Why am I glowing like a light bulb?
Why does the color of my face and neck look so different from each other?
God, this makeup is making me look so dark!
When I did my makeup everything was fine, but why is it making me look so dull now?
The reason for all these problems is just one – wrong shade of makeup foundation. There’s no one foundation that fits all. Knowing how to choose the right foundation is as important as knowing how to apply foundation. Here’s our go-to guide on how to choose a foundation shade that is perfect for you.
In this post, we’ll cover:
1. How to find your skin tone
2. How to identify your skin undertone
3. How to choose foundation shade from swatches
4. How to make your foundation season-proof
5. Which foundation shade am I? – includes celeb-inspired help guide
How to find your skin tone
Skin tones are split into three main categories – Light, medium and deep. In the global context, Indians, largely, have medium skin tone irrespective of the region we hail from. Light skin tone typically is reflective of Caucasians while deep is for Africans.
Medium skin tone can be further sub-divided into beige, tan, honey and more such colors. Refer to the infographic below and find the skin tone closest to yours.
How to identify your skin undertone
Image Courtesy: NYX Cosmetics
Skin undertone refers to the color that comes through the skin from underneath its surface. Skin undertones are of three types – warm, neutral and cool. To identify your skin undertone, here are a few tests you can try:
1. The wrist test: Check the color of your veins. If they are purple or blue in color then you are cool. If they are green or olive in color, you are warm. But if you are unable to determine the dominant color, you are neutral.
2. The sun test: If your skin turns red when you are out in the sun, you have cool undertone. Conversely, if you get tanned easily in the sun you have warm undertone.
How to choose foundation shade from swatches
Once you know skin color and undertone, your search for the right foundation shade narrows down considerably. You will, most likely, by now have a handful of foundations shades to choose from. In such a scenario it’s best to test the shades on your skin and find the perfect match.
Start by shortlisting three shades that seem to be a good match. Then, dab some of each shade as short lines on your jaw line (do keep some space in between each). Don’t just consider your face for making the final decision but also your neck. The foundation you choose should blend seamlessly with both your face and your neck.
How to determine which foundation shade looks best
Of the three swatches, remove the two that don’t suit you. Now, spread the finalised shade across your jawline, and sweep a cotton bud soaked in makeup remover right in the middle. If you don’t notice any difference between your foundation and bare skin, then that’s the foundation for you. But, if you see a difference between the two, this shade is not for you. Repeat the cycle till you find the shade you are looking for.
How to make your foundation season-proof
Summers and winters – different seasons mean different makeup foundations. In summers, our skin tone tends to be slightly darker while in winters, it is paler. So, the moment you see that your chosen foundation is not working the way it should, it’s time to switch. When preparing your vanity for seasons, it also helps to know the types of foundations that will work for you. For instance, if your skin dries up a lot during winters, you should opt for oil or cream-based foundations and not mousse or water-based ones.
Which foundation shade am I?
To help you figure out which foundation shade to go for, we have here a celeb-inspired go-to guide. Find out who’s complexion you resemble the most and test out the foundation shades mentioned alongside to find your foundation match. Note that these are indicative shades and might not be your exact match. Do test the shades to find your true match.
Table: Find Out Foundation Shades Matching Your Skin Tone
Hey pretties! Okay, so whether you’re a makeup beginner or have been a beauty lover for years, chances are you’ve faced the struggle of choosing a foundation that matches your skin. You probably have even bought a foundation that you thought was perfect only to go outside and realize that it was the wrong shade! Even though I’ve done makeup for years and years, it’s something that I struggle with sometimes! But thankfully, I have a few tips for finding that magical shade. It is a bit of trial and error, but in the end, finding that perfect foundation match is totally worth it. Read on to find out how to find your best foundation match, and don’t forget to check out my video embedded below in the post or on my channel!
1. Find your undertone
This step is probably the hardest one. There are lots of tricks to finding your undertone, so you just have to work with the one that’s best for you! One of the most common ways to do this is to look at the color of the veins on your wrist.
