You could be wearing the wrong foundation and not even realise it. And who could blame you? With so many different shades, finishes, formulas and coverage types to choose from, finding the right one for your skin type has never been more confusing. The good news? You don’t have to spend hours Google searching – we’re here to help you figure it all out.
Shade matching 101
Step 1: Try on some jewellery
You probably already know where you fall on the basic foundation spectrum – light, medium, olive, deep or somewhere in between. The right undertone, though? Trickier. “It’s the secondary colouring – warm, cool or neutral – that determines which shade best suits your skin,” says make-up artist Robin Black. To find yours, pull out your necklaces and bracelets. If gold looks best against your skin, you have a warm undertone. (To confi rm, check your veins. Greenish? Yup, you’re warm.) If silver suits you better, and you have blueish veins, your undertone is cool. Able to mix metals? You’re neutral.
Step 2: Decode the label lingo
Brands often organise their shades using numerical scales, which, for example, might be 100 for fair tones and go up to 500 as shades deepen. Packaging can also include undertone letters: W, C or N (for warm, cool and neutral). So a ‘200N’ is generally for someone with light-medium skin and neutral undertones. Some brands, such as M.A.C, spell it all out to make it easier to understand: “NW25 rosy beige w/rosy undertone for light to medium skin.”
Step 3: Meet your match
Buying online can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re after, so be sure to check out shade-matcher sites like Findation.com (simply enter the brand and shade of your current foundation and the site generates a selection of the closest shades in alternative brands). Online shopping is also evolving in our post-COVID-19 world. One example? Charlotte Tilbury (charlottetilbury.com/au) offers free 15-minute one-on-one virtual consultations with a beauty expert for shade matching, shopping assistance and more.
What about the finishes?
What it looks like: A super-lightweight tinted moisturiser.
When to wear it: O duty. It’ll quickly blur imperfections, allowing your natural skin to shine through.
Try: CLARINS SKIN ILLUSION FOUNDATION. Made with a combination of plant-based oils, this moisturising formula enhances your natural complexion.
What it looks like: Weightless. These formulas have hydrating ingredients, such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid, which give you light, buildable coverage.
When to wear it: When you want a natural just-had-an-amazing facial kind of glow.
Try: RAGEISM ALL DAY FOUNDATION. Especially formulated for mature skin, this moisturising formula contains light-reflecting particles for youthful radiance.
What it looks like: Soft and smooth with a velvety texture.
When to wear it: Every day. It’s most similar to your skin’s natural appearance – not super glowy, but not matt either.
Try: O COSMEDICS 1SKIN NATURAL FUSION TREATMENT FOUNDATION. This clean formula fuses foundation with nourishing active ingredients to boost skin health.
What it looks like: A shine-free layer of full coverage.
When to wear it: When you go out. As the longest-lasting finish, it shouldn’t budge – even if you sweat.
Try: REVLON COLORSTAY FULL COVER FOUNDATION. Blend into your skin to cover imperfections with a matt finish. It lasts up to 24 hours.