The art of choosing the right foundation

NICOLE ELPHICK
Last updated 12:38 17/06/2014
Foundation

MATCHY MATCHY: Figuring out your undertones can be a tricky business, but choosing a foundation that matches can make skin look more radiant.

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Makeup & Skincare

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The right foundation is the, er, foundation of so many looks. No matter how perfectly applied your eyeliner or lipstick having a slightly off shade of foundation can result in an instant beauty fail (as many of us can attest from revisiting youthful snaps of our early days of make-up experimentation). 

However, finding that dream match can be somewhat of a mission - especially if your complexion is at either extreme of the colour spectrum. Luckily, smart beauty brands seem to have cottoned on to the special snowflake-ness of our unique skin tones and have been branching out to offer a wider variety of tints. Here's how to hunt down the hue that is right for you and ace that base...

Be honest

Some people choose the shade they want to be, rather than the colour they actually are. If you are pale embrace that (or add a touch of bronzer if you really must). Don't make the mistake of picking a foundation darker than your real tone in the hopes that it will give you a sun-kissed look. You will just end up resembling an Oompa-Loompa.

 Look for lots of shades

Try to look at brands that have a large range of colours in their foundation palette, as it makes it easier to find that perfect fit. If a brand has only three shades in their range it's quite likely they are matching to very general skin shades and not taking into account the undertones different complexions can have. Which leads us to...

 Know your undertones

Figuring out your undertones can be a tricky business, but choosing a foundation that matches your undertone can make skin look more radiant. Your undertone is distinct from your skin shade which can be light, medium or dark. Instead, undertones can be cool, neutral or warm.

Cool undertones have a pink look, warm undertones are golden or olive and neutral undertones contain a mixture. There are a few tricks to help discover your undertones. If you look at the veins on your wrist, cool undertones tend to have them appear blueish, while warm undertones have their veins looking greenish. Cool complexions usually burn in the sun and warm undertones usually tan. Cool undertones look better in silver jewellery and warm undertones in gold accessories. If you still can't puzzle it out, it's quite possible you are neutral.

Choose the right coverage and formula

Picking the right foundation isn't just about shade, but also about coverage. If you are only trying to even out tone, rather than hide blemishes, you should go for a lighter level of coverage. You don't want to be caking on foundation unnecessarily, that leads to a heavy, overdone look.  Instead your skin should still be shining through with a breathable formula. Liquid foundations tend to suit drier skin types, while powder foundations can stop shine appearing on oilier complexions.

Read the label

If you're acne prone (it happens to the best of us!) seek out a foundation that is non-comedogenic. It will be less likely to clog pores and lead to spotty situations.

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Try before you buy

The best way to know if a tint will suit you is simply to try it out. Most chemists or department stores have trial testers, so you can have a little play before you buy. The best place to test out the colour is not on your hand or wrist, but on your jaw near your chin (if you can get the right match here you will avoid the dreaded 'tide mark' effect of an incorrectly matching foundation). Make sure to look at the effect in natural light, not just in the store. Ideally you are hunting for a shade that simply blends in to invisibility - that's the colour you should snap up.

- Daily Life

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