- If your veins are blue or purple looking, you probably have a cool undertone
- If your veins are green or olive looking, you probably have a warm undertone
- If your veins are green or blue toned, or if you can’t really tell what color they are, you are most likely neutral
You can also tell by looking at what color jewelry you tend to wear. If you gravitate toward gold, you most likely have a warm undertone. If you prefer silver, you are probably cool. People with neutral undertones can often wear both metals. The last way to determine your undertone is less accurate, but if you burn easily, you likely have a cool undertone and if you tan, you are probably warm!
2. Go to the store and pick three foundations
Now that you know your undertone, go to the store and pick out three foundations that you think could be your match. When testing, you should look for shades that match your overall body tone, not just your face or neck. Swatch all three products from the side of your chin down to the base of your neck, then lightly blend the edges. The right match should blend perfectly into your skin!
3. Beware of oxidation
Most foundation will oxidize, or become darker with exposure to air. To make sure that the foundation you chose in the previous step is still the best option, wear it for an hour then check back to make sure it still matches! If it changed drastically, you might need to choose a lighter shade! It’s always best to test this in the sunlight, since natural lighting will show any differences in color the best. Harsh indoor lighting will often affect how a color looks on your skin so make sure to go outside when choosing your foundation!
4. Don’t be afraid to mix and match!
Even across wide variety of brands, you may not find a foundation that matches your skin perfectly. But don’t worry! You can easily mix two foundations to get the best shade for your skin tone.
With the plethora of shades, finishes, and coverage levels available, foundation is just as customizable as a your go-to Starbucks order. And that's exactly what makes it one of the toughest makeup products to buy.
The ultimate goal is to find a foundation that looks like your own skin — only better. But this can be hard to achieve when most makeup aisles have less than ideal lighting for swatching and mirrors smaller than most compacts.
Even if you're able to avoid that dreaded mask-like foundation line on your neck by getting professionally shade-matched, there's a host of other concerns like finish, texture, coverage, and formula that factor into buying one that's right for you.
To help you out, we turned to celebrity makeup artists Daniel Martin and Allen Avendaño to break down everything you need to consider when shopping for your new go-to foundation.
1. Find Your Perfect Shade
Sure, there's a lot of space for swatching foundations on your forearm, but the skin on this part of your body is a lot darker than your face. Avendaño says to apply potential shades to your chest to see if they are right. "This doesn't have to be an exact match, but maybe slightly lighter because the color is going to shift throughout the day," he explains. "Foundation oxidizes with wear, and naturally gets darker with the mixture of elements and the oils on your face."
Alternatively, you can test shade options on your face.
"Find a spot towards the center of your face and blend out towards the hairline so you match the sides of your cheeks and down the middle of your neck," Martin suggests. "If your neck is lighter than your face and you don't want your face to be as pale, choose one shade lighter than your face so its comparable. (You can always 'warm up' the face with bronzer if your complexion still appears light.) This way it's not too light or that much warmer than your neck."
Whatever method you choose, both makeup artists say it's important to test foundations in good natural lighting.
2. Don’t Forget About Your Skin’s Undertones
Unless you want to color correct, don't fight against your skin's natural undertones. If you have a warm complexion, go with a shade that has yellow undertones, and if your complexion is on the cool side, a foundation with pink undertones is your best bet.
But there are also other options. "I tend to go with neutral and warm shades in my kit because it's easier to match on different skin tones and shades," says Martin.
3. Know What Coverage Level You Need
If you hate wearing makeup, you're going to think a full-coverage foundation feels heavy. That's why understanding the look of every coverage level is the key to picking the right one for your needs.
If this sounds like you, Avendaño recommends picking a more sheer foundation when you're not sure exactly what kind of coverage you need. "I always refer people to foundation that is light to medium coverage because it's buildable," he says.
When you want a long-wear foundation that doesn't require mid-day touch ups, or have acne or discoloration, opt for a full-coverage foundation.
4. Consider Your Skin Type
Matte or dewy? That's the question to ask before swatching foundation shades. And your skin type is an important factor when it comes to choosing finishes. Martin says that dewy foundations tend to work best on normal to dry skin types. "Too much radiance on this skin type looks even oilier and it's not a good feeling on the face," he explains. Matte foundations are usually more suitable for combination to oily skin types.
Avendaño recommends using a satin finish instead of matte on mature skin. "More mature skin can get away with matte but again, just like dewy skin can emphasize flaws and wrinkles, so can matte foundations because the skin has no dimension," he explains.
