How to pick the CORRECT FOUNDATION SHADE

The biggest issue in foundation purchase isn’t which foundation to pick, but which shade you should get. I think that every person, at least once in their life, hasn’t been correctly matched. This post was inspired by my recent conversation with Bee (beelovesbeauty) and our issues with Chanel Perfection Lumiere foundation.

You are aware that foundations come in a variety of colours, skin tones and undertones. You have probably heard that our skin can be matched to neutral, pink (cold) and yellow (warm) undertones. To determine which undertone you are, you have to look at veins on your arm – if the majority of the veins look purple, your skin had pink undertone. If the majority of the veins look green, you have yellow undertone. If there is a similar amount of greenish and purple veins, you have neutral undertone.

However, determining your undertone is just one step in picking the foundation shade. You have to keep in mind that your body and your face may have different undertones – my body skin is yellow, but my face leans more to neutral undertone. If the same is similar for you, you will have to match the colour of your face and your body.

To do this you have two possibilities:

   a) match the body to the face (not very practical)

   b) match the face to the body (easier to do).

The better solution is under b) match the face to the body. This means that you have to pick the colour that will be similar to the colour of both the body and the face. This will be no problem if your face and body are very similar in colouring, but might prove challenging if there is a larger discrepancy in the colour.

For example, I never tan my face and I always wear at least SPF15, so in summer, my face is considerably (2-4 shades) lighter than the rest of my body. I solve this by picking slightly darker foundation shade which is still lighter than the body colour as I’m afraid that 100% match will look fake. I finish it with bronzer.

Another thing you have to keep in mind is that the greater the coverage, the better the foundation shade match should be. It is easy to pull off a shade or two too dark a light coverage foundation. However, a full coverage foundation match should be spot on.

Now, let’s get to the point.

The most important thing: test the foundation shade when the weather is cloudy. I have realized that the light during the cloudy days is the least forgiving. Even the slightest mismatch in the foundation shade will be obvious then. If the sun shines, you might be tempted to get darker foundation shade, as the sunshine washes the colour out.

You do not test the foundation shade under artificial lighting.

To correctly match the foundation, you should apply it on at least half of the face to see how the foundation shade works with the colouring of the rest of your body.

You should always wear the foundation on for at least twelve hours. That way you’ll see how the foundation works after several hours – some foundations are notorious for getting darker or becoming more orange as you skin gets oilier throughout the day.

If you are using a primer, be sure to test how the foundation works with your primer.

When being matched for the foundation shade, you have to keep in mind that the majority of SA’s are not very knowledgeable although you might get lucky and get a SA who will match you from the first attempt (I have encountered only one such SA in my life).

If you are pale, you have to be even more careful – for some reason paleness is associated with sickness and I have yet to find a SA who won’t match me with 3 shades too dark a foundation, saying that I need some colour on my face.

I hope this has been helpful. Feel free to share you shade matching stories and experiences.

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6 thoughts on “How to pick the CORRECT FOUNDATION SHADE

  1. Thank you :)
    As for the drugstore foundations, here in Croatia there are tester bottles of the foundation available, so I can test it the same way I test drugstore.
    As far as I know, in the States you cannot test the foundations, and I wouldn’t be comfortable by picking out the shade just from how it looks in the bottle. I really cannot think of any other way to match the foundation, other than to investigate the swatches on the net or find someone who uses the shade you’d like to try and ask him to give you a bit to test.

  2. This is such a helpful post and I love the tip about choosing foundation when it is cloudy outside (not easy to do here in sunny Los Angeles). How do you deal with choosing foundations that are drugstore/ high street?

  3. Thanks for the mention and for the advice in this post, great stuff :) I got matched to a cooler shade of the Chanel foundation this weekend so I’ll be testing it out on my blog soon, I’ll let you know how it goes. <3

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