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How do I choose what makeup to buy?

Mar. 07, 2024
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Finding your perfect foundation match is difficult to begin with. But trying to find your shade when the seasons are changing and your skin color is too, can be even more challenging. You might have bought foundation at the height of summer when you had a fresh tan, or still have that bronzer that you rely on for a glow in the winter. And now you’re figuring out that this just won’t cut it. Perfecting your makeup during any season comes down to having the proper shades, and that’s where color matching is key. So  we’re sharing five steps to help you find your best foundation match even during the changing seasons when the process can start to feel a little complicated. 


1. Identify Your Skin Tone By Brand

Everyone’s skin tone is different, so it can be tricky to fit your own skin tone into an overarching classification that doesn’t take its nuances into account. But for the sake of color matching, it’s important to understand how brands break this down. There are different undertones and various shade categories that companies bucket their complexion products into. But the first step is to begin with the basics. Start by identifying what general category your skin tone falls under: fair, light, medium, tan or dark (sometimes also called deep). It’s best to do this during a time when you won’t have extreme sun exposure or weather conditions that could affect your skin tone. Keep in mind that different brands will have different names for these categories, but they’ll encompass the same traits.


2. Determine Your Undertone 

When it comes to finding makeup that matches your skin, your undertone (the hue that comes through your skin and affects its overall color) plays a large role. To identify your undertone, start by taking a look at the veins on your wrist. If they appear blue or purple, you’re cool-toned, while green veins indicate warm-toned skin. If you can’t make this color distinction for your veins, you likely have neutral undertones. 


Another method is to consider what color jewelry looks best on you. Do you steer toward silver or gold jewelry? If gold complements your skin tone the best, you’re warm, while looking good in silver indicates cool undertones. If you’re an equal fan of both, you may have neutral undertones.


3. Patch Test Foundation On Your Best Spot

Once you’ve identified your skin tone and undertones, go ahead and browse at foundation ranges. You’ll notice that most brands have a method of breaking down both the shade category and undertone to help you find your best match. For example, warm tones are often represented with a W, neutral with an N and cool with a C. The L’Oréal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup is a perfect example of this. 


For many people, one of the most accurate ways to find your match is to test it out on your jawline. Your jawline tends to lack redness that other areas of the face are prone to, so it can be a great place for determining your shade. However, if you have hyperpigmentation on your jawline, skip foundation matching in that area and opt for another area on your face that can match your overall complexion better. 


When it comes to altering your foundation shade when the seasons change, your best bet is to stick with the same brand of foundation and go up or down one to two shades within the same undertone family. Another option is to stick with your lighter shade that you use during the cooler months, and deepen it up with your powder, bronzer and blush. It’s much easier to warm  a foundation with other products than to blend in a color that’s just too dark. When in doubt, stick with the lighter shade. 


It’s also a great idea to have a tinted serum like the L’Oréal Paris True Match Hyaluronic Tinted Serum in your makeup collection. Because it’s a sheer product, the shades are flexible and can be adapted between seasons. Plus, sheer products won’t show obvious contrast against your skin tone the same way that full coverage foundations will. 


4. Match Your Concealer By Brand

An easy way to match your concealer to your foundation is to buy both products from the same line. For example, if you wear the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up To 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation, Lightweight in Toffee, then the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Full Wear Concealer Waterproof, Full Coverage in Toffee will likely be a spot on concealer match for you. If you’re looking for a concealer to highlight with, opt for a shade one shade lighter than your skin tone, but with the same undertones. If your favorite foundations and concealers are from different brands, try to compare swatches and evaluate how the brands break down shades and undertones to get your best match. 


5. Opt For Translucent Powder Over Pigmented Pressed Powders

If you’re looking for a powder to mattify your skin and set your makeup in place, reach  for a translucent powder. Translucent powders are colorless, so they won’t alter your foundation shade once applied, like colored powders will. Our favorite is the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Sweep & Lock Loose Setting Face Powder because it’s lightweight on the skin and helps to blur visible  pores. 

Next: Your Step-By-Step Guide To Color Correcting

Written by: Alyssa Kaplan, Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn

Choosing the right makeup works wonders when it comes to enhancing your natural features. But you may have noticed that sometimes when you use the same makeup as another person of the same skin tone, the end result looks different. The culprit here is the undertone.

It’s frustrating (not to mention expensive) to spend money on the wrong kinds of makeup. That’s why Bright Side is here to help you see your true colors and choose the right products for your beautifully unique skin. Plus, there’s a bonus tip at the end, so keep reading.

1. Know the difference between natural tone and undertone.

2 people who have the same natural skin tone may have different undertones. This is why certain shades of cosmetics, like foundation, project differently on them.

  • Skin tone is what you see on the surface of your skin, typically described as ivory, light, medium, tan, or dark.
  • Undertone is the underlying color beneath your skin’s surface, which can fall under the categories of warm, neutral, and cool.

2. Understand your warm, neutral, and cool tones

It’s a myth that fair skin tones automatically have cool undertones and that darker tones naturally have warm undertones. A fair-skinned person may have a warm undertone, while someone with a darker complexion may have a cool undertone.

  • If you have a pinkish, reddish, or bluish hue, then you have a cool undertone.
  • Have a yellowish, peachy, or golden glow? Then you have a warm undertone.
  • If you have a fair mix of both, then your undertone leans neutral.

3. Find your undertone with these simple hacks.

You can easily determine your undertone without consulting a professional makeup artist. Here are some simple tests you can do at home.

  • The vein test: Note the color of your veins. Greenish veins mean you have a warm undertone. Purplish or bluish veins imply a cooler undertone. A mix of both colors means you have a neutral undertone.
  • The jewelry test: Check your jewelry box. Are you more into gold accessories because they look better on you? Then you have a warm undertone. Those with a cool undertone tend to favor silver jewelry.
  • The sun test: Observe how your skin reacts to sun exposure. People with a warm undertone usually get a golden glow, while those with a cool undertone turn red or pink and easily burn under too much sun.
  • The white shirt test: Open your closet. Do you see a lot of pure white clothing? Perhaps it’s because they look amazing on your cool undertone. Those with warmer undertones lean more toward off-white, tan, and brown shades.

4. If you have a warm undertone, try this.

  • Foundation: Use a foundation that is slightly yellow. These are the ones that usually say golden, honey, or warm beige on the label.
  • Lipstick: Wear shades like bright orange, brick red, or terra cotta to accentuate your inner glow.
  • Blush: Apply orange or red-based blush to compliment your tone.

5. If you have a cool undertone, try this.

  • Foundation: A pink-tinged foundation is your best friend. A lot of beauty brands also put “C” on the label to indicate that it’s meant for cool skin.
  • Lipstick: Bluish, purplish, and berry-based shades, like plum and cherry red, are a safe bet.
  • Blush: Go for warm peach or soft pink-based blush for an effortless bloom.

6. If you have a neutral undertone, try this.

  • Foundation: Opt for shades that are not too pink or too yellow. Some brands also put “N” on their labels for neutral tones.
  • Lipstick: If you have a fair natural tone, pink shades will look gorgeous on you. For darker skin, mauve and berry shades will give you a radiant smile.
  • Blush: You’re in luck because any shade will flatter you, although softer shades are a safe go-to.

BONUS: Try on some makeup...virtually!

A number of beauty companies now have a virtual try-on tool on their apps or websites. This allows you to upload a photo or use your phone camera to digitally put on different shades of lipstick, blush, concealer, and even eyeshadow palettes.

What makeup hack did you learn recently? How much did it improve your makeup skills? Let us know in the comments!

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