Jul 15, 2010



Now that we have covered the basics of foundation and skin type and you are familiar with the terms, let's get right into Choosing Foundation.

Check out the Previous Posts: Tips for Beginners - SKIN TYPE
                                                   Tips for Beginners - SKIN CARE
                                                   Tips for Beginners - UNDERSTANDING FOUNDATION

Again I will say I am not expert when it comes to foundation so all I can do is pass on what I know and what I have learned.
How do you choose the right foundation?

There are a few basic things to consider when choosing your foundation as indicated below.
  1. Coverage
  2. Foundation Type
  3. Skin Type
  4. Foundation Finish
  5. Color and Undertone
The first four were already discussed in a previous post so we will move on the most confusing part of selecting the right foundation.

C o l o r      a n d     U n d e r t o n e

What is Skin Undertone?
I'm sure you have heard the term 'skin undertone' being thrown around but what does it mean? It's hard to even find a definition of the internet. To simplify things in my eyes, your skin undertone is the base color of your complexion.There are three types of undertone - warm, cool or a blend of both to give you neutral.

Warm/Yellow Undertone
Warm undertones are more yellow and red yellow. Skin will look more golden and warm skin tans more easily.

Cool/Pink Undertone
Cool undertones are a mix of reds and blues and are usually rosy pink, rosy beige, dark brown, ebony or  have a dark-red. Cool skin usually burns before darkening in color.

Neutral Undertone
blend of both, or are more olive toned, then you have a neutral undertone to your skin.

How Do I Know My Skin Undertone?
There are many ways out there that can be used to find your skin undertone.
Vein Test
This is a popular test to determine your skin tone. In natural light, examine the veins on the underside of your wrist. Veins that show mainly blue are a sign of cool undertones and if they seem green that is a sign of warm undertones. If  you see a combo of blue and green, then this may mean you have neutral undertones.

Silver/Gold Test
Warm tones go well with yellow gold while Cool tones go well with silver. If the silver jewelry or clothes makes your skin glow then you are most likely cool toned. While if the gold brightens your skin you are probably warm toned.

White Test
Place a sheet of white paper or even a white towel next to your face. If your skin looks more yellowish then you have warm undertones, if it looks bluish then you have cool undertones and a neutral undertone will look more green.
MY Test
Get matched! By a makeup artist or do it yourself. It's nice to get color matched by a makeup artist at a counter but I have been matched wrong and found my perfect shade and undertone on my own.

If you still have problems determining your skintone and you have access to foundations that you can swatch...then grab warm color (yellow)  and a cool color (pink) foundation closest to your shade and swatch on your cheek. Swatching on your face gives a truer match than the back of your hand. Now which one blends in better? Taa daa! If they both look fine then you lucky brute! You are neutral. Simple and effective.

Now Choose Your Color
Now that you know your undertone, the hard part is over. Now you just need to find your shade in the color range. Again try to do swatches on your cheek to get the right color. Many companies have limited foundation shade ranges so findign the right color can take some time and effort. MAC and MUFE have great ranges of shades so you can be sure you can fnd your match. Mixing shades can also work but that is tedious and tricky.
TIP: Foundation should blend seamlessly into your jawline and neck so if your neck is a different shade match the foundation closer to your neck and remember to blend.
TIP: Foundation may oxidize over time so try to get samples of a couple of shades lighter and darker to see how the color looks after about a hour of wear.
Hope that helps a bit. Happy hunting.


  1. great article, I wish i'd seen it years ago ;) It took me so long to finally find what my undertones are lol! I burn easily prior to tanning yet I can wear any shades (though I look better in pink than yellow). I'm neutral to slightly cool it seems. It also doesn't help that companies have different version of what's cool and what's warm; I'm NW25 in MAC which means warm for them, then I'm neutral in MUFE HD (118).

  2. Thx Saadeh. Sounds like you have neutral to cool undertones indeed.

    I wear any shades too but if you look better in pink that's more of a cool undertone.

    MAC uses the makeup artist color wheel which is the reverse of the artist color wheel. So yellow is cool but pink is warm hence the NC and NW. So even though you are NW it still means you are cool. They are so screwy those MAC fellows!

    I go by the color description and not so much warm/cool. If it says tan, golden or yellow undertone it's for me.

  3. thanks :) Love it very useful article :)

  4. This is a very informative post! thank you :)

  5. Thank you, Tina for this and the other great posts for beginners. Now I am still confused about Mac. I have greenish veins, have been matched in sephora to bare minerals golden deep, was told my a Mac artist I have golden undertones, but the same mac artist matched me to nw48. Does nw mean not warm (cool) or neutral warm?

    1. I wonder why they would match you with NW if you have golden undertones? Golden/yellow goes with NC foundations from MAC - NC (neutral cool) is for warm, yellow undertones. NW means neutral warm for pinky and red undertones. Someone is matching you wrong. But try them in store....or get samples. NW will show up muddy or very dark on you if you are yellow.


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