How To Choose The Right Foundation In 4 Simple Steps


As a makeup artist I get asked all the time which foundations I like best, how to make foundation last all day, how to choose the right foundation.

Walk into any department store / Sephora / makeup emporium and the list of options can be overwhelming. 
Half the time the people charged with helping you make the choice are so overly made-up they look like caricatures of themselves, which hardly inspires confidence. If you look to you tube and Instagram you will find the “beauty experts” favor obliterating any concept of skin by slamming so much makeup on the face it almost looks plastic.
And maybe you just want to look like a pretty, normal, lovely girl.

you use the same 4 steps to choose your model’s foundation for a shoot
as you do for yourself for everyday wear.

Whether I’m getting a model or a movie star ready for a shoot, or whether I’m just shopping for myself, here are the criteria I look for when choosing a foundation:

1. What finish do you need?

What type of skin do you have? If you are oily you will want a slightly more matte finish or a water based foundation to offset some of the shine you are battling.
If you have dry skin you need a foundation with a glowing, dewey finish to make the skin look luminous.

2. How much coverage do you really need?

Rather than hijacking the face and holding your skin hostage, foundation is supposed to create the illusion of a beautiful, radiant complexion.
If your skin is clear you only need a sheer cover foundation. If you have scarring, uneven skin tone, blemishes that need disappearing then you should opt for a more full cover foundation. If your skin falls somewhere in the middle, you need coverage that falls somewhere in the middle.
The worst thing you can do is overload the skin with a foundation that is far too heavy. Instead make creating lovely looking skin your goal.

3. What is your undertone?

Basically foundations come in two color groupings. There are cool toned foundations, which cover ivory, porcelain and pinky undertoned skins, and then there are your warm tones for girls with a yellow or olive undertone.
If you have a cool toned skin and wear a yellow based foundation it will look awful. The same applies to a warm toned girl wearing a pink based foundation.

4. Find your shade

Rather than testing your color on some remote corner of your jawline, test it somewhere where you can clearly see whats going on, such as your forehead or the front of your cheek.
You should be the same color from your hairline to your chest, and your face shouldn’t be any darker or any lighter than the rest of your upper body.

How To Tell If Your Makeup Has Gone Bad

I seem to start every new year by going through everything I own and throwing away the things that no longer work for me. 
I love the idea of starting a new year with a clean slate.
Maybe everyone does it?
Every year I get bombarded by friends and acquaintances asking me if they need to throw out their makeup, so this year I’m getting ahead of the curve by writing a post about it.


How Do I Know If My Makeup Has Gone Bad? 

Have you ever noticed that the loudest voices telling you to throw away makeup come from those with a vested interest in selling you more?

I always think that makeup is so full of preservatives that it lasts a super long time. However, I spend a small fortune and endless time taking care of my skin, so I am about the last person on earth who would ever risk getting a breakout from using product that has turned bad. Also I can hardly turn up to a shoot with an eye infection, so I just won’t take the chance. My advice to you comes not from any scientific background, but instead solely from a place of vanity.

It Starts With Cleanliness…

Before we go any further you should know that the mileage you get out of any makeup product is largely dependent on your personal hygiene and how you handle your makeup.

If you put your fingers in your makeup, blow on it, don’t keep your brushes clean, leave lids off of products, you are fast tracking their use by date.

Keep your fingers out of your makeup and use clean brushes and sponges and your products will last longer.

Don’t tip out foundation then scoop what you don’t use back into the bottle – you are adding bacteria and lord only knows what else back into the bottle.

Make a priority out of keeping your brushes clean and cared for.

Store Them Properly

Don’t leave your makeup products in direct sunlight, or in warm, humid environments. Don’t leave makeup on the bathroom counter (especially with the lid off!) and then have hot, steamy showers running. Instead store it in dark cupboards, cabinets and drawers, away from heat.

So Has it Gone Bad?

My general rule for gauging if makeup has gone bad is if it meets any of the three following criteria.

* Does it look different?

Has it started separating, does the color look odd, does it have a white film on the surface, is there anything growing on it, does it just look funky? Some products are designed to separate, but other than that if it looks wrong I’m not going to put it on my skin.

If pencils have a white film on them you can try sharpening them down a centimeter or so and see if they look normal, but I personally wouldn’t use a pencil I was unsure of around my eyes. To me it’s not worth the risk. If you are regularly sharpening your pencils and maintaining them hygienically they are not likely to go bad.

*Has the texture changed?

If any cream or liquid products change their texture I throw them out. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a powder change, but who knows? Maybe it could.)

I normally find that cream eye shadows and cream/gel liners start drying out half way through the jar. Because by nature they are supposed to be glossy and rich I tend to replace them when start looking dry. Some products you can rejuvenate with mixing mediums (more on the pro end though), but in general always put the lid back on immediately to prevent them drying out prematurely, and toss them when they start getting dry.

When mascara starts to dry out it’s time to replace it. 

*Does it smell wrong?

If a product smells different, especially if it smells funky, it can be an indication that it has turned.

The Perfect Nude Lips For Fall

image by Kelly Cappelli
mskeup by Corinna Cooke

As much as we all need a killer red lip for fall, maybe a deep, sultry oxblood, we also all need a really good nude lipstick that’s perfectly toned to work the cooler weather.

Our summer nude lips don’t always work so well in autumn. They can look too chalky or too bare, and instead of complimenting our complexions they can suck the life out of them.
Look for a nude lip that has some warmth to it, and that isn’t too yellow.

Here is a selection of my favorite nudes for fall.

Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Isola Bella
Apart from the fact that Isola Bella is right below Taormina in my much loved Sicily, I love the satin finish to this lip as well as the pinky undertone. 
Available at Nordstrom

Nars Satin Lip Pencil In Isola bella

For a lip with a little more depth and a lovely suede finish try Charlotte Tilbury’s taupe shade inspired by Victoria Beckham,
Matte Revolution Very Victoria
Available at Charlotte

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Very Victoria

Chanel Rouge Coco in 402 Adrienne is a warm pinky nude that not only looks beautiful, but wears beautifully too.
Available at Nordstrom

Chanel Rouge Coco in 402 Adrienne

For a touch of luxury with a sheen try Tom Ford Beauty Lip Color Shine in Frolic.
Available at Nordstrom

Tom Ford Beauty Lip Color Shine in Frolic

One of the absolute loveliest lip glosses I have worked with in a long time is Honest Beauty’s lip gloss in Generous Kiss. It’s a sheer pink nude with a great color pay off and a non-tacky, smooth gloss.
Available at

Honest Beauty Lip Gloss in Generous Nude