Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Foundation: Choosing The Right Foundation & How To Match Foundation

The most common questions I get asked are, 'which foundation will be right for me?' and 'how do I match myself for foundation?' Due to a lot of people asking me this I thought I'd do an in-depth post about choosing the right foundation and also matching foundation.

Choosing The Right Foundation

Things To Consider

Before choosing a foundation, you need to consider 4 things:
  • Undertone - Do you have a cool, warm or neutral undertone? If you are unsure about what undertone you have, check out my post about skin tones and undertones. If you have a cool undertone you need to choose a foundation that is pink based or neutral based. If you have a warm undertone you need to choose a foundation that is yellow based. If you have a neutral undertone you need to choose a foundation that is neutral based. If you have a neutral-cool undertone you need to choose either a neutral or pink based foundation but if you have a neutral-warm undertone you need to choose either a neutral or yellow based foundation. 
  • Skin Type - Do you have normal, oily or dry skin? If you have normal skin you can wear both water based and oil based foundations, If you have oily skin you need to choose water based foundations and If you have dry skin you need to choose oil based foundations. 
  • Coverage - Do you prefer a sheer, light, medium or full coverage?
  • Finish - Do you prefer a matte, dewy or demi-matte/satin (mix of matte and dewy) finish? If you're unsure about which finish you will prefer then the likelihood is that if you have oily skin you will probably prefer a matte finish and if you have dry skin you will probably prefer a dewy finish.
Skin Tone
After choosing the correct foundation, you need to determine the type of skin tone you have, e.g. a very light, light, light-medium, medium, medium-dark, dark or very dark skin tone.

How To Match Foundation

Where To Match Foundation

A lot of people think that the best place to match foundation is either on the neck, on the jawline, on the inner wrist, the back of the hand or on the cheek but those places are all wrong. And if you're ever matched on those places by sales assistants please do not buy a foundation from them as this is a clear indication that they have little knowledge in matching foundation.

So why shouldn't we match foundation on those places...
Inner Wrist / Back Of Hand - You simply cannot match foundation on your wrist or hand because the skin on your wrist and hand is nothing like the skin on your face. Your wrist and hand are also the places that get little exposure to daylight or sunlight meaning the skin on your wrist and hand is going to be a lot lighter than the skin on your face. This is why you should never match foundation on your wrist or hand. 
Neck - The reason we shouldn't match foundation on your neck is because your face casts a shadow down onto your neck.  When you're directly exposed to the daylight or sunlight, it hits your face, not your neck meaning your face is considerably darker than your neck. Your neck is actually one of the palest parts of the skin as it receives the least amount of sun therefore is contain lower levels of pigment than many other parts of the skin. If you match foundation to your neck, the likelihood is that you'll end up buying  a foundation that's too pale for you. 
Jawline - Because of bone structure, your jawline can cause unintentional highlights or shadows that can be lighter or darker than the rest of your face. So you could potentially end up matching your foundation to either a light or dark part of your jawline meaning it will not match the whole of your face. 
Cheek - Due to several factors, including temperature (warm & cold) and also facial imperfections, your face may not have the same undertone as the rest of your body, your face could have a pink undertone (due to several factors) and your body could have a yellow undertone, and vice versa. If you buy a pink based foundation as it matches your facial undertone but doesn't match your bodies undertone, your foundation isn't going to look right. If your body has a yellow undertone, you need to buy a yellow based foundation as this will match both your face and your body. If your body has a pink undertone, you need to buy a pink based foundation as this will match both your face and your body. If you have a neutral undertone, you can wear both yellow and pink based foundations. 

Now we know where we shouldn't be matching foundation, I'm now going to tell you where you should be matching foundation. You should actually match foundation on your chest, and if you're unable to match on your chest, the second best place is on the outer part of your arm. 

Why should we match foundation on those places...

Chest - The best place to match foundation is on your chest because you want your face to match the rest of your body. By matching foundation to your chest, you are matching it to the part of your body that receives the same amount of daylight and sunlight as your face.
Outer Arm - If you're unable to match foundation on your chest, due to wearing tricky clothing etc, the next best place to match foundation is on your arm. Again, the skin on your outer arm receives a lot of daylight and sunlight therefore the tones of your outer arm are going to be very similar to the tones of your face.

How To Match Foundation

So now we've established where the best place to match foundation is, we're now going to look at the best way to match foundation.

When matching foundation there are four things to consider:
  • 3 Shades - It's important to select 3 shades. So if you fit into the light skin tone category, select the 3 lightest shades, if you fit into the medium skin tone category, select the middle 3 shades and if you fit into the dark skin tone category, select the darkest 3 shades. The reason why we choose 3 is because one will be too light, one will be just right (in the words of goldilocks) and one will be too dark. Once you've chosen 3 shades, you need to place them on your chest. One thing you need to remember is that you should place each shade far apart from one another, do not place them next to each other, so place the lightest shade on the right side of your chest, the middle shade in the centre of your chest and the darkest shade on the left side of your chest.
*Original image taken from Cafe Makeup
  • Blending - When blending each shade into your skin it's important to use a clean finger for each shade. If you use the same finger you may run the risk of mixing shades and this is something you don't want to do as it won't give an accurate representation of each shade. 
  • Temperature - You need to make sure that the temperature of your body is at normal body temperature, you simply cannot match foundation if you have either a very warm or very cold body temperature as this could cause pink or red tones to appear within the skin. 
  • Natural Daylight - It's important to see what the shades look like in natural daylight. If a store hasn't got access to daylight, you need to physically go and stand outside in it. If you test the shades in a store that doesn't have natural daylight, you may end up choosing the wrong shade as store lights can be so bright that they heavily reduce the colour of products. They also use different coloured light bulbs which can effect the colour of products, for example, a yellow light bulb will make something appear more yellow. You could end up choosing a shade that's far too pale or too dark, or a shade that's far too yellow toned or pink toned. Looking at shades in natural daylight is important when matching foundation. 

Once you have matched the foundation to your chest, pick up a sample of the correct shade so you can trial the foundation at home. My advice is to try before you buy because there's no point spending money on a foundation that may not be right for you, in terms of wear, coverage or finish. If some sales assistants say they haven't got any sample pots left, simply take your own so they have to give you a sample. If you're looking for sample pots, check out eBay, they literally sell 10 sample pots for as little as £2.00!

Oh and another piece of advice, no matter how pushy a sales assistant can be about matching you to a foundation, just politely decline and say you'll be okay matching yourself. I can 100% guarantee that some of the sales assistants you encounter will NOT be trained in makeup artistry so the likelihood is that they'll match you in the wrong place and give you the wrong shade. When it comes to some brands it's all about selling, they couldn't care less about what their employee puts on a customers face.

In my part 2 foundation post I'm going to be talking about types of foundations that are available, oil based and water based foundations, methods of applying foundation and the different tools you can use when applying foundation. I'm also going to talk about foundations for normal, oily and dry skin.

Video Version
If you're unable to see the video below, please click here.

I hope this post has help you to understand why you need to think about when choosing and also matching a foundation

Thanks for reading and I'll talk to you in my next post!

Much love,


  1. Thanks so much for this Cole, it's super informative. I have an obsession with foundations, purely because I have blemishes and freckles, so it's literally the one product I cannot live without ;) ~ Have a fab day xo


  2. This has helped so so much! Thank you so much :) Love your blog!


  3. You have such a nice blog!


  4. Very informative, but I have a problem. My face is lighter than my chest, neck and way more than my arms. My arms and back are the darkest part of my body. Still on the search for the perfect foundation.

    1. You need to go for a darker foundation then, or failing that, bronze up your face a little :) xx


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