Your Makeup Manual: How to Choose the Right Shade of Foundation?

March 22, 2019Notino
Choosing the right foundation is one of the most difficult beauty tasks ever. The right shade should blend flawlessly into your skin and make it look beautiful instead of drawing attention to itself.

So how do you pick the right one? And can you do it online?


Given that we live in the age of smartphones, the solution should be simple: download the right app and take a selfie or use your photos from social media to choose your foundation shade. There have actually been some attempts to offer an app like that. They’ve all failed.

You can still find apps from specific brands like Oriflame or L’Oréal who will recommend you their own foundations. And even though it looks fantastic, you should always take it with a grain of salt. Every phone, camera or tablet has a different lens and different calibration, you’re taking pictures in all kinds of different lighting... Not to mention your final choice also depends on the texture of the foundation, its coverage and how well it lasts.

The only thing you can actually rely on is your eyes, bright daylight, the right area to test the foundation, and knowing your undertone which might be the most important factor in choosing your product. Don’t rush it and follow these three basic steps while choosing the right foundation.

How to Choose the Right Foundation Shade: Basic Rules

1. Test Your Foundation in Daylight

Any foundation looks different in artificial lighting. Don’t risk picking the wrong shade and test foundation samples in daylight.

2. Test Your Foundation on the Right Area

You also shouldn’t test the foundation on your wrist or the back of your hand – instead, try it on your jawline. Make three stripes in three shades from the bottom of your face along the jawline down to your neck, putting the shade you think is closest to your skin tone in the middle. Then look at the swatches in daylight, and you might be surprised!

3. Determine Your Undertone

Before you choose your samples and try them on, you should figure out what your undertone is. This is something that doesn’t change even when your skin gets darker, it always shines through. Your undertone will be crucial for choosing the right shade of foundation, avoiding one that is too orange or too pink, and making sure that your chosen shade looks good in every light.

Your skin has a cool undertone if it appears porcelain or slightly pink or bluish in daylight. You look best in silver jewellery and when you check the veins on your wrist, they’re also bluish, purple or green. Your shades of foundation tend to be marked with the letter C (Cool) and they usually look that way even in the packaging.

People with a warm undertone look great in gold jewellery and their skin shows yellow, peach or orange hues in daylight. Their veins are green to olive coloured, their ideal foundation will be probably marked with the letter W (Warm) and look slightly more orange.

Neutral undertone means that you can wear both silver and gold, your skin undertone is a little greenish in the daylight, your skin tone is probably olive and your veins are blue-green. If this description fits you, your foundations will be marked with N (Neutral).

Try the brilliant undertone coding system of YSL long-lasting Encre de Peau All Hours Foundation which includes shades like Ivory, Cool Ivory and Warm Ivory. Other foundations with similar systems are L´oreal True Match and Estée Lauder (for example the Double Wear Maximum Cover that’s suitable for both face and body, or their long-lasting Double Wear Stay-In-Place).

Another brand that makes things easier is MAC and its Studio foundations which are extremely light and also can be used on the body. And if you still haven’t found your match, browse all our foundations! But before you place your order, maybe wait until our next article in this series where we’ll talk more about coverage in relation to your age and your skin type!

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