Foundation is a tricky product. It’s hard to get an accurate match when you can visit a specialty beauty store and try out different colors, and if you’re buying online? Forget it. Those little swatches of color look different from screen to screen, and they only provide an approximation of what the foundation tone looks like in real life.
If you can, it’s best to go into a beauty store and have an associate help you find the perfect match. They spend all day working with beauty products, so they’re the expert. Beauty stores that stock multiple brands will often yield better results than small beauty counters that only stock a single brand.
If you can’t make it into a beauty store, however, there are some tips and tricks that can help you find the perfect shade of foundation online.
Know your undertone. This is the most important thing to understand when buying foundation, whether it be in-store or online. Look at the veins on your wrist. If they appear solidly blue or purple, this indicates cool undertones. If they appear green, that indicates warm undertones. If your veins aren’t distinguishably green or blue, you have likely neutral undertones.
Matching the undertone of your foundation to your skin is important because it helps the foundation blend into your skin. People with cool undertones who wear warm-toned foundation will look orange, and warm-toned people who wear cool-toned foundation look washed out.
Figure out what finish you’re looking for. Do you want a full-coverage matte foundation to serve as a base for heavy makeup? Are you looking for something dewy and more sheer, to give off a more natural look?
Knowing what kind of effect you want your foundation to have will impact the brands you look at and the shades you choose from, and you’ll know what to expect when you first apply it.
When in doubt, go sheer. This advice won’t help make up artists looking for full-coverage foundation online, but for fashionistas looking for something to smooth their complexion for daily wear, there are many forgiving options. BB and CC creams come in fewer shades than their foundation counterparts and are designed to be sheer and natural-looking while still providing a glowing complexion. The smaller range of shades to choose from means that each shade works on a much wider range of skin tones, lowering the margin of error.