Anyone who’s ever accidentally ended up with a foundation several shades too dark for them will know that choosing the right shade for your skin tone can be tricky.
Too light, and you can end up looking ghostly or grey; too dark, and your face will be much darker than your neck with obvious tidelines – never a good look.
So how should you go about choosing the right shade of foundation?
Follow our step-by-step guide below…
1. Find your tone
Firstly, you need to work out whether your skin has warm, pinky tones or cool, yellow ones. There are several ways to find out. For example, if you look better in gold jewellery, you probably have warm tones, and if you look better with silver jewellery, you may well be cool-toned.
MORE: TRIED AND TESTED – THE BEST FOUNDATIONS
Another thing to consider is your hair and eye colour, as customarily those with blue, grey or green eyes, and blonde, brown or black hair are cooler in tone than those with brown, amber or hazel eyes and strawberry blonde, red, brown or black hair.
Some also say that you can tell your hue from looking at the veins on your wrist. If they show up blue, you have cool undertones, but if they show up green, you’re warm.
MORE: BEST FULL COVERAGE FOUNDATIONS
2. Make your selection
Now it’s time to go and select a few shades of foundation, using the knowledge of whether you are cool or warm to guide your choices (if you’re still not sure, just grab a selection, and you’ll soon find out!)
It’s all very well swatching a sample on the back of your hand, but the skin here is actually a different colour to that on your face, so it won’t help you much in finding the right foundation.
Instead, apply a small amount of each product to your jawline, remembering which foundation is which (it helps to do them in number order!)
MORE: BEST FOUNDATIONS FOR PALE SKIN
3. Assess in daylight
Next it’s time to go outside. Most shops have very artificial lighting, but you need to see your foundation in daylight to find out if it’s a perfect match.
Using a hand mirror, have a good look at each individual foundation and see how it looks on your skin. What you’re looking for is a colour that’s almost invisible because it blends in so well.
Many people think that by going a few shades darker they can look tanned, but it’s much better to buy a true match foundation and apply bronzer if this is your desired effect, as a whole layer of too-dark foundation will just look weird.
Make sure the foundation blends well into your neck (this is why it’s applied on your jawline) as the skin of the neck tends to be lighter, and can be an obvious tell-tale sign if your foundation is far too dark.
MORE: BEST FOUNDATION FOR OILY SKIN
4. Test it out properly
Once you’ve found the colour you like, get a sample if possible. This is generally only possible with higher-end brands; but as these are considerably more expensive, that’s where you really need to avoid mistakes!
It’s best to try a foundation on your skin for at least a few hours before making the plunge, as the product can oxidise and therefore change colour. Using a sample will also let you know whether it has good staying power – after all it’s all very well finding your perfect match, but if it slides off within half an hour it’s no good to you.
Another option, of course, is to have your skin tone professionally matched by beauty counter staff, although never be tempted to rush into a purchase. Let them put the product on you, then go outside in daylight before deciding whether it does actually suit you.
Although there are lots of great makeup counter staff out there, we’ve all had that experience of being pushed into a shade completely wrong for us, so be sure to stand your ground!
MORE: BEST FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN
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- How to Find the Right Foundation for Your Skin Type and Tone
- How to Choose the Right Makeup for Your Skin Type
- 1. Determine your skin type
- 2. Choose the right formula
- 3. Choose the right colors
- 5 Things You Need to Consider When Choosing Foundation
- 1. FIND YOUR SHADE MATCH
- 2. DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR SKIN’S UNDERTONES
- 3. KNOW WHAT COVERAGE LEVEL YOU NEED
- 4. DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR SKIN TYPE
- 5. ADAPT YOUR SHADE TO THE CURRENT SEASON
- Finding The Best Foundation for your Skin Type
- Matching a Shade to Your Skin Tone
- Application Tips
- Shop This Story…
- How to Determine Your Skin Tone before Buying Face Products
- You’re testing your foundation all wrong — here’s how to actually find your color match
- According to our experts, the sweet spot for foundation testing is the jawbone.
- Are two foundations better than one? Can you mix two different foundations together?
- How to find the right foundation shade
- Find your perfect undertone
- Foundation application techniques
- How to customize your foundation
- How To Choose The Right Foundation – 6 Essential Things To Consider
- How to choose the best foundation for dark under-eye circles
- How to choose the best foundation for dry skin
- How to choose the best foundation for oily skin
- How to choose the best foundation for textured skin and/or acne scars
- How to choose the best foundation for sensitive, reactive skin
How to Find the Right Foundation for Your Skin Type and Tone
If you scored…
Mostly A’s: Zap oil
When a foundation that contains oil comes into contact with oily skin, things get slick, causing your makeup to break down and slide off. Choose an oil-free liquid with lightweight silicone, which helps pigments adhere but won’t clog pores, says makeup artist Troy Surratt. We like Neutrogena Shine Control Liquid Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 20 (Buy It, $11, amazon.com). On the go, pick a travel-friendly pressed powder with silica, the solid equivalent of silicone. Try Revlon Age Defying Powder (Buy It, $9, amazon.com).
Mostly B’s: Go creamy
Boost hydration with a rich anti-aging formula that contains moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, says Brett Freedman, a makeup artist in Los Angeles. Our pick: Shiseido Makeup Radiant Lifting Foundation SPF 17 (Buy It, $45, macys.com). A tinted moisturizer, such as Origins Vitazing SPF 15 Energy-Boosting Moisturizer (Buy It, $40, origins.com), is also a good choice: It moisturizes while providing coverage and sun protection.
