The foundation of your look deserves extra attention. While the idea is simple — to create an even surface and conceal blemishes, it requires a bit more attention in practice. Once you know the basics of undertones and the properties of different foundations and concealers, you can achieve your goals with ease.
Find colors that match your skin tone. Foundation should be as close to your natural skin tone as possible. When picking out samples to test, go for the one that seems to match best, plus the options one shade darker and one shade lighter. Most makeup lines have a numbering system in place to help guide your choice, but each system only applies to that particular line. Most brands go with numbers from 10 to 50 or 1 to 10, with the higher numbers for darker skin. Check your undertone. Most foundation is targeted at a particular undertone, summarized as “C” for cool, “N” for neutral, or “W” for warm. Picking the wrong one could leave you with an ashy or coppery appearance. This is especially important for people with dark skin color, but everyone can benefit from this test: Examine your skin without makeup on, under daylight or neutral white light. Hold a piece of yellow fabric or gold jewelry under your chin. If this gives your face a healthy glow, you have warm undertones. Hold a piece of red fabric or silver jewelry under your chin. If this complements your face well, you have cool undertones (which can range from red to blue). If it’s hard to tell, you likely have a neutral tone, or you may need different foundation for different areas of your face. Or for a quick but unreliable test, check the veins on your inner wrist. Blue means cool undertones, green means warm, and bluish-green means neutral.Test the foundation on the jaw and chest. This is easiest with department store samples, but you can get a rough idea at the drugstore by holding the bottle up against your skin. Makeup fans argue quite a bit over where to test the foundation, but each side makes good points. If you want to be extra secure, test them both: Your jawline will be at the edge of the foundation. If the color matches here, you’ll have an easier time blending it in. Your chest (if regularly exposed to sun) is usually close in color to your face. Testing it here also ensures that your face won’t end up a completely different tone than your body.
Test the color under natural light. Unless you spend your day under bright department store lights, what you see in the store won’t be what you get. Head outside with a mirror while you have the samples on your skin. The sample that blends in to your skin tone almost invisibly is the perfect choice of foundation. Give the foundation a few minutes to soak into your skin before you judge. If you plan to apply bronzer and blush, your face will end up a bit darker than the foundation. In this case, it’s sometimes preferable to go one-half to one shade lighter with your foundation. If nothing is quite right, mix two foundations together on your skin.