How to find your perfect foundation colour

I have a drawer in my bedroom completely full of foundations that just don’t match my skin tone – a sad waste of make-up. Unfortunately a great deal of beauty counter workers just don’t get the correct shades for their customers, often due to lighting in the store, sometimes due to inexperience or their own personal preference of colour. 

One lady even told me to go two shades darker ‘to give me a bit of a tan’! Fortunately I’ve grown quite fond of my pale skin and politely declined. 

I often get told that ladies purchase a colour only to find the next day they wear it it’s not quite right. There are several possible reasons for this:

  • The lighting in the store is dark or slightly coloured and changes the look of your skin and foundation. Once you go outside it can look a completely different shade. 
  • Foundation oxidises over the course of the day, making the colour slightly darker or more orange. It’s worse for those with oily skin, but can happen to anyone. You can prevent oxidisation by using a silicone-based primer. 
  • You are using a tinted primer or different setting powder. 
  • You tested the foundation on your hand/arm/fingers. Your face will probably be a different colour due to sun exposure and natural variations in skin colour throughout the body. 
  • You’re using a different brush or sponge to apply your foundation. Brushes tend to give a thicker coverage, enhancing any mismatch of colour. 
  • You have chosen a shade that doesn’t complement your warm, cool or neutral skin undertone. 

The best way to find a good match is to find out your undertone and then test a variety of shades in that tone that are closest to your skin colour. 

If for example that there are three shades that closely match your skin, try them out on different areas of your face (cheek, cheek and forehead) and take a look in the mirror in different lights, including outside. Wear the shades for a good couple of hours before making up your mind as they may look slightly different once they’ve dried on your skin. Yes you may look a little odd for a while, but it’s a small price to pay to find your true foundation match. 

Warm, neutral and cool tones

Foundation looks a bit too pink? You probably have cool undertones. Too yellow? You’re likely to be warm-toned. Not sure? There are several ways to find out. 

The vein test

Take a look at the veins on your inner wrist. If they’re blue then you have cool undertones. If they’re green then go for warm. If they’re a bit of both then it’s likely you have neutral undertones. 

The jewellery test

Do you look totally glamorous wearing silver jewellery but find gold looks tacky on you? Go for a cool toned foundation. 

Do you radiate with gold jewellery but find silver looks dull? You have warm undertones. 

If you can wear both then not only are you super lucky, but you have neutral undertones. 

The sun

If you tend to burn to the colour of a lobster in the sun rather than tan then you’re likely to rock cool undertones. If you are lucky enough to develop a bronzed glow then you probably have warm undertones.

Either way, always wear your sun cream ladies – you do not want to be trying to put foundation on leathery skin!


If your wardrobe is full of blues, purples and deep greens then you have cool undertones. If you look your best in orange, pink, red and yellow you’re probably warm toned. 

It’s a complete misconception that fair skinned ladies have only cool undertones and that tanned skin is warm. 

There are a multitude of skin colours and unless you get your undertone colour correct, the skin under your foundation will always look slightly dull. 

Make sure to always wear a good primer and finish your foundation with a sprinkling of setting powder. In my opinion, the brands with the best variety of shades are Mac, NARS and Chanel. 

Let us know how you get on by sending us a message on our Facebook page!

Credit Source:

Evie Garnett

Evie is the Head of Beauty for Suit Your Look, specialising in hair and skin products. She loves nothing better than natural haircare and learning all about the science behind beauty ingredients!

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