Mostly C’s: Lighten up
Lucky you! You’re blessed with low-maintenance skin and can wear any foundation, says Charlotte Willer, a makeup artist for Maybelline New York in New York City. For a believable finish, go for sheer liquids with light-reflecting particles, like L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup (Buy It, $13, ulta.com). Or opt for a tinted moisturizer that has just enough pigment to even out your skin without being noticeable. We love NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30/PA+++ (Buy It, $45, sephora.com).
Mostly D’s: Correct and cover
If you’re the sensitive type, mineral makeup is for you. Most, like BareMinerals Original Loose Powder Mineral Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 (Buy It, $31, sephora.com), contain skin soothers, such as zinc, and are free of potential irritants, like fragrance and parabens. Highly pigmented mineral formulas cover broken capillaries, redness, and discoloration. If you find loose powder too messy, look for a pressed version, such as Physicians Formula Talc-Free Mineral Airbrushing Pressed Powder SPF 30 (Buy It, $15, ulta.com).
How to Choose the Right Makeup for Your Skin Type
Makeup products and accessories | iStock.com/pogrebkov
Numerous makeup mistakes are pretty easy to make. You probably already know that mismatched foundation and exaggerated eye shadow are unflattering. And it’s every makeup fan’s worst nightmare to realize their under-eye concealer or lip liner is showing. All those aesthetic concerns aside, when is the last time you thought about your skin type, and how it plays into your choice of makeup? It turns out that choosing the wrong makeup for your skin type can spell trouble not only for how your makeup looks, but also for how your skin feels and reacts to being in close contact with the wrong ingredients and formulas all day.
It’s very important for your makeup, particularly base products like your foundation, to be a match for your skin’s needs. Products like foundation, concealer, blush, and eye shadow spend a lot of time in contact with your skin. You’ll want to make sure the products you choose look good, and won’t cause acne or dry out your skin. And in an ideal world, you can look for makeup that can help address certain skin care needs.
As difficult as it is to find the products that match your skin tone, personal preferences, and skin type, it’s usually worth the work. Read on to learn everything you need to know about choosing the right makeup for your skin type, and you’ll be well on your way to a makeup routine that’s perfect for you.
1. Determine your skin type
Young woman with beautiful skin in the bathroom | iStock.com
Whether you’re shopping for foundation or looking to overhaul your skin care regimen, it’s important to understand your skin type. Everybody knows the basic skin types: dry, oily, combination, and normal. But if you really want to know your skin’s needs well, it pays to go deeper than that. Esthetician Renée Rouleau has identified nine different skin types that all behave differently and have different needs. One of them may sound exactly like your skin.
Rouleau writes some mistakes are pretty common when people try to identify their skin type. For instance, it’s easy to focus only on one or two of your skin’s needs instead of looking at the whole picture. Another common problem is failing to understand the difference between dry and dehydrated skin. Misunderstanding the actual meaning of sensitive skin is another common mistake. If you can’t figure out exactly what’s going on with your skin, it never hurts to see a professional, who can assess what’s going on and suggest an appropriate skin care routine. This will give you a much better foundation for your makeup regimen.
2. Choose the right formula
Woman doing makeup in front of a mirror | iStock.com
When you choose a formula, there’s usually a lot of trial and error involved. But as Paula’s Choice reports, one size definitely does not fit all when it comes to a product like foundation. If you have relatively balanced and even skin, you’ll likely need much less coverage than someone with redness or breakouts to disguise. But your skin type will dictate which kind of formula you need for reasons other than coverage, too. As the post points out, “a matte foundation that complements oily skin isn’t going to be the best formula for dry skin and vice versa.”
There are a few popular formulas for foundation. Even if you currently use and like a specific kind, it’s a good idea to keep an open mind to make sure you’re using what’s right for your skin type. A matte-finish liquid foundation is ideal for oily, blemish-prone skin. A moisturizing liquid foundation hydrates normal to dry skin without making it greasy.
For those with slightly oily or slightly dry skin, a pressed powder or loose powder foundation offers a fast, easy way to get a smooth finish, particularly when paired with a sunscreen moisturizer. A cream-to-powder compact foundation is another option for those with slightly dry or slightly oily skin. For the most natural look, a BB cream is often the best choice. Just know it doesn’t provide full coverage.
3. Choose the right colors
Woman looking in the mirror | iStock.com/chachamal
While colors may not be quite as important as formula and product type in choosing makeup that’s a good fit for your skin type, the colors of your makeup do matter. That’s especially true with products foundation. If you have the time, it’s a great idea to head to your local department store to test different colors before committing to a potentially pricey purchase.
Paula’s Choice recommends choosing three or four shades that look like the closest match. Apply a stripe of each on your jaw in parallel lines pointing toward your neck. Any shade that appears relatively invisible is a good fit. Anything that stands out is either too dark or too light. If you can, a great next step is to apply the foundation all over your face, then check the color in daylight, if you can. That’s the best test to see if a foundation matches your skin’s color and undertone.
Colors are also important with other makeup products, including blush, lip color, eye shadow, eyeliner, and even mascara. If you haven’t given much thought to which colors are the most flattering on you, enlist a friend or a store associate to help. It’s also useful to shop lines that are known for their wide selection of colors, rather than relying on brands that only offer a small number of shades.
The search can be especially frustrating for women of color, who routinely encounter brands that don’t do much to cater to a diverse range of skin tones. Refinery29’s Taylor Bryant has some recommendations on base makeup for women of color. And if, on the other hand, you’re pale enough to struggle to find foundation that matches, the site’s Kelly Dougher has some recommendations for you as well.