5. Adapt Your Shade to the Current Season
It's true: You won't be able to stick to one foundation shade year-round. "Our skin tends to warm up in the spring-summer while we're more active outdoors and in direct sunlight," says Martin. "Even if you're wearing sunblock every day, our tone warms up."
6. Take Advantage of Virtual Try-On Tools
Sure, germs are a good reason to opt for a virtual makeup try-on tool rather than use in-store testers. However, trying foundation shades on at home ensures you buy the right shade on the first try and allows you to see what the foundation will look like in selfies. A number of brands and retailers have created their own tools, including L'Oréal Paris, Ulta Beauty, Chanel, MAC, and NYX Cosmetics, to name a few.
You’ve made the mistake too, haven’t you? You decided to guess a shade and order foundation online. The convenience was just so alluring, plus your old one was almost out. Then, your new shade arrived and totally didn’t match your skin, leaving you really about to run out, and with some weirdly orange color to return. In other words: not so convenient.
At bareMinerals, we believe you can order foundation online without stress or guessing (or disaster). And since we’re all about natural-looking makeup, we know how to match foundation to keep you, well, looking like you. That’s why we developed The Foundation Shade Finder, a stress-free way to navigate our collection of skin-improving foundations. It’s an (actually) easy online tool for finding both your perfect shade and the right mineral foundation for your skin, whether you’re concerned about signs of aging, acne, or your super sensitive skin. Now, to make sure you have a mistake-proof order, here are two easy tricks that will teach you a whole lot about your own skin. (And if you mess up anyway — hey, it happens — we offer free shipping AND free returns on foundation for that exact reason!)
Understanding Your Skin Type: What Type of Skin Do I Have?
To get the best foundation shade match, it helps to know both your skin type and tone (don’t worry, both are fairly simple to figure out). When it comes to skin type, you can decide whether you are dry, oily, combination or balanced by thinking about the natural state of your face, without any outside factors (AKA not after applying your favorite thick moisturizer, or coming inside from skiing on a windy day…). One trick here is to look at your skin right about 20 minutes after you wash it. If your skin feels tight with dry patches, that’s an indicator of dry skin. Oilier complexions usually have a bit of shine to them. Those with “combination skin” might have an oily T-zone area, with some dry patches as well. If you experience none of the above, your skin is most likely balanced or “normal” in its natural state. When determining your skin type, it also helps to take a moment to think about any skin concerns you may have. If you break out a lot, or tend to react poorly to new skincare products, mention that within The Foundation Shade Finder or to a beauty advisor if you visit a boutique to find your perfect foundation color match.
Understanding Your Skin Tone: Deep, Fair, Tan?
So the next challenge is how to choose a foundation color, which comes down to finding two things: your skin’s tone and its undertone. When it comes to skin tone, the first step is determining what “intensity” your skin is, whether that’s very deep, very fair or somewhere in between. You can take a look at the product swatches to determine your shade intensity, and we provide photos of people with each of the skin intensities, since it’s usually easier to identify your own skin from, well, other skin. You don’t need to pick a single shade yet — just identify which group of faces looks most like yours.
Understanding Your Skin’s Undertone: Cool, Neutral or Warm?
The next step is one that can trip people up (but that’s why we’re here). After determining your skin’s intensity, you’ll benefit from knowing your skin’s undertone as well. Not sure how to find your undertone? Regardless of how dark or fair your skin is, your skin tone will fall into one of three categories: cool, neutral or warm. If you tan easily, chances are you have a warm skin tone. If you quickly turn red in the sun and burn, you most likely have a cool skin tone. And if you burn first, then get tan over time, you likely have a neutral skin tone. Now, if you’re so good at SPF that you’re not really sure, use the wrist test. If the veins in your wrist appear green or olive, you have a warm skin tone. If they look bluish, your skin tone is cool. If you can’t tell or have both, then you most likely have a neutral skin tone. One last tip: if ivory clothes look a lot better on you than stark white, you’re warm-toned. On the flip side, if true white is most flattering, that’s a sign of a cool undertone. Get compliments wearing both colors? You’re likely neutral.
Now, go ahead and play with our shade finder to meet your mineral foundation match. We’ll even ship your choice free (and take it back for free if you mess up!) because buying foundation online should be easy — and maybe even a little fun.
