Looking good can be a big confidence booster, and with my skin that means I need a great foundation. I've tried just about every drugstore foundation there is, but when it comes to matching my extremely fair skin without ending up looking like a ghost, nothing beats the cosmetics counter. Beauty counter foundations give me the complexion I wasn't born with and can’t get from the drugstores, but since their foundation typically costs $30 or more an ounce it is especially important that I make every drop count. Here are 10 tips on how to get the most out of your foundation:

1. Shop around

Although similar in quality, high-end brands like Clinique, Bobby Brown and MAC have very different prices. I used to assume they were all pretty much the same, but there is a fairly wide range of prices in the beauty department. I had been using Estee Lauder's Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup which is $37, but when they changed their formula, I decided to shop around and discovered that MAC's Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 gave me the same flawless look for only $27. That's a savings of over 25 percent! It is worth shopping around since you may find more than one brand that works for you.

2. Check product size

Foundation typically comes in a 1-ounce bottle, but the size can vary depending on the brand and the line. When you are comparing prices, don’t think about the price per bottle: think about the price per ounce.

For example, if you are looking for a foundation with a little sun protection, you might look at MAC Matchmaster SPF 15 for $34 and Origins Plantscriptions SPF 15 for $33. You may automatically assume that Origins is a better value because it costs $1 less, but consider that it comes in a 1-ounce bottle while the MAC is sold in a slightly larger 1.18-ounce bottle. By looking at the price per ounce we can see that Origins is $33 per ounce while the MAC comes in at $28.81 per ounce. In the long run, going with MAC is actually cheaper and saves you over $4 for every ounce.

3. Wait for promotions

When buying high-end makeup it is best to wait for gift-with-purchase promotions. Many brands like Clinique and Estee Lauder offer these types of promotions, and by timing your next foundation purchase to correspond with a promotion, you can score sample and full-size products like eye cream, lipstick and eye shadow. Promotions can vary by department store, so it is worth checking around to make sure you are getting the most for your money. To get an idea of what a typical promotion looks like, check out this link.

4. Get a full-coverage formula

I don’t like my makeup to look caked on, but I still only buy full-coverage foundation. In the past I used sheer foundation, and I noticed that I ended up using a lot more product, and it looked less natural. When you have a quality full-coverage foundation that truly matches your skin tone, you can choose how much to apply; so now I just skip the sheers and tinted moisturizers and go with a small amount of a more pigmented formula. Since I am using less in each application, every bottle lasts much longer, which saves big in the long run. Using a full-coverage product also lets me build up to more coverage when there is a flaw I want to hide, and I've found that I no longer need to buy a concealer. So, not only has using a full-coverage product simplified my routine, it has saved me money.

5. Let moisturizer soak in

If moisturizer is part of your morning routine, make sure you give it time to absorb before applying your foundation. If you put foundation on too soon after using moisturizer, it will start to slide off your face in a matter of hours, leaving you to reapply more often and waste expensive product.

6. Use a primer

The less often you have to reapply or touch up your makeup, the longer it will last and the more you will save. Using a primer can extend the life of your makeup by hours since it gives the pigments something to grab onto and keeps them from sliding off your face. Although there are plenty of expensive primers out there, you can also find much more budget-friendly options. Try picking up primers by e.l.f. for only $6 at Walgreens or NYC for under $5 at Walmart.

7. Apply with a brush

The best way to apply foundation is with a brush. Using your fingers can transfer oils and bacteria into your skin, and a sponge absorbs the foundation, causing you to waste some every time you put it on. By using a brush, you only apply what you need, which will make your purchase last much longer.

8. Set it with powder

After applying foundation make sure to finish it off with a light dusting of powder. This will set your makeup so it doesn’t fade as quickly. Since you won't have to reapply as often, you will use much less throughout the day, which equals big savings.

9. Use blotting sheets

If you have oily skin, try using blotting paper throughout the day. These sheets can remove excess oil and keep your makeup in place so you don’t have to reapply. You can get 50 sheets of e.l.f. blotting paper for under $2 at your local drugstore, or you can try cutting gift-wrap tissue paper into squares as a cost-saving alternative.

10. Beating end of the bottle blues

If you aren’t careful, you could be throwing away your foundation before it is really all gone. The last bit is often tricky to get out of the container, but it can last you a week or even more. Here are some tips on getting that last drop out of different types of containers:

  • Jar: If your foundation is sold in a jar, you have it easy. I recommend starting to store it upside-down when you think you have reached the end, or using a Q-tip to reach down and get the last bit out.
  • Pump: I've found that pump dispensers typically waste the most foundation—since the tube can’t bring every last drop up, you are often left with about a week's worth at the bottom. Fortunately, most pumps can be twisted off, and once removed, you can use the end of the tube to scrape the bottom and edges to get the last bit out.
  • Tube: Foundations that come in tubes can be a bit tricky since the opening is too small to get a Q-tip into in order to scrape it out. I've dealt with this dilemma by cutting the tube in half once it won't squirt out. Once it is cut open it is simply a matter of transferring the contents left on the edges to another container. I like to use the containers that Clinique uses for their free foundation—they are the perfect size.

This is a guest post by April from Grand Blanc, MI
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How to Get the Most Out of Your Foundation