Unlike a lipstick that can stand out or a shimmering eye shadow that’s meant to shine, foundation is the star player behind the scenes. After all, the best foundation shouldn’t be seen at all. So how do you find the right foundation shade that actually lets your skin look like skin? Read on for a few tips on how to find your best foundation match!
1. Understand Your Undertone
You probably aren’t confused about whether your skin falls into a light or deep category, but undertones may leave you a bit puzzled. Warm undertones usually have traces of gold and red in their skin; these complexions typically get darker in the sun and never burn. Neutral undertones have an equal mix of cool and warm tones. These types typically tend to get darker in the sun and sometimes burn. Cool undertones have hints of pink and blue in their skin and may tend to burn more easily.
2. Swatch Test
Sure, swatching on your forearms make for a great Instagram shot, but the skin on your body may not be the same shade as your complexion. Once you found a few shades that might work for you, swatch directly onto your cheek down to your neck Let it sit for a few minutes and see how it adjusts to your skin. Foundation can sometimes oxidize with wear and get slightly darker from the mixture of elements and the oils on your skin.
3. Find the Light
Just like getting the perfect selfie, lighting is everything. Once you’ve swatched, skip the fluorescent lighting in-store and head outside to see how the pigments look in natural light. If your makeup is too light, you will look ashy or as if you have a gray cast on your skin. If the formula is too dark, it can make your complexion look muddy. Look for the shade that disappears into your skin most is your right match.
Find your perfect foundation shade match with one of the 40 shades in our Liquid Whip Long Wear Foundation collection! This weightless, full-coverage foundation gives you a flawless finish every time–especially when you apply it with a Beautyblender.
5 Things You Need to Consider When Choosing Foundation
Time Inc. Photo Studio (9)
With the current number 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 a foundation that looks like your own skin—only better. This can be hard to achieve when most makeup aisles have less than ideal lighting for swatching and mirrors smaller than most compacts.
RELATED: The Best Drugstore Foundations Under $15
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 the one that’s right for you.
We turned to celebrity makeup artists Daniel Martin and Allen Avendaño to break down everything you need to consider when you’re trying to choose your new go-to foundation.
VIDEO: Watch an InStyle Editor Put Dark Foundations to the Test
1. FIND YOUR SHADE MATCH
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 pros 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.
You can play it safe with a neutral or warm shade. “I tend to go with neutral and warm shades in my kit because its 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. Understanding the look of every coverage level is the key to picking the right one for your needs.
You’ll still see your skin through foundations with sheer to medium coverage. Avendaño recommends picking a foundation on the lighter side as a default 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. DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR SKIN TYPE
Matte or dewy? That’s the question to ask before swatching foundation shades. 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 its 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.”
I am very excited to announce my new Beauty Beginners series on the site! This series was inspired by an email I received from one of our LaurenConrad.com readers. In her message, this reader mentioned that she felt overwhelmed by hair and makeup tutorials because she had never quite mastered the beauty basics. While I’m sure some of you have been expertly applying liquid liner and bold lipstick since you were 12, that message made me think about how important certain basic beauty skills really are. And no matter how advanced makeup skills you have, it never hurts to go back to the fundamentals and reevaluate your technique.
So today, I thought I’d begin with foundation (after all, it’s called foundation for a reason…). It’s so important to get this step right because it’s always obvious when someone is wearing foundation that is cakey or isn’t the right color for their skin tone. The point of foundation is not to look like you have layers of makeup on but to help your skin look its best. Here’s a good place to start…
Finding The Best Foundation for your Skin Type
The first step is finding a product that is right for your individual skin type. A tinted moisturizer doesn’t offer as much coverage as a foundation, but only choose a heavier foundation if your skin truly warrants it. If your skin is oily or the weather near you is particularly hot and humid, an oil-free foundation is your best bet.
Matching a Shade to Your Skin Tone
A good trick for finding the right shade of foundation is to match it to your chest—especially if you’re good at protecting your face and neck with SPF. You can also test a color on the back of your hand and then walk outside if you don’t trust the store lighting. Either way, leave it on for a few minutes to see how it changes as it is absorbed into your skin. Also, don’t be afraid to mix colors. I use two different foundation colors for summer and winter (depending how much sun I’ve gotten), and mix them together in between those two seasons.
Never apply foundation to un-moisturized skin. If your skin is on the drier side, you’ll also want to exfoliate prior to applying any products. If your moisturizer or foundation doesn’t have SPF in it, you’ll want to slather on sunscreen pre-makeup too. Then, warm the foundation in the palm of your hand, and then sweep it across your face and neck using clean fingers, a foundation brush or a beauty blender. I actually think that fingers work best for hitting hard-to-reach spots, but that can be a matter of personal preference. When you’re applying foundation, don’t forget about the spot where your jaw line meets your neck! Make sure your face and neck match by blending the foundation into the top of your neck as well.
Do you have any other questions regarding foundation?
What Beauty Beginners topic should I tackle next?
Shop This Story…
Photo: Who What Wear
How to Determine Your Skin Tone before Buying Face Products
Have you ever wandered up and down the cosmetic aisle looking for your next product, but get stuck asking yourself, “How do I determine my skin tone?” Determining your skin tone can be a daunting task and buying the right shades to beautify your complexion is sometimes overwhelming.
