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.

Shop foundations on


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.


How to Color Correct Blemishes and Discolorations

Instead of using half a tube of concealer everyday to hide your blemishes color correct them instead. You just need to have a simple understanding of color theory and the color wheel to master the technique. Colors positioned opposite from each other on the wheel will cancel each out when placed on top of each other. My teacher in beauty school taught me a very basic phrasing to remember the principles of color correction: Lakers, Christmas, Mets. Lets break that down.

The Lakers uniform colors are yellow and purple. So purple correctors can be used to neutralize yellowish casts of the skin while a yellow corrector can be used to neutralize purplish marks.

The iconic Red & Green combo is symbolic of Christmas time. For fair complexions, redness can occur as a symptom of stubborn conditions such as rosacea, port wine mark or chronic acne. Green color corrector cancels out any sign or redness on the skin.

Orange/ Blue
Good ol’ NY Mets colors!!! Individuals with deeper skin tones do not suffer from redness however they may see darkness around the mouth or have scarring from acne. Darkness in the under eye area is a universal condition. I’ve had clients with dark circles so severe that were so disappointed after trying every concealer on the market to hide their circles they were virtually out of options. That is until I introduced them to an orange or salmon color corrector. The dark blue-black discolorations can be neutralized by placing the orange or salmon in the affected area.


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Many companies make color correction products to satisfy a wide range of budgets. Pictured above are the e.l.f. Studio Corrective Concealer Palettes in:  Erase & Conceal; Neutralize & Conceal. These palettes retail for $8 USD each. If you are not sure if you want or need to use a color corrector then these palettes are a great choice to try without breaking the bank. If you know that you definitely need a color correction product due to sever discoloration, I will say invest in the best product you can afford. Do your research, get some department store samples if you can and try out a few different ones. Ultimately, you will save money by using less concealer and less of your color correction product. I find that  higher end brands tend to have more pigment. Although this may not always be the case, this is my general experience. In another post I will give recommendations and talk to you about my favorite color correction products, what I use personally for myself and some of the items in my MUA kit.  I hope this information was effective in helping you understand the science of color correction and a bit of color theory. If you have any additional questions on how to use color correction properly. Please leave them in the comments section below.



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 book a hair or makeup consultation/appointment, see more original work and life imitating art. 

Master Highlighting like a Pro

First of all, if you still aren’t sure what strobing is, simply put it’s highlighting or luminizing. This buzzword is being thrown around as if it’s something new. Highlighting is a part of contouring they go together because where you have light you have shadow, but used on it’s own has always sorta been my lazy way to contour. Now there’s a cute term for it. Back when I wasn’t a Makeup Artist I was strobing and didn’t know it because I didn’t know how to place the dark contour lines. Strobing or highlighting provides a soft contour, adding a little chisel to the bone structure. When working on darker skin tones at the makeup counter this is a technique I have always employed due to the fact that you can’t always find the right shades for deep complexions with certain brands. I would instead just create emphasis with the highlight.

e.l.f. cosmeticsSo that being said, how does one become one with the strobing trend? Because now that strobing is so hot, I’ve seen a few people out there strobing so excessively that They look as if they sleep in a vat of highlighter, take highlighter showers then drink highlighter in their morning coffee before they step out everyday. They have literally transformed into a nightclub strobe light. Highlighting or Strobing should look as if the illumination is coming from within and is done on CERTAIN areas so the face and body to achieve that ethereal glow. You always hear folks say to highlight the high points of the face. This means the points where the sun would naturally hit your face.  To really achieve this effect you need a great highlighter or luminizing product. One that blends well and will give a glow or soft sheen to the skin. Simply using a cream concealer or light matte powder in the areas you want to highlight won’t give you that strobed out illuminated glow. You need to go that extra step and use a luminizing product to turn up the wattage on the glow factor. Take a look below for a list of my favorite products and brands to get the job done.

Becca Cosmetics: Skin Perfector

This is a top notch, quality highlighter product in shades for EVERY skin tone.  My go to shades are moonstone and rose gold. I love using both a cool shade and a warmed up shade. Sometimes I mix them together, sometimes I use a cool in certain places and warm in different areas and sometimes one or the other depending on the makeup look I’m rocking that day. This product comes in both liquid and pressed compact forms. I use the liquid but truly love both. Just a little of either goes a very long way and the texture of the of the compact is so silky and creamy it melts into the skin just as easily as a liquid.

Bobbi Brown: Shimmer or Brightening Brick

The shimmer bricks are to die for!!! These are also a multi use product. Great for eyeshadow or blush or adding a bit of color to the complexion the usefulness of these products is endless. The great thing is that the Bobbi Brown line is known for being a line which caters to everyday women. Women who are busy and working and may not want a super made up look on a daily basis so there are options. If you are into lots of shimmer you can purchase the Shimmer Brick and if u are a bit more conservative you can choose instead the Brightening Blocks. Both options are available in multiple shades for just about any skin tone.


Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick

Laura Mercier 

Where do I begin with this brand? O-M-G!!!! From the Bon Mine palette to the Mineral Illuminating Powder to The Shimmer Block…every single thing this brand makes in this category is simply OUTSTANDING. I dare not recommend a single product because they are all fantastic and multiple use. Head to a Laura Mercier counter right away!!!

The Balm: Mary Lou -Manizer & Cindy Lou-Manizer

I love these highlighter products because they give such a natural “from within” glow which is just what you want out of your highlighter product. These products also do double duty as blush. The Mary Lou-Manizer is more of a taupe or honey shade while the Cindy Lou-Manizer is pink. There is also a Betty Lou-Manizer which is more of a bronzer but can work as a highlighter for deeper skin tones.


Kevyn Aucoin: The Contour Book

Kevyn Aucoin:The Contour Book

Right now my prized possession /obsession is the The Contour Book by Kevyn Aucoin. It comes 5 great shades for highlighting, contouring and natural eye shadow looks or to fill in brows, but it comes with instructions form the genius himself!!! I carry this book with me everywhere and there is a nice sized mirror inside for on the go touch ups. There isn’t a day that goes by when I do not use the book it was an awesome investment. THe contour book is a powerhouse of a product.


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 book a hair or makeup consultation/appointment, see more original work and life imitating art.