIDIZING. One more super important thing I will factor in is that it must be long-lasting and able to handle very hot and/or humid conditions like we have had here since last Friday, and especially so over the past 4 days!

I will always wear primer and sunscreen so my foundation has to play well with those. I expect that on initial application, a foundation may settle into lines and wrinkles or cling to dry patches. If I cannot quickly smooth it out with a brush or sponge, into the trash it goes. If it is supposed to be medium to full coverage, it must substantially cover discoloration and redness. It cannot look flat. It cannot break apart or disappear from my nose. If it meets the above criteria on first use, I will wear it for a few more days so that I can see it in various lighting conditions and get the feel of it on my skin.

Where’s the best place to get foundation samples? I’m talking real samples, not like a tiny smear in a packet. I’ve always wondered why they don’t sell mini paint-pot sized samples. Or do they?

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