Step one: Understand your undertones.
Foundation sets the stage for the rest of your makeup. You want foundation to blend in more than you want it to stand out. A good foundation should create a natural-looking color. When applied correctly, the best foundation shouldn’t be seen at all. Picking the right foundation shade to do that can be hard. According to one study, up to 94% of women are wearing the wrong color foundation.
How to find the right foundation shade:
- 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. The main three undertones are cool, neutral, and warm.
Cool undertones denote hints of pink
Warm undertones denote hints of yellow
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. Look at the color of the veins and how they look to the naked eye. If your veins are green, then you have warm undertones. If your veins are blue, you may have cool undertones. If your veins look closer to your skin color you may have neutral undertones.
For the most natural look, you’ll to want to choose a foundation shade that matches these undertones.
- Swatch out a few options.
Makeup artist Lauren D’Amelio recommends choosing three shades of your foundation that look close to your skin. Apply each in a vertical line from your cheek to your neck. Apply each one next to each other to see which blends the most.
- 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 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. 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.
- Consider the coverage level.
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.
- Take a shade-matching quiz.
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, and select what your undertones are. Then, you’ll be able to shop or select the proper shade, right from the website.
- 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. ”