Get a color match
Ladies, this one seems like a no brainer but it's actually harder than anything else. If you get this wrong, you look like a clown...and not like you meant to look like a clown in a cute, ironic way. We highly recommend that you get a color match at a makeup counter, even if you don't buy. If you do this, bring a paper swatch, put some of your color on it and cover it with clear scotch tape so you can find the same thing in a different brand if need be.
If you can't get matched, here are a few tips. You probably have a pretty good idea of your face color if you own a mirror, but you may not realize that your arm and your hand are probably not the same color. Test it on your jaw bone and wipe it off with alcohol afterwards. Grab the three closest shades to your skin and swipe them on your face. The one that blends in is the right one for you. Try to avoid pink or red based shades, even if you think you're pink or red. They never look right. And for you ladies who like to tan...match your skin shade and bronzer later! We can't stress this enough. It never works correctly and you'll look orange. If you tan, you will need a shade darker. Rematch yourself if you change color.
There are a number of types of foundation, but unless you have unusually dry skin, go with the oil-free. If you're dry, go for one with hyaluronic acid in it. It's going to moisturize without breaking you out. When applying, use a clean brush or clean fingers. (You can't blame the foundation for your zits if the bacteria came from you.) Blend into the neck and hairline. (Nothing is worse than a mask face.) And do it in the light. The best place for your makeup mirror is in a window. Sunlight is pretty harsh and believe us, you'll look divine inside if you look good outside. Also, don't believe the ads. Wash off your makeup at night! Trust us. We've made that mistake before and it never ends well.
Finally, the rule is foundation first, concealer next. Otherwise you'll wipe it off when you apply the foundation. Use a brush for that in the same shade as your foundation. (You can even dab on the foundation as concealer.) Finish with a bit of translucent powder and you're good to go!
More foundation tips
How to choose the right foundation
7 Best foundation primers
Applying mineral makeup