The wrong foundation, concealer, bronzer or blush can turn you into an orange clown or uncanny porcelain doll if you aren’t careful. Your makeup needs to blend seamlessly with your natural skin tone at the jawline to avoid looking unnatural or ‘caked’, and determining your skin tone is paramount for accomplishing this task. Here is a comprehensive guide on how you can (correctly!) discover your skin tone—and prevent those dreaded makeup disasters.
Having trouble finding the right makeup shade for your skin tone?
Colorescience products are formulated to blend seamlessly to match your skin tone.
What is Skin Tone?
The “tone” of your skin is the genetically endowed amount of melanin in your epidermis (the outermost layer of skin). Melanin—a complex polymer produced by cells called melanocytes—refers to a group of naturally-occurring dark brown or black pigments present in human skin (and animals, too!).
When the skin is exposed to damaging ultraviolet light from the sun, melanocytes kick into overdrive as a natural defense mechanism, producing an abundant amount of melanin spread across the epidermis is absorb the sun’s harmful rays. For that reason, determining your skin tone will vary depending on how much time you spend in unprotected sun exposure, but the skin tone you were born with is based on your genetic makeup. Our ancestors adapted to their environment; those in sunnier regions and climates evolved to naturally produce more melanin for sun protection, and therefore had darker skin tones. It’s hard to group skin tones into categories, since each of us has uniquely varying hues, but generally speaking there are three different categories you can use to determine your skin tone:
- Light: Light or fair skin tones tend to historically derive from northern European countries which faced frequent snow or cloud coverage, and therefore did not need much melanin protection. Paler people are usually very sensitive to the sun and burn much easier than those with darker skin. If you find that this is your skin tone, be extra diligent with your UV protection.
- Medium: Medium complexions are typical of Southern Europe and Northern Asian descent. Sometimes referred to “olive”, this skin tone is a neutral, well-balanced beige appearance and will make finding the right foundation shade much easier. If you determine this is your skin tone, you probably tan well in the sun (note: that doesn’t mean you’re immune to sun-related aging!).
- Dark: Dark complexions typically originate from parts of the world that have the most exposure to ultraviolet radiation, such as the Middle East, India, and Africa. As with those who have medium skin, you are not exempt from sun damage if you have this skin tone, and are in fact more prone to hyperpigmentation, so hold onto that sunscreen!
Again, these three skin tones are speaking in broad, general terms which can be broken down to much smaller specifications. For example, you can differentiate between light and fair, while “dark” could mean espresso, brown or ebony. Determining skin tone and its slight variations depends on your unique undertone.
What are Skin Undertones?
If you have ever shopped for makeup products, you’ve probably heard the terms “cool”, “warm”, and “neutral” describing different shades of skin tone. These terms refer to the skin’s “undertone,” or the subtle, muted color beneath your skin’s surface. Think of it as a shadow that’s always there; while your determined skin tone may change, the undertone remains the same. Learning how to determine skin tone to find the right cosmetic relies largely on matching your unique undertone. Let’s break down the different undertones:
- Cool: red and pink with bluish hints
- Warm: yellow, peachy and golden hues
- Neutral: olive or a balanced mix of the shades above
The surface color of your skin tone, or the first thing you see when you look in the mirror, may appear ruddy, but your undertone could be golden or yellow. Therefore, when determining your skin tone for foundation, concealer or any other type of cosmetic, pay equal importance to your undertone.
Looking for natural makeup that keeps your skin looking radiant?
With Colorescience, your skin will look healthy and beautiful all day!
What is Skin Complexion?
Before teaching you how to determine your skin tone for those who are still unsure, it’s worth noting that skin tone and complexion are not one in the same; tone refers to the color of your skin while your complexion encompasses your overall appearance. Think of rosy, red cheeks or dark under-eye circles; “complexion” includes these colors in addition to your natural skin tone. It also refers to texture, such as dry versus oily. Learn more about identifying your skin type here.
Pick products suited to your complexion as well as tone, i.e. those with excessive shine should seek mattifying products, or those with uneven tone should find color correctors, and so forth.
How to Determine Your Skin Tone
Before going up and down that cosmetic aisle to find the perfect product, check out these handful of ways to determine skin tone and nail your perfect match:
- Look at Your Face in Natural Light
If you notice a gray tone when you’re wearing makeup, your foundation doesn’t complement your undertones. Thoroughly wash your face clear of any makeup or grime. Wait at least 15 minutes and find some natural lighting, since different lighting affects the appearance of your skin (we all know florescent light does no one any favors). Grab a small mirror and head out into the sunlight or a well-lit window to determine your most natural tone. Observe your jaw line (it’s usually less affected by color changes than the rest of your face) to find your surface color; remember, the jaw is where you need to blend, so this is the shade you need to match!
- The Silver/Gold Test
If silver complements your skin better than gold, you likely have cool undertones. If you have warm skin tones, gold likely looks better—helpful information when it comes to shopping for jewelry!
- Look at Your Veins
In natural light, check the appearance of your veins beneath your skin.
- If your veins appear blue or purple, you have a cool skin tone.
- If your veins look green or a greenish blue, you have a warm skin tone.
- If you can’t tell whether or not your veins are green or blue, you probably have a neutral skin tone. Those of you with an olive complexion will probably fall into this category.
- How Does Your Skin React to Sun Exposure?
When you’re out in the sun, does your skin tan easily? Do you rarely sunburn? Examining the way your skin reacts to the sun’s rays can help you determine skin tone. Those who tan easily have a medium or dark skin tone, while those who burn easily likely have a very fair skin tone.
