How to Choose the Perfect Foundation


A makeup artist applies foundation to a model backstage at Dolce & Gabbana's Spring/Summer 2013 runway show

A makeup artist applies foundation to a model backstage at Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring/Summer 2013 runway show.
Photo: Luca Cannonieri/

With so many types of foundations on the market — liquid, cream, powder — it can take some trial and error to find the best fit for your complexion. We asked Dolce & Gabbana National Makeup Artist Christian McCulloch to help set us on the right track to perfect, barely-there makeup.

Powder or liquid foundation?

Powder Foundation
“Powder foundation is taking two steps and turning it into one — building coverage and creating a matte finish,” McCulloch says. “The more powder foundation you apply, the more coverage you build. But be careful not to overdo it, as it can easily become thick and cake-y.” Bare Minerals Original Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 ($27, is a classic because it provides full coverage, but the creamy minerals ensure skin doesn’t dry out.

Cream Foundation
Although cream and liquid foundations require you to apply a translucent powder as a separate step, McCulloch counters that they are a little easier to apply. “It blends seamlessly with moisturizer (and SPF) and can be thinned down or made sheerer with a sponge.”

Which formula works best for my skin type?

“It’s about balancing what you are working with,” says McCulloch. “Dryer skins benefit from a more dewy/hydrating foundation, and oiler skin benefit from mattifying products.” However, mattifying doesn’t always refer to powder formulas. Dolce & Gabbana’s Perfect Matte Liquid Foundation ($66, provides light hydration and a soft matte finish. NARS Sheer Matte Foundation ($44, is an oil-free liquid formula that does the same.

When should I apply with my fingers, a sponge or a brush?

“The fingers are great because you can actually feel how much product is in your hands and on your face, including moisturizer and SPF,” says McCulloch. “Also, the warmth from your hands helps move and blend the product more easily.”

A brush or sponge
“I also love brushes and sponges as they can blend more finely than your hands and give them that really seamless, almost airbrushed effect! It is worth the investment to purchase nice brushes, while sponges can be bought inexpensively are very handy.” The Beauty Blender sponge ($28.95, is a favorite because of its precision and versatility. Not only can it be used wet or dry, but it applies both loose powder and liquid formulas seamlessly. For an airbrushed finish, try Sephora Collection Pro Airbrush #55 ($34, The rounded, synthetic bristles ensure smooth application with any formula.

Read more: The 5 Rules Of Natural-Looking Foundation