Finding the right foundation is harder than finding the perfect Bumble match. Not only do you have to worry about tone—are you warm, cool, or neutral? what's the difference between "alabaster" and "ivory"?—but you have to match your foundation with your skin texture and type. There's a lot you can get wrong here.
So how can you tell if you're wearing the wrong foundation? "Face makeup will look the best when it’s kind of solved all the skincare problems that you have while looking super natural," says Shara Strand, makeup artist and owner of SHARA Makeup Studio in The Pierre Hotel in New York City. Here, we break down the most common foundation faux pas and how you can fix them.
The faux pas: Colour mismatch is the easiest way to tell you're wearing the wrong foundation. If you can see the foundation sitting on your skin, that's a problem, says Strand. "If people say 'Oh, I love your foundation,' it’s the wrong one. The right foundation should be undetectable."
The fix: Once you're in the right shade zone (fair versus medium versus dark), check your undertones. Does your skin have a yellowish hue or a pinkish hue? If you're pinkish, shop the section for "cool undertones." If you have more of a yellow hue, shop the "warm undertones." If you're feeling lost, test a warm and a cool shade on the back of your hand and see which one looks more seamless.
You're breaking out
The faux pas: If you notice you're more prone to breakouts after switching to a new formula or after you layer on more than your usual amount of foundation, that's an issue. "You're probably wearing something that has a lot of chemicals in it," says Strand. "A lot of the [less natural-looking] more theatrical formulas out there really work against the skin."
The fix: If you're breaking out, look for a more natural, mineral-based foundation, says Strand, as those formulas tend to be kinder to the sensitive skin on your face. You might also consider picking up a mineral-based primer. "Primer acts as the shield between your makeup and your skin so it protects your skin," says Strand.
Your makeup is melting down
The faux pas: You spend forever putting your makeup on in the morning, only to find it's totally melted off by lunch. This means you're probably not wearing the right foundation for oily skin. "If you’re anywhere on the oily spectrum, during the summer your skin will secrete even more oil," Strand says. So even if your foundation is fine through the fall and winter, you might need to switch to a more summery formula.
The fix: "Choose a formula that blends in a powder," says Strand. Look for foundations that go on like a liquid but dry like a powder like Motives Liquid Powder Mineral Foundation with SPF 15 ($30, motivecosmetics.com). You should also make sure you're going the extra mile by setting your foundation with powder and using a primer with silica, which will help to soak up any skin oil.
You've got cakey-looking streaks
The faux pas: If you notice that your foundation is settling into any fine lines and making them more noticeable, that's a foundation formula issue, says Strand. "If you’re older and have more mature skin you don’t want anything that’s going to make you look more dehydrated," she says.
The fix: To avoid looking cakey, there are two things you want to look for: moisturising formulas and hyaluronic acid. Switching to a formula with more moisture—think tinted moisturisers and BB creams over full-coverage foundations—will help avoid that dry look that adds years to your skin. If you need the coverage, look for formulas containing hydrating hyaluronic acid. "Hyaluronic acid is really big for making skin look for youthful," says Strand.
Your pores look huge
The faux pas: If your pores suddenly look like craters as soon as you've finished applying your foundation, that's a formula issue—not an issue with your exfoliating routine. "Thick and heavy foundation will sit in the pores," says Strand. "Look for something with a lighter texture."
The fix: In addition to looking for lighter, more sheer formulas, the real issue might be your primer (or lack thereof), says Strand. "You can always tell if someones not wearing primer. You need something to fill in the pores before you put on foundation." Look for a mineral-based primer with a silky finish to keep pores looking small and smooth.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health