Buying the Right Makeup
Now that you know how to determine your skin tone, it’s time to start finding the right cosmetics to beautify your complexion. If you can determine the skin tone that goes with the corresponding color, perfect makeup application will be a breeze.
- Cool Undertones
If you determine your skin undertone is cool, consider: blue-based eye shadows, accentuated lips in red, pink or purple hues, and enhancing your pink pigment with pale, rosy blush.
- Warm Undertones
Those with golden brown skin should try: earthy eye shadows to complement a natural yellow glow, highlight cheeks with a coral blush, and find lip shades of a darker red.
- Neutral Undertones
If you’ve determined your skin tone is neutral, lucky you. Just about any cosmetic looks great on your complexion. Consider instead wearing colors which compliment your eyes and hair.
Note: When shopping for foundation, always start with a small test patch (at the jaw) to determine if your skin tone matches the given product. Keep in mind that your tone will vary by season, and that many women choose to go one shade lighter or darker than their surface color based on preference.
By using this guide and learning how to determine your skin tone, you’re well on your way to finding the perfect color cosmetic for your complexion. Browse our catalog and pick the shade that suits you best.
You’re testing your foundation all wrong — here’s how to actually find your color match
- To find your perfect foundation shade, you should always dab a bit on your jawline and neck first.
- Checking the color match on your neck and jaw prevents jarring discrepancies and results in the ideal hue.
- Your face gets the most sun exposure while your neck receives the least, so you want to find a foundation shade that matches both areas when blended into the skin.
When you’re shopping for foundation, a solid color match needs to take top priority. But we’ve all made the mistake of picking a foundation that looks great on our cheeks, only to discover that it’s a completely different shade from our necks, making it look like we’re wearing a mask. Not cute.
The best way to avoid the dreaded line of foundation demarcation involves testing the foundation on different areas in order to determine the best color match. INSIDER asked a group of makeup artists to learn the best specific spots for foundation swatching. Our panel suggested a region that receives a lesser amount of sun exposure than the cheeks or nose, but enough to allow a seamless color blend throughout the face.
According to our experts, the sweet spot for foundation testing is the jawbone.
Many sources recommend the neck for foundation swatching, but the color discrepancy between the face and the neck proves too drastic for a natural match.
“The neck does not get the same amount of sun as the face, it can be a different color completely,” warns Lora Alexander of Pretty Your World. “The foundation goes on the face, so it should be tested on the face to see if it ‘disappears’ into the skin.”
Your hand is not as accurate as your think. AfricaStudio/
Jennifer Charm of Carabella Cosmetics said she likes the jawbone for swatching because of its proximity to the neck and decollete: “The hands and arms won’t give as close a match to the face as a region of the face itself. The face is smaller than other parts of the body, and it has more differently-toned areas. You’re looking for the ideal color to blend from the face to the neck and decollete.”
After swatching on your jawline to find the right shade, you’ll want to ensure the match with a streak test.
“Color matching is done by creating stripes of color from the center of the cheek down to the neck. The face is where we get the most sun exposure and the neck is where we get the least, so if you are able to identify a color that matches both areas, you’ve found the right choice,” advises Ami Mallon of Osmosis Colour Mineral Cosmetics.
So all it takes is a quick, two-step process: dab on your jawline for an initial match, then lock it in with a streak test from the cheek apex to the neck. Well worth the extra 30 seconds, we’d have to say.
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A solid skin care routine is the key to achieving that glowing complexion we all crave, but foundation certainly comes in handy whenever you need to fake it.
This multitasking beauty basic can seamlessly create a polished, radiant look in a matter of minutes, but mastering the art of foundation is easier said than done.
Whether you need help finding the right foundation shade or are simply looking for a few application tips, you’ve come to the right place. To help us step up our complexion game, we asked TODAY style expert Bobbie Thomas to stop by the studio with makeup artist Danessa Myricks. These two makeup mavens are breaking down the ins and outs of foundation and sharing a few insider tips and tricks along the way.
Are two foundations better than one? Can you mix two different foundations together?
In an ideal world, we’d all find the perfect foundation shade to match our unique skin tone. In reality, finding your foundation soul mate is a little bit like searching for a needle in a haystack.
“The beauty hack that I would love to talk about is not just looking for one shade,” Myricks said. “Because how many people do you know who are the exact same shade all over their face, who have the same skin concerns all over their face?”
The key to finding your perfect foundation match is searching for not one, but two shades that you can mix and match to your heart’s content. And besides, a lot of us are actually already using two shades.
“If you think about it, most people will buy a foundation, and then they’ll buy a concealer. And the concealer is never the exact match to the foundation. It’s generally a few shades lighter. Which is the same thing as wearing two shades of ,” Myricks said.
Applying one shade of foundation all over your face can make you appear a bit flat, but blending two shades together can give you a more natural look and allow you to pay a bit more attention to the individual areas of your face.
“It’s really about getting away from the mask, and using your foundation, your complexion products, in a way that just enhances and brings attention to what’s special,” Myricks said.
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How to find the right foundation shade
Now that you know to look for two foundations, the question is: How do you find the right shades for your skin tone?
As you head to your local beauty aisle, keep this checklist of Thomas’ and Myricks’ tips handy:
- Don’t see a perfect match? That’s actually ok! “You’re really looking for something that bookends your skin. So a little darker and a little lighter,” Thomas said.
- It’s all about blending! When you add a shade to your chest, it should disappear seamlessly into your skin.
- Test your chest, cheek and jawline in the store to see if the shades blend in with the edges of your face.
