How To Ensure You Get The Right Foundation For Your Skin Tone

We’ve all been there: you meticulously do your makeup, applying a new foundation and setting it in place. You take a selfie under the indoor lights and feel fabulous, only to walk outside into natural light and realize your foundation shade is so off.

But that doesn’t have to be a problem; you simply need to learn how to match your foundation to your skin tone the right way.

Once you nail the basics of identifying your skin tone, your skin's undertones, and your skin type, you’ll be on your way to finding your perfect foundation. This list makes it extra easy for you to find the best foundation for different skin tones. 

  • It All Comes Down To Color Theory


    A post shared by ✨pyj (@peipiepoe) on


    Finding the perfect foundation for your skin tone all comes down to color theory. Basically, your skin tone is the surface color of your skin and is usually categorized as one of four tones: fair, light, medium, or deep.

    Then, your undertones come into play, which can be cool, warm, or neutral. That's why someone with fair skin and warm undertones can't necessarily wear the same foundation shade as someone with fair skin and cool undertones. Finding your ideal shade involves analyzing your skin tone, undertones, and skin type to figure out what types of shades and formulas will make your skin look the most luminous.

  • Identify Your Surface Tone


    Your surface tone shouldn't be too hard to find, since it's completely based on the pigmentation of your skin. By this point in your life, you've probably discovered whether your skin is considered fair, light, medium, or dark. If not, here are some pointers to help you determine which category you fall into.

    • Those with fair skin have very pale complexions and tend to burn easily.
    • People with light skin are on the paler side, but may have yellow or beige undertones that warm up the complexion. 
    • Folks with medium skin can have more olive undertones, and tend to reach for shades labeled "Caramel" or  "Golden." 
    • People with dark skin have a deep complexion which is often labeled as "Ebony" or "Deep."
  • Look For Inclusive Makeup Brands


    In the quest to find the shade of foundation that's right for your skin, make sure you look to brands that have an inclusive shade range. This way, you'll be more likely to find a product that's an exact match for your skin. Fenty Beauty and Make Up For Ever both have over 40 fabulous shades to choose from in their foundation lines, and Bobbi Brown offers a large selection as well. Babe on a budget? Maybelline's Fit Me range has an extensive amount of shades. 

  • Identify Your Undertones


    If you don't know your undertones, you aren't living. Seriously - products that match your undertones (either cool, warm, or neutral) can make a huge difference in your overall look! 

    • Your undertone is considered cool if you have pink, red, or bluish undertones.
    • Your undertone is considered warm if you have yellow, peachy, or golden undertones.
    • Your undertone is considered neutral when you have a mix of both cool and warm colors underneath the skin's surface. 

    Not sure what your undertone is? There are a few ways to find out. First, check your wrist. Do your veins appear to be more blue or more green? If they're blue, chances are you've got cool undertones. If they look green, that shows the blue color of your veins is mixing with the yellow (warm) undertones in your skin.

    You can also refer to your jewelry box. People who look best in silver jewelry tend to have cool undertones. Ladies and gents who go for gold often have warm undertones. If you look good in everything, then you probably have neutral undertones.

    Nowadays, brands are making it easier than ever to match your foundation to your undertone by labeling each foundation shade as cool, warm, or neutral. Check out Estée Lauder's Double Wear Stay In Place Foundation for an easy guide to undertones.

  • Identify Your Skin Type


    Finding the best foundation is about more than just your skin tone - your skin type plays a big part in the selection process, too. Is your skin oily, dry, or normal/combination?

    If your skin is on the oily side, look for foundations that are oil-free and long-wearing with a matte finish, like Tarte Cosmetics Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation.

    If your skin tends to be dry and flaky, look for a hydrating foundation that will cover and calm any dry spots, like Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint.

    If you have normal/combination skin, then you have your pick of foundation formulas - Kat Von D's Lock-It Foundation is a good place to start.

  • Match Shades To Your Chest, Not Your Wrist


    One of the biggest beauty myths out there is you should match your foundation to your inner wrist. However, the inner wrist usually tends to be paler than your face, leading to a foundation mismatch.

    A better place to test? The chest. Lauren Conrad advises, "A good trick for finding the right shade of foundation is to match it to your chest - especially if you’re good at protecting your face and neck with SPF."