The key to finding the right foundation shade and creating a flawless natural-looking complexion using makeup comes down to understanding your skin tone and determining your skin’s undertone. The wrong shade of foundation, concealer or even blush or bronzer can make your skin look ashy or too orange, your makeup should blend seamlessly with your natural skin to avoid looking unnatural or even worse cakey.
To avoid a makeup disaster, we will walk you through how you can determine your skin’s tone & undertone without the help of a skincare professional or makeup artist, sound tricky? Trust us, it’s easier than you think.
What is Skin Tone?
Skin tone is usually broken down into 3 different categories Light, Medium & Dark, these are determined by the amount of pigment or melanin in your epidermis (outer layer of skin). This is contributed by your genetic makeup & also the amount of time you spend exposed to UV rays.
Light: Light or fair skin tones tend to be more sensitive to sun exposure and their genetic background comes from a colder climate reign like Northern Europe where the skin didn’t require a high level of melanin to protect the skin from the sun. If you are this skin tone you will find that it burns a lot easier when exposed to the skin and requires extra protection.
Medium: Often referred to as ‘olive’ skin tone, is a well-balanced neutral tone that tans easier when exposed to the sun. Typically found in those of Southern European or Northern Asian background which have a higher level of melanin required to protect against UV rays.
Dark: Also referred to as ‘tan’, is much like medium skin tones that they tan easier when exposed to sun and are often from areas such as the Middle East, Asia & Africa where the skin had higher exposure to UV rays. Both medium & dark still require protection from the effects of UV rays to prevent pigmentation & premature aging of the skin.
What is Skin’s Undertone?
You’ve probably heard or seen the terms “pink”, “neutral” & “warm” when selecting shades of foundation. These terms are used to determine which shade will match your skin most naturally and refer to your skin’s undertone.
These tones are the colors that come from underneath the skin's surface to deliver its overall tone. Those with fair to dark skin can have cool, neutral or warm undertones as it doesn’t refer to how light or dark your skin is.
Pink= Hint of reddish or bluish pink complexion
Warm= Gives appearance of peach, yellow or golden hues
Neutral= Skins natural color is more evident with a balanced mix of pink & yellow
How to Determine your Skin’s Undertone
There are several ways you can determine your most natural skin tone. Following these steps is a sure-fire way of making life a little easier when it comes to finding the perfect makeup shade.
- Under natural light looking at the inside part of your arm check the appearance of your veins.
- If your veins appear blue or purple, you have a cool skin tone
- If they look greenish-blue or green, you have a warm skin tone
- If you find it hard to tell if your veins are green or blue, you then most likely have a neutral skin tone.
- Do you look better in silver or gold?
Yes, we all have our preferences, but the general rule is that those with pink undertones suit silver/ platinum better and gold will suit those with warmer undertones. As for neutral-toned skin, they are super lucky as they can wear both.
So now that you have found your skin’s tone & undertone, how do we find the perfect shade of foundation? While this can come down to preference of choice, we recommend the following shade options as you never want your foundation to look too pink, ash or yellow!
If you have pink undertones your foundation should appear slightly pinkish, if you are a warm undertone then it should appear slightly golden/ yellow and as you may have guessed neutral is somewhere in between.
This may sound like a mission but honestly once you know what you are looking for it will make life easier when it comes to picking the right foundation shade. The ultimate test for your true color foundation match is seeing the appearance of your skin in natural light, if your foundation does not leave a noticeable line at the jawline then you have found a winner.