How To Choose A Foundation That Matches Your Skin Tone

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We can't think of a more frustrating beauty scenario than walking away from a counter with a foundation that doesn't complement your skin tone. Sure, many brands have upped their color selections to be more inclusive, but that doesn't mean the process gets easier. If you're not a shade-matching pro, figuring out how to choose a foundation that matches your skin tone can be a downright chore. But we've got you covered with a few simple steps that can help you on your next shopping trip. Be sure to write these down.

How To Choose A Foundation That Matches Your Skin Tone: Find Your Undertone

Whether you have cool or warm undertones, your foundation selection should rely on where you land on that spectrum. Many brands have specific shades dedicated to each, and the last thing you want to do is wash out your complexion with an unflattering formula. "Most people tend to match their lightest tone in their face," Terrell Mullin, celebrity makeup artist whose clients include Eva Marcille and Cynthia Erivo says. "'Or, they'll try to match to say their T-zone. For me, however, I try to go to the neck and the hands because there's nothing worse than seeing someone with a foundation on and they put their hands next to their face."

How To Choose A Foundation That Matches Your Skin Tone: Assess In The Correct Lighting

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And while this one might seem obvious, lighting matters. Just because a shade looks like it matches indoors doesn't mean it will appear the same in natural light. Take a sample home for testing or compare shades while standing next to the nearest window, or if you can, go outside. "I always recommend that to most of my clients make sure they do look at themselves in natural sunlight," Mullin says. "This ensures that your makeup doesn't look totally different when you step outside. Great lighting is a non-negotiable for me when I'm doing my clients."

How To Choose A Foundation That Matches Your Skin Tone: Practice Trial And Error


Notably, makeup legend Bobbi Brown suggests the trial and error process, using three different shades. Mullin also agrees, especially now when we're frequenting stores less and less. "Chances are you won't pick your correct shade immediately when shopping online," Mullin says. "You have to buy a few bottles to play with to figure it out how it looks in different lighting. It's never good to pick just one shade virtually. Even when people go to makeup counters I suggest grabbing a few similar shades."

How To Choose A Foundation That Matches Your Skin Tone: Blend Properly


Color aside, not blending properly can result in a blotchy mess that feels completely unnatural. Therefore, the right brush or sponge is key. If you prefer using a brush, find one with softer, more compact bristles. This will ensure a natural skinlike finish that will melt product into the skin. If sponges are your thing, however, you can't go wrong with a Beautyblender which has a perfect porosity for dispersing product to the face evenly without wasting foundation in the process.

How To Choose A Foundation That Matches Your Skin Tone: Ask The Pros

Sometimes you just can't figure it out, and that's okay, just ask a pro. If you're comfortable traveling to a makeup counter, there are plenty of professionals that are have knowledgeable beauty experts on-site to help with any questions you may have. Plus, shade matching is a free service.

We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

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