April 29, 2009

Today's lightweight foundations do more than cover imperfections. When choosing one that's right for you, consider these factors.

Factor: Age

As skin ages, dryness and loss of elasticity become more prevalent. Look for liquid foundations; powders can get trapped in fine lines, making them more obvious. Look for products with powerful anti-aging ingredients like pro-retinol, or vitamin A, which work by gently sloughing dry, dull cells. Others have ingredients formulated to stimulate collagen production in the skin, as well as a mild form of salicylic acid to re-texturize the surface. Or try optical-illusion foundations designed to create the appearance of a flawless complexion by refracting light particles and casting skin with a candlelit glow.

Factor: Lifestyle

Always pressed for time? Look for foundations that do double and triple duty. Sticks are the easiest, most versatile options. Dual-finish powders (which are applied with a sponge and can go on wet or dry) also offer the option of more or less coverage, and a matte finish. More active lifestyle? Go with gel-based, oil-free stick formulas that glide on smooth and sheer. Because these contain a high percentage of water, they won't feel or look heavy.

Factor: Personal style

How much makeup do you feel comfortable wearing? If you prefer a polished look, you'll probably want more coverage. On the flip side, if you don't like the feel of makeup on your face, tinted moisturizers may be your best bet. But beware of versions that are so sheer they don't really do anything to even out the appearance of your skin.

Factor: Skin type

Is your skin shiny by noon, especially prone to breakouts, or does it feel desert-dry all day? For slicker skin types, choose an oil-free liquid or a powder to cut the shine. Look for blemish-fighting ingredients like s