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Where is the best place to try foundation?

Author: Hou
Mar. 07, 2024
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Confession: I've been writing about beauty for years and yet I couldn't point to my foundation shade on a wall if you paid me. I'm also useless to my foundation-seeking friends, from the palest to the darkest, who've asked for my help. After a few tentative swipes on their hands, it's clear to everyone that I don't know what I'm doing.

The shame, I know. But I also know I'm not alone in my confusion either. Deciding on a foundation formula is one thing—just pick from sheer, medium, or full coverage—but shade selection is a whole other process. What looks like a good match in the bottle often shows up completely different on your skin, and after a few disappointments, it seems easier to skip it entirely. But since foundation is one of the best makeup inventions of all time, I decided it was finally time to seek expert help.

And so I did, visiting five beauty boutiques and counters in NYC; including the Make Up for Ever Pro Studio, the MAC Makeup Studio, the Estée Lauder counter at Saks Fifth Avenue; and Sephora and Ulta in Maywood, New Jersey. My mission: to make sense of the ins and outs of foundation shades and perhaps pick up a few extra credit tips.

Here, then, are my lessons learned.

My starting point: Me, without foundation on. I'm doing this all for you guys.1. You should test several shades, ideally on the lower part of your cheek. And it's always best to test them in natural light. Everywhere I went, I was asked for my preferred foundation formula. Hearing that I'm a tinted moisturizer fiend who applies her makeup while walking from room to room helped the experts hone in on formulas with light-to-medium coverage. And that's when the consultation really began. After assessing my makeup-free skin, each expert swiped three shade options from that type of formula onto my lower cheek toward my jawline. Interestingly, everyone had a slightly different way of determining my shade. At MAC, for instance, my artist referred to the crook of my neck, while everywhere else, they took my entire face into consideration. Once we identified my "overtone," or the intensity of my pigment, we moved onto my "undertone," or the shade that was peeking through. At that point, we studied the options in a handheld mirror and decided which seemed the most natural on me. If we couldn't agree, we'd walk to the window—or in the case of the Make Up for Ever studio, to a light source that mimicked daylight—for a second check. I usually tested two out of the three options on my full face. The differences were subtle, but it was clear which ones actually melted into my skin when compared.

One of the most significant foundation mistakes is using the wrong shade for your skin tone. You want your skin to look like skin even when you have makeup on. 

However, despite your best efforts, you can sometimes get it wrong. Some people misjudge their undertones or don't know what shade matches their skin. The wrong shade results in your foundation standing out on your face like a mask. 

Your foundation should blend seamlessly with your natural skin tone. You don't want there to be an obvious difference between where your foundation ends and your bare skin begins. Otherwise, your foundation will look unnatural and caked on. 

Understanding your skin tone and shade is paramount for accomplishing a flawless-looking complexion. We will go over how to determine your skin's undertone and shade so you can HIDE your imperfections effortlessly. 

Finding Your Undertone And Shade

If you've ever found what seems like your perfect shade, but something seems off when you apply it, it's probably the undertone that is wrong for your skin.

So, before you can figure out your shade, you have to understand your skin's undertones. 

What Are The Undertones

Your shade can change with sun exposure, but your skin's undertones will never change. Your undertone is more of the hue of your skin; it’s the shade within the color. 

There are three traditional undertones that your skin can be. 

  • Warm:

    Your complexion is golden, yellow, or peach.

  • Cool

    : Your skin has more blue, red, or pink hues. 

  • Neutral

    : Your skin is a combination of cool and warm tones

Darker skin tones can have cool undertones, while the fairest skin can have warm undertones. Furthermore, if you have a cool undertone that doesn't automatically mean blue, you can have pink hues in your skin. People with neutral undertones may have an easier time matching their foundation to their skin because it's close to the same color as your skin tone. 

Finding Your Undertone

Now that you understand what undertone is, let's go over some of the different ways you can discover yours. 

  • Look At Your Veins:

    Try looking at the veins in your wrist and natural light. If you have cool undertones, your veins will look blue or purple. However, if your veins are greenish or olive-toned, you have a warm undertone. Neutral when you see both blueish and greenish colors. 

  • How The Sun Affects Your Skin

    : How your skin reacts to the sun can be very telling. Skin with cooler undertones usually burns in the sun quickly. In contrast, if it's hard for you to burn when being in the sun, you may have warm or neutral undertones. Either way, remember to wear SPF to

    protect your skin

  • Jewelry Test

    : Some people may notice they look better in either gold or silver jewelry. If you put gold jewelry on and feel like it looks good on your skin, you may have warm undertones. If you feel like silver, platinum, or rose gold suits your skin better, then you may have cool undertones. If both look good on you, you could have neutral undertones. 

