How to Find Your Perfect Foundation Shade Match

Like great buildings, great makeup begins with a solid foundation. So, what’s the best way to ensure you’re using the right shade? The right foundation should be almost invisible. Foundation should blend seamlessly into your skin tone, appearing consistent no matter how much or little you apply. There are three key factors in finding the right foundation shade – understanding your skin’s undertone, swatch testing, and updating your shade with the seasons to ensure a perfect match all year ‘round.

Step 1: Know your skin tone

First thing’s first, you’ll need to know what your skin tone is. Your skin tone refers to the natural colour of your complexion, which can be fair, light, medium or deep. If the tone of your skin varies across different areas of your face, focus on your jawline away from the apple of your cheek where there is often more of a natural flush.

Step 2: Identify your undertone

The right foundation shade should match your skin’s undertone. While your skin tone is how light or dark your skin is, the ‘undertone’ refers to the colours under the surface of your skin and can be warm, cool, or neutral. While your skin tone may change with the seasons, your undertone should remain consistent.

L'Oreal Paris How to Find Perfect Foundation

How do you figure out your undertone?

 1.  Check the colour of your veins
Take a good look at the veins on your wrist under natural light for an easy way to determine your undertone. If your veins look green, it is likely you have warm undertones; if they are blue/purple, you have cool undertones. If they appear blue/green or match your skin colour, you most likely have neutral undertones.

 2.  Do you burn or tan?
First things first, always wear sunscreen. Nevertheless, how your skin reacts to UV can also be a big indicator to your undertone. Think about when you hit the beach in summer. If you easily burn you likely have cool undertones; where those who tan without burning often have warm undertones.

 3.  Can you wear silver or gold?
There are no rules when it comes to accessories, but one metal often looks the most flattering. Consider which best suits your skin tone. Those with cool undertones tend to suit silver jewellery, and warm tones often are most flattered by gold. If you suit both, your undertone is neutral.

You have a cool undertone if...

Your skin tone may come across as red, pink, or bluish, and the veins at your wrist appear blue in natural light. You tend to burn in the sun, but not tan. You look best in silver jewellery.

You have a warm undertone if…

Your skin tone could be described as yellow, peachy, and golden, and the veins at your wrist appear green in natural light. You look best in gold jewellery.

You have a neutral undertone if…

Think olive tones or a mix of those above. Neutral undertones are a balance of warm and cool tones, so you sometimes burn and sometimes tan, and tend to suit both gold and silver jewellery.

Why does undertone matter when choosing foundation?

The right shade of foundation will melt into your skin so seamlessly it’s hard to know it’s there. This type of make-up magic is only possible when the undertone of your skin matches the undertone of your foundation. Where the undertones don’t align, the foundation will sit obviously on your skin – a cool tone foundation may look ghostly or ashy on someone with a warm undertone, even if the depth of the shade is right.

How do I know which foundation shade has which undertone?

Once you’ve confirmed your skin tone, and figured out your undertone, finding your foundation shade will get a whole lot easier! 

The L’Oréal Paris True Match range includes True Match Liquid Foundation, Mineral Foundation, and more, in over 40 true-to-skin shades in a variety of undertones. Each includes an easy marker in the shade name to identify their undertone; look for ‘C’ for cool undertones, ‘W’ for warm undertones’ and ‘N’ for neutral undertones.

L'Oreal Paris How to Find Perfect Foundation

Here’s a helpful guide for what to look for when foundation hunting where these undertones aren’t listed:

 •  Warm shades are often named beige, golden, tan, caramel, and chestnut.
 •  Cool shades are often labelled porcelain, rose, sable, cocoa.
 •  Neutral shades are often referred to as ivory, buff, nude, and praline.

To easily identify your foundation shade online, discover our Live Try On functionality, Modiface, and discover a real time foundation finder from the comfort of home!

Step 3: Test on bare skin

Attempting to colour match your foundation to your skin can be difficult when you are already wearing makeup, so testing foundation shades on a bare face is the key to accurate shade selection. 

Where this may differ is if you frequently wear fake tan, in this instance match your shade to the undertone of your skin after applying self-tanner as the undertone of the product may differ.

L'Oreal Paris How to Find Perfect Foundation

Step 4: Start with options

To find your perfect match, start with a selection and narrow down your choices. Find three shades that look like a good match and apply them in parallel lines on your jawline, extending the product from your cheek and onto your neck slightly. The perfect foundation shade is the one that blends seamlessly into your skin in both areas. 

Avoid swatching shades on your arm. While it’s quick and easy, it’s essential to test your foundation where it will be applied, as your skin tone may significantly vary between your arm and your face.

L'Oreal Paris How to Find Perfect Foundation

Step 5: Check in natural light

Finding the right lighting is an important step when you are looking for the right foundation shade, as different light types have different tones, which may influence how the undertone of your chosen shade appears. Skip the in-store fluorescent lighting when shade matching and head out into natural light for a more accurate view.

Step 6: Update with the seasons

As the weather changes, so may your skin tone. While your summer shade may be a perfect match when you have a glowing tan, it is unlikely to still work in the middle of winter. Your undertone will remain the same, but the depth of your foundation shade will need to be colour matched again as your skin tone changes to ensure your complexion is flawless all year.

Ready to find your perfect match? Check out our huge range of foundations in a variety of finishes to suit every skin type.

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