Tricky stuff, foundation - too much and you run the risk of looking like a clown, too little and you look unfinished. Its difficult to get right, and fairly obvious when it doesn't work, which is why most of us end up staying with the same brand for most of our adult life.
Like anything, it takes a bit of hard work; start by preparing the skin so your foundation will go on evenly. A good exfoliator twice a week will ensure the removal of dead skin. Dermalogica microfoliant is great as it doesn't strip away vital oils or irritate the skin. Or if you don't mind splashing out for Oro Gold 24K Deep Peel, it has ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin E) and green tea and is one of the top beauty products on the market.
If you are unsure of your skin type, take a piece of tissue and lay it across your face before washing your face in the morning. If you have dry skin, it will slide straight off, but if you have combination or oily skin the tissue will stick to your T-zone.
The next step is to prime the skin - a lot of people ignore this, but a light gel is vital in creating a smooth base for the pigment to adhere to. Chanel andLaura Mercier are top of the game. Look specifically for primers made with silicone, which help fill in crows feet or lines around the mouth, and don't rely on a foundation to get adequate sun protection - always use a separate cream.
If you use concealer, apply it after the primer but before the foundation. To disguise hyperpigmentation, carefully dot the concealer on the areas, then blend. If you do this first you will often find you need much less foundation than you think. If you have skin that is in any way dry, choose a liquid or hydrating foundation such as Vitalumière by Chanel or Luminous Silk by Giorgio Armani. If your skin is oily, use an oil-free foundation such as Clinique Stay-Matte Oil-Free foundation or mineral make-up, as their dry particles will absorb excess moisture. If you're buying foundation from a store that won't give away samples to test, try placing a few dashes of close matches to your jawline (not your hand) then step into natural light, as the strip lighting in most department stores will provide an inaccurate result.
When it comes to applying, you can either use your fingers (the heat generated helps warm up the pigment, making it easy to blend) or a brush for depositing the pigment most evenly. For liquid foundation, choose a tapered brush around 3.6cm long, as the pointed tip allows you to get into the areas around your nose and under your eyelashes.
A dewy skin creates a much more youthful complexion whatever the age group, so experiment with light-reflecting products such as MAC Strobe cream (which can be applied under the foundation with a fine brush) or foundations such as Becca luminous skin colour and Stila illuminating foundation.
The biggest difficulty we run into with foundation here is the humidity, so try switching to tinted moisturisers, such as Shiseido Skincare Tinted Moisture Protection SPF 20. They are much less likely to turn cakey. If that simply isn't enough coverage for you, then try brushing a light mineral powder over the tinted moisturiser in spots where you need a little extra coverage.
What I am truly excited by is the new and much anticipated Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Éclat foundation, which is set to adopt the same principles as the legendary highlighter for the new foundation this winter. If it delivers anything like what the critics are saying, then we may just have ourselves a new leader.