Get your foundation shade match online now or if you prefer to talk it out, find a bareMinerals boutique where we always offer free shade matching.
When it comes to finding your foundation match, the struggle can be real. Before you throw your hands up in distress—we have a solution. Rather than swatching different shades or just guessing which foundation is suitable for your skin tone, we know a few product matching methods that actually work. The L’Oréal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup offers true-to-you shades that precisely match your skin’s texture and tone for flawless results. With 45 shades, there’s a match for everyone, and to help you find yours we’re sharing tips on how to determine your undertone so that you can find your foundation shade. Don’t worry, it’s simpler than it sounds. Keep reading to find out more about selecting your best True Match Super Blendable Makeup foundation shade.
HOW TO FIND YOUR TRUE MATCH SUPER BLENDABLE MAKEUP SHADE
To determine your True Match, you’ll need to know both your skin tone and undertone. The L’Oréal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup has shades in warm, cool, and neutral undertones, ranging from fair to deep. While most people probably already have an inkling of what their skin tone is, the same can’t always be said for undertones. The difference between the two is that your skin tone refers to your complexion, whereas undertones are the colors that come through your skin and affect the overall hue.
Cool undertones appear in your complexion as hints of blue or pink, while warm undertones appear more yellow or golden. If your undertones are neutral, you’re in-between. Check out our tips below to help you determine your undertone.
1. Look At The Color Of Your Veins
Look at the inside of your arm. If your veins appear blue or purple, you’re cool-toned, while green veins indicate warm-toned skin. If you’re not sure, you might be neutral.
2. Try The Paper Check
Hold a white piece of paper up to your skin. The white should create a cast of color on your skin. If your face suddenly appears more pink or blue, your undertones are cool—and if you give off a more yellowish hue, you’re warm. If your skin seems gray, you have neutral undertones.
Once you’ve figured out your undertone, you’ll be able to look for your foundation shade. If you have a warm undertone, you should reach for the warmer tones. Cool undertones should go for shades that have hints of pink tones. And those in the neutral category should reach for shades that have a touch of gold to help up warm up the complexion. True Match foundation comes with a label that signifies the undertones and makes it easier to find a match (for example, an N will correspond to a neutral shade and a W will stand for warm).
HOW TO COLOR MATCH YOUR FOUNDATION
We recommend testing out a few shades to find your best match. Below, are a few helpful tips you can use to find the right one.
1. Test On Your Chest
Just eyeing foundation in the package to find your shade will not work. After all, you won’t know how something will look until it’s on your skin. Play it safe and swatch a few shades by applying some foundation on the center of your chest. Since our faces and necks can be several different colors all over, due to sun exposure, hyperpigmentation, and more, those areas won’t give you an exact shade match. The chest area will reflect your undertones better and give you the right hue for an overall even skin tone look that also matches your body.
2. Test Under Different Lighting
Depending on the season, your complexion might change. You may be lighter in the winter because of less sun exposure, and darker in the summer if you tan. So be sure to look at your swatch under different lighting before doing your entire face. And when it comes to lighting, don’t just rely on your bathroom lights, be sure to test out your foundation in natural lighting as well to get a sense of what it will look like when you’re spending time outside.
3. Use A Virtual Foundation Try-On Tool
Unable to test our foundation shades in the store? Try out the L’Oréal Paris Virtual Makeup Try-On Tool, which allows you to try shades from any of the L’Oréal Paris foundation lines. That’s more than 100 shades you can test right from the comfort of your home! All you have to do is upload a selfie or click on the live try-on button which will automatically connect to your computer’s camera.
If you’re still in need of some assistance, use our live chat feature on the L’Oréal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup page. This feature will allow you to chat with an agent in real-time (similar to talking to a professional in the store) to help you figure out the best foundation shade options for you.
HOW TO APPLY THE TRUE MATCH SUPER BLENDABLE MAKEUP
Once you have your foundation color match picked, you won’t want to waste any time putting it to use. Check out these quick and easy steps to add True Match foundation to your makeup routine.
