The do’s and don’ts of finding your perfect foundation shade

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When Fenty Beauty debuted last month, everyone was #shooketh by the plethora of shades. It was refreshing to have more than three shades to choose from, but it also caused a lot of confusion, too. Many of my girlfriends went through a couple shades before getting the right one. And, I, unfortunately, couldn’t find a perfect match (although, RiRi is apparently coming out with 30 more shades), which is a common issue for me — no matter the brand.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts I’ve learned along the way that will helpfully make finding your perfect foundation a cinch:

  1. Do find your undertone. Undertones are crucial to finding your perfect match. You will either be warm (yellow), neutral (balance yellow and red), or cool (red). Note that for some brands these are reversed — for example, in MAC, yellow undertones are considered ‘cool’ and red undertones are considered ‘warm.’

    Either way, finding your undertone will make finding foundation much easier. You can use a number of methods such as the white paper and gold vs silver jewelry tests, but the easiest option I’ve found thus far is heading down to Sephora and getting a ColorIQ match.

  2. Don’t swatch on your hand. It’s tempting to swatch shades on your hand, especially if you’re in a rush. But, for most people, your hand and face are two different shades.

    So, your best bet is swatching on your jawline, neck or on the middle of your chest, like YouTube beauty guru Jackie Aina suggests. She says this ensures that her face, neck, and chest are an even shade. If your neck or chest is darker than your face, use concealer to brighten the face.

  3. Do wear it before you buy it. I’ve made the mistake of loving a foundation, buying it, and then getting home to only realize it’s not the right shade. Before you buy a foundation, walk around with it on for about 15–20 minutes to make sure the shade doesn’t oxidize and to check out how it looks under different lights. (Don’t trust makeup counter lights! lol) If it still looks good after that, then feel free to purchase it!
  4. Don’t be afraid to be a mixmaster. Can’t find a perfect match? Get to mixing shades! Choose a lighter and darker shade with the same undertone and play around with the ratios to find the perfect balance. Also, some brands offer color correcting drops that allow you to adjust the undertone and shade.
  5. Do buy a “summer color” and a “fall color.” Most brown girls have two foundations they rotate between throughout the year to account for summer tans and those cold, dreary winter days that can result in a slightly lighter tone. Keep two foundations on deck so you’ll have a perfect match all year long.
  6. Do color correct! Sometimes an otherwise perfect shade will look ashy (gray) thanks to underlying dark spots or other blemishes. Properly color correct those spots — brown girls will usually need an orange or peach corrector — and see how the foundation looks then. It should look more even and the grayness will be gone.
  7. Do balance your complexion with highlighting and contouring. Bring back dimensionality by highlighting and contouring your face. This helps balance out foundation that may be a tad too dark or too light, and is especially helpful for ladies who are often “between shades,” like me.


What tips and tricks do you use? Share them with me in the comments below!

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