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Updated: Jun 7, 2022

Have you ever found it challenging to match a makeup foundation to your skin color and its undertone? Read on to learn more insight to remedy this problem.

Modle with fair skin like butter, brown hair with pixey hair cut, and blue eyes.
Beauty is more than skin deep. @Kim McElroy Photographer

How many foundations have you bought only to get home and it is the wrong color? My guess is too many. Here are a few helpful tips for finding your best match and more.

Finding Your Foundation Color Match

Makeup brands will offer various colors to choose from, ranging from the lightest to the darkest, and each color will also have an undertone to it. For example, you can have porcelain, usually the lightest shade, with a cool undertone or ivory with a warm undertone. The choices of color get darker as you go along the spectrum of foundation colors, with each having varying undertones to help match your skin. Look for the color closest to your skin color, and then go up or down one shade to find your undertone. Sometimes you will see a (c) for cool, a (w) for warm, or a (n) for neutral next to the color name. The labels assist you in finding the color match that works best for you. Some brands offer a large selection of colors, which I see as the best option for getting the color match that works for you. As a makeup artist, I would often mix foundation colors to get an exact match—a little of this and a little of that. Also, keep in mind the seasonal changes. Our skin shade often changes during summer, even if we aren't trying. Plus, we may opt for a lighter coverage in the summer with a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen and a foundation with more coverage during the winter months. Remember, it is always about your comfort level and what works for you.

Uneven Skin Color and Its Undertone:

Finding the right foundation color to match your skin color and the undertone can be a bit complicated. Some people naturally have darker skin on their faces and lighter skin on their necks, or the opposite can be true. You can accomplish a balance between the color variation. The best practice would be to choose a foundation that balances in-between those two skin shades. After applying your foundation on your face and lightly blending down the neck use a translucent setting powder, either loose or pressed powder with a brush or sponge. Setting powders also come in various shades, but not as many color options as foundation products. This product is usually listed as 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 starting with the lightest and going to the darkest like the brand Lancome offers. You may want to get two setting product shades. This way you can customize your color to match your face and neck. I will be doing videos on this subject soon. I have started doing a few Youtube videos under Beauty's Whole Health that start simply with prepping and cleaning your makeup products.

Undertones: Warm, Cool, Neutral

Undertones can be either warm, cool, or neutral. Warm undertones lean toward a yellowish, golden, or peach color. In comparison, cool undertones lean toward a bluish, reddish, or pink color. You can have a mix of these, which would mean you have a neutral undertone.


A person can have a very fair shade of skin color with either a warm, cool, or neutral undertone. A person can have a darker shade of skin and also have a warm, cool, or neutral undertone.

A quick tip for figuring out your skin's undertone is to look at your wrist with your palm facing up. If your veins appear a bit olive or green, you have a warm undertone. Bluish or purple veins suggest you have a cool undertone. If you have a combination of blue and green in your veins appearance, you have a neutral undertone.

Quality Foundation

Foundation makeup is the base of all great makeup applications. It can be a very light application or a bit heavier; it depends on the look and coverage you prefer. Splurging on a higher-end brand is usually best practice, especially if you will be professionally photographed or doing makeup on a subject who will be in front of the camera. Remember, you do not need a heavy makeup application for photographs, as most people may think. But, again, it does depend on the look you are trying to accomplish. The majority of my professional makeup application has always been to use the least amount of foundation possible to get an even, consistent all-over result. #keepfoundationminimal I have always used a water-based liquid foundation (revealing favorite products in a later post). If someone has oily or combination skin, I will use a makeup primer before foundation application. Oil blotting papers are a great way to absorb excess oil from the skin throughout the day without removing makeup or adding more powder.

Smear of makeup foundation on paper.
Foundation is not spackle.

Foundations Can Contain Additional Nutrients

Foundation is getting savvier by adding additional nutrients like vitamin E, A, C, and also retinol or hyaluronic acid. Foundations can also contain sunscreen to help protect against those sun-damaging rays. Did you know you can make your own BB cream or tinted moisturizer by mixing some of your foundation with a small amount of your favorite moisturizer or serum? Use the top of your clean hand to add about equal parts of your foundation and moisturizer. Mix and apply with fingers, a makeup sponge, or a foundation brush.

Different Types of Foundation Formulas

There are many different types of makeup foundation, from liquid to mousse, sticks, etc. It is possible to find the right formula for your skin type. When going for a higher-priced brand in a department store, you can usually get a product sample of the color and type of formula you are leaning toward, so you can try it before buying. Drug store brands do not have that option. The most important thing about foundation makeup is the results on your skin. The right product for you will create a smooth finish that wears well throughout the day and into the night. Your foundation should not separate, peel or lift away from the skin. Some foundations, like oil-based, are naturally heavier, while a water-based foundation is lighter and easier to apply. Any foundation type you use can be applied enough for even coverage or layered to cover dark spots or blemishes. The only foundation type that is not easy to blend is silicone-based which is applied using an airbrush tool. Once you spray on the foundation, there is no room for blending. Airbrush is a skill in itself.

More to come soon! #beautyismorethanskindeep

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