Consider your skin type --- oily, combination or dry. If you're not sure, you're probably combination, meaning you have some oily spots and some dry spots. Oily and combination skin works best with oil-free liquid, mineral or powder foundation. Emphasis: oil-free. You need something that soaks up oil and leaves your skin looking fresh and matte. Use a sheer powder over your foundation to lock in the magic. Choose a facial moisturizer with SPF for your specific skin type. All foundation applies better with a light layer of moisturizer underneath, plus moisturizer fights fine lines and wrinkles. A primer can also help prep the face for foundation, keeping it looking fresher longer.
Give some thought to what makeup means to you. Do you use it to cover up blemishes, or do you use it as a barely-there skin brightener? If you need to cover some serious scarring, opt for full coverage (highly pigmented) makeup, and use concealer, foundation and powder makeup to finish. For less coverage, look for sheer makeup --- and use just foundation or powder. Keep it light, bright and fresh!
Don't freak so much about getting the perfect color. Emmy award-winning makeup artist Elena George explains that a foundation color doesn't have to match your skin completely if you're conscious of technique. Meaning? Get a couple of colors and use the lighter one to highlight the cheekbones and browbone (just under your eyebrow). Blend the colors together to create your own tone and blend thoroughly under the jawline to keep from looking like you've slathered on a mask.
To find colors close to your skin tone, rub a small blob of foundation on the cheekbone, forehead or chest. A good color should blend right in or cause your skin to have an airbrushed (not fake) look. Now's a good time to check for coverage and finish, too. Does the foundation cover blemishes or does it go on sheer? Does it have a shiny finish or a matte finish? Pick according to preference --- some ladies like a glowing face, while others prefer a powdered, dry look.
While there are no hard and fast rules for the "best" colors on any skin, George recommends "neutral warm" tones (or in makeup jargon, NW) for ladies with darker skin. Why? Because they won't make your skin look ashy. It's the hues in cool tones (blue, green) that contribute to ashiness, so stay away from cool foundation colors.