Half the battle of finding the right foundation is finding your shade. It sounds simple enough, but how many times have you thought you’ve bought the exact match after trying it in-store, only to find it’s completely wrong when you try it again at home? It’s a common habit to test the colour of foundations on our hands, but our faces are often a different colour. A more accurate way of judging the perfect colour for your skin is to swatch foundations on your neck or jaw.
Beauty displays in-store tend to have lighting which makes it hard to determine whether or not you’ve got the right shade. Don’t be afraid to swatch a couple of shades you think are closest to your tone and walk away before making your purchase. Then have a look at the swatches you made in natural daylight.
The perfect colour should blend almost seamlessly with your skin, though an exact match might not always be available. You can try approaching assistants at makeup counters to help you find the right foundation. High-end companies may offer to mix up a unique shade for you or give you a small sample of an existing shade to try in case it’s not the right match. Your face isn’t all one tone, so you may have to also buy a slightly darker shade for areas like your forehead. The colour of our skin changes with the seasons too, so in the warmer months you may need a darker foundation than in the winter.
Finding the perfect foundation also depends on knowing which will suit the natural undertone of your skin. Is your complexion warm, cool or neutral? Warm coloured skin has a yellow undertone, cool skin has a red, pink or blue undertone and neutral skin tends to be a mixture of these tones. Knowing your undertone can be the difference between a glowing and ashy appearance. To figure out your undertone, look at the veins on the back of your wrist. Are they blue or green in appearance? The former means you have a cool undertone, and the latter means you have a warm undertone. If you notice you have both, or somewhere in between, your undertone is neutral. You can also try comparing which type of jewellery looks better on – silver or gold. Silver flatters cool undertones whilst gold suits warm undertones. Still confused? Swatch both warm and cool tones in order to know which works best.
When shopping for foundations it may not be immediately obvious which shades are for warm or cool undertones as sometimes the names of shades can seem cryptic or use words that hint at what the undertone might be. For example yellow based foundations may be described with words like ‘golden’, ‘bronzed’, ‘honey’, ‘caramel’, whereas red/blue based foundations may be described as ‘chestnut’, ‘cooper’, ‘blaze’. If you don’t fancy deciphering the names of shades and can’t tell which undertones are which, look to brands like Fashion Fair, NARS, Bobbi Brown and MAC. These brands have an array of foundations to suit different undertones and an assistant at their beauty counter can help point you in the right direction (MAC confusingly uses warm to describe cool skintones and vice versa).
Formula & Coverage
Just as important as the actual colour of your foundation, is the kind of formula you choose. Foundation types vary from mineral, mousse, liquid, sticks, cream and cream-to-powder, so there’s something for everyone. The formula finish will also be either sheer, matte or semi matte. For the most part, choosing your perfect formula depends on your personal preference. However, your skin type may also play a part. Is your skin oily, dry, normal or combination? These characteristics can determine how long your foundation will last and how well they will work with your skin depending on the type you choose. For example, mineral foundations tend to work well with oil-prone skin.
Also consider what kind of coverage you’re looking for. Foundations vary from light and medium to high coverage. Decide which end of the spectrum you prefer, also taking into account what kind of formula you want to use. Products vary, but generally mousse, tinted moisturisers or liquid foundations can provide a more lightweight to medium coverage. In contrast, creams, stick foundations and mineral powders can provide medium to full coverage.
Have you found your perfect foundation?