How to Match Foundation to Your Skin Tone – Step by Step Guide


If there’s one thing you cannot compromise in your makeup routine, then it’s definitely your foundation.

Foundation is a vital part of anyone’s makeup kit - without a smooth, unblemished finish on your skin, you cannot work further on building your look.

Finding the right shade of foundation that matches your skin tone can be a nightmare - and if you don’t apply the perfect foundation, your whole look becomes a colossal failure, because it will stand out awkwardly from your original skin colour.

So, how to match foundation to your skin tone?

Well, it involves a few trials, looking through pictures, and standing in the sun. Don’t panic yet, it is in fact a simple process!

Once you know how to pick the right foundation for you, you’ll be able to build your flawless look and present a stunning picture without any trouble!

Foundation - Why is it Important For You

Foundation, as the word implies, serves as a base where you build your look further. Without a proper foundation (pun intended) for your makeup, you will not be able to achieve a uniform look.

Apart from the basic purpose it serves, Foundation is also important because of several other reasons:

  • A lot of quality foundations come with a good SPF rating. When the SPF rating is above 30, it means that your foundation also acts as sunscreen. Read more about why sunscreen is important here.
  • Wearing the right foundation enhances your skin tone and provides you glowing radiance.
  • Foundations are also known to protect your skin from environmental contaminants.
  • By applying a proper layer of foundation, you’ll be able to smoothen out blemishes and dark spots, presenting an even look.

Types of Foundation

Generally, there are four or five types of foundations, based on the form in which they come.

While some people tend to love the liquid foundation, some still prefer to stick to old-school powders and cake-like coatings. 

Here is a small briefing on the popular types of foundations:

1. Liquid Foundation

Liquid Foundation comes in to save the day for literally everyone. A versatile medium to even out your skin tone, this is further divided into subtypes.

Liquid foundations are extremely helpful when you are looking forward to staying in your perfect look for a long time.

2. Cream Foundation

Taking the form of soft creams, these foundations are easy to apply on the skin as all you have to do is take and rub them on your skin evenly. 

They are not suggested for people with oily skin, as this type tends to clog pores.

3. Stick Foundation

Dot and blend, that’s the mantra when it comes to stick foundation.

This can also be used as a concealer, but one concern is that when not applied properly, stick foundations can end up giving you a heavy, unfinished look.

4. Powder Foundation

Looking for some light coverage? Powder foundation is there to serve you.

Compact and chic, you can apply this type of foundation whenever and wherever you want, without appearing to be overly doused in makeup.

Interested in knowing more about foundations and their types? Then, read more here!

Things to Know Before You Pick a Foundation

Finding the right foundation for your skin tone involves a lot of contemplation - sometimes, in the harsh lighting of a store, all foundation shades seem like the same or all of them call out to you.

But will they all suit you? Definitely not.

That is why you should know how to find the right shade of foundation that blends flawlessly with your skin. Before we step into the process, here are some things you should know.

Undertones - What’s That?

If you are looking forward to finding your dream foundation shade, then you must know what your skin undertones are.

First of all, what are undertones?

Your skin colour and your undertone are not the same things. While your skin tends to change its tone with seasons or other external factors, your undertone remains the same. 

Well, what is this mystical element?

Fret not, we have the answer. Undertones are the colours found under your skin - they bring in an overall effect to your skin.

Broadly categorised into three categories - warm, neutral, and cool - undertones are not that difficult to determine, once you know your tricks.

All The Shades and Tones

If you search the internet for the different skin tones and skin colours, you’ll be baffled by the results you see. 

This is because there are several different detailed charts that segregate different skin colours and skin tones so that they’ll be able to pick the right makeup products that suit their skin.

Sometimes, you’ll end up in a rabbit hole, trying to find out what skin tone you are.

It must look daunting but don’t worry - with a bit of patience and a keen eye, you’ll be able to pick the right shade of foundation for your skin.

How to Find the Right Shade of Foundation

1. Determining Undertones

Now that we know what undertones are, we move on to determining undertones.

Some people may share the same skin colour, but still have different undertones, so it is an important step in the process of picking the right foundation. 

There are several tests you can try out to determine your undertones. One of the old-school tricks is the vein trick.

Check the colour of the veins in your wrist. If they are blue or in a purplish shade, then your undertones are cool tones.

Veins are in green and related shades? Then, hey, you have a warm undertone.

If you are looking at your wrist and are finding it impossible to determine the colour of your veins, chances are high that your undertones are neutral. 

You can check this guide here to know more about undertones and how to determine them. Also, you can try out the sun test to know your undertones.

Refer to Guides and Charts:

Sometimes, a visual aid is more helpful than any arbitrary knowledge. This applies to finding the perfect shade of foundation too. 

While sampling foundation in-person can be of great help, you need to have an idea of what might be your exact skin tone and what product matches you.

For this, you can look up online reviews and guides so that you have some prior knowledge before you break into a cosmetic store.

Also, thanks to technology, there are several apps and websites with shade finder tools.

Here, you can virtually try on different foundation shades and go for the one that you think is perfect.

2. Test it on Different Spots

We might have come across many people whose face appears radiant and bright, but their neck and collarbone might just seem muted and dull, and totally overlooked.

Don’t want to make the same mistake? Then, try out your foundation on different spots on your skin.

Smear a bit under your jaw, blend it with your neck and look if it is fitting in right.

Also, sheer foundations are better for you if you feel that blending is just another tedious task.

These foundations let you build a finish as per your skin tone so that you need not lose your mind over foundations. 

3. Natural Lighting Will Help You

The blinding lights in your regular cosmetic store can really fool you.

Many people have experienced the problem of buying a shade of foundation thinking that it’s The One for them, and then returning with disappointment when it does not fit.

This happens because the foundation shades look different in the bright white lights of commercial outlets.

This is why it is advised to try out foundation shades in natural light. Also, if possible try out these shades around noon, as your true skin colour pigment is visible in natural daylight.

Some Useful Tips On How To Pick The Right Foundation Shade

Still worrying about how to choose the right foundation? These tricks might help!

  • Before you try out foundations, make sure your skin is sufficiently prepped. Give it a nice scrub, keep it clean, and ta-da! The process is now easier!
  • If you are having real trouble finding the perfect shade, then start blending. Mix and match your different foundation shades and experiment with them until you arrive at the right shade. Although, this might not always work out, so beware.
  • Don’t give up early. Your perfect foundation shade might just be one trial away.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know how to match foundation to your skin tone, take your time in picking the perfect shade. The aim of wearing makeup is to look better by enhancing our natural looks. 

Keeping this in mind, opt for shades that compliment your skin tone and not the ones that make you look unnatural.

Also remember, there are always hundreds of brands to try out if you don’t find the right foundation for you in one brand. So, keep looking out and surely you’ll meet The One for you!

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