How to colour match your foundation

Finding the perfect foundation shade is the bane of every makeup wearers life. Fair, light, medium, dark, deep dark – how do you decide where you lie in all this!? Plus adding in undertones just complicates matters even further! Here is a little guide on how to find your perfect shade.

The basics

Let’s start with your overall skin tone. You’ll have some idea whether your skin is fair, light, medium, deep or deep dark. This can often vary from foundation to foundation, but if you’re pale af like me, starting with the lightest shade probably won’t be too far off the end result. This is usually the easy part…

On top of this, you’ll probably need to know your undertone to get the best match. The options here are warm, neutral and cool. If you have warm undertones, your skin will look a little more yellow/golden and you’re likely to tan pretty well. If you have cool undertones, you’ll have quite pink skin (like me) and probably won’t fare too well in the sun. Neutral undertones are when you have a mix of both. Supposedly you are should keep these undertones in mind when choosing a foundation shade and stick to a foundation that reflects your undertone. However, as someone with very pink skin already, I would want a more yellow foundation or at the very least a neutral shade to lessen the redness in my skin. If you prefer foundations with different undertones to your natural one, then that is absolutely fine. While you can’t change the undertone you’re born with, you are in total control of which undertone you choose for your foundation and it’s completely down to personal preference.

Image result for foundation colour spectrum

Buy online or in store?

If it is the first time that you’re trying/buying a particular foundation, always try and go in store to test it out first. Pictures on the internet can be very deceiving and can misrepresent the shades, so get yourself in store to have a nose. The people on the counter will be more than happy to shade match you and try it on your skin, and even give you a little sample to take away so you can really test out the foundation before you buy it. Often foundations are pretty expensive, so don’t waste your money by guessing your shade! Going in store (usually) is a fool proof way to get your shade right, and if the shade match isn’t spot on there and then, you can go back and try a different one and at least you’ve not parted with your hard earned money.


In case you’re not aware, it’s always recommended to swatch foundations on your chest or your jaw to see whether they will match your skin colour. Don’t just swatch it on your hand. Your face is often much darker than the body due to sun exposure so you need to make sure that your shade doesn’t stand out from your paler neck! When you go in store, they will shade match you by swatching 3 shades on your jaw. They’ll remove any makeup you currently have on and will try shades with varying undertones and see which you like best. They will advise which they prefer but ultimately the decision is down to you. If they don’t offer more than one shade for you to test, then it’s very unusual and not best practice.


Sometimes you’ll notice that your foundation gets darker/more orange after you’ve applied it – and that is called oxidation. It’s cause by a chemical reaction between your makeup and air and generally happens within the first 1-3 hours of wear. Test your foundations out before you buy them! Check it out in all different lighting – especially natural light (indoor light often tricks us!) If you know that a formula oxidises, you might like to get a lighter shade… or skip the foundation all together.

Ultimately, there is a whole lot of trial and error when it comes to finding your perfect shade match, and maybe even settling on a shade that isn’t exact. Lots of people will often find themselves in between two shades and have to mix them to make it work. Other people will rely on other complexion products, such as concealer, to get the undertone they want. The best advice I can give you is 1) do your research online 2) get shade matched in store and know what kind of undertone you want 3) get a sample of the product and test it at home for a few days. If it’s a success after all that, then you’re on to a winner!


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