1. Start off by applying a primer like the L’Oréal Paris Studio Secrets Professional Magic Perfecting Base, to create a smooth and even base to lay your foundation on top of. A thin layer can make all the difference in how your makeup lasts and looks—smoothing lines, hiding pores, and banishing imperfections.
2. Next, use a damp makeup blender, like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Blend Artist Foundation Blender to blend and buff your foundation, working from the center of your face, outward. Follow up with an under-eye concealer, like the L’Oréal Paris True Match Eye Cream in a Concealer, 0.5% hyaluronic acid, formulated to hydrate and brighten the eye area for up to 24 hours. Gently smooth it out to blend with your foundation.
3. To keep your foundation locked in place, be sure to set it with powder. The L’Oréal Paris True Match Powder comes in more than 30 options to match your super blendable shade. Grab a powder brush and lightly dust it across your entire face.
After creating an even complexion, you can move onto your eye makeup or contour routine.
With so many brands and options even within those brands, picking the perfect foundation makeup can be daunting. Should you buy sheer, oil-free, mattifying, or full-coverage? And what's all the fuss over tinted moisturizers? Are drugstore versions decent buys, or should you splurge on a fancy, pricey brand?
We're here to help you figure out what foundation is best for you, your skin—and your wallet.
The Best Foundation Will Disappear on Your Face
If you take anything at all away from this article, remember this: the right foundation shade will disappear into your skin. It won't settle into fine lines or wrinkles or highlight large pores. It will lightly cover up any redness or unevenness but it will do so without being obvious.
The right foundation or tinted moisturizer (tinted moisturizer is simply a lighter version of foundation) will look as if you aren't wearing any at all.
Try Before You Buy
Not all makeup should be tried before purchasing, but foundation is definitely one of them that you should always try first. You can't judge a foundation color by its bottle and there's nothing more annoying than driving to the drugstore, buying a bottle, getting it home and then finding out it's a shade off.
For this reason, head to a store like Sephora, where a salesperson can help direct you to the perfect foundation. Sephora salespeople don't work on commission, so there's no pressure to buy what you try.
How to Buy From a Department Store
Foundation is one of those beauty items you should splurge on if you can afford to. The best foundations can be found at department stores where makeup artists can help you pick out that perfect shade. At Sephora or Ulta, you have the option to try many brands, unlike at a department store where you have to hit up each individual brand.
Do your research first on the best foundations before cruising the counters. Many department store brands are included in this list of the best foundations for every skin type. Laura Mercier, Chanel, Bobbi Brown, BareMinerals, and MAC all make popular foundations.
Once you find your perfect foundation, you can switch to buying online, which is a very convenient—and sometimes more affordable—option.
How to Buy Foundation from a Drugstore
If you're buying from a drugstore, do your research first. L'Oreal, Revlon, and CoverGirl all make popular foundations.
Choose a drugstore with a liberal return policy like Rite Aid or CVS Pharmacy. Hopefully, they have tester bottles that you can use to try out in the drugstore. If not, purchase a few bottles to try out. If you hit the jackpot on your first try, you can return the unopened items. If you don't, you can still return the others. But buying a few at once will save you from several trips to the store.
How to Pick a Shade
When testing out shades, it's best to show up at the makeup counter with a clean, fresh face. It's OK to wear eye makeup or lipstick, even moisturizer on your face, but you don't want to be already wearing foundation.
Again, the best shade for you is one that seems to disappear on your face. To test, apply a stroke of up to three colors on a cheek or even better, the jawline (the inner wrist or hand aren't the best spots, contrary to popular belief).
Once you find that perfect fit, check it out in natural light. Ask to borrow a hand mirror and stand near a doorway, or step outside, to see which foundation looks best in the natural light.
If you are purchasing from a drugstore that doesn't have testers, take a couple bottles to a doorway, hold them up to your neck and see which one matches the best or if you have a favorite shade you want to match, match the colors of the bottles, never the swatch on the display.
Keep in mind that you may need different shades for winter, when your skin may be naturally lighter, and summer, when it's naturally darker.
Finding the Right Formula for Your Skin
When choosing a foundation, it's best to know your skin type. Foundations are formulated for oily, dry, mature, normal, or sensitive skin. Keep in mind that most women's skin type changes with the season. In winter, you might be dry, while in summer you might be oily. Also, lots of women actually have combination skin, which means they have areas that are oily and those that are dry.
