How to Color Match Your Foundation to Skin Color?


Many women have a difficult time finding the perfect shade of foundation to match their skin tone. It can seem like a daunting task given the wide selection of colors available. However, knowing a few key pieces of information before making a trip to the beauty store can help with correctly color matching foundation to skin color.

Identifying Complexion Intensity

Before choosing a foundation, it is important to know about complexion intensities. This simply means identifying the overall color of the skin. Complexion intensity falls under four categories: fair (pale to light skin), medium (light to moderately tanned skin), tanned (deeply tanned skin), and dark (naturally darker skin).

Identifying Complexion Undertones

Every complexion (no matter the intensity) has undertones. These are the secondary colors of the skin. Before trying to identify them, it is important to first remove all makeup and always use natural light when checking in the mirror. Artificial light can make the skin appear a different color than it actually is. There are three different skin undertones: warm (yellow, olive, gold), cool (pink, beige, brown), and neutral (a balanced combination of warm and cool). Another way to identify undertones is to look at the inside of the wrist and check if the skin looks more pink, yellow, or a shade in between. There are also color charts available to make matching tones simpler. They can be obtained at a beauty store and online.

Identifying Skin Type

Knowing about skin types is important because it determines what texture of foundation is needed (powder, cream, or liquid). There are four skin types: dry, normal to dry, normal to oily, and oily. The dry skin type and the oily skin type simply mean the entire face has one texture, either all dry or all oily. Normal to dry skin is when the center of the face (the forehead, nose and chin) has more moisture than the other areas of the face. Normal to oily skin is when the center of the face, most of the forehead, the cheeks (but not the cheekbones), and most of the chin has more moisture than the rest of the face. For dry skin, cream foundations and liquid foundations are recommended because powder based foundations can enhance dryness. For oily skin, foundations with a mineral base (powder) that are oil free are recommended (cream foundations and liquid foundations will not blend well).

Testing Color

Once the three components of the skin have been identified, testing foundation can be done. Makeup brands have color codes that identify complexion intensity and undertones. Each brand does this differently (some use letters, some use numbers, some use both), so it is very useful to look into how the desired brand has systemized this. Testing in natural light will prevent any color distortion that can occur under artificial light. Most beauty stores have sample size foundations specifically made for color testing. These are usually kept behind the counter and can be obtained by simply asking a beauty advisor for them.

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