Beauty News

How To Choose The Right Foundation For Your Skin Type

A model wearing black liquid eyeliner, a nude lip and a nose ring looking at the camera with a pink studio background

We get it, choosing the right foundation for your skin type can be difficult. With brands frequently dropping new and exciting formulas with all skin tones, budgets and finishes in mind, there’s a sea of possibilities to choose from, and that’s before you take your skin type into account.  

Knowing which foundation suits your complexion is important. Why? Whether you’re prone to dry, oily or combination skin, having a foundation that meets your skin care needs or concerns will help your make up look its best, while keeping it in place all day (with a little help from our friends, face powders and setting sprays). 

So, if you’re looking to make a change, this blog is for you. But we can’t take all the credit —  we’ve gathered the *best* complexion know-how from make up artist Krystal Buckley (Instagram: @krystalbuckley_mua), so you can truly match your foundation to your skin type with ease. What’s more, we’re sharing our own foundation recommendations to boot. 

HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT FOUNDATION FOR YOUR SKIN TYPE?  

“Selecting the right foundation is a great way to unlock the secret to your skin’s ultimate glow-up. If you have dry skin, I’d usually opt for a foundation that’s all about hydration and has that glowy, dewy base,” says Krystal Buckley, an MUA with years of experience working on film and TV sets as well as beauty commercials and editorials. “On the flip side, for oily skin, a matte foundation or a trusty oil-absorbing primer are the best products you can use. Alternatively, those with combination skin would need something ready to tackle shine in the T-zone while also keeping dry spots hydrated – like a matte finish with a side of glow.”  

Now we’ve covered finishes, what about ingredients? 

“If you have dry skin I’d reach for products full of hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and squalane, which will keep your skin feeling fresh and flake-free,” explains Krystal. “Oily skin will benefit from salicylic acid, kaolin clay, or silica which will work to keep that shine in check. And when it comes to combination skin, I would choose a foundation with niacinamide, witch hazel or green tea extract, which will hydrate where you need it and keep oiliness at bay.” And Krystal’s recommendation for those with blemish-prone skin is to always look for noncomedogenic formulas, meaning they won’t clog pores and encourage a flare up.  

HOW TO APPLY  FOUNDATION, DEPENDING ON YOUR SKIN TYPE 

“For dry skin, I swear by blending in a hydrating foundation with a damp sponge, as it helps to ensure a radiant, dewy look while preventing further dryness,” advises Krystal. “Oily skinned people are best off using a brush, as these soak up excess oil like a pro! Steer clear of using your fingers as you would be transferring oils from your hands to your face.” For combination skin, Krystal recommends using a brush on the T-zone and a sponge for the rest of the face, turning back to a brush for areas that need more coverage. 

THE BEST PLACE TO SWATCH FOUNDATION 

“Swatch above your jawline for dry skin, and swatch your forehead, nose or chin for oily skin,” Krystal suggests. “These areas tend to become the shiniest, so it’s important to see how the foundation holds up against that. For combination skin, I’d swatch the T-zone and the drier areas of your face, like your cheeks or temples.” 

Krystal advises to always buff the swatch into your skin in circular motions to see how the foundation truly wears on your skin, rather than a hard swatch line. She then recommends letting the foundation settle for a few minutes to see how it adapts to your skin, before making your final choice.  

KRYSTAL’S GO-TO FOUNDATIONS 

“While on set for the final season of The Crown last year, I discovered the magic of the Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation, and it swiftly earned a permanent spot in my kit. Ideal for those with dry or combination skin, it delivers a radiant, moisturised finish that’s simply unbeatable,” Krystal reveals.  

“I also swear by the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter, a true staple in my collection,” she adds. “It’s essential for achieving that coveted Hollywood glow, whether you’re stepping onto a red carpet or just want to elevate your everyday look. Plus, it’s packed with hydrating ingredients like glycerin and squalane for an extra moisture boost, so it’s great for those with dry skin.”  

“When it comes to clients with combination skin, versatility is key, so I often reach for foundations like the IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream. The formula provides a balanced coverage, catering to both oily and dry areas for a flawless finish. And for those with oily skin, I love to use the IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Oil-Free Matte and the Huda Beauty FauxFilter Luminous Matte Liquid Foundation, which effectively control excess oil and shine throughout the day,” she adds. 

KRYSTAL’S FINAL ADVICE… 

“Keep your skin happy and healthy with a consistent skin care routine that’s tailored to your unique skin type. When the weather and seasons change, your skin tone and texture can follow suit, so make sure you adapt to this accordingly. Always use SPF, and primers are brilliant for being the sidekick to your foundation, setting a smooth canvas. And let’s not forget setting powder or setting spray, which lock your make up in place.” 