If your skin is oily, look for words like "oil-free," "oil-control," or "mattifying" on the bottle.
Women with dry skin should look for moisturizing foundations with "hydrating" or "moisture-rich" wording on the bottle. Foundations containing glycerin glide on easily.
For combination skin, determine if you're more oily or dry and go from there. Cream-to-powder bases work great for combination skin. Mineral foundations work well on all skin types, especially sensitive skin.
Mature, aging skin can benefit from foundations formulated for that skin type.
Coverage: Do You Want Light, Medium or Heavy?
Then next step in choosing a foundation is to figure out the coverage you want. This may also be seasonal. You may choose lighter coverage in summer and a heavier, creamier coverage in colder months.
If you have good skin but want to even out a few ruddy areas, consider a light coverage (tinted moisturizers are a great option). If your skin tone is uneven and you have blemishes, consider a medium-coverage foundation. Most medium-coverage foundations can be built upon to create a heavier coverage if desired.
Yellow vs. Pink Shades
If you read about foundations in any beauty book or magazine, you will likely read about yellow- and pink-based shades. Top makeup experts recommend most women use yellow-based foundations, which look most natural on all skin tones. Pink shades can be better for women with very fair skin.
You probably don't need to worry about yellow and pinks when buying a foundation because just looking at the bottle and trying to determine its base may only lead to confusion. You absolutely can find a good foundation for you without ever knowing whether it's yellow or pink.
SPF or No SPF?
Many foundations these days come with SPF, but the amount (usually about 15 SPF) is not enough to properly protect you. Supplement with an SPF of at least 40 worn under the foundation.
Choosing foundation is a very complicated task that we are not all familiar with. There are many products on the market and it may seem impossible to find the most suitable to make ourselves look beautiful and radiant with the perfect makeup. See this OneHowTo.com article in which we give you some tips so you know how to choose foundation. To do so, you have to take into account factors such as texture, color and skin type.
As you know, foundation can be found in different textures; fluid, cream, mousse or compact. The first step to choose the right foundation is to find one that is most appropriate for your skin type and lifestyle.
- Liquid: fluid foundations suit all skin types, spread easily and allow you to unify your skin tone providing a very natural result.
- Cream: creamy makeup is more discreet but is ideal to hydrate your face, especially for people with dry skin, and provides a natural and delicate color.
- Compact: this texture is perfect for combination and oily skin because it eliminates glare and unifies the tone. Be careful when you apply it because the finish is less natural than others. : this makeup is suitable for all skin types and is light, which gives your face a very pleasant, velvety appearance.
In addition to texture, you can choose your foundation according to the finish you want to achieve when you apply the product to your face.
- Moisturizers. There are bases that contain nourishing substances to keep the skin well hydrated, such as glycerine, vegetable oils, vitamin E, etc. They are ideal for dry skin that does not have enough water.
- Mattifiers. If your skin is combined or greasy, you’ll want to control the shine on your face throughout the day. Mattifying foundations are perfect for this as they are oil free, i.e. without added grease.
- Illuminators. For damaged or dull skin, illuminating foundation is the best option to restore light to your face. They contain lightening and exfoliating actives, such as vitamin C or alpha hydroxy acids (AHA).
- Rejuvenators. Foundations with a lifting effect have firming components such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides and collagen which prevent sagging that occurs in skin over the years.
The foundation’s tone is clearly a key factor for a natural, impeccable finish. You should find a foundation that is the same color as your skin, so that it blends with it and matches to make your tone more evenly, creating a perfect canvas for the rest of your makeup. Using darker foundations is not the best solution to bring life and light to your face. You only get a very unflattering mask effect. To get color we already have bronzing powders and blusher. If you have purchased a foundation that is too light for you, we recommend you take a look at our article on what to do if your foundation is too light.
When you go to buy your foundation, try various shades until you find yours to get the right color. We advise you not to do the test on your face and definitely not on the inside of your wrist as it doesn’t correspond to the actual tone of your skin and can be altered by redness or marks. The best thing is to apply it onto your neck to neutralize the tone of your face and make sure it adapts to the color of the rest of our body.
