Color Me Beautiful! How to Choose the Right Foundation Shade: Easy Step by Step

Let’s face it (no pun) foundation is one of the hardest makeup to execute perfectly. When your face doesn’t look cakey, it looks like you are wearing a mask (from applying a shade too dark) or worse, you get the chalky look from going with a foundation too light.

So, where is the middle ground for foundation? How to you find the perfect balance between too dark and too light? I will be giving you beauty shortcut tips on how to find the right foundation color. But first, a little disclaimer slash reminder.


When applying makeup especially foundation, your aim should be to get a look that is as natural as possible. Well, unless you are in high-end fashion or any other business that requires you to go over the top. That said, today's step by step tips are meant for that girl looking for a natural look. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Where to Buy

where to buy foundation

The first step of getting your foundation right is to buy it from the right store. I highly recommend buying foundation from department stores as you will have a wide range to choose from. They are also big on giving assistance and most importantly, allowing you to test before you buy.

Drug stores are also catching on when it comes to selling makeup, more so, foundation. You will especially find brands that are better suited for problematic skin especially foundations for sensitive skin. If you have a sensitive skin, this post at BeautyShortcutips can help you to choose some suitable foundations.

The downside of drug store foundation is that very few allow testing hence chances of getting the wrong shade are higher. However, most do allow a return of the product even if it is used.

The bottom line is, look for a store with a variety of different shades, that allows testing and if you are lucky, find one that allows returns.

Always Test First and Do it Right

Test foundation right before choose

The person who came up with testing foundation shades at the back of the hand was probably looking out for people with sensitive skin (to avoid reaction). But, what they got wrong is that your hands and your face are more often than not, totally different shades of color.

This, therefore, means that testing on your hand will be misleading. If anything, you are bound to get better results testing on your neck and chest than your hand.

So, how exactly do you test right? Simple. By testing on your face. I don’t mean applying foundation all over your face but rather doing it on your jawline. This is accurate and at the same time, subtle.

What Exactly is The Right Shade?

what exactly is the right foundation shade

I know I just told you that the right shade is the one that gives you a natural look. But how vague is that?

To be more accurate, you need to have a lighter and a darker shade when testing. Apply both and observe how they make your skin look.

As I said, if it is chalky, then that is exactly how it will look all over your face. Many people assume that a chalky foundation will eventually blend in during the day. This is wrong.

If you are unsure of your color, ask for assistance. Most stores usually have professionals at makeup application. But if this is not an option, you will be safer going with a darker shade than a brighter one.

Better yet, try mixing the two. Many people have found the right blend of foundation by mixing two shades that are either too light or too dull. Just make sure you test this before buying.

Test in Natural Light

test foundation in natural light

Most people forget that they will be spending most of their time in natural light. If you bank on the lighting used in most stores, you will skip on a good foundation without knowing. Most stores have harsh lighting that casts shadows on your face.

Simply step outside and check out your foundation before deciding whether it is a good fit or not. You can walk to an opened window to confirm this if going outside is a big deal. The main point is to make sure you check it out under natural light.

Know Your Undertone

how to choose the right foundation

I never understood what undertone is and how it related to makeup. But once I did, choosing the right foundation was a cake walk.

Experts advise looking at the veins on the underside of your wrist. People with warm undertones usually have green or yellow looking veins while blue or purple represents cool undertones. Neutral undertones have a mixture of the colors.

By knowing your undertone, you get to compare it with your complexion which helps in narrowing down the different shades of foundation.

Get the Application Right

get the foundation right

The main difference between foundation and concealer is that if the foundation needs to suit your skin tone and bring a natural look to you, the concealer can be lighter than your tone to cover all the scars and dark areas.

Once you can choose a suitable foundation, that's not everything, you also need to apply it right. Different types of foundation come with different rules of application. Here, have a look.

  • Liquid and cream foundation. Use your fingers or a flat topped brush. If you decide to go with a brush, make sure it has natural fibers to avoid soaking the makeup into the brush.
  • Powders. Use a dense brush and keep it light to avoid a chalky look.
  • Foundation sticks. Dot your face with the stick as opposed to smearing then spread the foundation using a dense makeup brush or your fingers. A sponge is not the best option for this.
  • Tinted moisturizers. Use your fingers to apply using outward motion especially around your cheeks.

Final Touches

Choosing the right foundation doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By understanding your complexion, undertones and most importantly, testing before buying, you will definitely get it right.

Also, remember to do skincare everyday to make your skin healthier and shinny. It's a key to make your make-up perfect. Moreover, it's important to consider your skin type before selecting a certain foundation. This mostly applies to people with oily skin as they are prone to the much dreaded cakey look after a few hours with foundation on.

All said and done, you should remember to keep your skin healthy underneath your makeup. Keep in mind that makeup is to enhance your beauty so use it in moderation and alongside good skin care practices.

Ella Jones

Hi . My name is Ella Jones . I’m a blogger, shopaholic, and beauty-obsessed blogger from NYC, armed with a Professional MBA from Fordham and a License in Cosmetology from Empire Beauty School in my hometown of Brooklyn. I’m the proud owner of a successful salon and beauty parlor in the city, and I’ve started this blog to share my beauty secrets with you.

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