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Few things are more infuriating to shop for than foundation. The wrong shade can read too light, or dark, or orangey. It can slip and slide, create annoying streaks, it can magnify shine, or exacerbate dryness, and you usually don’t figure out these defects until after you’ve paid for it and worn it for a day. During the pandemic and working from home, the need for makeup and the use of cosmetics has shifted for many of us. Now, with the holidays ahead and gatherings on the calendar, many are looking to put forth their best face; I know I am. Here’s a rundown of things to look for and be mindful of when choosing foundation, especially as the weather turns colder and becomes drier.

For dry skin, preparation is key. Moisturizer, serum, toner, primer — all of these product types applied before makeup application can be used to care for your skin and combat dryness. Also, hydrating face masks when not wearing makeup works to keep your skin from cracking and flaking when wearing foundation. Lightweight foundation or tinted moisturizers, like Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint, are great for everyday wear, especially if you’re in the market for just a bit of coverage.

For a more made-up look, try a product meant for building up, i.e., you can apply several layers without overwhelming your skin. Il Makiage’s Woke Up Like This Foundation applied with a brush or sponge works for long-lasting coverage that smooths and evens the skin. In general, I’d recommend staying away from powder-based foundation; however, a nice finishing powder like Bare Mineral’s Veil Finishing Powder does a nice job of setting your makeup and combatting shine. Yes, even dry skin can appear shiny, especially with makeup.

For oily skin, you’ll want to look for a foundation that has long-lasting, smudge-resistant, and/or transfer-free formulas — along with enough coverage to conceal any blemishes or acne. It may seem obvious, but you’ll also want to steer clear of any oil-based foundations. Instead, look for products with the words semi-matte and matte right on the label or written in the product description. And on that note, avoid products that mention glowy, dewy, or radiant effects since these will only create the appearance of more shine. IT Cosmetics’ Bye Bye Foundation has an oil-free, matte moisturizer and SPF 50 right on the label. It provides full coverage to create the illusion of an ultrasmooth, natural-looking complexion. L’Oreal’s Pro-Matte Foundation is budget-friendly and won’t irritate while balancing between a fresh and completely shine-free look. If you prefer a powder foundation, NYX’s Professional Makeup Stay Matte But Not Flat Foundation is another affordable choice. The pigmented pressed powder offers customizable coverage, and the matte formula is ideal for oily skin.

For combination skin, you may want to switch up your foundation choice depending on what your skin is doing on any particular day. If you wake up more on the shiny side, Laura Mercier’s Flawless Fusion Long Lasting Foundation is oil-free with a matte finish and weightless medium to full coverage, which is great for a full day’s wear. If your face feels tight and dry, try a more hydrating product like IT Cosmetics’ Your Skin But Better CC cream. The hydrating serum in this product gives high coverage without clinging to any flakey skin and is oil-free to combat any shine that may occur during the day.

Skin losing its elasticity with lines and wrinkles becoming more pronounced is less than ideal for makeup application. And the wrong foundation can make signs of aging even more noticeable. However, the right foundation can enhance a mature complexion, especially one with anti-aging agents like Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation, which hydrates, evens skin tone, and comes with SPF 30. If you prefer more coverage and something a little more mattifying, try Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation. This is another “buildable” makeup to use as little or as much as you need for covering sun and age spots while leaving skin looking naturally flawless.

Of course, you don’t need to wear foundation at all. You may very well find that with a bit of concealer, powder, and gloss, you are good to go. Or, you can forgo makeup altogether and rely on your skincare routine to put your best face forward. Or, you may just wash your face at night and leave it at that; it’s whatever works for you. But, for those of us that utilize foundation, whether daily or on special occasions, it’s good to investigate potential buys, checking out ingredients and user reviews before investing in a quality product.