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How to Find the Right Foundation Shade for Every Skin Tone

Admit it. You've had your fair share of buying foundation in the wrong shade online and even in physical stores. So many bottles or tubes were given away and so much money down the drain. Now, are you sure your current foundation is the right shade for your skin?

Making the mistake of choosing the wrong foundation shade is common for new and even long-time makeup enthusiasts. It's understandable, especially since not all makeup brands have wide shade ranges or name their foundation colors the same. One brand's natural beige may be too dark or too light in another brand's. Finding the right foundation match is tricky. But we're here to help you out!

The important part about selecting a shade is understanding that foundation matching isn't just about identifying your skin tone but also knowing your undertone. Regardless if you're looking to buy a powder, cream, or liquid foundation, here's a quick guide on how to find the right foundation shade.

How to Find the Right Foundation Shade for Every Skin tone Infographic

The Difference Between Skin Tone and Undertone

If you're an avid beauty fan, then you've heard beauty vloggers or read articles that talk about skin tone and undertone. Some people think they're the same thing. If you're new to experimenting with foundations, the terms might confuse you if you hear people use them interchangeably. 

Skin tone and undertone are not one and the same. Skin tone refers to the skin's surface layer, and it is categorized into three main groups: fair, medium, and deep. Undertone, as the name suggests, pertains to the hues underneath the surface. Your undertone can be cool, neutral, or warm. 

Your skin tone may change over time, perhaps due to sun exposure, but your undertone will remain the same even when you tan. Additionally, it's possible that you have the same skin tone as someone else but have different undertones. As you may have guessed, finding the perfect foundation shade isn't as simple as knowing whether you're fair, medium, or deep. You need to consider the subtle tones underneath your skin.

  1. I. How to Determine Your Skin Tone

How would you describe yourself to someone else? Or how would someone else describe you? That's essentially how you identify your skin tone, i.e., light-skinned, tan- or medium-skinned, or dark-skinned.

  • Fair: This covers the lightest range of skin tones. Fair-toned individuals would be described as having light, porcelain, or pale skin.
  • Medium: Individuals with a medium skin tone are caught in the middle of fair and deep tone, leaning towards beige, tan, honey, and other in-between shades.
  • Deep: This is the deepest color range of the skin, giving you a dark complexion.

Most morenas fall under medium and deep skin tones. You can figure out the type of skin tone through the following ways: 

  1. 1. Check your jawline

    Your jawline is a part of your face that is the least affected by skin color changes. To accurately see what your skin tone is using this test, wash your face first and see how your bare-faced skin fares under natural light. This way, you'll see whether your skin is fair, medium, or deep.

  2. 2. Ask other people to describe you based on appearance

    Remember how Bella Swan described Edward Cullen in Twilight? "Your skin is pale white and ice cold." You could say this iconic line is a quick lesson on identifying skin tone

    People usually refer to one's skin color when describing what they look like. One may say he/she is fair-skinned, is bronzed, or has chocolate-like skin. Think of this as getting a second opinion to confirm the color of your skin.

  1. II. How to Determine Your Undertone

To help you identify your undertone, take note of the three main categories:

  • Cool: Hints of pink, red, or bluish undertones. 
  • Warm: Hints of golden, yellow, or peachy undertones. 
  • Neutral: A mixture of cool and warm undertones. 

Now, here are some tried-and-tested ways to help you find your correct undertone.

  1. 1. The vein test

  2. An easy and telling way to check your undertone is by merely looking at your veins. If they're purplish or bluish, you have a cool undertone. For those with green or olive in color, you're considered warm. For bluish-green veins or a mix of both, you're neutral. You can also do this test by checking the veins around your face and neck. 

  3. 2. The sun test
  4. The sun test is a quick and easy way to see what your undertone is. When you're out and about, and you notice that you burn easily, you have a cool undertone. If you get tan quick, you have a warm undertone. But if you turn tan without getting sunburned, chances are you have a neutral undertone. If you don't see much difference or you seem to lean towards the grayish side, you're neutral-toned. 

  5. 3. The jewelry test
  6. Another good indicator of your undertone is jewelry. Grab a piece of silver and gold jewelry, wear one and the other, and observe. Which one suits you best? If gold jewelry makes you look glowing, you are warm-toned. On the other hand, you are cool-toned if silver looks best on you. If both look flattering on you, you are neutral-toned.

  7. 4. The white shirt or paper test

  8. Change into white clothing or grab a piece of blank white paper. In bright, natural light, observe how your skin looks with a white shirt or hold the white paper up your face and see how your skin fares. If you see that your skin looks more on the pinkish or rosy side, you're cool-toned. If your face is more on the yellow side, you're warm-toned. 

  1. III. Maybelline's Fit Me® Foundation Shade Range

Maybelline's Fit Me Foundation line offers a broad shade range of up to 20 shades to accommodate people with fair to deep skin tones. This Maybelline liquid foundation provides a lightweight feeling and mattifying effect with a natural, poreless, and seamless finish on the skin. 

It's the perfect foundation to keep you fresh for 12 hours + it also includes SPF 22 PA+++ for sun protection. You can check out Maybelline Virtual Try-on to help you find your perfect foundation shade or test a bold look in the comfort of your home, without needing to purchase anything. 

Quick Tips When Buying Foundation

  • If you're not sure about your foundation match or if you're in-between shades, grab a travel or sampler size first. The Maybelline Fit Me Foundation comes in 5 mL sachets and 18 mL tubes so if you ever got the wrong shade, it's not much of a loss. 
  • Find out if the foundation oxidizes, meaning it turns into a shade darker. If you find one that oxidizes, get a shade lighter.
  • Do an inventory of your existing foundation shades to compare colors. 
  • Follow people, especially beauty vloggers or influencers, with a similar skin tone as yours on social media to get good product recommendations.

Find Your Perfect Shade

Choosing a foundation involves trial and error, and it's common to find your ideal shade varying across different lines and brands. There are numerous foundation lines and types, with brands releasing their shades slightly lighter or darker from the one you're using. With the guide above, you can guesstimate your foundation shade like a pro by taking note of your skin tone and undertone. 

You can also check out the Maybelline Foundation Finder to help you pick the perfect foundation type that can help you ace that base.

Don't forget to share this article with your friends, family, and fellow beauty enthusiasts to help them find their perfect foundation shade! 

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