Find your perfect undertone
Most of us are familiar with the term “skin tone,” but the term “undertone” can cause a bit of confusion. Undertone is basically a fancy word for the colors beneath your skin’s surface, and knowing which undertone category you fall into — warm, cool or neutral — can help you find your perfect foundation match.
How to determine your skin’s undertone:
- Look at your veins: If they’re more on the blue side, you’re cool. If they’re more on the green side, you’re warm. If they’re purple and blue, you’re a neutral.
- The color test: Hold up something that’s white and something that’s ivory. “If you prefer yourself on the crisp white, you’re typically cool. If you like the way your complexion looks against the ivory, you’re typically warm,” Thomas said.
- Break out your jewelry: “If you like wearing gold jewelry and that seems to complement your complexion, you’re warm. And if you like silver jewelry or platinum, typically you’re cool. Because that harmonizes better,” Thomas said.
Foundation application techniques
Once you’ve found your perfect foundation, the real fun begins! Playing around with application techniques and knowing just how much product to use can help you achieve a totally professional look at home:
- Do what works best for you: “You can start with the lighter tone first and then do the outside, or you can do it reverse. It doesn’t matter. Either way works,” Myricks said.
- Brighten things up: Have some darker spots around your mouth or other areas of your face? Apply your brighter foundation tone to balance things out.
- Less is more: It’s tempting to dump out a blob of foundation and rub it all over your face, but you only need a little bit. “You can dab in the areas you need the darker shade, and just dab in the areas you need the lighter shade,” Thomas said.
- Don’t be afraid to use your fingers! You can work some foundation magic with a brush, sponge or your fingers. “For some people, just using their hands is just easier. It’s that tool we were born with that always knows what to do. We don’t give it enough love. I love using a hand. Look how bright and cheerful the inside of her face is now. I just love that,” Myricks said.
How to customize your foundation
Whether you prefer a matte or glowing finish, there’s a foundation formula out there for just about everyone. If you can’t seem to commit to one formula over another, that’s OK, too! Part of the fun about foundation is customizing your product to fit your mood.
Myricks prefers a hydrating formula that adds a touch of glow, but realizes that many formulas tend to run more on the matte side.
“If you like a matte face, it’s great. But there are lots of ways that you can add radiance. And you can kinda dial it up or dial it down to what feels good for you. But even that little touch makes a huge difference,” Myricks said.
Creating what Myricks calls a “beauty cocktail” and adding a bit of glow is easier than you might think:
- Take your two go-to shades and mix in a touch of highlighter or any brightening product.
- Using your fingers or a brush, add your custom blend to the inside areas of your face.
- Want to avoid extra shine in typically oily areas of your face? Add your custom foundation blend to the cheekbones, the bridge of the nose and the chin.
How To Choose The Right Foundation For Your Skin Esha Saxena Hyderabd040-395603080 November 29, 2019
How to choose the right foundation for your skin type? Picking a foundation that caters to your skin’s needs can be a real challenge – it comes in countless shades and formulas. It’s also the trickiest makeup product to use as it can either give you that dreamy, flawless complexion, or it can have the exact opposite effect if you get it wrong. With a wee bit of research and an understanding of your skin, you’ll end up with the right one, without looking as if you’re wearing a mask. If you’re dying to have that seemingly natural perfection – finding the right foundation should be your current mission, and we’ve got some very handy tips to combat this first world problem.
How To Choose The Right Foundation – 6 Essential Things To Consider
The point of your base makeup is to help your skin look its best, and not to look like you have layers of product on. Here’s what you can do to nail your makeup!
1. Understand Your Skin Type
This is perhaps the most crucial step to help you choose the perfect foundation formula. You must understand your skin’s needs and concerns to pick a formula that will work best for you.
If you have oily skin, use powder foundation or an oil-free liquid one. These contain powders that absorb oil, leaving you with a smooth, matte finish. Mineral foundations also work well on oily skin, because the dry particles tend to absorb moisture and also prevent shine.
You can try: Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation or Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup for lasting and shine-free wear.
If you’re someone with dry skin, choose a hydrating powder foundation, a liquid or a stick one. These have a creamy consistency which delivers moisture to the skin and offer great coverage.
Try: Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream or NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation. These have a weightless, watery formula – the lightness allows the product to blend flawlessly, and there’s no sign of dryness.
If your skin is oily in some place, and dry in others – you’re stuck in the worst of both worlds. How to choose the right foundation for combination skin? Try strategically mixing and matching formulas and avoid foundations that are formulated to be emollient or oil-rich.
Your safest bet would be Maybelline Fit Me! Matte & Poreless Foundation as this not only hydrates and locks in moisture, but is also designed to suck out extra oil from places like your T-zone. You can also try IT Cosmetics’ Bye Bye Foundation, which comes with SPF 50.
How to find the right foundation shade if you struggle with acne-prone and sensitive skin. It’s best to avoid certain ingredients that can irritate your skin like alcohol and fragrance. Also, mineral oil and talc is a big no-no.
Try: Too Faced Born This Way Foundation or Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation. These are formulated without parabens and skin irritants.
2. Match The Shade To Your Skin Tone
How to choose the right foundation that matches your skin tone? The best places to test whether a foundation is a match for your skin is your neck or jawline. The right shade will seamlessly blend into your skin color and won’t leave you looking ashy or ghastly. If it’s leaving a whitish cast on your skin or if it’s making you look darker, then it’s the wrong shade. Don’t be afraid to mix two different colors for summer and winter. This also works because your skin tone will vary through the year and also vary in different areas of your face.