Finding Your Shade

Once you've discovered your undertone, you can find a shade that will match your skin a lot easier. You can narrow it down to just shades with your undertone. 

HIDE has a light, medium, and dark shade, with each of the three traditional undertones. You most likely can make a pretty good guess based on your skin tone what shade you are. 

HIDE also a handy shade finder to help you find the perfect foundation color for you. We can match almost any other foundation brand to our foundation and tell you which one you should select from our range.

Color Matching Your Foundation

Once you physically have a foundation in your hand, you can try a few tests with it before you wear it out to double-check it's the right shade for you. Just eyeing the foundation in the package leaves room for error. 

  • Test On Your Chest

    : Applying foundation to your hand or wrist to test if it is a good match is not the best technique. The skin on your wrist or top of your hand can be a much different shade than your face. Of course, the best place to match the foundation is directly on bare skin on your face, but if you can't do that, there are other places you can swatch it.

    Swatch the foundation on your chest because usually, it's a closer match to the color of your face. However, if you feel like your chest is very different in color, use an area of your body that is a closer match.

    If you can test the foundation on your face, swatch it in multiple areas of your face. Put it on your jawline, cheeks, and forehead and give it time to dry. When a foundation is wet, it can look very different after it dries out on your skin.  
  • Check The Swatch In Different Lighting

    : When you swatch the foundation, check how it looks in different lighting. Your foundation will look different under your artificial light than it will in front of a sun-lit window or direct sunlight.  

  • Consider The Season

    : Many people's skin shade changes with the seasons. You may be lighter in the winter when you're getting very little sun exposure and darker in the summer when you're spending more time outside.

If your skin goes from fair to tan, you may need a different shade for summer than you had in winter.  

How To Apply Foundation 

Now that you know how to pick a foundation that is the correct color for your undertone and shade, let's go over how to apply it for a flawless finish.  

Step 1:

For best results, start with clean, moisturized skin whenever possible. Clean skin and good skincare, like regular exfoliating, will help your foundation go on smoother.

Step 2:

Prime your skin if you feel like you need to. This step isn't always necessary, depending on your skin and the makeup look you're going for. Most people can get away with just moisturizing their skin before foundation if they're using a high-quality product. 

Primer can prolong your foundation or give you the desired finish. There are primers with anti-shine properties or illuminating ingredients. However, HIDE Premium Foundation doesn't need to be applied over a primer since our formulation ensures it will last all day.

Step 3:

A little goes a long way. Start with a small amount of foundation in the center of your face and then blend outwards, slowly building up the coverage. This technique will ensure you don't end up with a cakey appearance. 

Another way to avoid a cakey, heavy foundation appearance is your application technique. You can have the best foundation, but if you use the wrong tool or don't blend it out, you won't have a great final result. For example, a fluffy foundation brush works well with a powder foundation but won't work well with a cream foundation. If you're using a stick or a cream foundation, you want to use a dense foundation brush, which works better with thicker products.  

If you're using HIDE liquid foundation, you can use almost any foundation brush or a wet makeup sponge. The trick is to always buff out your foundation without dragging the product around.

Step 4:

If you see areas of your face that you don't think are covered enough, don't keep applying foundation. 

Use a small amount of concealer to do the work. Concealer is a much thicker consistency than foundation and does an excellent job at hiding imperfections. 

Step 5:

Finally, once you've put on your foundation and concealer, you're ready to blot and set. Use a blotting paper or a tissue to remove excess product before it settles into your fine lines and wrinkles. Next, use a translucent powder or setting spray to lock in your makeup and prevent it from sliding around throughout the day. 

In Summary

We hope you now have a better idea of how to find the right undertone and foundation shade that's best for you. 

Knowing your undertone is one of the most crucial steps to discovering the right foundation shade for you. You could have a warm, cool, or neutral undertone, which you can find through multiple steps. You can look at your veins, look at how the sun affects your skin, and look at how different jewelry compliments your skin tone.

Once you know what your undertone is, it will be much easier to find the right shade. The shade range under each undertone is not as vast, so that you can narrow it down pretty easily. 

If you have a foundation that you feel is a good match but want to try HIDE products, our shade finder can help. You simply put in whatever brand and shade you have, and we will tell you which of our shades is right for you!



How To Determine Your Skin Tone | Empire

Skin Care: How to Choose a Moisturizer | Web MD

Protect Yourself: First Seasonal Sun Exposure | Mayo Clinic News Network.

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