And now, Team Cult Beauty’s foundation recommendations for dry, oily and combination skin types… 

“I use tinted moisturisers or skin tints, as more pigmented or heavier formulas don’t sit well on the drier areas of my skin. It is tricky though, as this means the oilier areas like my T-zone struggle to keep it in place throughout the day. To balance this out, I use a light setting powder (Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in ‘Dim Light’ is my must-have), which helps those lighter foundation formulas last a little longer. I also find not all tinted moisturisers are created equal, and some have better staying power on oily areas than others! My go-tos are Huda Beauty’s GloWish Multidew Skin Tint and the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF30/PA+++.” Josie, Content Manager: combination skin  

“In my early twenties, I would mostly use matte foundations and powders, thinking this was the only way to keep my oily skin in control on make up days. But towards my late twenties and now early thirties, I much prefer a dewier look – and luckily, my oily skin actually helps enhance that effect. I start off by prepping my skin with VIEVE’s Skin Nova, which is great for creating a glowy base, and then I go over this with the Kosas Revealer Skin-Improving Foundation. I set my face with a dusting of Sweed’s Miracle Powder and the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray, which makes sure my make up doesn’t budge, but maintains a lit-from-within radiance throughout the day.” Jade, Senior Copywriter: oily skin 

“As someone with quite a dry complexion, I usually like to lean towards a dewier finish but still with a slight matte finish on my T-zone. Depending on how my skin looks or if I fancy a high coverage kind of day, I will prep my skin with the Hourglass Vanish Airbrush Primer followed by the Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation. Or if I want to keep my complexion more natural, I’ll pop on a tinted moisturiser.” Anya, Junior Copywriter: dry skin 

“If my base gets my oily T-zone through the end of a long working day in the office, complete with a packed train commute, it gets the thumbs up from me. I’m a tinted moisturiser gal, and my current favourite is the Shiseido Synchro Skin Self Refreshing Tint, with a dusting of the Kosas Cloud Set Baked Setting & Smoothing Powder to keep it in place. Successful oily skin combination, unlocked!” Emma, Junior Copywriter: oily skin 

“As someone who doesn’t typically wear foundation, I reach for a tinted moisturiser or BB cream to create my base. My go-to has to be Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturiser Oil Free Natural Skin Perfector with SPF 20. Oil-free and highly hydrating, it lasts longer as my skin typically gets oiler throughout the day, and acts as a great canvas for the rest of my products.”  Trifonia, Senior SEO Copywriter: combination skin 

“Being a member of the dry skin gang, I don’t like using foundation, but rely on clever placement of concealer instead. I struggle mostly with dicolouration, random blemishes, texture and dark circles, so what works best for me is really good skin prep – I’m currently loving the Alpha-H Vitamin E Serum and the dewy Alpha-H Dawn to Dusk SPF+ Serum. For my base, I take VIEVE’s Skin Dew and mix it with my VIEVE Modern Radiance Concealer and dab across my complexion where I need it. The Skin Dew works to give my skin a shot of glow, while the concealer hides what I need hiding without ever looking like I have much on my skin. I avoid powder like the plague, but if I am going out and need to amp up the staying power of my make up, the only powder I use is By Terry’s Hyaluronic Pressed Hydra-Powder. Rina, Junior SEO Copywriter: dry skin  

“My base routine has evolved over the years; going from matte finishes to my current my-skin-but-better preference. I’ve grown to love radiant formulas more, so instead of working against my skin’s natural oils and doing all I can to keep them at bay, I’ve learnt how to work with my skin type, thanks to Charlotte Tilbury’s Beautiful Skin Foundation. Made to mimic any complexion with a medium and buildable coverage, this hydrating formula uses hyaluronic acid and rose extract to boost hydration and support a plump base. I reach for this foundation whatever the weather and it’s quickly becoming my favourite.” Precious, Mid-Weight Copywriter: combination skin 

SHOP ALL FOUNDATION >>> 



Emma Hobday

Emma Hobday

Junior Copywriter

One of Cult Beauty’s Junior Copywriters, Emma is a beauty obsessive who loves nothing more than keeping on top of the latest beauty trends, ingredients and innovations. Efficient, potent skin care with proven results is her weakness (she’s never without her ride or die Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm) and loves a relaxing evening in with a face mask, hair oil and candle. When Emma’s not staying up to date with the latest industry news or ordering a Cult Beauty haul, she can be found with her head buried in glossy magazines, obsessing over dogs of *every* shape and size, or visiting her favourite movie locations (Bridget Jones’ flat, anyone?).