When you’re in doubt, go with the slightly darker shade because going lighter almost always looks artificial and chalky.
3. Identify Your Undertone
If you look at your bare skin, think about how golden (yellow toned) or rosy (pink toned) it appears. If you’re golden, you have a warm undertone, and if you lean towards the rosy side, you’re probably cool toned. If it’s a combination of the two, you have a neutral undertone. Another way to figure this out is to look at the color of your veins – if they appear more deep purple or bluish, you will likely fall in the cool-toned spectrum. If your veins appear greenish, you’re warm-toned. Now how to pick the right foundation?
Once you’ve determined your skin’s undertone, it will be easier to shop for your foundation, and you’ll end up picking the most flattering one. Some foundations also come with warm-toned and cool-toned labels.
4. Choose Your Finish
If you’re a newbie to using foundation, you may wonder what the heck a “finish” is? Even regular foundation users may seem to be confused about which one they want. A finish is simply the kind of sheen (or the lack of it) a foundation formula leaves on your skin. You’ll find dewy, matte, semi-matte and luminizing finishes, each one looking stunning in its own right. But deciding which one is right for you depends upon which look you like best. It also depends on your skin type to be able to pull off any finish.
Doing The Dewy Or Luminizing Finish
If you’re going for a dewy foundation, the rest of your makeup should be subtle – go for a subtle pigmented, non-shimmer eyeshadow and ditch the high-shine lipstick. Instead, use a matte lipstick. You don’t want a lot of sheen and shimmer going on, as this will only translate to a very oily appearance.
Mastering Your Matte Finish
This is great if you have oily or combination skin. Matte finish foundation will make you look virtually flawless with a poreless finish. If you do it right, you can create a gorgeous silky, powdery finish without feeling weighed down.
5. Test It Before You Buy It
Don’t just walk into the store and make your purchases before you’ve tested it out first. And we can’t stress enough upon this – do not color test on your hand! It’s not the same tone as your face. Instead, swatch along the side of your jawline for an exact color match. Choose a few shades that look the closest to your skin tone and test them out by dabbing some swatches NOT on your hand, but on your jawline to wind up with the most natural-looking color.
6. Consult A Makeup Professional
If you walk into a department store, you’ll pay more for your foundation, but trust me, it’s worth it. You’ll find some solid assistance from professionals who’ll help you out. This is especially helpful for all you beginners. Some brands also offer testers to interested customers, and you can test it out over a few days in mirrors and different lighting and also see how it photographs. It’s also advisable to not buy your foundation online as you may just end up with a shade that’s not even close to what you expected.
Now that you have a fair idea about how to choose the right foundation, here are a few things you should keep in mind during its application for a base that is to die for!
- You must arm yourself with the right application tools, be it a rounded foundation brush or a makeup sponge – buy high-quality tools for a seamless and effortless end-result.
- The secret lies in the prep! No matter what your skin type, moisturizing is key and using a primer is mandatory if you want your face to look and feel gorgeous through the day.
- Don’t use too much foundation. Apply it sparingly to the parts of your skin that need to be evened out – this will leave you with a more natural finish.
- If you want that sun-kissed glow, spray a soothing mist or a setting spray onto the large, flat size of your makeup sponge, and press it onto your skin all over to diffuse the look of the makeup, while making it look super natural and hydrated.
- Skip touching-up often with setting powder, instead use blotting papers to avoid looking like you have a little too much makeup on. You can also use a spritz to freshen up as this will help reactivate the pigments in your foundation, and leave your skin looking glowing and hydrated.
Finally, go by this rule – it should be hard for people to tell you’re wearing any product – and when you choose the right foundation shade, you will not see it. We hope these dos and don’ts come in handy and help you find the shade that was sent by the Gods just for your skin. If you have any personal tips and tricks on how to choose the right foundation, share them with us in the comments section below.
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Esha Saxena is a writer, journalist, and a full-time wallflower. She holds a Master’s degree in Media and Mass Communication and firmly believes that makeup is nothing less than art. Combining her love for writing with her passion for makeup, she brings to you reviews, techniques, and her ever-growing knowledge on this form of art. In her spare time, she loves reading, listening to obscure indie bands, and writing poetry – all of this while being a crazy dog lady.
As far as the beauty industry is concerned, the last couple of years may end up going down in history as one of the most transformational times in makeup history—period. Since the revolution unofficially kicked off in September 2017 with the launch of Fenty Beauty and the brand’s 40 shades of Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation (the line has since been upped to 50 shades), it seems like most makeup brands have followed suit and either added to their already extensive shade ranges (think brands like NYX Cosmetics and Estée Lauder increasing their offerings to 45 and 56, respectively), or beefed up previously lackluster selections (like Tarte adding 15 shades to the beloved Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation range).
And it’s not just shade ranges that have evolved. In-store shade-matching technologies are available at Sephora and Lancôme counters, online shade-matching quizzes are everywhere and this website recommends dozens of foundation shades based on entering just a single one that you’ve used before. Finally, the beauty industry is making up for its decades of oversights and neglect when it comes to serving people of colour, and is giving everyone the chance to find their perfect shade.
Thanks to this newfound sophistication and range of shade-matching methods, shopping for foundation should be easier than ever. But is it? What about all of the other aspects that need to be taken into consideration when selecting a foundation, like finish, coverage, ingredients and texture? Have we been so swept up in the glorious changes that the Fenty effect has brought on that we’re forgetting about, you know, our skin types and concerns?
