If you're non-white, finding a foundation that fits you can be like an uphill battle. Although plenty of brands have recently diversified their shade ranges, undertones tend to be a thing that many brands still get wrong when making foundation for POC. This can be a particular issue if you're Asian, because undertone is key. You're typically going to want to choose a foundation with a yellow base, as opposed to a pink base. "I've experimented with countless foundations over the years and I've found that yellow-toned foundations always look the most natural—especially on Asian skin," beauty expert Bobbi Brown wrote in her book, Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual ($16).
Regardless, it's important to note that one type or brand of foundation won't fit all Asian skin. It would be impossible. Some people suffer from oily skin, others have combination skin (oily in the T-zone, dry everywhere else), others have acne they want to cover up, still others have super dry skin. You might need a heavier formula in winter, and to try something else out once summer rolls around. You're still going to have to do your research as to whether a foundation works for your skin type.
When it comes to picking out a shade, test colors by blending them into your jawline slightly (swatching on your hand won't do it). Check out the results in natural light. If the foundation disappears, you've found a winner. Keep in mind that you may be different shades in winter and summer. Still, most foundation brands have dozens of shades these days, so you should be able to find your perfect fit. The secret is trying before buying. Head to a Sephora or a department store to test out shades of various brands to find your perfect match. Some make-up artists will even recommend mixing a couple shades to create the perfect blend, but it's not totally necessary.
Some foundations that have been formulated with Asian skin in mind include:
- NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, $47
- NARS All Day Weightless Luminous Foundation, $49
- MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15, $31
- Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation, $43
- Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation, $48
There are a few luxury foundations that can even be custom-blended for skin tone. Usually, this is done at a department store, because the machines are expensive and therefore can't be in every beauty store around. So take a walk around your local Nordstrom or Neiman's and see if there's one at any of the beauty booths. As for drugstore picks, L'Oreal, CoverGirl and Maybelline all make decent foundations in a variety of undertones and shades.
BB creams have also been popular in Asian countries for awhile now but have only become popular in Europe and in the US in the past couple of years. They are popular because they multi-task: you get a sheer wash of color from the tint, plus moisturizer and sun protection. Some popular products in this vein are are Erborian's High Definition Skin Protector CC Crème ($44) and bareMinerals' Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer ($33).
If you have relatively good skin, a BB cream is the way to go. You can slather it on and skip both moisturizer and foundation altogether.