Discover the right foundation for you


Most people struggle with matching foundation products to different skin tones correctly and this is particularly more difficult for people with very dark skin tones. The next logical question would be, why is it so hard to colour match dark skin tones? Most times, the dark shade is too dark or too light resulting in an ashy look. How then do you know what foundation works best for you? Here are some critical things you know that will guide you on your journey to selecting what works best for you.

Tone, undertone, and colour
What do we mean when we say that the tone of a cheap foundation may not match the ‘undertone’ of black skin? If you look at any person’s skin, you’ll see that it’s never the same consistent shade all over their body. This is especially true for people with darker skin tones. For most people, the palms of your hands and the insides of your forearms are not the exact same colour as your face or neck. The lighter skin tone that you see in some places, particularly on the insides of your wrists, is your undertone. When you are matching foundation to a person’s skin, you have to ensure not only that the colour of that foundation appears to match the colour on the top of their skin, but also that the tone of that foundation matches the undertone of their skin.

Turn your arm over and look at the inside of your wrist. If your veins appear to be a bluish or purple colour, then your skin has a cool undertone. Usually, people with cool undertones have fairer skin. If your veins appear greener, then you have warm undertones, which is more characteristic of people with darker skin. People who look at their wrist and can’t tell how their veins look either way probably have a neutral undertone. Recognizing your undertone is important because it helps you colour match with proper shades of professional foundation.

Where cheap makeup might be mixed from one single base colour, professional products are mixed from bases with different tones, cool, neutral, and warm. Pigment is then added to achieve different shades of colour in each tone. When a person with a dark skin tone tests professional foundations, they can first determine which tone of foundation suits the undertone of their skin, and then they can match the colour. This will give them a much more thorough and balanced match.

Individuals with fairer skin should also know their undertone for the most effective foundation match, but they’re still more likely to find a decent colour match based solely on the larger variety of beige and light shades available. For deeper skin tones, finding a good balance between tone and undertone, as well as a good colour match, will provide the most realistic look when the makeup is blended into the face. Alternatively, you can stand in front of a white cardboard or background to determine your skin’s undertone.

Matching foundation
As mentioned, the skin on the face can differ slightly in colour or shade from the skin elsewhere on the body, particularly for those with darker skin tones. As a result, the best place to test foundation is along the jaw line. The best way to determine a match is to choose three shades that are very close, one that is a little lighter, one that is a little deeper, and one that looks like it might match just right. Swatch these three colours next to each other for comparison along your jaw and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes so that the makeup can set properly into the oils of the face. Do not blend the makeup, as you want to see which shade will set well into the skin colour on its own. Natural light is ideal for seeing a true match; so if it’s possible, go outside or near a window to look at the swatches.

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