It's relatively simple to decide whether your skin falls under the "fair, light, medium, or dark" skin shade. So why is finding the perfect foundation match for your skin so challenging? It's because our skin is made up of a rainbow of colors with no two skin colors being exactly the same. You want your foundation to blend seamlessly into your skin so when you stand back and look at your face, your foundation disappears--all you see is your face, not the foundation masking your face. Here are a few of my tips to finding the correct foundation to match your unique skin color:
1. Know your Undertone
There are three different undertones that all skin is categorized into, no matter how light or dark. Cool undertones are a bit more pink or red. Warm undertones are yellow or golden. Neutral undertones are a combo of both Cool and Warm but may look green or olive. Undertones are very subtle and it may take some time and effort to figure out which category your skin falls into. Take a mirror into natural lighting (lighting makes a big difference!) and examine your skin. Try to look at your neck and jawline where your ear meets your face and ignore flushed cheeks or blue undereye circles. If you squint hard enough you may see that your skin has a pink or yellow or olive tint.
2. Experiment with Different Shades
One of the easiest ways to figure out if a foundation is a match is to try it all over your face. When you apply the wrong color foundation, it can look downright funny. You can immediately see it's wrong. In addition to maybe being too light or dark, it may be obviously too pink or too yellow or too ashy. You may have already done this, many times over and are left feeling frustrated or even using the wrong color and trying to adjust the color by using bronzer or a lighter concealer. Instead, take the foundation back to the store (Sephora, Ulta, Department Stores, and most drugstores accept cosmetic returns!) and buy something opposite of what you have. Meaning if what you have looked overly pink, try something with yellow undertones. If it was too yellow, get something a bit pinker. If it looked too ashy, try something yellow first and if that doesn't work, go for something with pink undertones.
3. Get Color Matched with Sephora's Color IQ
Sephora has a technology called Color IQ. It takes a few pictures of your skin and will tell you your exact shade in all of the products they carry. If you can't figure it out on your own, pop into a Sephora for a "Color IQ." It will take maybe three minutes from start to finish. Make sure to clarify what undertone accompanies your Color IQ number. Many companies will categorize their shades with 'Y' for warm undertoned foundation shades or 'R' for cool.
4. Create Your Own Unique Shade
If you know your undertone but are still having trouble finding the shade that disappears seamlessly into your skin, you can mix two together. It may feel like extra effort or money spent on foundation, but your foundation will last twice as long and give you a more flawless complexion. You'll also have to do less work to correct the color with bronzer or concealer or whatever other tricks you've managed to learn over the years of wearing the wrong color foundation.
My main suggestion, again, is to keep trying out different brands, formulas, colors, shades until you find what works best for you. You want the foundation to match your skin color and tone exactly. Even if you want a bronzed finish, your foundation should match your skin color adding bronzer to give you that sun-kissed look.
Here are videos from Lisa Eldridge and Sona Gasparian to help you further your understanding of foundation matching. And if it's still all a jumbled mess, give me a call. I'm here for you.