We reached out to Toronto-based makeup artist Christine Cho to learn about all of the different foundation qualities, ingredients and formulas to consider when shopping for a foundation for every skin type and issue.
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How to choose the best foundation for dark under-eye circles
“The most important things to keep in mind here are coverage and hydration,” explains Cho. Then consider neutralization: that is, looking to opposite shades on the colour wheel when colour-correcting to figure out which ones cancel each other out. “If you have more blue-tinted, dark under-eye circles, choose complexion products with orange/peach undertones. If you have purple under-eye bags, choose complexion products that are more yellow/golden.” These “opposites” will hide the shades you’re looking to conceal.
Less is more when using foundation to cover under-eye circles, since it’s not an area that can handle heavy amounts of makeup. “Foundations that contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid are often better when it comes to delicate, dry areas like the under-eyes,” suggests Cho. Look for a foundation with a satin finish, to maintain the appearance of moisture, while also providing the coverage you’re looking for. Since the under-eye area can get super dry (the skin is extremely thin and thus can’t maintain moisture like, say, your cheeks can), it’s important to apply a good amount of moisturizer to the area before applying makeup. Keep in mind that you’ll want to use something that doesn’t irritate the ultra-sensitive eye area, so an eye cream is a safe bet.
Our pick: Benefit Hello Happy Flawless Brightening Foundation, $40, sephora.com
“It has great coverage, but feels light and moisturizing,” says Cho. “Skin looks healthy, reflective, luminous and flawless.”
How to choose the best foundation for dry skin
“Dry skin is also often dull,” says Cho. “Adding radiance, luminosity and brightness with hydration is key.” If your skin is on the dry side, you might want to stay away from ultra-matte finishes. Instead, opt for a foundation with a dewy, glowy finish“Skin should look ‘wetter’ after applying a good foundation to dry skin,” says Cho, “but not shimmery or sparkly.” And if you’re comfortable, lean toward more medium or sheer-coverage foundations (think: lightweight formulas that feel breathable, watery, or almost serum-like, rather than like a thick cream), to simply even out your skin tone.
When it comes to setting your makeup, less is definitely more if your skin is dry. “Avoid applying too much setting powder on top of foundation. Just a light dusting or pressing to a shiny T-zone” will do, says Cho. Anything else will simply suck all that much-needed moisture out of your skin. And we probably don’t need to say this but we will anyway—moisturizer is your friend! Load up on your favourite serums, creams and oils before you start doing your makeup. Your skin should already feel comfortable and moist before you apply foundation, so never apply onto a complexion that’s feeling tight, dry or itchy.
Our pick: Valmont Teint Majestueux Satin Glow Foundation, $275, lamaisonvalmont.com
“It’s light to the touch, fresh and provides the ideal satin skin finish without over-covering, which is especially great for dry skin types,” suggests Cho.
How to choose the best foundation for oily skin
“Oily skin is prone to skin looking shiny very soon after makeup application,” warns Cho. When it comes to coverage, oily skin types can pick their poison, based on preference. But whether you go with a full-coverage or a sheer-coverage foundation, “it’s important to balance the excess oil production at skincare level first, then choose a mattifying primer followed by an oil-free, mattifying foundation.”
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And if oil-production is your main concern, makeup brushes or beauty sponges are going to be your BFF. “Avoid using your fingers to apply foundation, as oil from your hands can add oil to your face.”
Our pick: Smashbox Studio Skin Full Coverage 24 Hour Foundation, $48, sephora.com
“This will provide a flawless base that is buildable and customizable—and it lasts,” says Cho.
How to choose the best foundation for textured skin and/or acne scars
If you’ve got some texture and acne-scarring, finding a product that offers both coverage and smoothness is super important. “Layering products is key here,” says Cho, rather than just focusing on using a lot of foundation. “Start with a smoothing primer (this BeautyBlender pick never disappoints), followed by a full-coverage foundation, then a thin layer of setting powder and a light dusting of powder foundation.”
Avoid watery foundations with a lot of illuminating ingredients and instead opt for “straight pigment with thick, creamy textures that can fill in some texture and stay put.” Another important thing to note is your application method. Textured skin can really benefit from a dense foundation brush for more careful, even application.
Our pick: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation, $53, charlottetilbury.com
“This is one of the best long-wear, full-coverage foundations,” says Cho. It’ll “last all day and night without budging once it’s set.”
How to choose the best foundation for sensitive, reactive skin
This is where things get a little more complicated. Finding a foundation for sensitive/reactive skin is a personal journey, says Cho. “Each individual’s allergies, triggers to irritation, ingredient sensitivity history and makeup goals” must be considered, since someone can have reactive skin and have any skin type (oily, normal, dry, combo etc).
This isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation but there are a few rules of thumb that can apply to all sensitive or reactive skin, regardless of your individual triggers.“Less is more when it comes to sensitive skin,” says Cho. “Try a tinted moisturizer or sheer foundation first, and layer if needed (or add concealer to spot areas) for extra coverage,” rather than going all in, all at once. Look for gentler formulas that don’t have any active ingredients in them, and take note of how you apply foundation, too. “It’s important to apply makeup gently, using less friction and pressure,” insists Cho. “Being light-handed is helpful in avoiding redness and flare-ups. Use a soft, latex-free sponge or super soft brush to apply foundation.”
Our pick: Burberry Matte Glow Foundation, $72, nordstrom.com
“It provides lightweight, reflective coverage that looks and feels like natural skin.”
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