Foundation Shopping: 3 Ways To Find Your Perfect Match

Overwhelmed by foundation options? Here's how to narrow down the search.
Publish date:
December 7, 2014
foundation, skin tones, makeup shopping, foundation matching, foundation formulas, skin types

You're in your local beauty store stocking up on your favorite items, and you need a new foundation. There are no beauty advisers in sight. This is that pivotal moment where you can either bail or go it on your own. Don't bail! These three tips will make your foundation shade search way easy.

1. Know Your Tone

The first part of this process is to ask yourself, Am I a cool tone or a warm tone? You can figure this out by taking a gander at your beautiful self in the mirror. When you look at your skin and see pink, maybe a little red or a little blue if you're fair, these shades categorize you as a cool tone. If you see yellow, olive, or gold, you are warm.

Look for bottles that have either a W for warm or a C for cool. Usually, you'll see these on the base of bottles, but if not just swatch a little on your hand to see if the shade is more yellow or pink.

2. Are You Oily Or Dry?

If your skin feels taut and you can't go without your daily moisturizer, then you and I are in the same desert club. If you glisten across the T-zone after a few hours or shine bright like a diamond all the time, you're in the club I want to be in. For those with drier skin, like mine, I would avoid mattifying foundations in favor of more hydrating formulas. The opposite goes for oily skin: creamy foundations slip right off, while matte formulas stay put and create a porcelain finish.

3. Find Your Shade

Start by grabbing three bottles that look close if not similar to your skin tone. Sample out one thin swipe with a small amount of each foundation using your finger or a disposable sponge on one side of your face. Start below your eye and pass your cheek to your chin.

Place these swipes close together to compare how each buff into the skin. You'll probably see that one will be too dark, and one will be lighter. You'll also notice one that blends in best, almost disappearing. Now, on the clean side of your face, press the potential foundation into the skin and see how well that truly blends. Nine times out of ten, this is the perfect match. If, by chance, this shade is still off, use the three shades as a guide of the direction you need to go--darker or lighter. Try the same process with two foundations if there is a second trial.

This will spare you from taking home a foundation that doesn't blend well, doesn't feel great, or leaves lines of demarcation from face to neck. Happy foundation hunting!

  • What are your tips for finding the right foundation?
  • Have you tried the three-swatch method?