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Foundation 103: Finding the Right Foundation Shade

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

You walk down the makeup isle and see a million foundation shades staring at you. It can be overwhelming, am I right? Where do you even start? The first thing you need to know going into foundation shopping is your skin’s undertone. Your undertone is the color beneath the surface of your skin that affects your overall hue. When your foundation‘s undertone and your skin’s undertone match, your foundation blends in with your skin. Undertones come in 3 categories: cool, warm, and neutral.

There are a few ways to determine your undertone. First is to look at the veins in your wrist. If they are green, you have a warm undertone. If your veins are blue or purple, you have a cool undertone. If you have a combination, you are neutral. Another way to determine your undertone is the jewelry test. Silver jewelry pops on cool toned skin, where as gold jewelry tends to stand out more on warm toned skin. Do you burn easily in the sun? Then you might be cool toned. Does your skin take kindly to being goldenly sunkissed? Then you are probably warm toned.

The tests above are just general guidelines, a place to start. I have purple veins yet I develop a tan within minutes of being in the sun, so I fall under the neutral realm. If your foundation looks too yellow or orange on you, try a cool toned foundation. Likewise, if it looks too pink, try a warm toned foundation. If you really don’t want to fuss over it or just want to play it safe, stick with something neutral.

You will find that a lot of brands have words specifically designated to their own foundation to set apart their cool or warm toned ranges; words like beige or sand. Don’t be afraid to ask a sales associate to clarifying the brand’s terms. I also recommend asking a sales associate to help you color match your foundation. The lighting in the store usually isn’t the best so I recommend being color matched next to a window to see the foundation in natural light.

Remember, most beauty stores let you return or exchange your purchases. If you purchase a foundation and after days of wearing it you find that it just doesn’t blend in nicely with your skin coloring, return it and try again. Don’t let foundation shopping scare or intimidate you. It’s not the boogie man, it’s just foundation.


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