There’s nothing more irritating in beauty, outside of perfecting winged liner, than finding the perfect shade in complexion products. The struggle with finding your match can be real frustrating especially when you get home and it’s obviously not the right option for you.
I’ve written some tips below on finding your undertone (warm, cool, neutral, and olive), specific examples of foundation colors for all skin tones using Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Foundation shades, and things to keep in mind when matching and swatching yourself for complexion products.
If you’re anything like me you want to get home and try your beauty products right away, and you don’t want to wait to return or exchange them if they aren’t the right match. I know I never want to return a foundation knowing it can’t be repackaged and reshelved. To avoid picking the wrong shade I’m going to try and explain how to find your undertone, and shade match yourself as easily as possible.
Picking out your own undertone is sometimes a struggle, especially if you’re somewhere in the middle. Pink/yellow, red/golden, olive… there’s so much going on in skin tones. Once you’ve found the right undertone for your skin it will completely change your makeup game, and make for a much more flawless face.
FINDING YOUR UNDERTONE
To make it real simple look at your wrists real quick, and the top of your hand. Do you have green, blue, or purple veins? If you have green veins you probably have a warm undertone. If you’ve got blue or purple veins you could probably check into the cool category. If at this point you have no idea because you have can see both, you’re most likely a neutral undertone. Don’t analyze this too much, or you’ll definitely see both.
Once you’ve found your undertone we’ll move on to finding your shade match. I’m sure you already know if you’re fair, light, medium, or dark when it comes to the depth of color in your skin. Sometimes you’re a little in the middle, I know I can sometimes fit between fair/light in some brands, and light/medium in others. Keep in mind that not all brands were created equally. Some brands have a very messed up idea of what medium/dark is for example.
PICKING THE RIGHT FOUNDATION SHADE
If you’re cool-toned your foundation is probably going to be slightly pinker or redder and less yellow in the bottle. Cool toned skin isn’t exclusively for fair-skinned girls, it can range from fair to dark complexions, but not usually in the medium tones which tend to be more golden throughout. In the fairer skin types you’re going to be looking for a more pink tint, for a darker complexion you’re looking for more of a red tint.
Most of the time if you have a warm undertone you’re going to go more towards the yellow/golden shades and stay away from the pinker shades. If you have a warm undertone you’re most likely not in the fair range and could start somewhere in the middle of the light shade range for most brands. I know that after a while of looking at the bottles they all kind of start to look the same, but these are things to keep in mind when you first approach a new foundation line.
If you’re somewhere in the middle with a neutral undertone it may be a little more difficult to get your shade right. I know, that doesn’t help much, but good news is that neutral undertones can get away with tons of different foundation tints so at least it’s a little harder to mess up. For me, as someone with a neutral undertone, I think it helps to think about your other complexion products. When you chose a concealer do you find it works better when you use a more pink or yellow concealer? I tend to lean more towards peachy, salmon-y colors because I have a lot of discoloration around my eyes from veins that are both purple and blue. So I tend to look for foundations that are a little more peachy rather than something clearly pinker than the others. With neutral undertones come a lot of back and forth, try and figure out if you lean more towards the pink and yellow tones. You may find that a warm foundation works in some brands, and doesn’t in others. Plus, sometimes foundations just don’t have enough shades to really work so you may have to lean more pink or golden whether you like it or not.
And if you’ve got an olive skin tone you’re going to have a neutral undertones that tend to be a little more yellow because you’re skin tends to be a more of a grayish-green tint than other neutral undetones. Sometimes olive skin tones are grouped in with all neutral undertones, but I feel like it’s easier to separate the category because it’s exclusively less pink/red.
Let’s take a look at Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation. Her line has 40 foundation shades and each shade is gets darker going from 100 up to 490, and each foundation lists whether or not it’s warm, cool, or neutral. Some even have a small description of the color for very specific tones like warm peach and neutral olive.
As you can see for fair-medium, the cool bottles are more pink, the warm more yellow, and the neutral more in the middle being more the two mixed with a grayish tone to them to level them out. If you try out cool toned shades and see they’re a little too pink, try a neutral shade that will give you a tiny bit of warmth in your foundation.
For medium tones it’s a little hard to have cool tones because they’re usually more golden so more than likely if you’re medium you have a warm undertone. So we can see the cool tones in the darker skin being a little more red in the bottle, the warm peachy tone for those not too warm, and the neutral tone being an olive neutral and more greenish-gray in the bottle without being too ashy. Fenty’s got all the bases covered.
Finally dark/deep, the range a lot of brands don’t spend enough time on and everyone needs to figure out real fast. Same as the others, the cool is more red in the bottle. The warm shade is golden, and the neutral shade is a mix of the two leaning more towards the red tint. If you look at the shades enough you can start to see the undertones in the bottle.
Some people foundation match to their chest, or their shoulder, to get a better idea of what their overall skin tone is especially if your face is naturally lighter, you self-tan, or have discoloration in your face. I usually match to my chest because it’s in between the color of my face and my hand, which tends to work for me. You’ll definitely find what works for you, and you may change it over the years. If you choose to color match to your face pick anywhere except the middle of your face because those are the sections that get highlighted anyways. I’d say match to your jawline or outer parts of the face to be safe.
I usually like to pick a shade a little darker than what would be a perfect match for me. I feel like it’s normally easier to match in the store, and easier to work with as the seasons change. I could always lighten up my foundation with concealer and powder if it’s not working out, or mix in with another foundation. Even though I use SPF on my face, and cover it as much as possible at the beach it stills gets a good amount darker in the summer. Ya girl ain’t rich, ya know? I want to get the most use out of my foundations.
Hopefully these tips have helped you find your right undertone, and made finding your shade a little less stressful. Undertones are important to know, but there are no true rules to makeup. These are suggestions that are usually effective in balancing out the natural colors in our skin so the makeup is more flattering for us. Try and find a foundation shade that works great for you in one brand and keep and eye out for similar shades. I recently created a tag on YouTube to share foundations shades. I tag everyone! All you have to do is list out your foundations shades, separated into categories like drugstore, high end, ect., and if someone has the same shade as you in any of your foundations they can see what their other shades would be in other brands! No more standing in Target searching for swatches on google in hopes you’ll pick the right one without swatching! Do the tag yourselves, and tag your favorite you tubers, and let me know if these suggestions worked for you!