If you want to have perfect makeup, you first have to prepare your skin so that it is perfectly clean and moisturized and cover imperfections with a good concealer.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Choose the Right Foundation – Tips for Color & Skin Type, we recommend you visit our Beauty & Personal Care category.
Foundation sets the stage for the rest of your makeup. Unlike your favorite eyeshadow, blush, or bronzer, you want foundation to blend in more than you want it to stand out. A good foundation should create a seamless, natural-looking color that evens out your complexion. When applied correctly, the best foundation shouldn't be seen at all. But picking the right foundation shade to do that can be tricky. According to one 2007 study conducted by Estée Lauder, up to 94% of women were wearing the wrong color foundation. And the wrong shade can make you look washed out, dull, or ruddy instead of radiant and glowy.
The key is finding a color that looks like a second skin, since you have to get the base layer of your makeup right to build the rest around it (hello, contouring). So we asked makeup artists to explain how to find your best foundation shade, and they've got you covered—literally.
How to find the right foundation shade:
1. Understand your undertones.
"Undertones are the shades that peak beneath the color of your skin that can be seen with the natural eye," says pro makeup artist and YouTuber Kat Sketch. She explains that though undertones can come in a variety of shades, the main three are cool, neutral, and warm.
- Cool undertones denote hints of pink or blue;
- Warm undertones denote hints of yellow or gold;
- And neutral undertones mean you have an even mix of warm and cool tones.
To determine what kind of undertones you have, flip your hand over and look at the veins in your wrist. Notice the color of the veins and how they look to the naked eye. If your veins look greenish, then you have warm undertones. If your veins look bluer, you may have cool undertones. If your veins look closer to your skin color or they're more undetectable, you may have neutral undertones.
For the most natural look, you'll to want to choose a foundation shade that matches these undertones. However, Luis Carrero, the artistry educator for shade-inclusive line KVD Vegan Beauty, says you can opt for a slightly cooler tone to get a brightening effect or a slightly warmer tone to get a sun-kissed complexion. "It's all about what you'd like your complexion to look like," he says.
2. Swatch out a few options.
Makeup artist Lauren D'Amelio recommends choosing three shades of your desired foundation that look close to your skin, then applying each in a vertical line from your cheek to your neck. Apply each one next to each other to see which blends the most, and which you like the best.
According to D'Amelio, "Many people are lighter or darker on their face and if you match the foundation to just your face color, it may not blend seamlessly into your neck and chest—which no one wants!" This can make your foundation look like a mask and create a visible line of demarcation. To avoid this, don't stop the foundation at the jawline. Blend it out a tiny bit on your neck and chest for the most natural, seamless color all around.
3. Check them out in different lighting.
Whether you're testing shades out in a store or trying out some samples at home, try and move to a window or somewhere where you can view yourself in natural light. This will allow you to see the pigments most clearly. If the shade is too light, you might notice yourself looking washed-out or ashy. If the shade is too dark, your complexion may look ruddy. Ideally, you should barely be able to tell you're wearing foundation when you look at it in natural light.
4. Consider the coverage level.
Sure, we all love a heavy-duty, full-coverage foundation for covering up blemishes like acne, dark spots, and discoloration, but a thicker formula leaves less margin for error when it comes to selecting the correct shade. A medium or sheer coverage formula can provide a more buildable finish, which can be easier to blend in with your skin tone.
5. Take a shade-matching quiz.
Thank goodness for digital color-matching technology. This is a great way to find your foundation shade online. "Some brands offer amazing foundation quizzes on their websites that walk you through step-by-step toward finding the best foundation selection," says Carrero. The quizzes will usually walk you through a series of questions where you'll select the photos that look closest to your skin color, identify your skin needs/concerns, and select what your undertones are. Then, you'll be able to shop or select the proper shade, right from the website. Drugstore brands like L'Oréal Paris, CoverGirl, and Revlon have complexion-matching applications on their websites, and Ulta has a shade-finding feature that helps you take a quiz by brand. This can be particularly useful since you often can't try on drugstore products before purchasing.
6. Shop shade-inclusive foundation brands.
"Another tip that I recommend is to look for brands that offer many foundations shades and undertones," says Carrero. "These are thoughtfully developed to match a full range of skin tones and undertones, so you're more likely to find something that's a fit for you. " Below are some shade-inclusive brands to try.