We’ve all been there!! You go to the store, a sales associate matches your foundation shade only for you to get home and realize it’s anything but a perfect match. You go online, buy 4 shades of the same foundation and wonder if you’ll be able to return the 3 that don’t work. With samples no longer available due to Covid, online shopping and guesstimating have become our only foundation-matching resource. BUT! I am here to tell you it doesn’t need to be so difficult, as long as you know what shade and undertone to look for.
The first step in choosing the right shade is identifying your shade range or shade ranges. There are 5 shade ranges; Light, Medium, Tan, Dark, Deep. For reference, I am Light in the winter and Light/Medium in the summer.
One of the biggest factors that distinguishes shades within a shade range is the undertone of a shade. An undertone is the color from underneath the surface of your skin that contributes to the overall hue of your complexion. Don’t be confused with skin discoloration – acne scars, hormonal rashes or dark circles – these are surface tones and do not reflect the overall shading of your skin.
Cool Undertones: Blue, pink, silver hue to their skin. Look best in silver jewelry and winter-inspired shades (light blue, pink). Blue/Purple veins.
Warm Undertones: Peachy, yellow, olive or red hue to their skin. Look best in gold jewelry and summer-inspired shades (red, yellow, orange). Green/Olive veins.
Neutral Undertones: Pink and yellow hue to their skin. Look good in any jewelry and most colors. There is no obvious shade to the skin. Blue/Green Veins.
Once you’ve identified your shade range and undertone, look for foundations that either have shade descriptions or are labeled with their undertone. For instance, Make Up For Ever uses Y (yellow) and R (red) in their shade names (Y225) and they also provide descriptions next to them (Y225 – for light skin with golden undertones). Brands with great undertone descriptions include NARS, MAC, Make Up For Ever, Tarte, Fenty and Estee Lauder.
Choose 2-3 colors that you think might work for you. Swatch the foundation on the bottom of your jawline, onto your neck. Start blending them out – whichever one blends into your skin, seemingly disappearing into your skin, is your match! If you’re still unsure, take the two you think fit you best and blend one into one cheek and the other into your other cheek (don’t forget your neck too). This side-by-side comparison is a surefire way to see which is your true match.
Your skin type matters – dry, oily, combo. Pick a foundation that meshes well with your skin type. Not only do you want the shade to match but you want the formula to mesh well with your skin so that your foundation does not catch onto dry patches or cause your skin to overproduce oil, which can lead to foundation oxidation (when your foundation changes 2-3 shades darker).
How you prep your skin pre-makeup also matters. If you are oily – wash your face with a cleanser, apply a thin water-based moisturizer, apply a mattifying primer then go in with your foundation. If you are dry – wash your face with a gel cleanser, exfoliate, apply a hydrating moisturizer or primer then go in with your foundation.
I really hope this was helpful! Please comment down below, letting me know if you learned something from this or plan to use any of my shade matching tricks. I’d love to hear from you!