One of the most frequently asked questions our Beauty Guides get is “what color foundation should I use?” With so many shades and coverage options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Plus, you’ll want to go about it a bit differently depending on your skin tone! Just like with the latest launch of our inclusive new Perfect Foundation shades, our goal is to help as many beauty lovers as possible find the shade that makes them feel their best. Read on for a step-by-step guide to discovering yours.
Step 1: Determine your undertone.
This is probably the most important step when matching foundation to your skin tone. There are three categories of undertones: cool, warm and neutral. Having cool undertones means your skin has tones of blue, red or pink underneath. For warm undertones, your skin has gold, yellow or peach tones. Neutral means you have a combination of both warm and cool tones.
The easiest way to assess your undertones is by looking at the veins in your wrist. If your veins are blue, you most likely have cool undertones. If they’re green, you have warm undertones. If they’re blue-green, you have neutral undertones.
Step 2: Select shades for your skin tone.Now that you know your undertones, this and your skin tone will help you determine what foundation shade you need. If your skin has cool undertones, you’ll want to look for a red or pink-toned shade. For warm undertones, you’ll want a shade that has a gold or yellow base. For neutral undertones, you’ll want a neutral shade.
If this is your first time choosing a foundation, we recommend trying at least a couple shades to make sure you find the right one. Our Perfect Foundation is available in a duo or six-shade palette that’s perfect for experimenting.
Step 3: Put it to the test.
If you talk to three different people, they might give you three different ‘best’ ways to test out your foundation – and they might all be right! The most accurate way to swatch comes down to your skin tone. Find yours below for the perfect place to start:
- Light : Lighter skin tones should swipe the shades they’re testing from their cheek down to their neck. Your face gets the most exposure to sun while your neck gets the least, so chances are, your face will be a bit darker. Choose the shade that most closely matches the darkest part of your cheek, and then use bronzer to shade your neck to match. If you match to the lightest part, you risk looking washed-out.
- Medium : Those with medium skin tones tend to tan more easily. Because of that, it’s important to find the shade that best matches the tannest part of your face. Your forehead tends to tan the fastest and catch the most light so swatch a few shades there to find your match.
- Deep : Darker skin tones are often made up of many shades – it’s what gives them such beautiful depth. But it’s also what makes them so difficult to color match! The key here is knowing that you might end up with more than one perfect color. Start by swiping three vertical stripes of the same foundation across your cheek. It’s likely that the color will blend nicely on the outside of your face but appear too dark on the interior, or vice versa. If this is the case, apply a deep foundation along the outer edges of your face, and use a brighter shade on the interior.
Like any good rule, there are exceptions to all of the above! A big one is if you plan on wearing an outfit that highlights your upper chest. In nearly all cases, your chest will be a bit darker than your face, and a too-light foundation will give you that dreaded ghost-face effect. To avoid that, swatch the foundation across your chest and then use that shade on your face. You might need to add a bit of bronzer to deepen your face to match your chest, but it will have a much more natural, healthy look.
Step 4: Prep your skin.
Before you apply the foundation you’ve chosen, you want to make sure your skin is properly primed. Not properly priming your skin can affect the way the foundation sits on your face. Patches of dead skin cells can cause uneven spots that will make even your perfect match look like a disappointing dud.
We recommend starting with a moisturizer like Skin Therapy, which is chock-full of hydrating ingredients like Safflower Oil and Evening Primrose. Then, apply a primer like our First Base oil-free priming spray to shrink the appearance of pores and prevent foundation from settling into fine lines. Now your skin is foundation-ready!
Step 5: Wear for a few hours.
Before you debut your new shade for the world to see, spend a day wearing it around the house. See how it looks under different lighting to make sure it stands up to natural and artificial light alike. You also want to monitor how it looks and feels on your skin to be sure of your shade and rule out any potential skin irritation. Once you’re ready to call it a day, use our Make-Off Remover Wipes for quick, easy and gentle foundation removal.
Already know your Perfect Foundation match? Share your favorite foundation tips in the comments!