Choosing the Right Foundation for Your Skin

By: eskarina
Skin tone is so important in choosing the right makeup, but you may be wondering just how to go about identifying your own skin tone. What should you look for? What if your skin tone seems neutral but has areas of mild discoloration or redness? The good news is that identifying your skin tone need not be difficult. A simple method of determination is to consider whether your skin burns or tans when exposed to sun:

If you tan easily and do not burn, your skin's natural melanin (the pigment that gives skin its color) level is higher, and you most likely have a yellow-to-olive undertone.

Those who burn and either tan minimally or not at all have significantly less melanin, which results in a pink, bluish-red, or ruddy skin tone. In addition, look for telltale signs: a ruddy skin tone has obvious signs of redness or is one that tends to flush easily. Some neutral skin tones fall into this category, particularly if rosacea is a factor.

If a yellow (usually referred to as "sallow") tone is predominant, you'll notice that a foundation, concealer, or powders with too much yellow will make skin look worse, not better.

Olive skin tones tend to look somewhat ashen or gray, from the combination of the natural yellow undertone everyone has and the greenish hue that’s unique to olive skin of any depth.

Neutral skin tones are those with no obvious overtones of olive, sallow, or pink.



These categories hold true for all women, including women of color; your underlying skin color will always relate to one of these skin tones. You may have been told that you are a particular “season" and your wardrobe and makeup colors should be a specific undertone, either cool (blue or pink tones) or warm (yellow or sallow/olive tones). Unfortunately, the rampant misinformation surrounding skin tone can be misleading when it comes to choosing your most flattering makeup shades.

The question of determining skin tone comes into play most often when shopping for your ideal shade of foundation. When you’re testing foundation shades, it is critical to identify your overall, exact skin color and find a foundation that matches it, regardless of how ashen/olive, sallow, or pink it appears on the surface. The goal is to use foundation to neutralize whatever overtones are present with a neutral- to slightly yellow-toned foundation, thus matching the skin’s natural undertone.

Why a slightly yellow undertone? Because skin color, more often than not, always has a yellow undertone: that’s just what the natural color of melanin tends to be. For the most part, regardless of your race, nationality, or age, your foundation should be some shade of neutral ivory, neutral beige, tan, dark brown, bronze brown, or ebony, with a slight undertone of yellow but without any obvious orange, pink, rose, green, ash, or blue. Adding those shades to a foundation is never flattering and can look obvious and contrived.

But regardless of these skin tone categories, when it comes to foundation, trying it on and making it sure it matches your skin exactly (especially in daylight) is the best way to get a color that looks like you, not like you’re wearing foundation or, even worse, a mask.

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