Foundation Basics II: Finding Your Color Match

The fact is that at least 94% of women aren’t wearing the  foundation color. But, how do you know what makeup is right for you? Picking the right color can be such a headache because there are so a multitude of choices. There are many cosmetics companies who make great products but not understanding how they work for you can be an expensive, time consuming and frustrating experience. Personally this is why I recommend getting matched by a professional.

 TIP #1: Get your foundation matched at a cosmetics counter in a department store and ask for a FREE sample. After giving it a try at home and observing it under natural light you can purchase the sample from the same department store, or match it against a drugstore foundation of your choice which is better suited to your price range.



Ultimately, the key to finding the best foundation match is finding your undertone. Are you a cool or warm?  If you are a warm undertone then it means your skin has a golden undertone. If you are a cool then your skin leans towards/rosy-reddish undertones. At most any cosmetic counter in a department store, it is easy to get a FREE foundation sample by simply asking to be matched. Choose a brand that has a wide range of shades such as Lancome, Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown, MAC or Clinique. If you cant figure out your undertone they will help you.

Ask for a hand mirror to follow along in the process. You should be “striped” with 2-3 colors so that you can observe for yourself which is the right color. Don’t just take the word of a pushy Beauty Advisor who says I do this 30 times a day for the last 1000 years so I know the right color when I see it. All humans are fallible. Besides you aren’t there for the education of the salesperson, you are there for your own education. I always prefer to match a customer and allow them to take the foundation home and test drive then come back to me satisfied and 100% sure of their purchase because THEY know it works. Not because I told them it works. Another thing is that department store lighting can be deceptive so they color may not look the same outside in natural light or in the lighting at home where you apply your makeup. Even if you cannot afford department store brand foundation, which can be pricey starting around $25 & up, at least get the sample and use it as apoint of reference to take with you to the drugstore or beauty supply or where ever you purchase your foundation and match up the color as best you can.

TIP #2: Whether you buy a foundation at a department store or chain drugstore you can bring it back should the product be unsatisfactory or you have an allergic reaction.

 Because there often aren’t samples or testers at a drugstore and likely not at the beauty supply either, you still may have to purchase a few different types to try that don’t quite suit you before you find your foundation match in heaven. Do not be discouraged and do not settle. The good thing about purchasing foundations at either a department store or drugstore is that you are allowed to bring back the product if the color doesn’t work for you or if you have some type of reaction to the product. I would confirm before I buy. At a drugstore I would ask a manager to be sure. Just don’t bring back an empty bottle for an exchange and expect happy and cooperative sales people. If you need to try it one or twice in different lighting or weather that is understandable but using 3/4 of the bottle then expecting a refund is a tad uncivilized 😦 IF you don’t like your free sample then just toss it in the trash. After all, it was free. Be on the lookout for foundations that oxidize and turn ashy or orange as the day wears on. If the color doesn’t stay true throughout the day then it’s not worth your money. If your head is already spinning at the thought of navigating thru literally hundreds of foundation choices to find just the right match. There are brands who make “neutral” foundation lines. This means these foundations are formulated to match the skin tones of both warm and cool complexions within the color range.

TIP #3: Foundation matching works best on makeup free, clean, moisturized skin.  You cannot get an accurate indication of one’s true color if there are layers of makeup applied to the skin.

Additionally, be advised that foundation looks best on clean skin. Placing a foundation on top of an unwashed face will not give the best results and wear. Moisturizing beforehand is OK and highly advised. This is also true for going to a cosmetics counter for a foundation match. I can’t tell you how many women at the counter expected me to mach their foundation on top of makeup they were already wearing. How will the Beauty Advisor know what color your skin truly is under bronzer, blush, spray tan and the foundation you have layered on? If you cant bear to leave your house with a bare face, allow the Beauty Advisor to remove a small patch of foundation near the jawline. They have tons of foundation testers at the counter. After you get matched, they can patch you up good as new.

Good luck hunting down your perfect foundation shade.

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Apani Smith is a professional licensed cosmetologist, avid beauty junkie, also a revered Indie Hip Hop Icon, sleep deprived mom and foodie extraordinaire.  Get social with @apaniclassic on Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest  to see more original work and life imitating art.


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