Beginners Guide to Foundation : How To Find The Right Shade

how to find the perfect foundation: A beginners guide
different foundations with different shades and undertones.

The current cosmetic market is saturated in so many different products it can be hard to find you feet and know where to begin. Foundation can go one of two ways. Get it right and you have a flawless base that can illuminate your skin and is a great start to building the rest of your make up routine. Get it wrong and you can look streaky, patchy and even turn in to an oil slick. Here are some beginner tips and hints to getting it right.

What is your skin type?

Knowing you skin type is going to give you a good start for choosing a foundation. From this you can learn the ingredients that work best for your skin in order to make your base last.

Oily: Tends to have enlarged pores, suffer from blackheads, blemishes and spots. The texture of the skin can look shiny.

What foundation to choose: Powder foundations work well for oily skin (M.A.C has some lovely options). Liquid foundations need to be Oil free with a matte finish. Oily skin does well with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid as these help care for the skin throughout wear time. Tarte also offers some clay based foundations which can be great for oily skin.

Combination: Have oily areas especially around the T-Zone (Forehead, nose and chin). Other areas can be a little dry. The texture of skin can be shiny yet have dry patches on the cheek area.

What foundation to choose: Combination skin can make a foundation choice difficult. You are technically treating two different skin types with one foundation and expecting it to work. You will be looking for an oil free foundation, with a semi matte finish. Ingredients such as aloe vera will help the foundation balance your skins natural PH levels. Brands to consider are, Charlotte Tilbury, and the budget friendly L’Oreal.

Dry:  Can appear tight and flaky in areas due to a lack of moisture in the layers of skin. Texture will be matte and seem dull in places.

What Foundation to choose: Looking for dewy based foundations that contain the word luminous, glow or serum based. Ultimately you want a hydrating foundation so looking for water based and light foundations are key (when testing you want the product to swim around in your hand). Brands to check out include Maybelline, M.A.C and Clinique.

All skin can be Sensitive so I advise always using a foundation that includes an SPF. It is always important to check the ingredients for anything you are aware of that upsets your skin. If you are unsure always do a trial on another area of skin other then the face.

How To Get My Foundation Shade Right

The biggest mistake made with foundation is the shade chosen. The ranges of shades available is now bigger then ever so understanding your colouring is much more important when wanting to get it right.

Firstly you need to establish which colour section you come under ranging from light, medium or dark. An example: I am extremely fair, my skin burns just looking at the sun and therefore I fit in the light category.

Once you’ve got your colour section you are then spoilt for choice in the range of shades available. To discover which shade is correct for you, you need to understand your skins undertones. These are based around three options cool, warm and neutral.

Skin Undertones Explained

Cool: Skin will have a reddish or pink complexion. I read in cosmopolitan if you have cool undertones your veins will appear blue in colour whilst warm skin tones veins appear green. When buying a foundation the formula itself should have a slight pink hue.

Warm: Skin can appear yellow, olive or chocolate meaning you need to be looking for a foundation where the formula appears a slight yellow in colour and can often be described as golden, warm or honey on the packaging.

Neutral: Having neutral undertones means you are in the middle of both, there are no visible cool or warm overtones in your skin. Picking a foundation you can stay in the middle of both the cool and warm spectrum although a warmer tone can neutralise green area of the skin.

By looking at the two factors mentioned it should now become easier to find a foundation shade that is right for you. If you are in any doubt and worried about buying a shade you can always pop to your local department store where they now have many make up counters which can help you out in getting it right.

I hoped this has helped in gaining understanding and knowledge of skin types and tones, especially when using the information to buy an accurate coloured foundation. As always skincare is essential in helping achieve a flawless base, I have a post on my seven step skincare routine available if you wanted information on skincare.

Have I missed any of your top tips when buying a foundation? Do you have any brands that work well for your skin type? If so please share in the comments section so we can all find new things that may work for us.

My next post will be available on Tuesday. Wishing you all a great weekend.

Kate x

20 thoughts on “Beginners Guide to Foundation : How To Find The Right Shade

  1. Great post! Undertones always interests me, it’s an amazing feeling when you find a foundation that really fits and suits well. SJ x

    1. Cheers Hun, I think there is so much available to choose from now that it’s hard to understand what’s right for you. Plus as you said once you find a good one that works for you it’s so much better x

  2. Great points here. When you test the foundation to match your colour go into the natural light out of the shop before you purchase – those fluorescent lights can trick your eye and you ca end up looking very orange in real life.

    1. Good point glad you’ve mentioned this I’ve made the mistake so many time and there’s nothing worse then get home trying it again and not liking x

  3. Nice job, Kate. Your post is thorough, yet easy to understand.
    I was wondering if the foundations in the picture up above were yours? If they are I’d love to know your thoughts on the Dermacol foundation 🙂

  4. What a helpful post! I remember when I was younger I had no idea about make up and would always go for a shade darker, thinking it would make me look tan lol! I have quite oily skin and find that water based, liquid foundations work best on my skin. When I use powder I look caked and like I’m still in first year doing my make up again lol for anyone wanting to find the right foundation will find your post mega helpful, very informative.

    Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk

    1. Thank you so much. When I was younger I used to go mad with the bronzer to appear tan and would look orange. I’m so glad I’ve come to terms with the fact I’m pale and am over my tanning stage lol. I think a mineral based powder foundation can work without looking to cakey but I do tend to stick with a liquid based x x

  5. My skin (when not covered in fake tan!) sounds very similar to yours, I’m quite fair and have never found a liquid foundation that matches my skin tone. I’ve tried loads of different brands and varieties over the years, but even the lightest shades are too dark. Cam you recommend any for me and my fair, oily skin? (Sounds a bit gross when I put it like that 😂) x

    1. I have recently been using my Nars natural radiant longwear foundation because the shade range is great. It’s expensive though so I’d go to a counter and try it first and it needs setting with powder around the t-zone. High street I have been using E.L.F longwear foundation that’s oil free. I have light ivory which is a little bit darker then my skin but I bought a pure white foundation to add a drop to it and once mixed it lightens it up. Sorry for the lengthy response but hope this helps x x

  6. This post is so interesting! I had such terrible skin for years, and I’m only just starting to see the light (but it still isn’t great). I love a good clay based foundation to help cover the pigmentation and redness on my face. The MAC one you mentioned sounds really good. I am trying these days a more medium coverage and really love the mousse from Dior ♥

  7. This pretty much took everything I don’t understand when people do my makeup and give me advice on products and put it in one entry. I haven’t looked far enough through your blog yet so if you have it I apologize but you do a really good job of defining things simply and covering all of your bases. Have you thought of ever having a site page or something that is literally like a beauty basics index of definitions or the foundational knowledge you need in one place before you even think about makeup? It’s kind of here already in the beginners kind but I was even thinking things like how often to change your skincare products, animal friendly, this whole non comodogenic thing I was told about when getting a facial. I don’t understand it but she made it sound serious.

    1. I have been thinking about having a beginner section where I cover some basics for people wanting to learn from scratch x x

      1. Well if you ever need a guinea pig to determine whether a beginner would know, just ask. I just go to the store where my mom is a makeup consultant and sit on a chair and she and her coworkers pick things out for me because I’m so awful at it.

  8. I’m nerding our right now and I am so sorry. But I was even thinking what about like a beauty guide that had a skin undertone or a shade of skin as a row and the columns could be recommended products based on how much you want to spend highest to lowest? I do more graphic design stuff in terms of imagining how to deliver information and know nothing about this but it seems like you do so maybe there is something there.

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